Updated: Jan 17
Here in the Shenandoah Valley there are but a few leaves left on the trees. The days are getting cold and the nights even colder. While I love the Fall there is always the impending doom of the upcoming winter. Virginia winters aren't that bad, and I shouldn't complain, but I hang up the fishing gear and do my best to hibernate until warmer temperatures and sun pull me from my slumber.
I started guiding about 20 years ago at The Homestead Resort in Bath County, and over the years for a few local shops. However, this was my first "official" year as Middle River Outfitters and venturing out on my own full time. While it is exhilarating but sometimes stressful, guiding is definitely the career I wanted to pursue. It took some time and planning to make that happen, but here I am. I survived.
First of all, I have was very fortunate to have so many clients find me this year. This wasn't achieved simply by hanging out a sign saying "Open". A lot of research, marketing, and advertising was done just to get eyeballs. There were plenty of calls, emails, and organizations to meet with. A lot of time also spent on the water, fishing or not, to learn more about each waterway, best times to fish, and hatches.
I was also fortunate enough to meet so many willing landowners to provide unique experiences for my clients. From large trout in the Allegheny Mountains to smallmouth bass on the Shenandoah River to native brooke trout along Blueridge Parkway, we were able to find ways for remote, private trips that could fit the bill for any level of angler.
I believe that allowed for virtually every person to have a great experience, not just a day fishing.
I'm very much looking forward to having some time off to recover and do some fishing myself in some warmer climes. However, not guiding doesn't mean downtime all winter. Rods need to be fixed, reels re-spooled , and lines cleaned. Flies need to be ordered and tied, and my favorite, testing and patching waders. This involves me trying to find and patch any holes, then standing chest deep in the winter water to see if they leak. I have a dozen pairs of waders...
Not always glamorous to be a guide, but after my first year I can't wait for Spring of 2023 and to get going again!