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Retro WON: The 7 Deadly Sins, or How Not to Guide an Angler

Kathryn Maroun spells out 7 Deadly Sins, and tells how not to guide an angler.

I’m sure that you have made offers in life that you never expected the person to actually take you up on.

“Here take it, you should have the last piece of cake. I insist.”

Kathryn-Maroun_HawkeRiver

Then you are in shock and upset when the person takes you up on your hollow offer. The delight of a great fishing run is a lot like cake – always leaves you wanting more. Nothing will upset an angler more than having someone else mess with his water, even if they seemingly have had their fill.

I politely offer guides a pass at the pool, but I never expect them to take me up on my offers. Sometimes they do. And this prompts me to ask this question: Should a guide get a chance to fish his sports’ water?

Whether guides can fish depends on many variables: river rules, licensing rules, and lodge rules. But if all of those are OK, then it depends on your relationship with the guide.

richard adams copy what a catch guide

Richard Adams — a good guide!

A lot of fishermen become guides because they love to fish. In my opinion, and with experience from both sides of that equation, I think that it muddies the waters and can turn an otherwise successful fishing day on its ear when guides fish their sports’ water.

It’s a case of you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. Fishing is fishing and guiding is guiding. Pick one!

I love guiding and I love fishing, but never the two shall mix. Personally, I think that it is better not to be the person poling the boat. But if you are the guide and not the sport, you should try not to commit any of the 7 Deadly Sins that can lead to the demise of a guiding career.

Lust

Lust is an intense desire for money, food, fame, or power.

I remember shooting the pilot for my series, What A Catch!, in the Highlands of Cape Breton on a storied Atlantic salmon river. Fishing was tough (as usual) all week, and I hadn’t landed a fish. My husband told me not to come home until I got a fish on camera. Desperate and out of time, the guide and I split up to double the chances of getting the footage.

The local guides know the hot spots. That’s why we hire them. I knew that the guide had been holding out on me all week. He was waiting for his chance to catch a fish on camera.

I took one of my cameramen aside and asked him to go with the guide and shoot him catching a fish, as I expected he would do. Sure enough, the cameraman reported back to me that the guide had a fish on after a half-dozen casts. What the guide didn’t know is that I’d asked my cameraman to quietly mark his outing with the guide on our GPS. With confidence, the next morning my crew and I retraced the route and – just as they had done with the guide the day before – filmed me landing a fish of note after a handful of casts. I wish I could have seen the look on the guide’s face when the series aired featuring me with the big fish that he lusted after. I would never hire that guide again.

On the other hand, I’ve had great experiences fishing with well-intentioned guides who put me in the hot spot on day one. With a fish on camera, the pressure is off, and everything else after that becomes gravy. It’s a win-win situation.

Gluttony

Gluttony is overindulgence and overconsumption to the point of waste.

To offer your guide a rod can also cause problems when the fish are plentiful. Case in point: I was fishing for trophy pike, the wolf of the north. We were above the Arctic Circle, where the fish were not educated to a fly. My guide was very knowledgeable and good company – a recipe for a wonderful week of fishing. I wanted him to enjoy his day, so I offered him the rod.

WAC-nwt

We were drifting nicely at the hourglass of a lake where the flow was funneling lots of food for the bold pike. My guide started picking off lunkers one after the other. He landed four fish, bang, bang, bang, and bang. Twenty minutes had passed and I wasn’t fishing.

I started to get frustrated because he wasn’t giving me a chance to fish. I asked him to give me a chance to put the camera down and cast my fly. The words were still afloat in the thin northern air when he hooked up again. I had to pull out my own guide card and tell him to stop fishing. A quiet unease fell over the boat. It wasn’t much fun catching fish after that.

Successful guides don’t feel a need to hog the water. Their sole focus is to ensure that their client has the best, safest, and fishiest experience possible. I love fishing with guides who get as much pleasure from watching me catch a quality fish as they do from catching it themselves.

