Most people look with envy at the life of a fishing guide. International travel, endless cocktail parties, always being photographed with the rich and famous. And it’s pretty much all true and accurate. In fact, if you discount constantly sleeping in the back of dusty pick up trucks, less than perfect personal hygiene, eating too much junk food and consuming enough alcohol on a weekly basis to kill a small elephant, there’s really only one thing that would improve a guide’s lot. And that is more women, or to be more precise, guiding more women. For a sport that is innately suited to the attributes of the fairer sex, it is a shame so few partake. We alpha males can learn an awful lot by spending time on the river with some female company, so I strongly suggest that for the following reasons, any guy reading this goes and takes a shower, flosses, changes his shirt and goes and asks one to the river.
Casting: Spend a few minutes watching a woman cast, and if you pay attention you’ll start to figure it out. Casting is all about timing and finesse, not the girth of your bicep. Face it, something in a male’s genetic programming tells him that if he puts something in his hand, he has to try and throw it as far and as hard as he can. But women tend to be more emotional creatures, in tune with their senses and feelings. This in turn leads to a more sensitive cast, letting the rod and line work in tandem to achieve the desired result. End result – less cussing, less tangles and more energy left at the end of the day to drink beer.
Conversation: Research tells us that women are communicators, men grunters. By the age of seven, girls on average use three times the amount of words to express themselves than boys of the same age. This carries on into adulthood – notice how many words a woman uses making up her mind what to order at a restaurant for example. On the river, however, this added communication is a godsend. Guys are solitary creatures. For us, talking too much, or giving out too much information about ourselves is taken as a sign of weakness. For a guide, this usually means that by the time you are half an hour into the trip, you’ve covered all the bases: football, steak and beer. The rest of the day can be conducted using two or three different grunts and a raised eyebrow or two. Not so with women. The conversation flows, ranging far and wide. This challenges the man to move beyond his traditional comfort zones and venture into the unfamiliar and daunting territories of feeling, emotion and sensitivity.
Listening: Not only are women great communicators, they also tend to be better listeners. Most guys seem to have ears that are merely painted on, at least when it comes to accepting advice and pointers from their guide. Women, on the other hand, tend to figure that if they are paying good money to spend a day on the river with a professional, they maybe have some sage advice and opinion to offer. One male client famously replied to me when I suggested he try to mend his line in order to improve his strike rate: “If I’m going to **** it up, I’ll **** it up my way.” Fortunately there is seldom this kind of display of pig headed stupidity from womenfolk. In fact, it is not uncommon to have a woman catch more fish than her fisherman husband / significant other for this very reason.
Dry Spells: It’s OK to not catch something every now and then. Maybe as cave dwellers, an unsuccessful hunt meant hunger, ridicule and the danger of your harem leaving you for the warmth and security of another’s cave. But surely we have moved on from those times. How many guys have I taken down the river who start to get antsy, and then slip ever deeper into a morose and morbid self analysis after twenty odd minutes without catching something? Questions such as ‘ Am I doing it right?’, Why aren’t they biting?’, ‘What’s wrong with me?’ come rushing to the surface of their consciousness. Most women have moved beyond the body count mentality and accept the odd dry spell as part and parcel of the experience. They tend to also appreciate the other aspects of a day on the river, such as scenery, observing the wildlife, or the fact that you are breathing fresh air and not stuck on I-25 for hours at a time.
Cussing. There is absolutely nothing else on this earth that warm the cockles of my heart more than painted nails, a waft of perfume, and a string of angelic F bombs following a missed strike or a line tangle. What is it about women and four letter words? [ One of my best guide colleagues reckons ‘wife’ is a four letter word, but that’s another story. ] Women are, for the most part, such inscrutable creatures to our cold, hard, logical minds that I think the sound of a woman cussing over a missed fish is subtly reassuring. It shows we have something in common after all. Who knows, if we can reach agreement on this, then maybe there is hope that women will eventually come to realize that the natural position for the toilet seat is up, that sport really is a matter of life and death, and that the attraction of a visit to Hooters really is the wing sauce.
So there you have it. A day on the river with a woman can lead to many things. Improved casting, increased vocabulary and an expanded mind, appreciation of the finer things in life, discovery of your inner being and hopefully more energy at the end of the day to enjoy that cold brew.