Some readers may know that, as well as being FlyStream’s editor and author of several books, I guide at Millbrook Lakes. After an eventful guiding season in terms of weather, water, unusually large trout, and a bout of breakoffs, I was inspired to write the following poem. It may offer a small insight into the life of a flyfishing guide… well, this one anyway.
The Guiding Life
Gather ‘round friends and I’ll tell you
About the guiding life
It’s mostly a pretty good one
Mostly free of strife.
Through wind and snow and rain and sun
We’re out in nature’s show
With our (mostly) trusting guests
Sharing what we know.
It is our job to help you
Not the other way around
But we are only human
So if we make a mournful sound…
It’s because we know big trout moments
Are fleeting ones at best
And if an opportunity’s missed
Who knows when we’ll get the next?
At the call of ‘STRIKE!’ dear friend
Yes it’s you I’m talking to
It’s your fly that was eaten
As that brown cruised into view.
Or the fly which finds the branch behind
As the sipping ‘bow appears
It’s the thought of what could have been
That brings a guide to tears.
Yet for all these little tragedies
There’s one that has no peer
Please let me spell it out for all
So everyone is clear.
It’s the pointed rod with line held tight
So the reel cannot scream
Then the brutal crack of broken line
That haunts the guiding dreams.
The chance was there, the fish was on
And with rod up towards the sun
In happier times the guest heeds the call,
“For god’s sake, let it run!”
With flexing tip and purring drag
The leaping trout puts on a show
But with tippet well-protected
It can’t land that fatal blow.
Ten minutes feels like hours
But at last it’s in the net
A golden trophy brownie
Never again will we forget,
A fish that’s on the line gives hope
No matter how frail it seems
But once the line is broken
So are fishy dreams.
Yes, the guiding life is mostly good
Mostly we are blessed
Until the hard-gripped horizontal rod
Puts patience to the test.
It’s the vertical rod we pray for
Because it means success will come
And I suspect you will too
As the giant rainbow runs.