Pride

Pride is a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to acknowledge the good work of others, and excessive love of self.

If you don’t think that this sort of thing goes on, just watch this short clip as my guide reluctantly shares the run with me.

 

 

I have had the great pleasure of spending time with successful guides, and these are guides who are proud of their local natural resources and want to show them off. What better way to do that than to make sure that their client fishes every inch of promising water during their limited time in the area?

Wrath

Wrath, also known as “rage” in its purest form, presents with self-destructiveness, violence, and hate that may provoke feuds that can go on for centuries. Wrath may persist long after the person who did another a grievous wrong is dead. Feelings of anger can manifest in different ways, including impatience, revenge, and vigilantism.

We have all heard the stories of the guide who pulls out a trophy fish from under his client’s nose with the excuse of, “I was only showing him how to work the fly when all of a sudden the fish hit. It was just luck.” The truth is that he didn’t have respect for the sport and he wanted to one-up his client the only way he could: flexing his fishing muscle.

A good guide would never try to make someone else feel small. A good guide would take his ego out of the equation and not be quick to pass judgment.

Envy

Envy is characterized by an insatiable desire to possess someone else’s traits, status, abilities, or rewards. The also desire the entity and covet what others have. Envy is also forbidden in the Ten Commandments: “Neither shall you desire anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Dante defined envy as “a desire to deprive other men of theirs.”

One of the funniest experiences I’ve had with a guide getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar happened a few years ago, but not so long ago that the experience has lost its edge. I was working with one of my regular shooters. It is a running joke between us to see how long it takes for the guide to try on his “funny stuff.” Oftentimes they feel a need to ensure that they catch the biggest fish on camera. Apparently a number of guys still find it unpalatable for a woman to catch the biggest fish. Yawn.

But this was a new record. The guide set the anchor and said, “The fish are there. Start short and work your way out until you reach your maximum cast, and then we will drop down.”

“Great,” I said. “Go ahead, you first.” He looked shocked. He didn’t expect that I would let him have the first cast of the day. He started to pull up the anchor rather than pull line off his reel. He explained that the larger fish were in a different location and that he needed to motor to a new spot. I said to him, “Do I understand this correctly? You put me over frog water?”

Sob. It was a long week.

Great guides whom I have had the pleasure of fishing with are people who would never play games at my expense. It is a shared success.

Sloth

Sloth can entail different vices. While sloth is sometimes defined as physical laziness, spiritual laziness is emphasized. Failing to develop spiritually is key to becoming slothful. Sloth has also been defined as a failure to do things that one should do. By this definition, evil exists when good men fail to act.

Sometimes it’s not entirely the guide’s fault. Sometimes the sport [angler] asks the guide to cast for him. The guide gladly steps up to cast the fly, and he knows where to place it to make it count. Not surprisingly he places it on the nose where the fish habitually lie. The water explodes, the guide sets the hook, then hands the armchair angler the rod. The guide found the fish, picked the correct fly and tied it on, spent the time to build enough skill to cast to the fish, lost enough fish to know how to set a hook properly . . . What’s left to do? Nothing, really.

He hands the rod off to the client so he will get a big tip and the sport can reel in a trophy, along with the bragging rights. The big white hunter returns to camp at the end of the day and signs the logbook. The guide and the sport cheapen the experience for everyone in camp when this is allowed to go on. And it does go on … on and on and on.

Great guides, whom we love to see in the industry, take the time to pass along skills and knowledge to the folks they guide.

Greed

Greed, also known as avarice or covetousness, is, like lust and gluttony, a sin of excess. However, greed (as seen by the church) is applied to a very excessive or rapacious desire and pursuit of material possessions.

I’m happy to report that, when given the opportunity, most guides do the right things for the right reasons. Perhaps I should cut some of the bad apples some slack and excuse away bad behavior by saying that perhaps that the TV cameras bring out the worst in people. Here is a guide/friend who does his best for his sports whether the camera is rolling or not.

