What Does Guiding Mean to Me?
Now in my early 60’s, I can honestly say I have almost seen it all on the water. Starting as a guide in Campbell River when I was 13 in the early 70’s until today guiding at QCL when I get the chance, I can see how much things have changed. And for the better I might add!!
As a guide you are a jack of all trades. First, but not most importantly, you know how to fish. The mechanics, the theories, and the techniques. When I was a young guide, that was all there was. Use your skill to catch as many, and as big a fish as possible. Make yourself look good and beware to the guest that lost the big one or could not learn how to set the hook! Looking back now, it was all about the guide and not the guest.
Thankfully that is changing. A great guide asks more and talks less. He finds out what a guest wants out of their experience and then strives to match that expectation. A guide becomes a teacher and instructs as much or as little as the guest wants. A guide does not yell at or intimidate his guests. If he does, he leaves the rest of the day with the guest feeling uneasy, inadequate, paranoid or just sad or angry. None of these emotions are conducive to a fun environment on the boat. The magic is quickly lost and it is oh so difficult to find again.
If the highlight of the trip is to see a Humpback or Killer Whale and the guide ignores the Fishmaster or another guide when they see whales, and doesn’t offer to take the guests to catch a glimpse, then the guide is not doing his job. There is lots of time to fish and to miss maybe that one chance is almost unforgiveable. The great guides know what is important and how to deliver. Throughout the day the guide effortlessly applies his fishing skills and simultaneously looks for any and all things that he can add to the day to increase guest’s enjoyment. It could be a bit of Haida history and culture, pointing out a jellyfish, or explaining how a halibut’s eye moves across their body as they grow. (They really do!) Each one is a little thing, but taken as a whole, so much is added to the day.
To work at QCL as Vice President Sales is extremely rewarding. But to spend a few days on the water and have the opportunity to reconnect to my guiding roots is the highlight each summer. You can never get too much of watching a person catch their first or biggest salmon, see something that Mother Nature has on display each day in Haida Gwaii, or simply know that you have made someone’s day. As a guide you get to do that. I guess I have the best job in the world. Fun to think of one’s self as the Old Man and the Sea and watch the guiding profession at QCL transitioning to what guiding should all be about.