If you’re a fisherman or fisherwoman, you have certainly heard the term “the guides life”. Or you hear people say all the time “oh it must be rough being a guide”. I get it, at first glance it seems glamorous to be able to fish every day.
For those of you who aspire to do this full-time, beware, it’s not always what it seems! Taking the plunge to do this type of work full-time brings on plenty of issues. I personally feel I have the right demeanor to do this job. Not a lot rattles me or frustrates me when it comes to guiding folks. I take everything in stride and I absolutely love meeting new people.
Of course, for me, there isn’t a day that goes by that now, that I’m not super appreciative of what I get to do for a living. I have tried my hand in many different areas and this line of work draws me back and it takes hold.
It has its drawbacks for me personally though. I have two little girls I don’t get to see as much as I would like. It’s hard being gone for weeks on end traveling across the state of North Dakota chasing guide trips. Thank goodness for FaceTime!
Another crappy part for me is after the winter season was completed. I was so looking forward to guiding here at home and getting a chance to be with my girls more. Unfortunately, I find myself in the middle of a pandemic which is keeping me from seeing my little ladies as much as I would like. I’ll talk more about this later.
This past winter I took guiding on full-time after stepping down as head hockey coach of Bismarck High. For me, this was a huge life change. I had been a coach in some capacity for the last 14 years. Plus, I played professionally for 7 years prior to coaching. So to say not being in a hockey arena this past year it was a huge change for me!
I spent the vast majority of the frozen season up on Devils Lake working with Perch Eyes Guide Service. For all the part-time summer guides, this was a major step in how dedicated you are as a guide phase for me. I was once a part-timer and to say I was ready to do this full-time was easy to say, it was much harder to do.
The winter stuff isn’t for everyone. You are up early in the bitter cold and you go to bed late after cleaning fish and making sure all your equipment is ready to go for the next day. I learned in a quick hurry to not take anything for granted. If you thought you had everything dialed in, think again. You better have at least 3 of everything or more. Cold weather does some amazing things to equipment and your body. Nothing is easy, and everything you are doing is twice as hard.
It makes fishing in the open water feel like child’s play. Things freeze and things break. You turn into Mr. Fixit real fast out on the ice. You have to be 3 steps ahead. If you’re only 2 steps ahead, you’re in trouble. Being organized is a huge part of being a guide. This is the stuff most folks don’t even think about.
Another major factor that I’m facing along with other full-time guides is the coronavirus pandemic. This is leaving a lot of uncertainty for everyone in this industry. Trips have already been Who knows how many more will be canceled? I do not have other means of employment right now. Picking up a trip or two on the side like I did when I was a part-time guide doesn’t cut it for me. I have to remain busy somehow through these difficult times.
So far this spring, I have picked up a few trips here and there on the Missouri River. Mostly with local folks who I have taken out before in the past. I want to thank those folks for sticking by me, trusting me, and staying loyal.
I do take a lot of steps to sanitize the boat daily. I’m washing, spraying things down, and wiping everything down before and after every outing. Even if it’s just me out scout fishing, I’m still taking these precautions.
Being a full-time guide doesn’t mean on my days off to stay at home. I feel it is important for me to stay on the water to follow the bite and follow how things are changing. I want to give my clients the best possible day on the water. I don’t want to cheat them of that so I stay active on the water.
Another advantage I have is I’m running a 26-foot Angler Qwest Pontoon boat. This is really helping us spread out during the outing and being in the outdoors helps also.
To say I’m not scared what the future holds would be an understatement. Of course, I’m nervous. My other forms of backup employment are all shut down right now, so it’s not like I can just switch over for a while. This is just adding to the nervousness myself and other full-time guides are experiencing during these tough times.
I look at other states and they have completely closed things down. We have been fortunate here so far in North Dakota to at least somewhat remain normal. I’m not one to just accept the term the “New Normal”.
When I was coming up through the ranks in hockey I had to fight every step along the way to survive and move up the ladder. Guiding full-time is no different. We have to remain positive and try and find ways to stay happy and stay busy. For me, it’s watching others catch fish. I love making memories and I love giving folks that opportunity!
If you’re looking for a day or two on the water I would love to be your guide! The one thing I can guarantee is I’ll work my tail off for you to give you a great experience on the water.
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