Lunch, dinner in the southeast, is a very important time of the day. It’s especially important after a fun-filled, active morning of fly-fishing. It’s what is needed to recharge your batteries. If you’re fishing by yourself it’s easy to have a well-balanced noon meal. If you are fly fishing with a guide it can be a very different experience.
I have been fortunate to have had guided trips in locations that include, Argentina, the Bahamas, and the majority of the states in the U.S. Having been guided in all those places I have seen everything from nothing to over-the-top, in lunches. That brings me to what a paying fly fisher might expect a guide to provide for lunch.
Let’s start with over-the-top lunches. That award goes to Argentina. A typical stream-side lunch begins with hors d’oeuvres. That is followed with an appetizer, then a salad. Next is a hot entree, cooked on site. This meal is washed down with a very good Malbec. There is also desert, not just a cookie either. I did have to bring my own cigar. This is a normal lunch for Argentina. Every lodge I have fished with had similar lunches. It’s great, but a nap is needed before the afternoon fishing begins.
In the Bahamas and U.S. all the guides have provided a good lunch. Not the affair as in South America, but a good lunch similar to what I packed for my clients or myself. I said all guides, that is not entirely correct. The one state where guides didn’t provide lunch, and in some cases even water, is Florida, in particular the saltwater guides. Of all the saltwater guides I have used in Florida, not one has provided food. A few brought water. I’ve even had Florida guides ask if they could have part of the lunch I brought for me. I have to assume they think their sole job is to put you on fish, therefore, sustenance and water is up to you.
Those two extremes bring me to the question, “What should you, as a customer, expect your guide to provide in the way of food and beverage?” The simple answer is don’t expect anything; ask what is provided, and no one will be unhappy. Trust me, a guide does not want an unhappy client. It’s not good for business.
When booking a guide, if you want a lunch provided, let him know. Don’t go crazy and ask for fried chicken when a long hike is needed to get to your spot. Fried chicken is heavy to carry, and bears can smell it. Have a conversation with the guide about your likes, dislikes, special diet issues, and food allergies. I have shown up with food not suitable for the special needs of some of my past clients. Also, water is a must. Be sure and take a camelback (hydration pack) if water is not provided. If it is, offer to carry what you’ll be consuming. A guide doesn’t need to be carrying water for two. Once a menu has been agreed to, clean your plate. Lunches are a big expense for guides, and having food go to waste is just not necessary.
Last but not least. If your guide has exceeded your lunch expectations be sure and thank them with a tip. It does help cover the cost of meals.