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WestDecember 14th, 2006, 8:41 am
Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Posts: 46
I think some of the people who use this forum have spent some time guiding, so you may be able to give me a little help on my topic. I'm a kid from Wisconsin who's looking to possibly try to make a little money while participating in the sport I love. A couple general questions: 1.)Is there any books or good articles written specifically on guiding for trout? & 2.) What's the best way to get started at guiding? I know learning from an experienced guide is best, but any other info would be super.
Upnorth2December 14th, 2006, 10:10 am

Posts: 62
Not really a lot of books but most of your work will come through sport shops. Cards, help, a small brochure helps when you are getting started. You'll need some insurance one way or the other. If you are going to use a driftboat or use the Lake it's a must. It runs about $1000.00 for a season depending on what you are going to do. The Lake requires a Captains License that you can get up in Ashland yet I believe. Inland as you need is the normal guiding license.

I'd get the card and brochure, bring along a few photos and talk to store owners. Price yourself right and you could get some money going. Nexty step would be a small website connected to several Chambers of Commerce are the best, more traffic. Hit some forums as well.

I get asked a lot but do not know anyone in your direction to take people. Drop me an email address.
Upnorth2December 14th, 2006, 10:12 am

Posts: 62
You're in Bayfield if I recall so hit the shops as far down as Hayward and over to Superior. Drummond also. Don't get disappointed right away. Guiding is down up here from the drought, lake and stream conditions. Most of the time people have their own equipment, sometimes they'll need it. Flies normally come with the package.
GripngrinDecember 14th, 2006, 7:37 pm
Front Range - Colorado

Posts: 17
West - My wife and I guided for many years here in Colorado and hope our suggestions help.

Yes, there are some books on guiding, but a quick Google search did not turn up the titles. The Orvis Guidebook is a good start.

The best way to learn is to just do it. Hook-up with the best outfitter who will take you on and look forward to climbing the latter. (Meaning, senior guides will get the best clients & trips.) Everyone starts at the bottom.

Our philosophy on commercial fly fish guiding:

Guiding trout fly fishing makes us part entertainer, part educator (& skill / knowledge demonstration) & part therapist.

Entertainment - The best guides we know are very good communicators. They can read people and know when to tell jokes, josh with or rib customers, be quiet, etc. There is a guide out of the Vail Valley we call "Hundo Larry", cause he always gets tipped a hundred dollars, even when the fishing sucks. He just knows how to treat people well.

Educator - A good guide has to know everything about the river, the trout habits, the bugs and their hatch cycles, the best holes, etc. All this, or be a good bull-shiter. You also must have the patience to teach every type of cast or nymph technique. I made more good tips from teaching beginners how to do simple, but necessary casts. Mend early, mend often, is my motto. Having good gear & unique, hand tied flies are useful too.

Therapist - You will encounter all types of people, good and bad, mostly good thou. About half the people you will guide are stressed-out, and do not know it. You have the opportunity to influence their well-being, even if for one day. I love the challenge of the typical type A - "driver" business man who, even thou he is standing in the river with you, is still thinking about work. These people rarely take the time to smell the roses. I make it point to teach them how to handle and release a trout, turn rocks and look at bugs, point -out the pretty sunset, etc.

You will learn more about people and human nature than you ever thought. Very good life skills.

Oh, yeah, you will learn a great deal about trout & bugs, and make a little dough too!

Good luck & go for it! Mike

Grip'n Grin Mike
WestDecember 16th, 2006, 7:58 pm
Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Posts: 46
Thanks so much for the info! I wish I would have been able to read your responses sooner. Over the summer I sold a few flies to the owners of the Hayward Fly Shop. I think those those are the kind of people that I would like to get to know. Most of the shop owners around here are very friendly. I think incorporating your own flies with the guiding would be good, like you say. Most of the guiding that I'd be looking at would be for inland trout and tributary fisheries, like the White River and along the South Shore. I'm going to see if I can try to go out with a guide or two in the next year to "see how the pros do it." At least that would be cool. Mike's philosophy on guiding was very helpful also. Good to hear an actual guide's view on the profession. Thanks again for all your help guys, I'll see if I can maybe pull it off in the next year or so.
Upnorth2December 17th, 2006, 5:54 am

Posts: 62
That's a good start. I contacted you before to do some tying but orders really fell apart. Up here it's all word-of-mouth. You've done the best thing of starting out with some limits. You can always expand from there. Seems to be no problem right now tying flies for on-line stores. To do this beware that you need to file a federal form for federal excise tax. I'd do it because I know people who have not and it's not a pleasant experience dealing with the feds.

