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Minnesota Fishing Reports
Articles : Fishing is not the Whole Focus by Josh Lantz
Posted by LSF on Aug 27, 2012 (997 reads) News by the same author

Josh Lantz dishes on what’s important for overall success as a fishing guide

Would you be surprised to hear a veteran fishing guide say that the fishing is “only about a
third” of his focus when taking out customers?

That might seem hard to believe, given, after all, that he’s a fishing guide – and the most
obvious service he provides is helping people catch fish. But the slippery truth behind the
longevity and success of the best guides is that they understand the big picture of guiding – and
embrace the reality that fishing can be good one day, bad the next. And that, despite the ups and
downs of the bite, it’s important to be paid at the end of each trip.

For going on 14 years, Josh Lantz has been taking anglers on rewarding adventures in
southwest Michigan and northern Indiana. His business is called World Class Fly Fishing
with Josh Lantz, although his customers are free to use a variety of tackle types to target bass,
steelhead, salmon and muskies. He employs a drift boat or center console, depending on the
waters, and includes fly-fishing instruction at no additional cost if they would like to break into
handling the long rod.

Fishing guides, to paraphrase Lantz’s philosophy, would do well to surrender to the serenity
prayer, and make sure they’re covering all the bases that lead to an enjoyable day on the water.
“I learned right away,” he says, thinking back to the beginnings of his guiding career, “that
the fishing was only maybe one-third of the total puzzle. I knew the fisheries well, knew where
I could take people that they could catch fish, knew I would be able to teach them how to catch fish on those fisheries. But because there are so many variables that help determine whether your customers catch fish or not, I also figured out that I needed to do whatever possible to help them enjoy their day.”

Rather than thinking you can get by on fishing knowledge and a few grunts from the back of
the boat, Lantz believes successful guides should prepare for, and deliver, an overall experience.
“I contact my customers ahead of time,” he notes, “and find out what beverages they would
like while they’re out there, and what they want for lunch. I cook them a nice lunch. I try to soak
in their personality, figure out what to say and what not to say. A fishing guide needs to be an
adaptable social expert with top-notch interpersonal skills. You are responsible for their day, and people are different. “You don’t get two people who are the same in all respects. You have to figure out what they need in order to have a good day, as fast as possible.”

Tom Neustrom, a legendary guide in northern Minnesota, echoes this same idea, noting that
guides “are entertainers, really; that’s what we are. Some people like when you talk their ear off, some people want to just be out there and fish quietly. Some people bring important business contacts, and want to talk to them, not you. Guides have to know when to just keep the boat in position and listen.”

Ron Lindner, an icon in the guiding world, is another believer in the “overall experience” factor. “The customer is paying you for your expertise,” Lindner stressed, “not for a certain
number or size fish in the bag.” In order to make certain that visions of arm-straining catches do
not become the central focus, Lantz believes, it’s important to avoid highlighting your best all-
time catches to every new client.

“You can’t post a stellar fishing report all the time,” says Lantz. “You want to show good
catches when you can (on your web site, in your fishing reports in a blog or Facebook), but you
can’t lead people to believe fishing is dynamite all the time. I’m really careful about that one.”
Setting realistic expectations, then delivering on the overall promise of a good day doing something your customers enjoy, is the road to success.

Lantz’s latest email blast sent to past and potential clients featured the theme, “your memories are waiting.” It included a picture of a guide client holding one nice fish, and another
image of a father and son fishing together. No hard-to-repeat photos of rare catches.

“People go fishing for a lot of reasons,” says Lantz. “It’s your job to find out what’s most
important to each customer and try your best to give that to them. The fishing is always going to
be up and down. You can’t control that. But you can control whether they have an enjoyable day
on the water. As the guide, you’re responsible for that.”

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