A Day in the Life of Aikens’ Head Guide
Jul. 06, 2016
A decade ago, a 15-year-old kid from Manitoba emailed Pit for a school project about what it’s like to run a fishing lodge. When Pit answered his questions, the kid emailed him back asking, “Can I come work for you as a guide?”
15 was too young, but Jesse Lariviere persisted again the next year and the year after, finally getting the answer he craved at age 17. Today, the 24-year-old fish whisperer is enjoying his eighth year as an Aikens Pro-Staff guide and his second season as head guide.
“This job is the best,” said Jesse, who as a kid fishing in southeast Manitoba drew a line on his arm for each pike he caught. “I love what I do, and it’s awesome to be a part of Aikens.”
Jesse’s job––on the water over 100 days a year––has provided him countless memories, dozens of friendships and some truly remarkable experiences that could only happen at Aikens. Highlights include guiding kids and 90-year-olds alike to Master Angler pike, finding another guide’s missing treasure and stumbling across an insane number of bears on one of Aikens’ all-time great wildlife adventures.
The bear episode occurred several springs ago when Jesse took a group into Bonaventure Lake for some early season walleye action.
“We were the first ones going into Bonaventure for the year, and as soon as we went around the first curve of the creek there was a bear there digging up roots and eating cattails,” Jesse said. “We watched it for 20 minutes, then moved along. About 20 minutes later, we saw another bear. Absolutely insane. We saw six bears on our way into Bonaventure, many of them quite close. All of them were separate, individual males.”
Jesse’s group met up in Bonaventure with another group guided by Eric, who hadn’t seen a single bear and couldn’t believe Jesse’s boat saw half a dozen. The key, it turned out, was that Jesse’s crew was taking a few casts as they went through the creek, so they were boating along quietly and not spooking potential bears around the bend.
On the way out, Eric quietly followed Jesse’s boat and sure enough, they saw bear number seven. “It was unreal,” said Jesse. “We didn’t have to catch a single fish that day and we would have had an incredible day. We did end up catching 80 walleyes, too, though.”
Jesse recalls another story where the catch of the day wasn’t a fish, but rather a lure. Another guide, Griffin, had lost an expensive new Polish Perch fishing on Pit’s Point. There was a strong north wind that day and by the afternoon Jesse found the missing lure all the way over on Canot Beach beach.
“Griffin’s one of the luckiest guys in the world,” Jesse said with a laugh. “That would totally happen to him.”
Jesse enjoys the back-and-forth with his fellow guides and staff, citing the fish and the co-workers in his 2016 staff bio as the reason he returns each summer.
“As head guide, if something’s not going right you’re the one who has to do something about it,” said Jesse, who proudly brings his mom to Aikens each year. “All the guides have your back, though. After the guide day is over, the couple guys with the hottest bite spill the beans. Everyone does their own homework, but we share openly without holding anything back. And the younger guys are very observant. They see how the more experienced guides operate and they pick up things very quickly.”
Pit says Jesse’s done a first-rate job as head guide. “Jesse loves to fish and he has a great personality. Both are important aspects to being a good guide. He does an excellent job.”
Jesse not only met his girlfriend, Reanne, at Aikens, he’s also met many quality friends in the guests he takes fishing each summer.
“Having repeats is a blast,” said Jesse. “It’s like seeing a buddy again after a whole year. It’s not ‘What do you do?’ it’s more ‘Hey, how have you’ve been?’ It’s good times.”