“How was your summer vacation?” Whether it’s a teaching colleague or a curious student asking from the back of the room, the answer always is about the same. Something like, “Summer was good, but it wasn’t exactly a vacation. I actually have a summer job.” When I tell them that I guide 30-40 days between mid-June and Labor Day, the usual response is, “Oh, it must be tough, getting paid to fish.” Depending on my mood, I might respond with a chuckle, a shoulder shrug, and a look like, “Hey, it’s tough, but someone has to do it” kind of mime; or I might take them through all that a day of guiding entails. Probably it’s somewhere in between the two.
During the frantic hustle of the guide season, it seems that the daily routine can be a bit overwhelming at times. Now, when I look outside at the 3:30 January light quickly fading to frozen darkness, I think about those summer days and how much I miss not just summer, but also the ever-changing schedule of guiding a fishing trip.
Here’s what a typical day (is there such a thing in this line of work?) might look like:
6:30 Roll out of bed. The earlier in the season, the earlier the roll out. Early season roll out is 5:30; that puts me at the shop almost an hour ahead of client pickup at 8:00; 6:30 must be mid-August. Make coffee, read sports page, shower, brush teeth, convince myself that I can still roll through Starbuck’s and not be late.
7:05 Grab already-strung guide rods off of the tying table (my wife calls it the dining room table, but it’s mid-August and it’s covered with vices, hooks, fur, feathers and my three guide rods.).
7:10 Strap in rods, check light plug in, safety chains. Hop in driver’s seat, look in the rear seats for boat bag, dry bag and boat net. Roll out of driveway. Look at the stereo clock and think, “kinda early, Starbuck’s here I come.”
7:15 Time to call in lunches and shuttle.
7:16 Flip a U-turn on highway 41 to retrieve cell phone, still plugged in on night stand.
7:25 Race through neighborhood, remembering the countless times I’ve yelled at idiots going 27 mph in the 25 mph neighborhood where I live. I’m going 40.
7:27 Back on the highway; tell myself if I hit every green light and there’s no line, I can still get my venti Americano and probably get the rest of my errands run and make it before the clients.
7:35 Three red lights later, Starbuck’s has cars lined up around the corner. I double-park the truck and boat and start old-man-sprinting into the coffee shop, shooting a quick glance at the last car in line, red Prius, to make sure that I made the right call to not wait in line.
7:43 Sprint back to my pickup, spilling $1.25 of my $3.50 coffee. I probably shouldn’t have had them toast my bagel, or taken the time to evenly spread the cream cheese.
7:44 Speed to catch the somewhat yellowish turning light onto I90. Push accelerator to the floor. Pass red Prius.
7:45 Might just make it. Invasive Species Boat Check station. S#*!. Blow by it and feign ignorance? Turn on blinker as Prius travels on.
7:55 Call Caruso’s Deli and tell them I’m pulling into the parking lot to pick up lunches. Scoop ice, grab sandwiches, chit-chat on speed, run card. Always tip Starbuck’s and Caruso’s 20% in hopes of appeasing the gratuity gods.
7:57 Drive final three blocks to the fly shop. The phone vibrates; it’s the outfitter talking in code: “The chickens are in the barnyard!” Clients are waiting in the parking lot. S#*!.
7:58 Check my speed and notice the low-fuel light is orange.
8:00 Pull into fly shop, boat trailer caught air on entryway. Clients’ eyes widen as they move from watches/phones to rapidly approaching pickup boat combo. Made it!
Steve Seymour, Guide - Castaway Fly Fishing Shop