5 Life Lessons Learned from Fishing with a Guide

Jeremy holding a surf perch caught on a fly thanks to Tyler’s guidance.

One thing that the state of Oregon did for me in the four short years that I lived there was to rekindle my love of fly fishing. But not just any kind of fly fishing — fly fishing for trout. There are so many more trout than people in that state which made for some wonderful fishing adventures.

Upon moving back to California a few years ago I was faced with the stark reality of being several hours away from comparable trout fishing. Sure, I could go to a lake in the local mountains and sit elbow to elbow with my fellow fisherperson, just hoping for a sickly, hatchery-raised trout to nibble the blob of playdough on the end of my line. 

It’s all well and good if you enjoy that sort of fishing. But I much prefer hiking along a stream in search of the perfect trout hiding spot, finally luring one out with a fly I crafted myself. Then, after admiring it for a few brief seconds, I carefully release it.

While I am able to make the long drive to some of my favorite wild trout streams and lakes in California, I’ve also come to the realization that I need to make the most of the opportunities closer to home. For me, one of the best opportunities is the Pacific Ocean which is just a short drive from my house.

Learning to fish in the ocean

After reading blogs about fishing in the ocean and obtaining the required tackle, I ventured out to some of my local beaches and bays in search of fish. While I love casting into the ocean with a beautiful sunset in the background, I love it more when the fish are biting the end of my line.

After several fruitless trips, it became abundantly clear that I didn’t know what I was doing. I needed some help. That’s when, after a brief Google search, I found Tyler at Mission Bay Fly Fishing Co. We met up early one Friday morning at a local beach, and in just a couple of hours, my ability when it comes to fly fishing in the ocean improved significantly. 

This being the second time I’ve hired a guide to teach me to fish a new body of water, I want to highlight some of the key lessons learned and how they apply to work in customer experience and beyond.

A guide shows me where to fish

When Tyler and I planned for our fishing trip, he instructed me to meet him at a specific beach. This in and of itself is nothing profound, but instead of simply casting my line aimlessly into the massive ocean, Tyler taught me how to read the water and the waves. He showed me patterns that might reveal a deeper hole where large halibut and other species of fish might be sitting. And he told me approximately how far out I should be casting and how deep my fly should be. 

Lesson: Guides refine and focus your aim, increasing your odds of success.

A guide shows me when to fish

“The early bird gets the worm” is a common expression applied to fishing. Truly, dawn and dusk are great times of day to fish but there’s more to it when it comes to fishing in the ocean. One also needs to pay attention to the surf and tides. I learned that an hour before and after high tide is a great window of time to fish because the tide is moving in and out, causing more of the “fish food” to move around. Another consideration is that large waves are great for surfing, but not so great for fishing because they stir up the sand and decrease visibility for the fish to see the fly. 

Lesson: Guides bring to light the many variables you might fail to consider on your own.

A guide shows me how to fish

Any time you fish with a guide, they provide the reel, rod, fishing line, flies, and even lunch if it’s a full-day trip. They also take the time to assess your abilities and provide instruction as needed. You simply need to show up with a positive attitude and some money to tip them as a thanks for their guidance. Tyler also helped me with important techniques like timing my casts between the waves, waiting to retrieve my fly until it was at the correct depth and the most effective method for retrieving my fly. 

Lesson: Guides optimize your tools, configurations, and techniques.

A guide shows me what to do when I’ve caught a fish

As a result of these efforts, I caught two halibuts! The first one was only about 10 inches long, but the second one was much bigger, measuring around 20 inches and weighing a few pounds. It sure would have tasted great but Tyler informed me that any halibut caught in California that is smaller than 22 inches must be released. Not only did he instruct me on the best way to handle and release the fish, but he also saved me from a huge fine by knowing the fishing regulations.

Lesson: Guides ensure the safety of all involved and keep you on the right side of the law

A guide makes sure I’m set up for the future

There have been many fishing trips with my kids where I did everything for them. I even hooked the fish for them and then handed them a pole to reel it in. Yes, sometimes this is necessary for young children to have even a glimmer of hope that they’ll catch a fish.

In sharp contrast, Tyler taught me the proper setup so that I could enjoy fishing in the ocean on my own from henceforth. He even left me with some of the flies we used so I’d know which ones to purchase in the future or even tie my own.

Lesson: Guides set you up for future success

As I reflect on this experience and my life as a customer support and customer experience professional, I’m convinced of the value and importance of guides. I can point to many times in my career and life where guides helped me and/or a company I worked for define and achieve a mission. Some have helped me get unstuck, some have helped me achieve better physical, mental, or emotional health, and some have kept us on the right side of the law.

Who are the guides in your life and work? They could wear titles like mentor, manager, consultant, or a variety of others. Classes, books, and relevant industry conferences can also be terrific sources of insight and lead you to wonderful people who can act as guides. 

The important thing is that you recognize the incredible value guides can provide and regularly seek their guidance. While their services may not always be free of charge, you’ll likely find their advice to be well worth the expense.

And if you’re ever in Southern California and you want to try fly fishing in the ocean, be sure to give Tyler a call!

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