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What We Learned When the World Shut Down

May 03, 23

Seven big takeaways and lessons from the destination angling industry.

Looking back over the past year, we’ve learned some valuable and important lessons as a business and as anglers. We’ve also been reminded of so many things that are important on both a personal and professional level. All told, Yellow Dog navigated some tricky waters in 2020, and along the way, our team gained (and re-gained) some valuable perspective on the importance of fishing, friendships, relationships, and communication.

  1. Having an agent working on your behalf is important – especially when things get difficult. We saw this play out time and again in 2020. While we were not always able to immediately fix things or deliver the perfect answer for canceled trips, we worked tirelessly for our customers – operating on their behalf and looking out for their interests.

    Having an agent like Yellow Dog (the largest creator of trips for many of the lodges in the industry) often-times made a difference. For people that had booked on their own or through a smaller shop or hobby agent, the outcomes – and the solutions offered – were often-times markedly different.
  2. Patience is everything. We’ve learned that tenacity and persistence goes a long way when it comes to re-bookings, reschedulings, and other resolutions. In the beginning of the pandemic, many operators and lodges were unprepared or unable to provide optimal solutions for canceled or affected trips. Over time, however, we were able to work with many of these operations – on behalf of our clients – to secure better solutions and improved offers. Patience pays!
  3. Being nice matters. When the shit really hits the fan, that is the time that you truly see the very best of people, and also the very worst. Luckily, the vast majority of our customers and clients were patient, nice and incredibly understanding throughout the pandemic, realizing that the world shutting down was not our fault nor the fault of the lodges or guides.

    The entire destination angling infrastructure took a devastating hit in 2020, and – unlike major airlines or cruise ship companies – there were no industry bail-outs. Every lodge, guide, outfitter and agent has been hurt by this, and for every one of you who was kind, patient and understanding in the face of cancelled trips and disrupted fishing plans, know that it was very much appreciated! (For the very small percentage of traveling anglers that were NOT nice, we’d love to send you some information on how to get involved in competitive bowling …)
  4. Trip insurance can help, but it is important to understand the fine print and details. For years, trip insurance was the security blanket that promised to make things right if a fishing trip was cancelled or disrupted. And when it came to work conflicts, illness, hurricanes or cancelled flight routes, these policies usually paid off.

    The problem with trip insurance is that – like all insurance products – the companies know how to cover their asses against big-time cataclysmic events, and way down the list in the fine, fine print of things that were NOT covered was … you guessed it … “worldwide pandemics.” It turns out that most insurance policies would not cover trip cancellations that were pandemic-related, which meant that travelers who seemingly did everything right (booking early, securing a trip with the right deposit, and of course covering themselves with a travel insurance policy) were left hanging when their trips were cancelled due to lodges (and the world) being shut down.

    Moving forward, we fully expect that travelers will remember this, and we hope that those companies and products that have failed to protect travelers will be replaced by innovative policies and new products which actually deliver.
  5. Having a solid and healthy destination angling infrastructure is crucial to our sport. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve known that – eventually – things would get back to normal and we’d be able to get back to doing what we love most: traveling and fishing the world.

    Having a lodge to return to (or your favorite guide still around to fish with) is a big deal, so being supportive of this infrastructure matters. For everyone that accepted a trip roll-over, re-booking fee or new dates, and especially to those that sent along the equivalent of a guide’s tip or donated to industry economic relief efforts, thank you.
  6. Protecting the resources that our sport depends on is more important than ever. We cannot fish and enjoy our time on the water without access to healthy and protected waters. You may love horse racing without necessarily being in love with horses, just as you can enjoy flying without being an advocate for clean air.

    You cannot, however, be a fly fisherman without a connection and attachment to the places, habitats, species and resources that our sport depends on. Conservation and action matter – in 2021 more than ever.
  7. Fishing is awesome – no matter where you go. As the world melted down throughout the course of 2020, many of us found solace on the water. And while it might not have been on the flats of the Seychelles, a river in the Amazon or in the wilds of Kamchatka, fishing anywhere proved to be good for our mental well-being.

    Many of us were reminded of how important fishing actually is. Many found their way to the sport for the first time. And many reconnected with fishing after years of being absent. Whether it was a summer road trip to Montana or fishing a small creek or pond in our own backyard, we were reminded of why we love to fish.