In 2006 I decided I needed a change of scenery, I took a job guiding in the Wood-Tickchick State Park in the Northern part of the Bristol Bay watershed. The 1.6 million acre park became my home for 5 summers. I know a lot of people have "wax'd poetic" about fly fishing in Alaska, which I get, it's amazing after all. But, my experiences range from the highest of high's to the lowest of lows. This story fits somewhere in the middle, I get asked a lot about guiding in AK and I've helped several people get jobs and whatnot, but whenever I get asked about guiding in Alaska this is what I really think about:
Getting my ass kicked
Its simple, whatever you think it is, it is not. Its sink or swim. Fast. The new guy gets hazed. They don't trust you. So first they give you all the shitty jobs. I expected this and smiled, which only made it worse. They want you to break, so they find ways to test you. Keep in mind, these are just my co-workers, let the alone the other lodges. Which, it turns out is really what this is all about, people paying thousands of dollars a day to catch the biggest fish they can. Its competitive. Like really competitive. The float planes are racing each other to get to the rivers first and get the best spots. Everybody wants the same thing, and people are willing to pay top dollar to get it. I digress, that's another story for another time, back to me, rookie AK guide getting picked on. You get the picture. So how did I overcome? How did I go from rookie to head guide in 2 years? I worked harder. About a month into my first season in Alaska I figured it out. I would go to the river and out work everybody. Everyday. In Alaska, I hate to say this, but yes, if catch the most, biggest, and baddest rainbows on that river, on that day, you will do well. Just remember that tomorrow you gotta do it again..and again...and again. This part is all decided nightly by the clients, they discuss the day over dinner, and the lodge hears all of it. I didn't win every day, but I held my own every day, and I did catch the largest fish of the week more often than not. They started to respect me, but I had to earn it. So that's the secret. Go out there and work your ass off. Tight Lines.