 

 

When given the choice to deprive me of the magic fly, or do the right thing and share with me what was working that week to elicit a strike, this great guide gave me the fly.

 

kathryn-maroun-sean

Visit What A Catch!

Share your guide stories with us at The WON.

This Retro WON first appeared August 07, 2013.

  • About Kathryn Maroun

    Kathryn Maroun is one of a handful of Canadian women to be certified as an FFF casting instructor. She is the award winning executive producer of What A Catch Productions. The 52 show series highlights Kathryn's fishing adventures from around the world. Kathryn exposes never talked about hazards of the sport, conservation, culture, as well as showcasing exotic game fish in her series. Her show first aired in the US before being internationally distributed. Kathryn is featured in the collection of two prominent museums for her significant contribution to the sport of fly fishing. Kathryn Maroun is the president and founder of Casting for Recovery Canada, past director of Trout Unlimited Canada and past member of the Canadian World Fly Fishing team. Along with creating a line of clothing for women at work in the outdoors, Kathryn has fished around the world and has a number of world record fish to her name. Today she dedicates her time to writing about her miss-adventures and enjoys telling her stories through keynote speaking opportunities. Kathryn is campaigning to create a more balanced playing field for women in the sport.

     

The Conversation

37 Comments
  • Jim Anderton says: January 4, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    Dear Kathyrn: I gave Deschutes summer steelhead one last “swing” two days ago. Couldn’t find a “take”…instead found you, this morning…and “Stan and me”. I wish I could express just how appreciative I am of your story. Just three weeks ago I lost my best friend…he was 89 years young. I’m 74. And to make your story even more personal…I have fallen for a 50 year old…who, a year ago, said to me, “You can be my friend”. And a couple of weeks ago I, like “Stan”, proceeded to “embarrass” both she and myself. She, the beautifully presented Streamer, and I dealing with instincts that came on so quickly and powerfully …I came out of the water. I then felt alone and ashamed…I wrote her…as did Stan you. Thank you for helping “Stan”. Thank you for helping me better understand the needs within me. For relationship…for love…for responsibility…for family. For people like you…and because of my faith….Jesus.

    • kathryn Maroun says: January 5, 2014 at 2:28 pm

      Dear Jim
      Thank you for taking time to write.
      I’m so sorry to hear your news but at the same time…. it gives me a lift to realize that you understand my journey because you walk a similar path.
      Bless you.

    • kathryn Maroun says: June 30, 2014 at 7:59 am

      Dear Jim
      I’m glad that you found me here. I’m sorry that you didn’t find the fish of your dreams. If it were easy then everyone would do it. Type “A” pastime.

      I’m so touched by your letter. Thank you for taking time to write me. i’m sorry to hear that you lost your dear friend. Irreplaceable.
      Dying, is a part of life that I just don’t understand. The rest of the world just keeps on going without even missing a beat while we are left to try and find a new equilibrium. Change is hard and love is impossible. We must not resist either. Onward….forward.
      Blessings k

  • Sean McCormick says: September 1, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Great article on what should be common sense to a guide. I am a fly fishing guide here in Maine and am to often witness to a fellow guide fishing while with clients. There is no way to have a positive outcome when you pick up a rod as a guide. The client is the one paying to fish and as a guide, one needs to keep that in mind. Your article should be posted in every fly shop, flats boat and drift boat that is out with clients. Thanks for putting into words what desperately needs to be communicated throughout the industry.

