A Day In The Life Of Another Fly Fishing Guide

No this isn’t déjà vu; you’re not reading the same article. Our post about the Day In The Life Of A Fly Fishing Guide was so popular within our fly fishing jobs series that we wanted to feature another guide. Is this the best job in the fly fishing industry? You tell us, what jobs gets you fired up about quitting your desk job and hitting the water? Ever dreamed about rowing to work (and for work) and guiding clients onto the fish of a lifetime? What about poling across a flat and pointing out cruising fish and directing your client’s casts? If you love watching other people catch fish and consider yourself a teacher and ambassador of the sport of fly fishing, you might need to trade in your slacks for a pair of waders. Like right now…we’ll wait while you go tell your boss.
Harry Desmond Braves The Cold To Catch Big Steelhead Braving the cold to chase big fish is just another challenge in the job of fly fishing guide.
The Life Of A Fly Fishing Guide We recently spent the day chasing down the fish of a lifetime with friend of Postfly Harry Desmond, owner/guide of Berkshire Rivers Fly Fishing. Everything I’d heard of fishing for northern pike on the fly sounded like work: chucking big flies all day long, stripping and casting heavy lines until every muscle and joint in your body creaked, epic fights that usually ended with a broken leader and broken heart…sign us up. I know, we’re sick. That day was work, but it was also plenty of fun, hooking into nearly a dozen giant pike, even landing a few monsters and getting the photos to brag about them. (Check out the full recap of that day here). Desmond wasn’t always the guide he is today though, you always have to start somewhere. For Desmond, it was in Yellowstone National Park. “When I was 18, I moved to Yellowstone national park and was working as the manager of labor and standards,” said Desmond. “While I was there I picked fly fishing just to fill my free time after work.” Living and working in Yellowstone led Desmond all around the park and made it possible for him to see more than the average visitor. “I found myself in different places than I was before, because I wanted to fish, and that kind of fed the addiction, trying those new places out,” he said. Once he was bit by the fly fishing addiction, Desmond’s whole worldview changed. Some would say he was ruined for good. (Not us). “Fly fishing kind of changed my perspective in what I wanted in life and I wanted to share that with people,” he said. “I wanted to help them break up the grind of being stuck in an office and help them get outside.” With that glimpse into the world of fly fishing Desmond knew he had to start a guiding business and share it with other people.”
Harry Desmond Works The Sticks While His Clients Fish Guiding doesn't mean fishing, but usually long days at the oars getting clients on to fish.
Be A Guide, Not An Angler While many think the life of a fly fishing guide is about spending as much time on the water as possible, the business side of being a guide takes up a lot of your time. “Typically my day is answering emails and phone calls in the morning and then checking the weather for the next few days and also the weather from a few night before,” said Desmond. After driving to meet up with the client early in the morning it’s time to start to figure out the pattern for the day. “It’s all about tackling the riddle for the day, what’s going on with the water and the fish,” he said. “Then at night it’s all about prepping the next day’s trip, which might be trout or it might be pike, re-rigging for the different species, and fixing any problems with the gear or the boat.” Desmond finishes the day out with some more emailing and running his social media channels, including any phone calls he missed. “Then usually a few beers caps off the night,” he said. While running the business eats up a lot of time, Desmond must spend as much time on the water as he can to gain valuable insight on the water and the fishery, in order to put clients on fish. “I’m probably on the water at least 100 days a year, guiding,” said Desmond “and then for myself I’m lucky to get maybe 40 times, maybe.” Desmond says it’s rare for him to be able to go out and just relax on the water, as he’s usually exploring new water, trying out new tactics and on a constant search for new spots to bring clients. Even with all that work though, Desmond thinks guiding is worth it. Spend any time on the water with him and it’s obvious that this man loves his job. The best part? Watching anglers catch fish. “The look on their faces when they get that first fish of the day and seeing people smile, that’s honestly the best part,” he said. “The view from my office (the river) isn’t too bad either.”
Harry Desmond Holds Up A Big Massachusetts Northern Pike Harry Desmond might guide his clients onto big trout most days but he really loves getting them addicted to chasing northern pike on the fly.
First Step To Get The Job: Back To School While many say the first step to becoming a guide is to fish a lot, Desmond says you should hit the books. Yes, to be a guide, you should go to school. “I think the best thing I ever did for myself is go to guide school,” he said. “Anyone can go out and catch fish, but there a difference between catching fish and guiding people onto fish. Guide school taught me that you could be an awesome fisherman and a terrible guide or vice versa.” If you’re interested in being a guide, you should know that it’s really not all about fishing. You’ve probably heard that from guides before, maybe even within this very blog post a few times, but it’s something so many people wrongly assume about the job of fishing guide. “People think that I have the greatest job ever, that I just get to fish for a living, but that’s not true, I never get to fish,” said Desmond. “If I do take personal days to go fishing it just turns into research for guide days, so the amount of time for myself that I get out to go relax and have a good time is significantly lower than before I was a guide.” Desmond says you should fish a lot and really know your fishery and your equipment before you start bringing clients on trips. Remember that you’re not there to out-fish them, but instead to make sure they have a good time, maybe catch a few fish, and most importantly, learn something. Also, “wear suntan lotion,” Desmond said. Smart man. Want to book a trip with Harry Desmond of Berkshire Rivers Fly Fishing? Click here. This is part six of a series on the best jobs in fly fishing. Stay tuned for a full look into A Day In The Life Of A Fly Tyer, the final chapter in this series, coming out Friday, August, 12 on the Postfly Blog. Tired of missing out on the best flies and in fly fishing? Subscribe to Postfly now to get them sent to your door every month.
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