1. Ask Questions. Don’t be too intimidated to ask questions of your guide. Learning is part of the experience at Tikchik Narrows Lodge. Ask about the water, fish, technique, wildlife, natural history, everything. Through learning, we gain confidence and a sense of progress, which allows us to have fun and catch more fish. Let your guide know that you want to learn.
2. Tell your guide to shut up. Most of you have been there. You are out on the water and your guide is giving you play-by-play instructions for a couple hours straight. You are getting a lot of positive advice on technique, but you need a little time to digest the information. Or, perhaps you are just ready to relax and enjoy the silence of the Alaska Bush. Guides are trained fish finders, and for most, fish obsession is hard wired like a Border Collie and a stick. If you need a break, politely offer your guide the proverbial “Chill Pill”. They will not take offense.
3. Take smart photos. Do not ask for trophy trout photos inside the boat. All anglers (including the greatest Alaska guides that have ever lived) have let a squirmy fish sneak away from their grasp during the photo shoot. Don’t risk dropping your trophy rainbow on the floor boards. A good guide will pull over to the nearest gravel bar, get out, and take the photo stream side. It is much better to give that beautiful fish due respect, and allow them to splash dramatically into a foot of clean water, and swim away.
4. Feed your guide some lunch. In Alaska, it is easy to be tempted to skip lunch and fish the whole day through. On a spectacular fishing day, adrenaline and child-like excitement seems to carry you through the day without a break. But, a seasoned guide will tell you that it is critically important for both of you to hydrate and eat during the 8 hour day, to stay sharp and on point. Your guide has been on the oars since 8:30 AM this morning, and you have been busy casting and catching furiously. Give your brain and body a break for at least 30 minutes. Take a deep breath, take in your environment, and re-energize yourself with a snack. This time also allows your guide an opportunity to gather himself, have a sandwich, and strategize for the afternoon. Trust me, it is 30-minutes well spent.
5. Check your tackle. As much as an effective cast, a natural drift, and a good hook set – periodically checking your terminal tackle will help you catch more fish! It is very difficult for your guide to juggle two anglers, net fish, change flies, row the boat, untangle, and notice every potential wind knot cast. Be in the know, and take control of your success. Find out what your terminal tackle setup should look like (bead rig, double streamer, etc.). Every so often, check your hooks, flies, beads, and leader material to make sure everything is stock lock and ready to fly. Barbless hooks are one thing; hookless hooks don’t catch fish.