    • kathryn Maroun says: January 5, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      wooo hooo…thanks Sean.
      I can’t tell you how many people try to explain away fishing when guiding. Wonderful to have your support. In fact one of the guides I wrote about in the article, ended up dropping me an email to do just that. I didn’t reply to him. I think that the article is very clear.
      Tight lines to you.
      Best
      Kathryn

  • Justin Maxwell Stuart says: August 21, 2013 at 4:13 am

    Nice…Spot on Kathryn and coincidently follows an article which I have just written entailed “Angler Rule No.1 -Never give your rod to a guide”. This was a tongue in cheek fishing report where I handed my rod to my guide, Dustin whilst fishing for Kings so I could film him. Needless to say he hooked and landed by far and away the biggest fish of the trip. What was absolutely true however was the pained look on his face, throughout the entire battle as all he really was wracked by guilt throughout what should of been an enjoyable process. I certainly did not begrudge him the fish as it was at my forced bequest…and it made good viewing for my short film:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lx2mMl8tIyU

  • Lael P. Johnson says: August 16, 2013 at 10:18 am

    Kathryn, this is a great article and one that all guides should read. I am an up and coming guide and being able to gain insight of things I may encounter in my journey as a professional angler is very helpful. Keep putting out great content and tight lines to you as well!

    • kathryn Maroun says: January 5, 2014 at 2:10 pm

      Lael
      Wishing you many years of safe and fruitful years on the water. Remember that a bad day on the water is still better then the best day behind a desk in an office building.
      Drink in every moment because time flies. Tight lines to you and thank you for your support.

  • Gregory Jensen says: August 13, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Thank you so much for an insightful and entertainlng read. Should be mandatory reading fot all who guide others, in any profession. Bless you from those of us that have been victimized.

    • kathryn Maroun says: January 5, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      Gregory
      Thanks for taking time to comment. It is amazing how many guides try to defend and explain away fishing while guiding.
      Thank you for standing with me on this issue.
      Tight lines for the New Year!!!!

  • Capt. Steven says: August 12, 2013 at 7:28 am

    What a great read and spot on. As a guide over 20 years I have been guilty of at least one of these infractions.I mentor many fishing guides and this may become our bible. THanks for putting this together and sharing..

    • kathryn Maroun says: August 12, 2013 at 12:41 pm

      Well good morning to you Capt. Steven.
      I love that you can laugh and make fun of yourself. So disarming and cup half full. We need more people like you on the water. Thank you for reading this important blog and I love that you will share it to get the conversation started. Tight lines to you and the wonderful legacy you are building.

  • Capt. Shannon Currie says: August 11, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    A great article.. I have been in the Charter Bus. for 30+ years. I have always put the Client first.. Women and guys get treated equal. I love to see the pic of women with Large fish on my web site and you will find many there. Everyone that steps on my boat I want to see catch fish. I rarely fish myself and help them to Hook The Big one if we can. These people come to have a good time and be taught how to do what we take for granted..we can go and catch fish most any day but they Charter us to do just that…Catch Something.. One thing I will say in closing …. Treat them the way you would want to be treated if you were in there shoes.. Capt. Shannon Currie / Murrells Inlet/Myrtle Beach Fishing

    • kathryn Maroun says: August 12, 2013 at 12:45 pm

      Dear Capt Shannon,
      How refreshing. I loved reading your note. I read it a few times in fact and my smile grew.
      ” Treat them the way you would want to be treated if you were in there shoes.”
      That may be a new one to some. Thanks for posting it here as a gentle reminder.Flows over to all things in life i guess. Keep up the great work captain. You make us proud.

  • Tap says: August 8, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Great article. I’ve just recently started guiding in Thailand and this article certainly provided me with pointers that I should avoid. I truly believe that not every angler is cut out for the guide business. Having a service mind is very important. Fishing has a lot of variables and getting skunked can always happen but as long as the guide is keeping the moment enjoyable, it could lessen the effects of a bad fishing day. In my short time as a guide, I have found it to be very rewarding especially when my clients are having a great time. Seeing a 12 year old boy landing a fish half his size or getting new anglers completely hooked on fishing just makes my day.

