Guided Trip – Input Needed

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    B. Moffitt


    Before I go off half cocked I wanted to put the following situation to the board. While on a recent family vacation I went on a 1/2 day guided trip with a guide service I hadn’t used before. Before scheduling the trip I looked into all their reviews (Facebook, Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor, etc). Overall they were incredibly positive (4+ Stars) so I felt pretty secure in scheduling a trip with them. My only requirements were that we not fish two rivers I’ve fished extensively on previous trips to the area. The person I spoke with on the phone indicated that wouldn’t be a problem as they had plenty of water available to them. On the day of the trip I got to the shop at the requested time and met my guide for the day. He indicated I asked to fish a specific river (I hadn’t), and that he thought fishing that river would be “tough” based upon comments he’d received from another guide. I indicated that wasn’t a problem and what suggestions did he have. I was told the best bet was to “fish in town”. Now here is where the issue started as I specifically stated when booking the trip that I had fished this river many times and didn’t have any interest in fishing it on a guided trip (I do pretty well on this river without help), and asked what other options we had and I listed two other rivers I knew the shop can guide on. I was essentially told that neither were fishing well and our best bet was the river in town. I reluctantly agreed but honestly felt like my request to fish elsewhere was being refused under the guise of “other rivers are fishing better”. I base this on having visited the shop a few days prior and getting the scoop on area waters. When talking to personnel in the shop all said, don’t fish the river in town fish any of these other rivers (two of which were the very rivers the guide told me weren’t fishing well). I’m not big on complaining and I was willing to defer to the guide that my best chance of catching fish was in town. Well the trip started out decently well with the guide seeming to know what he was doing. On the second cast I had a fish on and the guide netted it, and before I could even state I wanted a picture he’d released it. I commented immediately that I’d wanted a picture (it was a nice sized fish for the river) and he sort of apologized but stated “there will be others”. Well….long story shorter, for the next 3 hours there weren’t any other fish. Finally, in the last hour after having spent the prior 3 watching the guide go from one fly to another trying to find something the fish would bite on we found a hole where the fish were biting and managed to catch a few more really nice sized fish before our time was up. In addition when we returned to the shop and settled up I was charged for 7 flies, but I only received 2 from the trip and lost a single fly to an overhanging tree. There was no discussion of where the other 4 flies had gone (into the guides pocket I’m 100% sure).

    So we come to the questions of the situation:
    1. What did I as the customer do wrong? Did I miss-state my preferences or should I have stuck to my guns and demanded to fish one of the other rivers rather than fishing “in town” (in other words did I give in too easily)?
    2. Should I bring this whole situation to the attention of the shop owner, or take it as a learning experience and not use them in the future?
    3. Should I post my experience to the same sources I read reviews on so others are aware there may be “issues” with the shop? Or should I only post a negative review of the shop if, after contacting the owner, I don’t receive a satisfactory response.

    If before commenting anyone feels additional information is necessary please either PM me directly or let me know via the board.


    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    That’s a bad deal Brian, no mistake. We had a similar experience to some extent when we booked guides out of New Orleans for my bachelor’s party. Local guides, poor quality boats, kept reassuring us that the area was fishing until we actually got there, when they admitted that they had actually talked us into booking on the very edge of their offseason. We scrapped the first day we had booked and should have scrapped the second. Four boats full of good anglers and one fish landed.

    My point is, guides–especially in areas that don’t rely on repeat customers–have a perverse incentive to try to maximize whatever they have right now versus targeting a longer-term profit. Most guides understand that word gets around and they can only burn so many people, and of course fishing is fishing, so thankfully this kind of conduct is the exception, not the norm.

    This to me, though, doesn’t sound like a fishing problem. It sounds more like a guide’s convenience thing. I suspect the other rivers outside of town took more gas to get to and the guide didn’t feel like doing that for a 1/2 day trip.

    My suggestion would be to make your feelings known to the shop owner, because you may not be the first guy this has happened to. Tell him you understand the economics and there’s a possibility you were asking for more than you realized (1/2 day with lots of driving), but that as an out-of-towner you need the shop owner to be big enough to explain the situation to you up front rather than trying to steer you into an experience you never wanted to begin with.