I looked at your website. It's a start. Check in with Pastikas as well,
Black Bear Sports in Drummond and you know everyone up there. It's local exposure that gets your business for you when you start out. Get on some forums also. Good exposure. Get some links going. You do not need much of a site either.

Inland....all you need is the resident guide license. Be also aware that companies have guide programs. Frog Hair is great to work with. I have their form around here someplace and they sent along a number of things before that.

We have some great trout fishing in the White, over to the Brule and up your way.

You have the experience so get your feet wet. I've filmed several times on Lake Superior and I understand my 49 1/2" musky was a new world record for a line class, so I have people asking. I'll have to see how busy I get. I guided here and in Montana, fishing and upland game. Check in with a few resorts also in the Iron River area. I do not know of anyone working that area that much or the Delta Lakes area.
TroutnutDecember 17th, 2006, 7:14 am
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2737
I don't have anything to add about guiding, but I do have a tip about the website. I don't know if you were planning to keep the current web address or not, but you shouldn't -- you can get your own domain name instead ( for under $10/year. That's always a good idea for any business including guiding. When you start to use the site to promote your business, you should switch to paid hosting instead of using free shared hosting with lots of flashy banner ads you don't get paid for. You can find something good for under $5/month.

For all I know you were already planning to do this, but it's worth mentioning.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
WestDecember 18th, 2006, 8:13 am
Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Posts: 46
You're right about the website Jason. The current one isn't much at all. I just decided to try to have a little fun and get an idea together for a site. I realize now that to put together something worth looking at and keeping up you should go with paid hosting and create your own limits. For 5-10 bucks a month I can see how it would be worth it for a business. I got a ways to go in starting a possible guide/fly tying service but it's something I think would be worth putting together in this area and it would sure beat working at some stupid little gift shop in Bayfield.

I'm not sure when I'll put a new site together but I would like to start on it within the next few months. I'll see what happens.

TroutnutDecember 18th, 2006, 10:49 am
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2737
It should be pretty easy to put together a nice website. In the guiding profession it doesn't have to be anything fancy. You also don't necessarily need to learn HTML and write the whole thing from scratch, although that is pretty easy. You could get a more professional look and have very easy maintenance (adding content/pictures without any programming) if you look into some free Content Management Systems. You should be able to find a cheap host that will help you set one up and there are lots of professional-looking templates/skins freely downloadable for for the main CMSes (like Drupal and Wordpress).

Anyway, that's just a suggestion. If you want to learn web programming, that's a skill that can really pay off too. (I made my high school / college part-time money that way instead of working retail jobs.) I can't help much with the CMS idea actually because I've always done everything myself, but I know it's a good direction to pursue if you're starting out with a business site.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Upnorth2December 18th, 2006, 1:55 pm

Posts: 62
I like to use Front Page myself since it has uploading ability which worked for the log home companies I work for. Now, I am letting them do it since it was taking another person to answer emails. Easy to setup a web folder and then get the scripts/templates you need off the net. It does pay to know HTML however. Works good for guiding as well since you can change or add photos.

Hosting fees really float around price wise. Should be easy to get a good host rather cheap right now. I'd take a look at what some other guides are doing on their sites to get some ideas.

Good luck with it West.
WestDecember 19th, 2006, 8:08 am
Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Posts: 46
I'm not a computer wiz', but I think I'll give it a shot. Thanks for all the advice.
Upnorth2December 19th, 2006, 6:13 pm

Posts: 62
With you web site, I'd stay away from posting fishing reports. Too many people looking for information only. Forum......I'd not bother. I know how busy you can get with emails and people seeking information only.

