Guide Academy Day 5: Practicing for client day

All photos by Rich Johnson

By: Jenny Weis

Sunny weather beckoning, three float planes lined up at the dock, shore lunches packed and new Orvis gear donned, the group was more than ready for another big day on the water. The students were told that today was their last big trip before they'd guide their client. Given this, they set to work ensuring they are ready to show their clients how to bring in a fish safely and while having lots of fun on Client Day.

After another incredible day on the Agulowak and Agulapak Rivers, the instructors shared some anecdotes from their groups throughout the day:

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Anders Gustafson, 19-year Bristol Bay Guide: Alyssa improved in her fly fishing 150% yesterday. She just got it. The lightbulb came on, and she started to cast well and learned how to handle fish. She consistently landed and hooked fish all day.

Dan Dunaway, retired Fisheries Biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game: As a group, they got way better with casting and catching...and started understanding why. Savannah has stepped up with leadership - I knew her from school where she has been more shy, but here she is stepping up and I'm proud of her.

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Chris Little, The Conservation Fund: Catching fish on dry flies is a quintessential fly fishing experience and really solidifies the students' interest in fly fishing because it's such a unique way to catch a fish. That's an essential part of this Academy is being able to catch a fish on a dry. It's such a good way to get them excited about fly fishing.

I was with Savannah and Logan, and they were able to experience a lot of the emotions that go along with fly fishing, and the elation that goes with dry fly fishing...and the frustration that goes along with it too. But that only makes it more enjoyable when you finally do catch fish - I watched them experience that. By the end, they were saying "we want to do this drift here," and that kind of thing. So they know where the fish are and how to do it. I was essentially just operating the boat - they told me where to go. That's the decisive personality you need in a guide and to be a leader. 

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Nanci Morris Lyon, Managing Parter of Alaska Sportsman's Bear Trail Lodge: I was very impressed - everyone got to take a turn on boat handling and netting fish. There was very little teaching to be done. They were competent, capable and had some great questions on how to handle clients in the field. I think they will be very prepared on how to handle clients tomorrow. Students making lunch!

Jenny Weis, Trout Unlimited: It was really cool to see the students spring into action at lunch time. They were all exhausted and wanted to cut loose, but they knew they'd be in charge of preparing the shore lunch and ensuring their clients were happy. So they tackled preparing the food, cleaning up and even serving some of us instructors! We were all really impressed. And full :)

Mac Minard, former Bristol Bay region head biologist for Alaska Department of Fish and Game: Both girls I was with, with only modest success in hooking fish, came the recognition of true appreciation and pleasure for what we were doing. What I mean by that is, we went from worrying about catching and hooking a fish to appreciating the day, the water and the experience. And that happened over the course of probably 10 fish between them. There's no doubt that those two young ladies are capable of taking on a role as a guide. They have the passion for the outdoors, they have a thoughtful and organized approach to their day and they are willing to receive suggestions and instruction in what to do.  

Follow along with the rest of the week on our Facebook page.
 
*Our 2016 sponsors include: Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust, Trout Unlimited's Alaska Program, Bristol Bay Native Corporation, Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation, Bureau of Land Management, UAF- Bristol Bay Campus, Orvis, Alaska Sportsman’s Bear Trail Lodge, Mission Lodge, Alaska Fly Fishers and Mossy's Fly Shop and Southwest Alaska Salmon Habitat Partnership (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service).
 
Jenny Weis is the communications and digital advocacy specialist of Trout Unlimited's Alaska program, and co-coordinator of the Bristol Bay Fly Fishing and Guide Academy
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