If you spend one day with a fishing guide, you’re a better fisherman. They have a lifetime of knowledge and if you pay attention to what they’re doing you can totally change the way you fish.
You learn so much more in one day with them than you do in a year on the water by yourself.
For Tim Moore, of Tim Moore Outdoors, guiding was a childhood dream. “My dad, we hunted and fished together for as long as I can remember and he kind of placed guides on a pedestal,” said Moore. “They were kind of next level. In the back of my mind I just always wished I could be one.”
Moore guides clients across New Hampshire, all year long. Right now it’s ice fishing season. Without knowing any better, you might think an ice fishing guide has an easier gig than guides on a river or the ocean. All they do is sit in the same spot, right? Not quite.
“Physically, ice fishing is a grind,” said Moore. “Long days on the ice, you’re trying to stay warm, heavy gear; it’s a lot of work, so I’ve spent the last couple years trying to figure out how to make each day easier.”
A typical day of guiding on the ice starts at 4am. Moore is on the road a half hour later and gets to the launch at 6am. He loads his gear up and meets his clients on the ice at 7am. They’ve probably just rolled out of bed, maybe grabbing a coffee before meeting up with him. Still, Moore said his mornings aren’t where he works the hardest.
“I don’t generally have too much work to do in the morning, the majority of my work for the next guide trip is done after the previous one,” he said. This system works because, like everyone else, he’s a zombie in the morning. “It’s early, I’m a creature of habit in the morning so if I have too much to do, and it’s not always the same, I’ll forget stuff,” he said. “If my lunchbox isn’t in the same place every morning I’ll literally walk right by it and leave without it.”
New Hampshire guides go through a rigorous training process to get their guide license. They can’t just decide to be a guide and start taking clients out on the water. “Knowing that I was going to have to take a test, I actually put it off for years because I wasn’t sure if I was going to pass,” said Moore about his early days of becoming a guide. “I had built it up so big in my mind by that point that if I failed it would have been devastating.”
Moore passed his guide test, of course. He had received encouragement from his friends for years, taking them out on the water or hunting as a friend as they told him he could make money doing it. “When I got my license, none of those people wanted to pay me to take them hunting or fishing because I’d been doing it for free my whole life,” said Moore.
Not only is guiding on the ice a grind, Moore said the entire guiding career is a grind too. “When I got my guide license I had a written log of all my time,” said Moore. “At the end of that first year I went back and averaged it all out––I was working for two cents an hour.”
At least he knew what he was in for when getting his license.
An instructor for one of his hunter education courses, for the trapper course, told the class what to expect. “He said in that meeting, everybody who comes to these classes thinks they’re going to leave here and get rich selling furs like it’s the Call of the Wild or something,” said Moore. “That’s not how it works anymore.” It’s tough, if not impossible for recreational trappers to make a living these days and it can be just as hard to be a fishing or hunting guide. “They don't call it the guide grind for nothing,” said Moore. “I don’t know too many people that just guide––we all have other irons in the fire.”
Moore writes articles for fishing magazines, is paid to speak at seminars around the country, and has sponsors who support his career as he supports them. “A lot of my sponsors pay really well,” he said, “maybe as much as a quarter of my income is sponsorship dollars. I know that I am in work-mode 99% of the time.”
Pro staff teams don’t help everyone. Some are just looking for a discount, while others want the notoriety of a brand name on their fishing jersey. Moore wanted to help them as much as he could, because he knew he would be rewarded for it. “These companies, like Clam Outdoors, for instance, or Old Town, have huge marketing potential and reach to the people I’m looking to reach, anglers,” he said. “I realized the harder I worked for them, the more they rewarded me. I wanted to be promoted.” Tim Moore Outdoors is now featured in articles on the brand websites, in video and photo opportunities, and more.
Moore joined the Guides Association, a professional association in New Hampshire for licensed guides, right away, because he saw how difficult it was to make a living. He kept his focus tight on what he could control. “I figured, I’ll book whatever trips I can book, I’ll have fun with it, and maybe it’ll help me buy a new muzzleloader or new fishing gear––I just figured it would be a hobby,” said Moore.
That’s how it stayed for several years as he built his client base and name around the state. He joined Facebook and started to reach more anglers, all while still focusing on booking one more trip.
Sponsorships started to snowball and he was meeting more big name anglers, like Dave Genz. “I was invited to fish with them, I learned a lot of new stuff and I was introduced to a lot of new people,” said Moore. “Then I was getting pro staff positions and sponsorships and that’s really what helped my business take off.”
Social media can still have a big impact, but you need to be on fish. Moore is on fish––always. Each time I see a post from him on my Facebook feed, it’s of a giant fish. Right now, they’re photos of fat white perch. “I just had a conversation with someone about white perch,” said Moore. The man, from Michigan, asked the size of an average fish. Moore told him: “A pound and three-quarters.”
“‘A pound and three-quarters, that’s our state record!’”
“If you’re outside the area and have ideas about some of the fish we catch, check out the website, Tim Moore Outdoors, and see if you want to come fishing,” said Moore.
This is the first post in a new blog series called, Guides I Have Known, highlighting all of the people who have helped me both on the water and in life. They are the fishing guides, paddling guides, and communicators who changed my perspective for the better.
Stay tuned for the next post in the series, coming out next Thursday.