[Editor’s Note: With New Year’s Eve just around the corner, I’m reminded of Simon Perkins’s great post from the early days of OrvisNews.com. Since many of you were not around back then, I’m reposting it. Although Simon now sits next to me every day at the home office, rather than guiding on the Missouri, every word of this continues to be true.]
Fly-fishing guides come in all shapes, sizes, colors, personalities, and temperaments. Some of us are commanding and aggressive, others more passive. Some of us are articulate, some of us mumble. Some of us are patient, some of us get tense with enthusiasm and anticipation (in other words: “impatient”). But we are human, and what do humans do this time of year? We make New Year’s resolutions.
I reached out to a handful of freshwater guides around the country and asked them what they would change in the upcoming year. So without further ado, I present to you the following collaborative list: “2011 Resolutions: Fly-Fishing Guide Edition”
- I will actually commit myself this off-season to tying dozens upon dozens of flies, rather than continuously procrastinating (which consequently leads to late nights in June where I curse myself mercilessly as I scramble to crank out a dozen golden stoneflies in time for my guide day the next morning).
- I will do my best to treat the older, I mean “more experienced,” guides with respect, and try to patiently listen as they retell (again and again) all of their stories about “back in the day when guides carried their drift boats to the put-in on their shoulders and rowed upstream all day with one hand tied behind their back.”
- I will continually dedicate myself to discouraging any religious or political conversation at the lodge after dinner, especially when mixed groups are present. (For whatever reason, numerous glasses of wine and vehement opinions don’t mix well together, and it makes for a very awkward breakfast the next morning!).
- I will resist the urge to take an existing fly pattern, change the leg color, and then attempt to rename it and claim it as my own creation.
- If I stop at the local watering hole for a beer after a long day on the river, I will not let the beer turn into four vodka tonics (and then spend the next hour trying to find someone to give me a ride home).
- I will try my best to never tell another client, “You should have been here last week!”
To steal a line from a friend, these resolutions will most likely end up with those from years past: on a dusty shelf next to my Bowflex and Ab Roller. But there is one resolution that should be a priority for every guide and angler this year: to introduce new people to the sport of fly-fishing.
Why is this important? Well first off, we want to preserve the future of fly-fishing, whether it serves us as a livelihood, a hobby, or an obsession. Some may argue that increasing the overall number of anglers threatens our fisheries with added pressure. I disagree. An increase in passionate anglers means a wider social connection to our natural resources. It translates to more people wanting to fight for conservation; more people willing to spend money to protect these special places and species; and more motivation for agencies and organizations to prioritize the longevity of these limited assets.
And fly fishing’s place in society also resonates on a personal level. Fly fishing fills so many potential voids in our lives. It’s an excuse to spend more time outside. It brings us to incredible places around the globe. It gives those of us who are crappy at golf an activity we can pursue long after we retire. And let’s face it, is there really a better place to spend time with a friend or family member than on a river with a rod in your hand?