    1. The Fly’s –
    The better shops / guides that I am familiar with work the price of a dozen or half dozen fly’s directly into the price of the trip. What you don’t loose you keep. If you don’t want to keep them its an easy way to round out a guides tip. Nothing kills the stoke like nit-picky fly issues at the end of the day, better to have it worked into the bottom line at the start. You “settled up” at the end of the day? That’s poor form on them, all that jazz should be out of the way before the day starts, strictly between client and outfitter. They serve as a business layer between client and guide. This way the guide can be Mr. Fun working hard to assure a decent tip and not tangled up in the business aspects.

    2. The Destination –
    This is super tricky. You don’t want to put off your guide at the start of the day by being all kinds of demanding. However, he should have done a much much better job getting on the same page with you. “I don’t care how many fish I land, I want to explore new water, learn new access, figure out new approaches…etc…etc.” That’s a totally reasonable conversation to be had first thing. It’s your day! He should be making you priority one, at the same time you want to keep your guide happy to a degree – listening to them, paying close attention, following the rules of the game, etc. Super dicey.

    Was it near the end of the season? My guess is that it was…perhaps you got a fried guide. This is where Zach’s on the button with the “guide convince” issue. Where you fishing in a permitted area? For example, lots of western rivers here in Wyoming and Idaho outfitters are only allowed to send a certain number of boats through a certain section of river based on their permit. First time out- of-towner’s who “don’t know any better” are not offered an option of where to go and are sent to river sections with open slots for that particular day.

    3. The Shop Owner
    You should definitely speak to the shop owner and gently explain the situation. I am sure they would want to know. A close friend of mine just got fired, after 2 seasons, from a large reputable outfitter because of too many similar complaints about him. He’s my buddy and all, but his canning was completely justified.

    Sorry you got burned.

    B. Moffitt

    Zach and Karlin,

    Thank you for the replies. To your points Zach I totally agree. The more of thought about it the more I think this guy didn’t want to drive a long ways knowing he’d lose a good portion of his day both to the trip and to driving. And honestly, I totally get that. I only do 1/2 day trips because, lets be honest it isn’t a fishing trip it’s the family vacation. When I’m gone I miss out on things my kids are doing and I want to be involved in their activities. I’ve done “1/2 day” trips that have gone on 5 hours of fishing and 3 hours of driving (out and back) and had to deal with a frustrated spouse who had her expectations set at 4.5-5 hours.

    Karlin to your points I also 100% agree. This was the first trip I’ve been on where flies were “calculated” at the end of the trip (normally it’s as you describe) and it wasn’t until later that I realized I’d essentially been charged for flies I didn’t receive. Given I think the guide had 1000+ flies with him in various boxes and places I see where they all came from. As to the trip I’m not sure if I’d call it the end of the season, but certainly late in the season (fishing in the CO high country is generally good until the snow flies and even then winter fishing isn’t unheard of). I’m not sure about the permitting issue as this was a walk/wade trip but I know the shop is permitted on all of the waters suggested to me when setting up the trip. As you note you don’t want to be “that guy” and start pitching a fit about where to fish as the guide might have information you don’t. However, I should have stuck to my guns and insisted on fishing elsewhere or just outright canceling of the trip when it seemed like I wasn’t going to get the trip I wanted.

    To both of your points I’ll be contacting the shop owner in the next few days and airing my concerns to him. In any event I’ll report back on my experiences. As with my original post I’m going to continue my practice of not naming the shop until I feel the community needs to know about an unethical shop.


    B. Moffitt

    Well it took a while but I finally was able to speak with the shop owner yesterday. We had a good conversation and to say he was audibly distressed at the outcome of the trip is an understatement. When I contacted him I was simple in my request. I didn’t ask for a refund of any kind. I merely asked for an apology for the day on the water not being what I’d asked for. What I received was a full refund of all fees paid to the shop (though I insisted several times they could deduct the cost of the flies I have (and the one I lost)). The owner was a stand up guy who 100% agreed with me that they hadn’t provided the service I wanted and that he’d take it up with the guide I went out with. I’m going to continue my practice of not publicly naming the shop as I don’t want to associate their name with the negative experience I detailed given they handled it beyond my expectations. However, if someone privately wants to know I’m happy to share as I’d like to direct business to them since they stood up and took responsibility for the guides poor decision making.


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