    • kathryn Maroun says: August 12, 2013 at 12:51 pm

      Hey Tap, thank you so much for making time to read my blog and reply. Your reminder that fishing is not a numbers game,is lost on a lot of people but not me. You state that” Seeing a 12 year old boy landing a fish half his size or getting new anglers completely hooked on fishing just makes my day,” and I couldn’t agree more. Fishing for me is about the beautiful places it takes you(like Thailand) and the people who you want to spend the day with. If you are into numbers then go to the horse races. Tight lines and safe travels to you. PS-don’t let bugs bite you. They are natures dirty needles.

  • Scott Russell says: August 8, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Nice work, Pescatrix!
    I look forward to reading everything you write, so go angling and get typing!

  • Fergus Graham says: August 8, 2013 at 10:25 am

    Once again Kathryn a beautiful piece of writing , I can’t give an opinion as I have never used the services of a ghille . My friend used one recently and he said it was the best money he ever spent . In this case the guide didn’t fish .

    • kathryn Maroun says: August 12, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      Oh Fergus, we have put in some miles at this point my friend. I’m going to dig into my film library and create a guide blooper sequence just for you. We can use a good laugh these days. I have some bloopers of my own that I’ll throw in. Yes, I have a few sins of my own to share. Tight lines

  • Tomaz Modic says: August 8, 2013 at 1:32 am

    Great Stuff!
    Thank you Kathryn!!!

    Tom

    • kathryn Maroun says: August 12, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      Hey Tom, I’m so pleased that you found me here and that you made time to read this blog on Guiding. I have a lot more to say on the subject and I plan or posting more on the topic over the next few months. I’ve notice that I’ve lost a few followers over my frank views on the subject. Change is slow but worthwhile.

  • The Seven Deadlies - The North American Fly Fishing Forum says: August 7, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    […] Seven Deadlies A nice article on the Seven Deadly Sins as applied to guiding. Perhaps a follow-up is needed on the 4 Cardinal and 3 Theological […]

  • Jason Klass says: August 7, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    I agree 100%. When I was a guide, I NEVER fished. My clients were paying me for an experience–not for me to go fishing. It’s a service just like anything else. Carnies don’t go on the roller coaster with you. They take your ticket and do all the mundane, trivial work behind the scenes so that you can have a good experience. It’s the same with guiding. Which (consequently) is one of the many reasons I’m not longer a guide.

    • kathryn Maroun says: August 12, 2013 at 1:16 pm

      Jason, I loved that you wrote,” Carnies don’t go on the roller coaster with you.” That is funny stuff. Such a great visual. I agree with you 100% and that is why I don’t guide that often anymore. It is much more fun being the one holding the rod.Thanks for the fun. I love to see your posts. Please visit often.

  • Bill Bowers says: August 7, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Another excellent essay, Kathryn! You’re right on the money.

    One of the best guides I’ve ever fished with was also the youngest, Landon Potter in Utah.

    I was once in Salt Lake City on business, with only one day to fish. A friend gave me Landon’s number. He came in his pickup to drive us to the Provo River, and it turned out he was all of 20 years old. But Landon was great.

    We fished on foot three miles upriver and then back. Fishing was really slow that morning, and the ten or so others we met had all been skunked. No one had seen a fish. It had turned unseasonably cold the night before. Landon said the trout would be sulking on the bottom at least until the sun got higher, and the best way would be on midge nymphs. He had tied his own Brassies on the tiniest hooks I’d ever seen, #24s and even #28s.

    And he taught me, patiently and politely, how to fish the runs with these minuscule patterns and spiderweb leaders. I caught and released a dozen fat, healthy brown trout, and surely missed many more strikes than that.

    On the way downriver, Landon told me he knew the “address” of a large brown that hid under a logjam in a tributary creek, and I could try to get him to rise for a dry Elk-hair Caddis. So we crept on hands and knees a few hundred feet up the trib, then crouched in the water so I could cast upstream. On my third or fourth float, the big trout came out from under his log and made several passes at the dry, even swatting it with his tail, and he wouldn’t bite but it was so cool to watch.

    Without Landon, on unknown water, I’d have been skunked like everyone else. With him I had a wonderful morning on a beautiful river and learned tons. Needless to say, he got a generous tip!

