Over all the years in this industry and all the conversations with other Professional Anglers, Landowners, and Clients about how the average For-Profit Retail Fly Shop Outfitting does not work well for anyone or anything.
In March 2017 these discussions came back up with two Ranch Owners I've held long-term leases with for most of my time here in Pagosa Springs about 9 years. They stated they were not wanting to renew contracts due to it wasn't worth the money, the hassle, and the abuse of their land and fish.
I’m not going to lie, they were totally right, but I felt like my whole world pulled out from under me with no warning.
I was always told and always believed that I held higher standards for my Outfitting, towards myself, my guides, and even my clients everywhere I’ve worked.
We did not overbook trips, on our busiest year(season) for example in the retail outfitting of these two properties we guided a total of 264 people through these waters and turned down just as many other trips. Our actual capacity on just these two properties could be 2760 people total in just our short season if ran like most seasonal tourist guide services.
What if I didn't spread out pressure equally between each beat, for example on if I guided each ranch everyday one ranch it would be 6-7 days before I’d see the same beat again and 3-4 days on the other Ranch.
What if I didn’t cut down two years ago to only guiding my own clients. To just offering guided trips to my own long term existing clients, a few client referrals, a few children and disabled Veterans got on these waters.
We never fished or booked trips during bad environmental conditions low, warm waters that may be hazardous to the health of the fishes will not be fished.
We did not do any fishing or guiding that may have affected spawning fishes at those locations . I managed all my waters as Wild Trout Fisheries, unless there's extreme adverse environmental conditions (flooding, landslides, winter kill, droughts or recent necessary stream rehabilitation work) occur that may harm the fishery then some hatchery fingerlings (3"-5" fishes) may be planted to help sustain the population.
Even with my best efforts to apply my fishing ethical standards, the Retail Guiding business model was/is Broken. I'm not saying this across the board. In some states, some localities, it does work well enough, but does not work here due to many factors. We will continue to touch on through future Blog posts as well as with some Sacred Waters Advocacy Actions.
I discussed this Idea I’ve had for the last few years of what is now Sacred Waters and the Ranch Owners were very receptive and decided to continue our contracts.
This all has been a kick in the pants to not be afraid of taking the risk to do what I’ve always thought was right and the best, well personally speaking only option for our local environment and to help others.
Now the Sacred Water Journey begins……
The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.