Read as Orvis endorsed and award winning Fly Fishing Guide Capt. Joe Demalderis talks about his career. You can find him at www.crosscurrentguideservice.com and on his Twitter found in the sidebar of this interview.
What do you do for a living?
I’m a fly fishing guide and outfitter.
How would you describe what you do?
My day begins about 2 hours prior to my clients arrival preparing for their trip and ends about 1 or 2 hours after they leave. Much time is spent on marketing and business promotion through traditional print media outlets and web based channels, giving presentations and seminars at fishing clubs and fly shops, along with traveling to and exhibiting at several consumer trade show each year. Destination travel is also set up to various world class fishing locations throughout the US and other parts of the world. This involves visiting different locations and establishing relationships with lodges and guides that will best meet my clients needs and expectations.
What does your work entail?
Depending on the fishery I’m on, it may be rowing a drift boat trout fishing to provide my clients with the best opportunity to be successful while at the same time giving them an all around aesthetic experience. It may also entail similar functions while running a center console in the saltwater with the same goals. While hosting trips my concern is that everyone is having a good time and are paired with professional guides that they relate well with.
What’s a typical work week like?
7 day work week, 12+ hours a day.
How did you get started?
I’ve been a fishaholic from as early as I can remember and spent all my free time (sometimes time that wasn’t so free) fishing and learning my home water and as many distant fisheries I could each year. It was a longtime desire to get into guiding & outfitting and after starting and running another successful business for longer than I care to think about the natural progression became to make the move and start out.
What do you like about what you do?
The most rewarding part of what I do is seeing someone succeed in meeting their expectations. To be a part of a “therapy” program is very rewarding. Building confidence in other people by helping increase their skill is also very important. The enjoyment of being outside coupled with the physical aspect of the job is an added bonus that has me looking at each day with enthusiasm. And of course, the fish.
What do you dislike?
The pure business stuff. Paperwork for the various regulatory agencies and the like.
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
Money? Who said anything about that? In reality, this isn’t a lucrative occupation, but is one that gives me the chance to have a very fulfilling lifestyle. as the late Jack Gartside put it, “I don’t make much of a living but I make a hell of a life”
How much money do fly fishing guides make?
That depends on where in the world you are located, but after it all comes out in the wash it probably balances out. If you gross $450 per day, remove your expenses, the cost of equipment depreciation and the governments share; what you have left is yours. The more days you can book and the more the weather cooperates with you, the more you can make. But this isn’t something you get into to get rich. You do it because you love it.
How much money did you make starting out as a fly fishing guide?
My 1st year I made about $5,000. That was almost 20 years ago.
What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?
You have to be very well versed in fishing and have a strong set of teaching skills. Patience is also huge. Having professional selling skills is also a big benefit. It might sound unnecessary, but a college education doesn’t hurt. That gives you the rounded education to be able to relate with your client base who are most likely very well educated people. Remember, in this business you mostly do it all unless you choose to strictly work for a lodge.
What is most challenging about what you do?
In its own way each aspect of the job is the most challenging. For me, If I had to choose one, it’s the day to day business operations. I’d rather just go fishing. But, to stay successful I know I can’t do that.
What is most rewarding?
When clients send you referrals and/or re-book. Then you know you did everything right. Personally, for me being named by Orvis as their guide of the year was very rewarding.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
Decide if you’re running away from something or if you’re running to something. If you’re running to it then you’re on the right track.
How much time off do you get/take?
Each year I take most of the month of December off. Other than that you have to make hay when the sun shines so you work as often as you can and when you’re not on the water you work at getting on the water.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
That you just go fishing every day.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
I’m working to expand the destination travel of my business.
What else would you like people to know about your job/career?
Lots of people like to fish, not many like to guide. Don’t confuse the two.