So You Really Want To Be A Fishing Guide?

A fishing guide tells a cautionary tale

If there is one thing a fly fishing guide that makes his/her living in the brine despises is the client hook-set or… better known as the pre-mature ejerkulations. We assume that all anglers know that you strip until the line comes tight and then, only then, do you rotate your body, utilizing the butt of the rod to drive the hook home. It doesn’t have to be fast, only firm and diliberate. Well what if the fish are following the fly and eat the fly coming at you and if you don’t strike quick, well they just spit the the fly?

A couple of Novembers ago I was sharing my skiff with one of the most talented anglers that I know- Andy Packmore from Fishing Tackle Unlimited. It was cold and the tides were all wrong so, instead of an all out feed, the redfish were sluggishly tracking a well-delivered fly as much as twenty feet before surging to eat it. The only way to hook these fish was to see them eat and, well quickly raise the rod prior to them spitting the fly.

Being the skilled angler that he is, Andy quickly caught on and nailed a couple of fish before it happened. He had made as perfect a cast as possible and the fish started following the fly and then made the surge. Andy was quick to raise his rod and as it loaded up, the hook failed to find purchase and came out of the fish’s mouth, loading the rod and creating a nearly perfect backcast. Realizing that he had the opportuntity to re-deliver the fly to a fish that had already commited to a meal. The problem is that this all happened at 12 o’clock meaning the back-cast came back towards the poling platform where I just happened to be standing and the leader wrapped around my neck and the wet fly hit me in my cheek. It was stuck there, albeit very momentarly. As Andy started his forward cast it was just like in the movies. You know, all in slow motion. Nooooooooooo.

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About Scott Sommerlatte

Scott Sommerlatte is a Simms Guide Ambassador and fly fishing and hunting guide who works primarily out of the Port O’Connor/Seadrift area of Texas. He has now been fishing and hunting these areas for 25 years and has been guiding fly fishermen full time for over a decade. Scott has also made a name for himself as an outdoor photographer and writer. His credits can been seen in numerous national and regional fishing and hunting magazines such as Salt Water Sportsman, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Shallow Water Angler, Sportsman, Tide, Fly Fishing in Salt Waters, Sport Fishing and Saltwater Fly Fishing magazines and in the Lone Star Outdoor News. Visit Scott at
  • Brent Wilson

    Oh man, this is what nightmares are made of.  Made for a great photo, though.  Hope Andy was a good tipper.

    • Bob Dimesky

      Here’s a funny I hope you all enjoy!

      Once, on a fly-in trip to Labrador, one of my charges, an over-anxious sport, eager to score the first fish, was casting with abandon, over my vociferous objections.. Erratic winds and an extra-heavy streamer fly were taking the fly ever-closer to his right ear with every successive cast.

      We were casting good size streamers and he was losing control fast. In my attempts to get to the “right” side of him, I became the recipient of a fine gift!, a Partridge 1/0 8x long Grey Ghost streamer fly, which I tied for him, in the direct top and center of my head. As the fly faced forward it looked like a “mullet” atop my head, no pun intended! Being outback and nowhere close to medical help, only heavy icing and an entire bottle of good champagne we brought allowed the barb to be brought vertically enough to puncture the leather-like scalp we are all endowed with. Once thru, we snipped off the barb and I continued to Ice the pain away for another couple of days…. The pic of me in that “Mullet” was, and always will be unforgettable…..

  • Tycote

    Nice lipper?

  • Not Sympathetic

    Whatever. Act like you’ve done it before. Quit whining. I could go on….
    Any fishing guide that’s been on the water more than a season has been hooked in the face, possibly more than once. You’re complaining because a supposedly great angler made a mistake and accidentally hooked you? Get over it.

    • Maineguide

       Let me think, whose boat would I get on, yours or his?

    • don’t know why i read this

      it’s obviously a fluff piece Mr Not Sympathetic so chill with your guide rage,  get over it

  • Fred Telleen

    Been hooked in the hands, arms, back and neck, but never the lip.  That’s just wrong.

  • Northfork

    So clean, it’s not even bleeding.  As long as you put the barb down, hopefully the gratuity made up for your troubles.


  • Redneckfordluvr

    There are worse things than this that happen to guides. It goes with the job. Everyone has things to bitch about that happen in their chosen careers. You still get to spend the time in the outdoors doing what you enjoy. Try being cooped up in a cubicle twelve hours a day staring into a computer screen.

  • WYO TroutAngler

    Wow. So many tough guys responding. Hints of jealousy, arrogance, and the downright ignorance of “Not Sympathetic”. I think this was a great story. Not only was it something we can probably all relate to, with most fisherman understanding the feel of a barb under flesh, but I know in the end I was thinking “NOO!!!” myself as the fisherman was going into his forward cast. Again, great story. Hope to read more. 

  • Yellowstone Guide

    Good Story.  It happens and I feel for ya.   Hows this for last years guide season.  Had a 10 yr old boy fall in below class 5 water (Lamar Canyon), jumped in after him, dad tries to help and goes in next with waders on, straight down, not good!   Both were okay and will surely not ever forget their first fishing trip in Yellowstone.   In June, fishing near Midway Geyser Basin, a father wanted to show his son that the thermal features were not that hot after warning them before ever setting out not to touch the water, decides to put his fingers in the light blue hot spring scalding them severely. (160 degrees)   Later June, a foreign gentlemen decided that he wanted to stagger off and go pet a bison and the bison did not like that much, charging him and tossing him 25 feet into sage brush as i was yelling to get away.  Still around to tell the story with his 5 friends that were in his party that day (none spoke English and all wanted to learn how to fly fish!)  In July, fishing near Midway Geyser Basin, a father wanted to show his son that the thermal feature was not hot after warning them before ever setting out not to touch the water, decides to put his fingers in scalding them to the bone.  September, father and son fishing in Gardiner river with me.   Cason the son, a lefty, is fishing to one side and Dad, a righty, the other.  Cason yells at me as I am helping dad get lined out.  Turning fast I think he has a fish on!  Not the case, up river 20 feet coiled up and floating on top the water with a Pika in its mouth is a Rattlesnake.  Its a good thing the Pika was tasty or Cason would have been in real trouble as the snake grazed the side his leg.  All in all, this along with untying knots, missed fish, hypothermia, dehydration, Grizzly Bears and Lightning at 8000 feet makes you think safety more than fish!       

  • Restigouche 60

    It gets numb in a few minutes,I know.I had a lawyer hook me and wanted me to take a picture in case I tried to sue him,ten minutes he hooked himself in the cheek I took pics of him, double hook # 4 salmon fly   made a memorable picture.