So you hired a guide for one day and it's going up be a great day. You will visit top secret streams and catch lots of huge trout. Right? Hmm, maybe...
You see, what you are hiring is the guides experience and professionalism. He / she will get you into the best water in their mind for the time of year, the conditions, what they perceive your experience level to be and of course, where they feel the best chance of finding fish.
They will be mindful of your health and safety and cater towards this.
You will be put in a position to have shots at feeding fish...
But YOU have to make the cast.
A few things to consider:
1. One day doesn't give you a lot of time to get into the swing of things, especially if you only fish a couple of weekends a year, the weather may not be the best, the fish could simply not be playing ball, or your casting may be a little rusty. Near enough, is definatly not good enough. On single day trips expect your guide to do his best to get you amongst it, to spend a lot of time hammering your technique but keep your expectations realistic.
2. "I'm happy to hike in a few hours if this gives us better fishing". Um, ok. Let's work this out: let's say an hours drive to get to a backcountry river (most often more). Let's say an hour walk in, and at the end of the day, 2 - 3 hours hike out. A conservative hour drive home.
Without any fishing, this alone takes up 6 hours of your day. You only have maybe 4 hours to fish. (That's 10 hours pick up - drop off. There's also maybe an hours work for the guide each morning prior to pick up and an hour or more following drop off in unpacking, emailing clients, rechecking weather, gear etc.) Not a lot eh? If this is your gig, maybe a few days would make for a more satisfying trip and these kind of missions become more feasible, or spring for a chopper.
A typical day allows for around 8 hours river time and an hour or thereabouts travel each way.
On a single day booking we generally head to local waters to maximise your on-river time. This may surprise you, but often more, and bigger fish are encountered in these local day trips.
3. Stay realistic. The guide can't guarantee you fish. He can guarantee you the opportunity to cast to sighted, feeding fish or put you onto a productive riffle with experienced instruction and a bag of tricks. What happens then is entirely up to you. It is you who makes the presentation. You who controls the line and sets the hook. You who has to bring the fish to the net. Your guide can't make the fish eat, can't change the weather, can't help it if you haven't cast a fly in 6 months or lack the fitness / stamina to make it through the day.
If you are put on a joggly mataura riffle with a pair of size 16 nymphs and instructed to work the seams and drop offs and come up without a fish, chances are your presentation wasn't quite up to par... The flip side to this is however, your guide should be on your shoulder noting this as you go, and advising improvements.
Client: "So do I get a discount if I don't catch a fish?"
Chris: "Here's the flipside... Do I get a $50 bonus for every feeding fish I find that you don't catch?"
4. Your guide will be most happy to discuss the waters you fish on the day, but hiring a guide for a day does not give you ready access to all his secrets and catalogue of trophy headwater streams. Be respectful and don't ask. The way to experience these is to book a few days, and maybe come back too. Return next year and you may get to sample some of these once he knows you and feels you will show them the respect they deserve. Such waters take a number of years and many, many footsteps to explore and learn, and are protected and savoured for those who will truly appreciate them.
While it is fine to return to the river / beat on which you were guided yourself bare in mind a few things out of respect: let it rest and recover. Leave it for a few days afterwards before returning. And DO NOT return and pitch a tent and hammer it day after day. This is the quickest way to lose favour not only with your guide but with locals. It's good etiquette to move around and not just smash one particular section over and over again.
5. Book your guide as far out as you can as you do with flights. You don't get last minute discounts and very few good guides have days available at a weeks notice. (6 months plus for myself as an example, and October to Xmas 2014 is already fully booked.)
6. Your guide will guarantee he will take you out for an eye opening day of trout chasing, put you on the best options for the day (even if it appears slow, you can bet there aren't many better choices elsewhere), behave professionally throughout the day (though will not take too much shit: treat him with respect and you will get it back and more. Give him attitude, especially if YOU have blown fish after fish your guide has worked hard to find and you may get an earful ), assist you with your technique and introduce you to the local approach to his waters. Most importantly he will ensure you come to no harm and make it home safely.
He is your local experience, companion and safety advisor for the day.
So get recommendations from your buddies, referrals online, chat with your guide when booking and ask plenty of suitable questions. Let him know what you expect and be open to his responses. A good guide will keep it real, so don't feel bad if his response bursts your bubble. He may not discuss locations until he knows the weather etc the day before, or has met you in person and made an initial assessment (if you don't look capable of walking the backcountry it's a fair bet he won't take you there) but he will genuinely be looking forward to getting you out there and showing you the best of his services.