    • kathryn Maroun says: August 12, 2013 at 1:23 pm

      Good morning Bill. I found out that you can’t please everyone all the time by posting this blog. Everyone is in agreement that guides shouldn’t fish except the guides who insist they should fish when being paid to guide. Confusing I admit. Some of these guides were spitting nails when they read my blog. I’m please to report that they are by far the exception. A gal wrote to me to say that great angler’s don’t make for great guide’s. Amen to that.
      I enjoyed reading your great guide experience. Thank you for sharing.
      tight lines and good spelling
      Kath:)

  • Ari says: August 7, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Great article, an eloquent primer for anybody who guides for a living. A guide can never guarantee a good day’s fishing but his streamside manner can certainly go a long way it making the day more memorable, regardless of the tally at day’s end.

    • kathryn Maroun says: August 12, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      Good morning Ari.
      Thank you for taking time to read my blog. I must say that I have an unfair advantage after having read your book. It will take many blogs by me for you to catch up. After reading your book I understand that you have enjoyed many fishy adventures and your best adventures were never about numbers.
      Tight lines to you my friend

  • Peter Tilton says: August 7, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    One of the things I like best about my fishing experiences has been the mystery of discovery. I like walking just a little farther in anticipation of the “honey hole” that nobody has fished for a long time. I’m sure I could learn a lot by having a guide take me to the best spots on the river or tell me where to drop the fly he/she chose for me, but I’m selfish and like to feel like I did it for myself when a good day of fishing happens. I’ve never hired a guide and I’m OK with not ever changing that. Bringing money into the experience would make me want to do well in the guide’s eyes, and being a cheap bastard, I would put pressure on the guide to earn every penny, so neither one of us would enjoy the day! Of course, by shunning guided trips there are waters I am excluded from, but I have very little time available for fishing and have a nice collection of waters I can happily enjoy for the rest of my fishing days that guides are not required to fish. I did enjoy your article Kathryn.

    • kathryn Maroun says: August 13, 2013 at 10:16 am

      Mr. Tilton,
      I wish that I could take a page from your book. I’m afraid that I do always hire a guide for a long list of reasons. I love the idea of the freedom that you talk about. I long for that. Keep doing what you are doing. It seems more sporting in some ways.
      Tight lines to you my friend and happy hunting

  • Raymond Fairweather says: August 7, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Great article, fantastic!! Your example of Richard Adams as a good guide is incorrect , it should be great guide. !!

    • kathryn Maroun says: August 13, 2013 at 10:24 am

      Raymond, you are the first person to comment on the picture of Richards . Thank you for doing so. He is the most noteworthy thing about this article. A good old fashioned guide through and through. I tried to pick his brain about what it must have been like to watch a river change with the season’s, progress(man lol), decline of the AS, and the winter ice jams. He simply said, ” just tie it on and fish it.”
      In other words, shut up and fish. He lift me with so many unanswered questions but I took away a memorable time on the water.
      Tight linesto you

  • Howard Levett says: August 7, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Very enjoyable Kathryn. As usual, you nailed it. I’ve only had a few guided trips, but I would have to say that they were great experiences even when things didn’t go exactly as planned.

    • kathryn Maroun says: August 13, 2013 at 10:32 am

      Dear Howard, when do things ever go as planned. My goodness. They say that everything happens for a reason. Perhaps this is true. I have a lot more to say about the guiding industry. Perhaps I should have guide week like they have shark week on TV. Funny that the other push back I had on the article were from guide’s who took offense because they fish/guide themselves. Wow they were spitting nails at me. I had to block a few people on Facebook as a result. I don’t appreciate being called names for simply putting a few words on paper. We don’t all have to agree. Perhaps I hit a nerve and deep down they understand that they are doing something that walks the line of professionalism.
      Oh yes, I must write more about the guiding industry. Thanks for your ongoing support