I'm confident you can put this together. I'll send anyone interesting in your area in your direction.
TroutnutDecember 19th, 2006, 7:48 pm
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2737
I would agree a forum's not necessary for a guide site for sure. Fishing reports could be a good idea, though. Descriptive fishing reports with good pictures are one of the best ways to attract traffic and attention. It's not just people looking for information on where to go fishing, either -- you'll get a lot of people who are sitting at the office bored wishing they were on the stream. Definitely don't name places/rivers in your reports, though. That will generate negative publicity.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
MartinlfDecember 20th, 2006, 7:10 am
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3229
Perhaps it will be OK to name well-known and often fished larger streams in reports. Do stay away from naming smaller streams, or those not so well known or face the wrath of some angry anglers. Many fly shop sites give regular, sometimes even daily, reports on streams that are well known to most anglers. I also get monthly emails from one guide who gives monthly reports on popular waters that he fishes, and it certainly makes me think about getting out when I open one of his emails at the office.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
TroutnutDecember 20th, 2006, 4:38 pm
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2737
Perhaps it will be OK to name well-known and often fished larger streams in reports. Do stay away from naming smaller streams, or those not so well known or face the wrath of some angry anglers. Many fly shop sites give regular, sometimes even daily, reports on streams that are well known to most anglers.

Yeah, it's sometimes OK to name larger streams, although I did enough of it in the past to be amazed at the stuff people will get angry about. Some people will curse you for posting a 15-inch trout you caught in a nationally renowned river. They're being ridiculous, of course, but this is a "better safe than sorry" kinda thing.

Anyway, in West's area, the only river noteworthy enough to be safe mentioning is the Brule. The Sioux and others are no big secret by any means, but you can't underestimate the paranoia of some people. It's best to just steer clear of the issue.

Fly shop daily reports (saying what's hatching, etc) are a very different matter, because they're usually just a table of neutral information. Not many people have a problem with that. I was talking about the guide-style reports with a narrative of the day's fishing trip and pictures. Those are more popular, more interesting, and much more controversial if you show the river names alongside the pictures of the fish you catch.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Upnorth2December 20th, 2006, 9:31 pm

Posts: 62

Use your discrection. There's difference between telling people to fish the White or the Sioux and someone on a radio program telling everyone where the holes are at and what specific flies to use. It's happened here in variouse forms, but you know the know as well as anyone up there I am sure. Normally it is new people who show up to be guides or something. There's been just about every version of it. I stopped doing a long time ago after a slip and a smallmouth hole was fished out with I understand half of the fish on the bank. Coasters I never tell anyone anything but for one or two people, same with a few other thinngs up on the Lake.

Salmon, splake and steelhead are a different along with lake runners. Pikes is known by just about everyone and Outdoor Allure has a nice fishing report that would be good pattern to follow. I use it to some degree for ice fishing myself. They had a link to some radar that was cataloging ice in the Bay that was a good idea.

We started a fly fishing club here and this was one of our evening discussions. The final consensus was to side with some caution in telling specfic details to people you do not know. We'll be meeting this spring but maybe everyone will feel different about it. One of the problems that happened here was an area river that was promoted and after the guides had left it was no problem to go there and find a number of dead muskies from being hooked and released.

I guess catch-and-release does work.
AftonAnglerJanuary 15th, 2007, 12:47 pm
Brule, WI

Posts: 49

If you are serious then I'll take you out a time or two and 'show you the ropes' next season. Give me an email sometime and we can discuss a few things.

I know how getting started can seem daunting...a break is a break and I'll see if I can get the ball rolling for you. If you can get free on Monday, January 22nd come down to Brule and attend the Brule River Sportsmens Club meeting. It is at 6pm at Round-Up North Restaurant.

I'll be there and we can shoot the bull after...

See you on the Water.

Brad Bohen

The Afton Angler

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