There is one question that always gets brought up through a day’s guiding, “So how many years of experience do you have?”. Unlike many of the guides that I work around, I do not have the satisfaction of saying that I have been fishing all of my life. At the ripe age of 22, if I were to tell my clients that I have been fishing all of my life they would laugh. Therefore, I am forced into trying to equate my level of experience in terms of years, which has become the accepted standard for measuring fishing experience. This really got me thinking about experience levels in terms of fishing ability. I believe that that experience level should not be solely judged on age, or in this case the number of years that someone has been guiding. The number of years an angler has been fishing alone is not a true reflection of their level of experience. What has a real significance is the actual amount of time that an angler has spent on the water. Time is a much more accurate measure of experience level and trust me there is absolutely no substitute for time spent on the water. Another thing that needs to be noted is that every angler has different experiences that have taken them to different streams fishing for different fish with different techniques. This means that even anglers that have spent the same amount of time on the water, have very different experiences. All these different experiences make some anglers more experienced in certain waters, fish, techniques, and situations than others. I am a true believer that every angler has different levels of experience in different areas and this facilitates the opportunity for all anglers to learn from one another. The only way to continue to climb the steep learning curve of fishing, is by continually looking for ways to improve. Surrounding yourself with anglers who are not afraid to question your decisions and offer positive criticism is the best way to improve. Tuck away the arrogance and pride that is so commonly associated with fishing ability, and keep your mind open to learning from fellow anglers. Any piece of information, conversation, or trip on the water can be a learning experience, but only if the angler allows it to be.
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