When I first looked in to becoming a guide, it didn’t take me long to realise that there was more to this game than just taking people out to catch fish. The planning and preparation for my own fishing trips has always been involved, to say the least, but to prepare tackle that was usable to perhaps an angler that had never fished before or possibly two or even three fresh faces to the sport, was time consuming. From choosing a date and venue that would not only more than likely produce a fish or two to pinpointing when the client could actually make it took a great deal of time pouring over a tide table. Once the plan is in place, you then have to keep everything crossed that come the day, the weather gods will look fondly upon your plans and give something that will work in your favour. Obviously we have no control over that, but when this element comes good, it certainly does grease the wheels.

Having attracted my initial clients through social media, it was my presumption that these guys were taking their fishing seriously enough to invest a little money in it and that when the plan on the day did all come together and I was lucky enough (though we all know that in this game luck is just a small part of the end result) to find them a few fish, that they would want to shout it from the roof tops. My camera always comes with me, though nowadays that’s often in the form of a smartphone that is more than capable of taking a quality image and I enjoy capturing that moment of glory before the catch of the day is released back in to the water.  In fact, most clients are reaching for their own phone the second their catch hits dry land and are requesting a picture to immediately send on to their kids, wife or cat. This is often a given, but what I did come to realise was that those pictures I had personally chosen to take, were often taken on the understanding that they were only passed to the client and not for any other reason.

When I first encountered this, I must admit to feeling a little baffled, at least initially anyway. There was once a time when an annual club presentation night was the moment of glory, but with the dawn of the internet, that instant recognition could be gleaned by a simple social media post. Online catches, rightly or wrongly do tend to be rated by likes, thumbs up and other digital forms of pats on the back. Add to this the exposure that the guide receives and you’d think that it was a win-win situation for both parties.

But there are many reasons why an angler may choose to decline having his day out (that he has paid for I might add) published to the small screen and it’s something that as a guide, you should just have to deal with and accept. It is a rare occasion that a client politely declines to appear on social media, but when they do, I feel it’s something I should respect and just as they are paying me to hopefully locate some fish and show them how to catch them, they’re perfectly entitled to also request that I do not share that capture, in my opinion. And I’ve encountered a number of reasons why they may choose not to.

It’s important to remember that the session is on the paying clients terms and that can mean a number of things. Such asks and conditions may include the desire to have a bait cast for them, a venue selected for its ease of access or that the date in question must strictly be a Tuesday. Within reason, it’s the guides job to fulfil the criteria for any session and respect the conditions as laid out by the client. If that means that they choose not to participate in any promotional material, then so be it. The guide is offering a fairly bespoke experience that should be tailored to the individual’s (or groups) needs and this will ultimately ensure that the session is an enjoyable one and plays out in a way the client sees fit.

Reasons that any client may not wish to participate in the online sharing of images relating to their session are numerous, but to begin with, let’s remember that there are some people out there who simply do not participate in social media and despise the entire concept. They’re probably not reading this either. Those who are on social media may not wish for their friends to view their guided session as a means of seeking assistance with their fishing when they have been struggling with it (a small minded perception but one that exists across different parts of society all the same). The angler in question may wish to conceal that venue they were shown on the day as it became special to them at that time and having parted with cash to be taken to it, would be reluctant to share it and so assist others in finding success there off the back of their own investment. The final reason I can see why any angler may not wish to share their adventure is that they shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

Pulling a ‘sickie’ and going fishing is something many will be familiar with and more than one of my clients has quietly asked that I refrain from publishing pictures of them beaming with their catch for this very reason. As comical as that might sound, they could land up in hot water should the wrong person find out that they weren’t on their death bed for the day.

From the guides perspective, of course it’s frustrating when a client makes a good catch and they request that their good fortune is not used for any social media posting. This exposure offers some valuable advertisement for the guides venture and he could attract further business enquiries off the back of such a catch. But he/she really should take it on the chin and be pleased that the client had a productive day. It’s highly likely that the successful angler will tell their family and friends of their good fortune which still offers some, albeit smaller, level of promotion through word of mouth. One thing that is for certain is that by respecting the clients wishes, they will in turn reflect on that session in a positive light and possibly make a further booking down the line. The flip side of that is any negative feelings regarding the guides conduct will more than likely be brought to the attention of others through social media and potentially do considerable harm to the guides business. And this is one game where the ‘any publicity is good publicity’ rule does definitely not apply.

For the sake of respecting a clients wishes, no matter how frustrating they may be, a lot of hassle can be avoided and an untarnished reputation for producing the goods and being good at what you do, preserved.

Communication is certainly key here and as with any form of teaching, it rightly should be.

With communication, comes respect and an understanding of what is required. Without these, all of the knowledge in the world becomes useless. After all, the customer is always right and besides which, chances are that the next client will be clambering to get on the cover of every magazine out there, should he make a memorable catch during his session.

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