Patience - Regardless of where you are on the spectrum from newbie to virtuoso, you have hired a guide not only to have someone hauling you around the water, but to impart some knowledge about their fishery, and work to give you a memorable day on the water. There is nothing worse than feeling like you’re on a boat for 6-11 hours with your angry dad, who is barking at you with frustration and disappointment, as you bumble a cast with a sink tip line. As Arnold Glasow smartly stated, “The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.”
Active Listener - Personally, I’m pretty willing to try new things, and receptive to critique and suggestion. I trust my guide knows the holes and appetite in their water. When they say “let’s try a chartreuse” ... no push back from me. When she points to a hole that I hope I can reach and tells me to strip fast ... fast I’ll strip. With that said, some anglers have their recipes, gear, and technique which they live and die by. The guide’s job is to give you a good day on the water and hopefully get you on some fish, but has to know when to concede if a client isn’t willing to switch rods, flies, technique, or attitude. Being on a boat with a stubborn guide and unwavering client for a day is like being the third wheel on a tragic blind date ... in the middle of the water ... all day ... with no escape, except to swim to shore and hike to the take out. Oh, and when your client asks you to bring a net, for the love of God, bring a net.
Humor - I am not a crude person, until I’ve been out all day, skunked a dozen times, and the only thing left is to continue to cast with a glimmer of hope, and a pocket full of blue jokes and commentary. Don’t take the day, the fishing, or each other too seriously. One of my greatest days on the water was in Virginia musky fishing on the New River once the ice had broken. We had a few follows, and it was a long day of constantly casting an 11 weight with sink tip, throwing 9-12 inch articulated flies. But, I’ve not cherished time with two strangers more than my guide and my fishing buddy, whom I had just met.
Passion (for the fishery) - Every water I’ve been on with a guide is “the absolute best water.” It’s like getting the hometown date on The Bachelor. They want to show you the ice cream shop they worked in through high school, where they had their first kiss, and hope you see how wonderful their family is; only the ice cream shop is a little tributary, their first kiss is the monster they caught and released, and their family is their home water they’ve invited you to. Having passion for their fishery makes your day memorable. It makes your presence and experience special. Be a good and considerate guest. Tell them how beautiful their home is and be appreciative that they’ve invited you in.
Alcohol - Two words. Bring. Booze. I’m not talking about getting rip-roaring wasted, but a White Russian on the go is a great way to clean up two mini liquor bottles and a shot of coffee creamer. Even if you didn’t take a trophy, you’re alive and doing something you love with like-minded people, and that’s cause to celebrate.