Why be a guide? It's a good question, one I am keen to explore in a conscious way for myself as well!
Well, it has to come back to fishing really (obvious huh?). I love to fish, if I can't fish.. I love to watch videos about fishing.. or to watch other people fishing, any kind of fishing… sea fishing, fly fishing, net fishing, documentaries on fishing… so I have a rapt fascination with all things fish. The logical extension to that for me, is to be around people who fish, to watch them fish… and better yet, help them to fish.
I LOVE the moment a client lands that BIG fish… the look on their face as it comes to the net, or as the shutter captures the moment forever. My mantelpiece and desk are covered in fishy photos… I am able to 'go back there' in my mind by immersing myself in the image and the memories that image evokes. I know that's how it works for my clients too… and so love to get lots of photos for their 'wall or desk'
In today's world, where we all have so many demands and so much pressure in so many ways, it's neat to be able to do something so 'simple' that makes such a profound impact on someone.pNote I say 'simple'… not easy. I think you need to be a particular personality type to genuinely enjoy guiding. I had the chance to fish in Vanuatu a few years back with a fellow trout guide from Fiordland. I won't mention him by name, but had met him a few times when fishing down that way. We had agreed to share the cost of a ten day charter for marlin with 4 of us in total on the boat. This guy was so negative about his clients, so openly scornful of their abilities, or lack there-of, as to make me embarrassed to be on the same trip as him. He was a real downer to the two of us that did not really know him, and I could tell even his mate was uncomfortable with the way he spoke. His disdain for what he was doing (guiding) was palpable… and sad to see.
I have always vowed I would never work in a job/career I do not enjoy. That's a big call to make… but I have lived that promise through many occupational and career changes. I have walked away from 'money' jobs cause it was no longer fun to be there. Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of years as a barman and waiter where $10 an hour was the rate and I stuck at that until I didn't enjoy it as well.
The day I wake up thinking 'oh shit, I have to take someone fishing today' is the last day I will be a guide.
What do I get out of it? Hmm, interesting one. NZ is different to anywhere else in the world. We have a magnificently beautiful country. I've travelled a wee bit and reckon here is as good as it gets 'for me'. Lots of space, plenty of chances to 'be alone' on a river. I love to share that sense of solitude and adventure with a client. (Does that read as a contradiction? How can it be solitude if there are two of you!!)
Maybe it comes from reading too much Huck Finn and Treasure Island as a kid... but I love the feeling of 'being the only one there' … to share that with someone who has often never 'been alone' on a river is a unique experience. I am constantly reminded by my clients just how beautiful our country is, so I guess I also get to revisit our 'Pure NZ' every time I take someone new fishing.
It's a weird thing, because I want to guard what we have jealously and be sure it is there for me and my children in years to come, but I am not so selfish that I do not want others to see it and experience it as well.
It's definitely not about the money. Having earned over $Xk annually [Deano filled in the amount but I decided we didn't need to know! Paul] selling radio advertising I know if I want to make money that there are MUCH easier ways than to take people fishing!! Guiding here you would be working pretty damn hard to clear $40k profit in a year after tax and expenses.
Fishing, particularly backcountry adventures is great soul food.. I never feel more alive and at peace than when I am there. My mind is stilled, it's just me, the client, the river and the fish…. I feel totally centred… I know I am where I most belong, doing what I am most suited to do.
Jeez… all a bit Zen isn't it??
PS I realise you have probably seen through the deceptive "Zen veil of why I am a guide”... its really just so I can carry a walkie talkie everywhere I go. Over.