Early on the second morning we started off fishing on a beach in Ballinskelligs Bay - I took two clients with me and John headed off with the other two to the end of the beach so that we would end up meeting in the middle and then head off for breakfast. It was very misty but threatening to turn rather stunning if the sun ended up breaking through.
So we're on a big beach and it's essentially up to me to help my two clients try and catch fish - I am merely a fledgling bass guide under the tutelage of a true pro (John Quinlan), but this professional guide is trusting me to use what knowledge I hope I have to "read" the water and find fish for my two guys. Pressure? Of course, but fishing guides know all about that, and I am loving learning a bit about it. I've spent countless days working around professional guides, but to be actually attempting it myself? Crumbs.........
Now it's not as if there are bass everywhere, but the conditions look good and even though a fairly shallow beach may look like a uniform mass of tumbling water to many people, the shape of the waves etc. are actually showing you a lot about what lies beneath - whether that be sandbanks, gullies, holes etc. So I am "guiding" my two clients and I'm looking for specific areas for them to cast their lures into.
We come to a stunning looking bit of water - there's a ripple effect to the water which is telling me that on the left is a small area of boulders, and then there's a great looking gully running out to the breaking waves with a sandbank just over from the gully. I call one of the clients in and explain what I am looking at, in that the way the water is moving around is telling me exactly what the lay of the land is. I ask my client to put his lure right down the gully and retrieve it at a medium kind of speed, and then I leave him to it and stand back to watch. What was the lure? The continuously killer IMA Komomo SF125.
A few casts later and the client hooks and lands a bass - sure, it's only a schoolie and it's not as if he's jumping up and down with joy at the size of the thing, but let me tell you that inside I was a mess. Pure joy, satisfaction, elation and relief - if you go fishing and catch fish then you might wonder what on earth I am on about, but for me it was just about everything. One single little bass, but it's a fish that I "guided" my client onto. Now that client is a good angler who smashes plenty of bass himself, but he doesn't fish beaches and I hope he'd agree that he has really enjoyed learning a bit about "reading" beaches. And for me it was just a huge thrill to spot a feature, call a guy in, show him where to fish and how to go about it, and then he catches a fish. I am on a big learning curve here, but yes, I felt like a guide right then.
Sadly the fishing has been fairly tough so far. We've got one day left, we've had some stunning conditions, but for whatever reason the bass haven't been properly on, albeit everybody has caught a few - but tomorrow is always another day, and we have one day left with our clients here in Kerry. What have I as a fledgling guide learnt? Too much to put down here for starters as I need to get some sleep ready for another early start, but I am still buzzing from that single small bass that my guy had on the beach on the second morning. I look at guides I know like John Quinlan, Nick Hart or Jako Lucas and I recognise that I am at about less than 1% of getting towards being a proper guide, but I'm loving the experience and I can but hope that these four clients are enjoying it as much as I am. Oh, and Ireland is getting to me all over again - what a country.