I became a fishing lodge owner as a means to an end. I tolerate the hassles and headaches of the business, because I am a Guide at heart. The regulations, annual repairs, paper work, and bills are all an acceptable price to pay for the thrill of guiding on a great fishery every day and the satisfaction of being part of a professional guide staff. Even after hundreds of guiding days, I still consider myself to be one of the profoundly fortunate few who truly loves what they do for a living. Part of the allure is the land itself. Northwest Ontario is one of the few remaining areas on this planet that maintains the feel of a Frontier. I could never imagine taking for granted even the smallest of its charms; the call of a loon, the taste of a freshly caught shore lunch, stunningly silent sunsets, the magical ‘tap’ of a bite that sends a lightning bolt of electricity through your arm, or just the pleasure of being alive in a beautiful natural world that is still much the same as it was hundreds of years ago.
There is no other place on Earth I feel more at home. Fresh air, clean water, the camaraderie of a good guide crew, and moments and memories shared with guests, friends, and family all add to the experience, but the core of my passion for guiding is the puzzle. Every new day the slate is wiped clean and we begin a new hunt.
What’s the wind?…. Will it clear off?… Surface temp.?…. Check the shallows first?
Where are they?….Why?….How Deep?….Are they Aggressive?…How Many?
Should we move?….How big?….What are they eating?….Where did they go?
In the weeds?…Back to the shallows?….On the rocks?…What about the sand?
If you fish hard, are a little clever, and a little lucky, you may have a few answers by the end of the day, but tomorrow is a brand new ball game. The surface of every lake home to fish is an opaque membrane hiding the secrets of a 3 dimensional puzzle below. The larger the lake, the greater number of species, the more diverse the habitat, then the Greater the puzzle becomes. It can never be totally solved, because it is dynamic and forever changing with the randomness of nature and weather, yet it is still regulated by the predictability of the Seasons. As a fishing guide, the best I can do on any given day, is to study the clues, make predictions, mentally prepare plans, and hope to just scratch the surface of one or two of that days countless underwater dramas.
I began fishing and guiding on smaller bodies of water across the Canadian Shield. During that time, much of my guiding strategy was grounded in the Fundamentals of aquatic biology. With an understanding of seasonal motivation (the relative need for food, the urge to reproduce, or the desire for comfort), I could generally predict fish location. With cumulative experience on these smaller lakes, I began to consider myself fairly adept at isolating patterns and finding fish. During those years I heard many comparisons of one lake to another and the bench mark standard of comparison for an excellent walleye fishery was the legendary Lac Seul. Before I fished and guided on the lake, I dismissed the majority of these stories as the tall tale exaggerations expected of fisherman. I mean walleyes are walleyes right? How much of a difference could there be? During the past five seasons, I have been reminded on a daily basis that Lac Seul and its Trophy walleye fishery are truly a breed apart. I have been surprised, stumped, puzzled, and humbled. And I have caught, guided, photographed, and released the biggest walleyes I have ever seen in my life. The learning curve has been steep and the biologist in me has been forced to admit that when it comes to complex fisheries, the more we learn, the less we “know.”