The Request

The Request
Over the years, I've heard numerous customers make the same request. Other fishing guides undoubtedly experience this too. After a fishing trip, or during discussion of when to reschedule a charter canceled due to inclement weather, the customer says, "Let's do this. When you find some big fish, call us. We're flexible, and we can come quick if you give us a holler."

I'm sure this request seems reasonable to those making it. In most cases, they do have flexible schedules and would try to come as soon as possible when summoned by their guide. From my perspective, though, such a plan has multiple flaws. I personally will never agree to such an arrangement, though I know other guides do call clients and urge them to come after they catch a bunch of fish or some really big ones.

Having thought long and hard about this, I've generated a list of reasons to justify my refusal to initiate the interest in a fishing trip by calling clients. Most importantly, I do not want to create an elevated, potentially false level of expectations about the outcome in the mind(s) of the customer(s).

By its very nature, fishing exclusively with artificial lures primarily for trophy fish necessitates an acceptance of the difficulty of the task. Catching giant trout on plugs isn't possible every day; if it were, people would not refer to the fish as "trophies." In essence, I want the client to focus on the process, not the product. If we start the day with a sincere desire to work hard at our craft, to hone our skills, to adjust to the elements and give ourselves the best chance to succeed, we will come away satisfied most of the time.

On the other hand, if we leave the dock thinking we will catch a fish of a particular size, that doing so will happen easily, we will probably return to the truck with a bad taste in our mouths. Unrealistic expectations ruin more fishing trips than any other single factor. I will not play a part in building a bloated, arrogant sense of the probable outcome of a charter.

Many times, after I catch some big trout one day, the fishing returns to normal (or even below normal) the next. If I called clients and stirred up a feverish level of anticipation every time I found some magnum trout and caught them, I'd set those clients up for failure more often than not. If more than a few days pass after a memorable catch, many things can change: tide level, wind direction, water quality, to name just a few. Even if the summoned ones arrived within three or four days, conditions could render fishing in the spot difficult or even impossible.

In such a situation, the person who received the call imploring them to come down and get in on the hot action would likely walk away disappointed. Potentially, they'd believe I had duped them purposely. I will not stupidly paint myself into such a tight corner with a smart phone.

Other aspects of this request bother me too. For a moment, let's assume I did decide to call people and encourage them to schedule a charter. Who would I call first? I'd be forced to rank my customers on a priority list. All of them are not, in some ways, created equal.

I maintain a fishing club, composed of members to whom I "sell" fishing information. My Lucky 7 Club members have all my GPS data, and they receive a weekly fishing report from me, which describes exactly where I'm fishing, what I'm catching and which lures I'm using to make the catches. I also include information about the water quality and perceived potential in various areas, as well as predictions about where the action might heat up next.

The people who pay me for a club membership support my lifestyle in a significantly appreciated way; without them, I'd struggle even more to make a living in the difficult profession I've chosen. If I bought into the idea of offering a tacit guarantee to someone by calling them when the fishing gets good, I'd call all of my Lucky 7 members before I'd shout out to anyone else.

Close behind my club members, I'd rank repeat customers who've fished with me for years. Guys who fish several days with me year after year deserve some kind of special attention, in my estimation. I wouldn't call them to set up potentially unreasonable expectations, but if I did change my mind and decide to start waving clients down to the coast while I've got the fish located, guys who've fished with me many times and who I know have their minds in the right place would receive a signal long before someone who has gotten on my books for the first time and had a charter canceled due to inclement weather or some other factor.

In addition to creating deceptive expectations, contacting a client to attempt to schedule a fishing trip can cause other dilemmas. Let's say I liked the idea of phoning people when I caught some fish, and created a list of names to do so. I'd pick up the list, tap on some numbers, and the following scenario might easily develop.

First person on the list doesn't answer, so I leave a message. Next person I call does answer and says, "Cool, we want to come. I need to check with my buddy and my wife though, so I'll get back with you this afternoon." First guy calls back and says, "Sure, we can be there tomorrow." Now I have to tell him we need to wait until I hear back from guy number two, or call guy number two back and tell him guy number one has jumped ahead of him.

So we wait. And guy number two doesn't call back that afternoon. He calls back the next morning, saying his buddy has to go to his son's baseball tournament, so they can't make it. Then, when I call guy number one back, something has come up. "We could have made it today," he says, "but not the rest of the week. I've got to go to the deer lease and put corn in the feeders."

So, I call guy number three, who shows interest, but says he has to get back with me...and on and on and on. I simply will not put myself in such a situation. When I have a cancellation, I always do the same thing; I send out email notifications to the customers in my existing data bank and give all of them equal opportunity to claim the date. Whoever calls first and commits can have it.

When I catch some fish, I do what I can to let people know, without calling them directly and offering them a counterfeit guarantee. I post pictures on my first website,, in the featured photo area, and/or on the Photos page. I also post pictures on the Pics and Vids page of Lately, I've been posting pictures in the Fishing Reports section of

With some of these pictures, I post exact sizes of the fish; with others, I just give the date and name of the angler who caught the fish. Occasionally, I mention the lures used, but mostly I don't. I rarely post any information about location with my pictures. I have no desire or obligation to provide clues to the general fishing community about where I'm fishing; doing so would be disrespectful to those who pay me for specific information.

I do post fishing reports from time to time on and They offer some information about water quality in various areas and give advice on what patterns have been working for me. I mention more about lures and techniques than about locations in these reports, out of respect for my club members, and in the interest of self-preservation.

A person who wants to think I'm "on some good fish" before they book a trip can use these resources to determine what I've been catching lately, and how I've been catching them. They can also call me and ask how the fishing has been. People might point out many flaws in my personality; honest ones can not say I'm likely to be disingenuous when describing the fishing. Known for being brutally honest, I tell it like I see it.

Those who take the time to inquire about a potential charter will get the best advice and recommendations I have to offer, given my availability, how the fishing has been and what predictions I can make about upcoming weeks and months. That's all I can do for anyone.

Basically, I give everyone the same advice, to pick a weekday close to a strong moon, either full or new, in a month well-matched with their priorities. We can't "schedule" our favorite kind of weather, but we can hedge the bet by booking an outing to take advantage of the generally favorable opportunities strong moon phases create. If no dates meeting these criteria will work, schedule a day that will! Sometimes, incredible catches occur on weaker moons too, when other variables align properly to make the "right" fish hungry and accessible to our efforts.

Honestly, I'd advise anyone to steer away from a guide who likes to call people to let them know "the bite is hot". I know I could not do this and generate revenue regularly. I could do it only when I truly believe the bite is hot, or when I just need to make some money, or both. Some guides, I'm sure, don't call people unless they really think the fishing is better than normal. Unfortunately, I suspect financial hardships and greed cause others to abuse the request and intentionally sell their clients bogus expectations.