It’s a Guides Life – Part 1

Do you ever wonder how many people going to their daily jobs each morning are happy? Have you seen them walking, robot like, cups full of hot beverages in their hands as they trudge off to some boring, demoralizing job that’s killing their soul each day? Have you ever seen yourself in a passing window front on your way to work and didn’t like what you saw? Feel like life has passed you by and that this simply CAN’T be all there is to it? Well I have. For too many years. That’s been my work commute for as long as I care to remember, all the time thinking that someone would save me from my own destiny of being one of the monkeys typing away on computers all day, making someone else rich.

As it turns out, by staying in jobs I was unhappy in (a succession of them I suppose), I was able to build up a higher and higher salary with bigger and more stressful obligations. But it didn’t make me happy. Instead it did the complete opposite, making me angry, resentful, short with my wife and kids, depressed, stressed, and just downright miserable as a person. I wasn’t the leader I used to be and it was showing. Of course it wasn’t all fire and brimstone and I had good times amongst it all, small blips of sunshine in a cloudy world, but in the end my career path felt less like success and more like punishment.

Eventually, in February 2019 my unhappiness led to the inevitable end at my most recent place of work. I went from hero to zero in a span of about two weeks, leaving me with nothing but a dwindling bank account, severe depression, and anxiety for weeks on end. The feelings it left me with were right up there with the death of my mother, and my failed marriage years ago. Even with the support of my wife, friends and family, I felt lost. But ultimately I was happy to be out of the job I had held and able to breathe again (in time) and re-evaluate my choices.

When the dust settled I started looking for new work in earnest. Applying for postings for the same line of work I had been successful in, believing that was what I should be doing. After all, I am University educated with an impressive resume yet it seemed like I was applying for the sake of applying, but not understanding why I was really doing it. By definition, the word “insanity” means doing the same thing over and over and believing that the outcome would be different. Yep. I was nuts alright.

So after chatting with my wife, my friends, and lamenting over what to do, the common suggestion I received was the same. I love fishing. I love being on the water, and I have the gift of the gab. I’m a half decent photographer, and writer. So why not do something that I am clearly passionate about instead of something I am not? Why not immerse myself into a life I have only dreamed of trying but was too afraid to try or locked into a higher salary? Why not….be a GUIDE. I made the decision to get the Transport Canada training I needed right away, and soon had the required certifications in hand.

In April, the timing was good to apply for guiding work, as most lodges were ramping up and hiring guides for the summer salt water season. I whipped up a “fishing resume”, drafted introductory letters and sent them out to about a dozen different lodges and outfitting companies and much to my surprise, almost all of them responded back positively.

Interviews happened fast, from remote lodges on Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii, Rivers Inlet, and my local waters off Sooke and Port Renfrew. For the first time in my life I was excited about a job, like…actually excited! After meeting with a few different companies I got a good vibe from owners Ward Bond and Darren Wright of Island Outfitters (www.fishingvictoriacom) a local hunting/fishing store here in Victoria, and was hired as their new Port Renfrew charter boat captain. Along with their returning head guide Dan Findlow, and first time Port Renfrew local captain and young gun Colby Benty, the three of us would be running three boats all summer. I was super pumped.

The Terminator being prepped for the summer

As April turned to May, we worked on getting the boats ready for the season, and I spent time being shown the local waters off Port Renfrew by both Ward and Dan. I’ve got my own boat at home, but my boat for the summer was a 25 foot aluminum boat called Terminator, which required some time to get familiar with, especially as it handled very differently from my 21 foot fibreglass boat. I’ve fished in “Renny” lots before, but had limited experience fishing 12 miles offshore on Swiftsure Bank, not to mention being a rookie when it came to the techniques that Dan and the other guides use after seasons of honing their craft in the local waters. I had a lot to learn, and I was keen to start showing my worth. I knew that equally important was earning my credibility with the other guides, being the only true newbie at the dock.

The Terminator rigged, and ready for the season!

In June the season started, and in the next few posts I am going to give you a peek into that life, the highs and lows, and what it all meant to me as a person looking for a new direction in life. I don’t want to give anything away yet, but what I will say is that anyone who thinks the life of a fishing guide is easy, and just a party every day….think again. It’s hard work, long hours, and it demands a lot from you and your family. Was it worth it? Well, you’ll just have to read the next few posts to find out!

3 Comments on “It’s a Guides Life – Part 1

  1. Glad to hear that you have made a big change in your life, I did as well. Looking forward to seeing you on the riverside soon


  2. So glad to see you are doing something you truly love Uncle Bill would be so proud of you and really envious. He’s probably hanging over your boat, he also loved being on the water.


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