The guide who doesn’t believe in an off-season.
Guides don’t become guides for money and fame and they certainly don’t choose this occupation for day-to-day cushiness — they opt for this career because they have a genuine love for fishing. As much as guides enjoy putting their clients on fish and being on the water each day, when their season comes to an end, most welcome a little off the water R&R with open arms. However, when speaking about Jako Lucas — well, he’s an exception to the rule. By and large, his only relaxation occurs on overseas flights in route to the next destination on his rigorous guide tour. Case and point, in 2012, the man logged 320 guide days spread across various locales around the world.
Lucas’s career didn’t start off so glamorous. To put it simple — he worked in order to get more work, a work. No task was too big or too small, if it had to do with fishing, Lucas gladly accepted. A quick glance at his 2015 calendar shows he’s never let go of this philosophy.
After finishing University in Johannesburg, Lucas found work at Farlow’s, a fly shop in London where he became acquainted with veteran guide, Keith Rose-Innes. Innes provided valuable insight on what the proper steps were to becoming a guide and Lucas absorbed all of it. In 2007, Lucas received his first guide assignment, two three month sessions off Cosmoledo in the Seychelles. “I really reached the pinnacle of guiding my first days as a guide. I was one of three guides split between a group of 10 clients. That first week, the group landed 370 giant trevally and those are only the ones they sight-fished.” says Lucas.
With a love for exploration, the challenge of an unfamiliar fishery and an undying work ethic, rest and relaxation for Lucas has always taken the back seat to new guiding opportunities. Currently, Lucas spends time in the Seychelles, Norway, Mongolia, St. Brandon’s Atoll and Mongolia. “What’s funny is, I look back at those early years and have to laugh. I literally faked it to make it. Suddenly, I found myself guiding for species I didn’t know very much about and is some cases, didn’t even know existed.” says Lucas.
Having guided for a laundry list of bucket list species including giant trevally, bumphead parrotfish, Atlantic Salmon, indo-Pacific permit, bonefish, taimen etc., etc., it makes you wonder what ranks as a favorite for Lucas. “You know, I love my salt water stuff but I have to say, when it comes to taimen in Mongolia, man, that’s really tough to beat.” he replies. “Before guiding Mongolia, really all I knew about taimen was that they were big and very elusive. What I didn’t realize was how huge they were, how elusive they were and how physically and mentally demanding fishing for them was. I think the reason I love them so much is because of how much respect I have for each and every taimen I encounter. They are survivors and are as tough as Mongolians themselves — it’s amazing how they endure Mongolia’s conditions.”
Arguably one of the world’s most elusive species with the potential of exceeding 50 inches in length, there’s definitely an intimidation factor with taimen. According to Lucas, sure, poor presentations and the dreaded trout-set cost anglers fish from time to time but the most costly error is not pushing themselves when the conditions get tough.
“I see it all the time. Anglers travel half way around the world with gear they feel is adequate an it’s not. They head out in good spirits but after hours upon hours of casting huge flies without any action, cold temps, rain, sleet and snow gets to be too much. When the weather turns, so does the fishing. That’s why I always encourage my clients to stick it out but, when they are wet and cold, their head is already out of the game. And, that’s why I can’t stress how important your gear is when fishing Mongolia. I won’t sugarcoat it, taimen fishing is hard but, it’s not impossible. If you can can comfortably withstand the elements, that’s more than half the battle. When the weather is ‘bad’ that’s when your squirrel fly is going to skate across the surface for the thousandth time of the day and finally get crushed. I simply can’t put into words how rewarding it is for myself and my clients when the net goes around a fish so awesome.”
Spending 300 plus days on the water in some of the world’s most remote locations, the gear Lucas wears every day is as important as a wrench is to a mechanic. When he arrives in locals such as Mongolia, he has to know for a fact his gear is going to not only perform, he has to know it’s going to perform for his entire season. Check out what Lucas relies on for days on end to withstand Mother Nature’s worst. Shop Jako’s Kit
To get more of a taste on the demands and rewards of Mongolia visit Pushing the Limits in Mongolia.