For the ones who don’t know, my name is Brandon Esposito, 27 years of age from Airdrie, AB - the summer of 2019 was my official first year guiding.
Before this, my passion for fly fishing was growing rapidly, to the point, where I wanted to take my love for sport to the next level - possibly making a career out of it. As I started doing my research, I quickly found Guiding to be my path. Although Guide School was only noticed in the states, a group of men locally here in Calgary took the plunge and decided to set up shop here in Calgary. This quickly grabbed my attention, considering travel and accommodations down to Montana (where the bulk of Guide Schools are) was noticeably more expensive than the one here in Calgary. With the itinerary looking quite similar, it was a no brainer that this is what I wanted and taking this class will get me one step closer to my dream.
My initial feeling of intimidation when enrolling with Western Canada Fly Fishing Guide School was holy moly, these guides know there stuff and all though I was very familiar with the methodology of fly fishing the Bow River, adding a drift boat into the equation, with ZERO experience, also added the feeling of confusion. I didn’t know what to expect, taking a complete leap of faith into a path I was very unaware of. Adding on thousands of dollars in hopes I was making the right move. It didn’t matter. I knew in my heart this was the right move. Commit Now, Plan Later.
It’s here, finally. Booked months ago, eagerly waiting to start this next chapter in my life. A series of guides - Quinn Styles, Dana Lattery, Timothy Hepworth, and Troy Langelaar with Fly Fishing Bow River Outfitters. People I’m very familiar with in the Instagram world. As the Itinerary was released, I became quickly aware that the most important factor I need to focus on was “time on the water.” Along side, a series of 6 days in two split weekends. Both weekends consisting of morning classroom work followed by time on the water. I promised myself to leave my ego at the door, become completely transparent and to open my mind up to the possibility of failure. Being completely overwhelmed with the amount of material and knowledge these guides were throwing at us, I had no choice but to remain silent and take in as much as possible.
As I took my first seat in a Hyde Drift Boat, my hands grabbing the oars, I instantly fell in love. Problem is, the boat was still on the trailer. Being completely different then what I was use to, I was very eager to get on the water and test my capability. Push, off the trailer into the water. With a brief explanation of what we’re doing, it was my turn to row. Dana standing in the front seat giving the order, I had to row from river left to river right. After doing multiple donuts and having both Dana and another student laughing hysterically, I realized two things: the stern is my steering wheel and I might be in over my head.
As the days went on, I studied the guides sitting in the driver seat. I watched every single movement and told myself to remain patient. Hour after
hour, I became significantly more comfortable behind the sticks. Confidence was getting bigger and bigger and I started to believe that this was by far the best decision I’ve ever made.
Guide School changed me. It opened me up to more knowledge and “golden nuggets” then I ever would have been able to find on my own. The guides took the time to highlight what’s important over decades of guiding. The information was extremely valuable, if you pay attention to the fine details and execute, guide school WILL take you to the next level. Whether you want to be a guide, outfitter, or simply the best angler you can be - Western Canada Fly Fishing Guide School is for you.
Where I was once lost and confused prior to guide School, graduating gave me the confidence to purchase my own drift boat. Solidifying a job with Fly Fishing Bow River Outfitters and finishing the 2019 season with 28 trips under my belt. I still look back with shock in my heart. But I will never forget the opportunity Western Canada Guide School presented me. If you’re on the fence about moving forward just remember, fear isn’t real. Put the emotions aside and invest in yourself. It just might be the best decision you’ve ever made.
⁃ Brandon Esposito