I have an outdoor recreation company in the state of Maine. So I do fishing, recreation, tours, hiking, and camping. 80% of my business is guided fishing tours.
I have several boats and kayaks so I do a lot of speciality tours.
I also do moose tours, or I call them safaris. I take people out on my boat to remote areas to take pictures of the animals and such.
How did you get into it?
I’ve been doing it my whole life. I was schooled in northern Maine so I grew up doing it.
How did you make the transition to being a guide?
I worked in the building automation field for several years but I got out of that. Now this is my “downhill slope” job.
I’m also building a couple of cabins for people to stay at. I’m working for myself and I really enjoy it – but I’m busier now than I ever have been!
If it’s a booked fishing trip, then I have to prepare the night before and make all the lunches – my wife usually helps me out with that!
We always provide refreshments and for a full-day trip we supply lunch – usually cold sandwiches or a hot lunch such as a grill with hamburgers, hot dogs and that sort of thing.
Then, we’ll take a Jet boat trip on the river targeting different types of fish.
If it’s a moose tour, then it’s the same deal – I prepare the lunches, get the equipment ready, then we meet the people here at the farm or designate an area to meet.
Do you guarantee a moose sighting?
I don’t make any guarantees like that but I do have 100% success on seeing moose.
But somebody who makes any kind of guarantee, I’d think twice about using him because that’s kind of taboo. I don’t even guarantee people will have fun – it’s a two-way street after all. I just try to create the right environment for having fun and try to make it an enjoyable experience.
I give a lot of information on nature; the plants, flowers, trees that we come across and also the history of the area.
I also teach different ways of doing things, along with camping and survival skills.
It’s a people industry so it’s all about customer service and befriending people. I always tell people, “You come as a stranger and leave as a friend”.
Hypothetically, even if you didn’t catch one fish, if you have good customer service skills you can overcome that and ensure people leave with a good taste in their mouths.
Do you get many fishing novices on your tours?
About 30% are novices and a lot of those are children. I get a lot of father and son-type scenarios which I love.
Every adventure is different, all the people are different. You have to adapt to people’s personalities, the weather conditions, where you’re fishing so there’s no cookie cutter day as far as guiding goes.
You have to always keep safety in mind, be prepared and have the right equipment and also know what your resources are. You are always adapting to certain situations so everything is dynamic.
What’s the best part of your job?
I’m selling fun at the end of the day, and the best part is being with people. I can fish all day long on my own, but it’s all about meeting people, getting to know them and learning about their backgrounds. We’re learning from each other.
Have you had any bizarre experiences?
I had a couple from Texas and we ran into some lightning and bad weather so I got them off the water and found a gazebo nearby and we asked if we could stay there until the weather passed.
It was a mother and daughter, and they invited us in, gave us hot chocolate and cake and we sat there and got to know them. The people from Texas were really impressed by the Maine hospitality.
Then the weather cleared up so it was a happy ending.
One thing I don’t like is a bad attitude – attitude is everything in life.
I don’t get many of them, but from time to time I get someone with unrealistic expectations, and who is doing the activity for the wrong reasons, who says, for example, “I’m not going to be happy unless I catch 100 fish”. That makes the trip a chore.
But if have someone who is very negative and hard to please, I take it as a challenge.
Why would you encourage our readers to hire a guide?
First and foremost, there’s the safety factor. For example, I’m trained in wildlife survival and I’m a volunteer fireman. So, if there is an incident that requires an immediate experienced response, you’re going to get that from a guide.
When you hire a guide, you’re also going to get someone who should know the area, its history, its animals, its plant and insect life as well as different ways of catching fish, so you’re getting an education as well.
Tell us something about Maine that only a guide would know?
Someone from a country like the UK, for example, may not know anything about Maine. So they’re going to learn about Maine’s logging industry, how Maine beame a state and what kind of commerce Maine has. For example, the tramway line, used as part of the logging industry, is something that I would show them.