First off, I hope everyone had an excellent summer. Wildfires have plagued us again for the second year in a row, making some days on the water next to unbearable in a heavy layer of smoke. Second off, I am back home and excited to be back on the blog again! I returned home at 5 o’clock this morning after a nice night of driving home from my summertime workplace, and in the 7 hours I had to ponder in between sips of coffee I decided this was a fitting topic.
Does being a fishing guide mean that you get paid to fish? How sweet it sounds to put on your waders, grab a rod and fish your way through the run of your dreams, all while collecting a nice cheque at the end of the day. You do get paid, but it is definitely not to go catch fish! You will be on the oars, on the net, untangling disastrous leader malfunctions that will resemble Charlotte’s Web, and making sure everyone is having a safe and enjoyable time. Over the last two months of working, I fished less than a full hour. I had plenty of opportunities to fish more than I did, but after a full day of rowing it is nice to have some time to yourself and prepare for the next day.
I had someone say to me over the summer, “This must be an awesome vacation job for you. You get to spend your summer in a beautiful place, and get paid to fish the whole time!”. Initially I found it somewhat offensive, but this person was not an angler and I took a few moments to explain the differences between guiding and fishing. I explained that while guiding brings you to some amazing destinations, you are not there to vacation you are there to work. It is incredibly hard leavinig my wife and daughter for extended periods of time, luckily time goes fast when you are keeping busy.
These will be your best friends!
Guiding is a great occupation and lifestyle choice for those that are passionate about teaching others and spending a lot of time in the outdoors. I would truthfully take a day of guiding over a day of personal fishing, the satisfaction of seeing other people having a great experience and knowing you play a small part in it is very rewarding. That, and the fact that I have bills and a family!
If you are reading this and are on the verge of leaving your 9-to-5 behind in pursuit of a career in guiding, consider the following:
– Can you maintain a positive attitude and keep the conversation interesting during periods of painfully slow fishing or when you have nothing in common whatosever with your guests other than the fact that you both have two sets of hands, feet and a beating heart?
– Unless you are guiding 200+ days annually, you will likely have to supplement your income somehow. For myself it is through writing, teaching fly fishing and tying courses, and a bit of travel booking. Guiding pays a fairly good wage, but you are not going to make a killing by working 3 months of the year.
– Are you okay with working 100+ consecutive days without returning home or taking weekends/holidays?
– Are you completely at peace with the idea of netting other people’s fish, without so much as laying your hands on a fly rod for days or weeks on end?
– Are you willing to fill in doing dishes, chopping wood, digging ditches, cleaning guest accommodations and doing a whole shitload of work that is in absolutely zero way related to fishing while keeping a smile on your face?
I am not trying to turn anyone off of this occupation as I believe it is the greatest one in the whole world. When you can replace the sentence “I have to go to work today” with “I get to go to work today”, you are doing the right thing. You have to have an incredibly deep running passion and understanding of the sport of fly fishing, as well as how to read clients and cater to their every last need. Creating an experience people won’t forget is what keeps them coming back!
That being said, I am back home now to complete my fall stillwater guiding season in beautiful Kamloops, British Columbia. Fall is one of the best times of year for big rainbows without having to deal with crowds of any sort, if you’d like to join in on the fun then leave your name in the contact form below! I would love to have you out.