After reading my buddy Marty's post regarding the vast amount of info we process as guides, I wanted to add my 2 cents.
When guiding on any river you need to have a plan......at least most of the time. Sometimes it is loosely based sometimes it is a hard line. The NU is unique in that it is a drive, walk and wade river. This allows for multiple shots at certain runs that you would like to fish. Many times others like these runs as well. That is where knowing the river comes into play. As I drive the river I usually have spots in mind that I want to fish. The plan can change rapidly when someone is occupying a run that is on the hit list. When you see an occupied run a couple of things start to happen in my head very fast. First, I immediately think of the next run that would be worth stopping at. 2nd,as I pass the occupied run I am calculating a number of things. Do I know the person in the run? Does that person know where the fish are? Does he know where my favorite fish is in the run? Can he cover said fish? Is he standing in the right spot? Or is the person fishing there a newer fisherman to the river and clueless to the particulars of that run? These all contribute to weather or not I come back and fish the run later after that person is gone.
When fish are moving there are many runs that I will follow people through without a problem. I have a good sense of many of the anglers on the river and know who to follow through a run and who not to follow through a run. That of course can all change on a dime too and there are days that I will follow the best fishermen through because I have a feeling about a particular run. Often I will fish the run differently than they did and use a completely different approach. Adjusting cast angles etc to show the fish a different look.
Anyway, after passing the run that was plan A, I am looking for plan B. Driving at 50,all the while calculating time of day,sun angle,shadows, traffic on the water, fish movements and location in the river,wet footprints in runs etc. Plan B comes into view and someone is there as well, fishing it from the trail side. I quickly move on by that run making the same observations as I made passing Plan A. I always learn stuff on the river all the time, often from watching other people. The day I quit learning or think I have this river dialed will be the day I quit....it will never happen. Too much still to learn, so much more to know!
On and on it goes, sometimes passing many runs before you find an opening. All the while the calculations and observations are clicking off in your head. Ooh there's Vanman in Smith Springs, Nevada Red was in Famous, Fishbum is everywhere today I can't shake him! Dang it Wratney corked me in Honey Creek! Mikey is ghosting around upriver, Frank Moore is in Mill Run. Rich is in Wright Creek, Scott is in Lower B, Uncle Jeff is in The Bakers. Clueless dude is standing in the middle of the river in a no name run, casting in the frog water.
And so it goes, the endless cycle of fishing,driving, getting into runs first, getting into runs last. Trusting your skills and instincts to put you on a fish. Sometimes this may mean driving from the Deadline to the upper river because you have a feeling about a certain run. I have learned to trust those feelings and do what my senses tell me. I have been rewarded enough to know those feelings don't come by chance.The more you know the river the more backup plans you have. The more observant you are about not just where you fish but where others are fishing, the better chances you have at being in the right place at the right time.
For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So peopleare without excuse.(Rom 1:20)