If guiding teaches us anything, it’s learn to love it. By anything I mean love of the the whole practice of angling. If you were fortunate enough to come from an angling family you probably were taught to manage your gear, gather bait, and have fun fishing “Home Waters”. Home water often included less than pristine urban rivers, ponds, and lakes.
As a kid, I’d bicycle down to a pond that was full of bluegills, carp, and what turned out to be koi—I didn’t know the difference. One day I caught some of these giant colorful goldfish and was so excited I took a stringer full home to show my dad. At first he was less than happy with me, but later gave me approval for being energetic and determined. He further illuminated that angling doesn’t always need to include harvesting, especially beautiful, exotic fishes that you’re not familiar with. Memories last longer than fish sandwiches, fertilizer or pet fish. He instilled in me the fact that the fish stories will do and don’t kill things just to prove you were there, good stuff! “Take what you need and leave the rest!”
Qualifying your angling to somebody else’s supposed standard of sportfishing can be the death knoll of many or even most outings. Everybody else has caught a monster here or there, or so they tell. TV can put a damper on time on the water; be who you are, be here now, that’s what makes for an angling day.
The number one rule—outside of safe, courteous captaining—is showing your anglers a good time. By captaining I don’t mean guiding alone. Good times mean different strokes to different folks. When I fish with kids on board, I fish for them to have “a good time”. “Wisdom out of the mouths of babes”; they love and are fascinated by every fish, and that is the magical part of angling—fishes are miracles of design and adaptation. Take a hint from the children and look at every angling experience as magical journey in fundamental truths.
Anyway, I’m lucky; I’ve spent almost all of my life on an angling adventure. I’ve learn to research fish and fishing and found that the anticipation and preparation can be as fulfilling as the angle itself. Success is an idea, a journey, and not a destination. “Love the road ahead!” Always look back with a smile. Been there, done that, and still above ground!
Capt. Ron Kowalyk: 239-267-9312