Fishing guides play a key role

I’ve been a pretty lucky guy to be able to pursue a living doing what I love–several things related to fishing and the fishing industry.
Promotional activities, tournament fishing, writing, and photography go along with guiding to keep me busy throughout the year.
My first job, when I was 14 years old, was guiding fishermen out of Ash Rapids Camp on Lake of the Woods.
Throughout high school and while I was going to university, I worked at several tourist camps on Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake. I even put in a few stints at some fly-in camps in the region.
It was a great summer job that not only allowed me to spend a bunch of time on the lake, but I met a ton of interesting people and made some pretty good money.
We have a bunch of tourism outfits located across the region that attract tourists from all over the world. Don’t quote me on this but I heard an interesting fact this winter and that’s that Lake of the Woods alone attracts more angler tourism than the entire province of Manitoba.
Those are big numbers.
In all of these people who visit us to experience the fantastic fishing opportunities that exist here, there are plenty who bring their own boat and do their own thing. There is a satisfaction for experienced anglers to find and catch fish on their own—and that’s fine.
There also are plenty of anglers who don’t own a boat or don’t want to bring their boat, but still want to experience great fishing. And that’s where fishing guides play an important role.
Good fishing guides can navigate our challenging waterways, and they know where to catch fish during different times of the year and in all weather conditions. They also are up to speed on the best baits to put fish in the boat.
So how do you become a guide? It’s all about spending time on the water to learn your way around, learn where to fish, and how to catch ’em. If you can do this and provide a friendly atmosphere in your boat, you’ll be successful.
For university or college students who are interested in fishing and being on the lake, there is no better summer job that I can think of.
They best way to start off guiding is to make some contact with resort owners in the areas you like to fish. Most of these outfits will need guides at one time or another, but most people need to put in some time before they become regular guides.
Camp work is a never-ending reality at fishing resorts, so most new guides will have to put their time in working around the camp before they start guiding–doing things like working on the docks or cabins, cutting the grass, cleaning boats (there are countless jobs).
Being around these places in this capacity allows you to learn a little bit by watching some of the other guides, including how they prepare their boats and interact with their guests.
Roger Clinton, my first boss at Ash Rapids, used to send the rookie guides out to meet up with the experienced ones for a few shore lunches so they knew what they were doing before he sent them out on their own.
He called it “guide school.”
Just like anything else, there is a learning curve. But once you get in the groove, you’re good to go.
As you become more experienced, you may want to try starting your own guiding business. You need to own your own boat and the necessary equipment to do this, but if you can attract enough guests to stay busy, you can be very successful.
Relationships with area tackle shops and hotels can be key if you plan to do this.
There are a lot of people who visit Sunset Country for a variety of reasons over the course of the year, and many of them want to get on the water but do not have the means to do it on their own.
Fishing guides serve a valuable purpose and are important representatives of our region.

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