Monday, December 19, 2011
2011 was a great year for us, despite the crazy water conditions. Our retail sales hung in there with very modest growth and our guide business was up by double digit percentage. Needless to say, I felt like I was just going on automatic for most of the season, as did everyone else that works with me. We just kept rolling with the water and our clients rolled along with us until thing settled down in August.
We did more trips on the Missouri and Madison than most years and less on the Yellowstone. We ended up booking some trips on new water too, mostly around Missoula. I had a very thick stack of client logs to sift through, decipher, and organize this year. Took me about a few hours a day for a week to get it all lined up. I hope somebody does something useful with all that information, otherwise I would rate it is another colossal waste of time that we can chalk up to govt. regulation!
Anyway, I have a lot of great memories from this past year. The biggest highlight for me was finding a couple of new spots that had both water and fish with a lack of other folks. I was talking to someone the other day about guiding and explaining the way we feel after 10-12 days in a row. Goes something like wake up too early...feel like crap and hate the fact that the sun comes up 3 hours after it sets...chug coffee and wish you had a cigarette but you know that is wrong so you just grit your teeth and inhale the coffee fumes...hitch up the boat...go get gas...go get lunches....get to the shop only to remember that you forgot to get ice...go get ice and realize that the trailer lights are out...work on the trailer lights with duct tap because the electrical tape is wet and in the bottom of the boat...back to the shop to grab some bugs, pick up clients and out...realize the wind is worse than you thought but better over there than here so you go anyway...call the shuttle in, talk football, politics, and maybe even some religion on the drive over just to set the tone for the trip....as you get closer to the put-in you realize that everyone else has the same idea so you change the shuttle and go to plan b...do the drill of boat, rig, and client rigging...back boat up hating life...do the walk from rig to boat...sit down in the rower seat, pull up the anchor rope, crack a joke, pull on the oars and suddenly it all feels like it is supposed to once again and life is good. It's amazing how good that water makes you feel, almost seems like everything in between is just filler.