Friday, October 4, 2019

Windham Eagle Reporter Craig Bailey shares tale of becoming a Registered Maine Guide

Craig Bailey (photo by Tom Roth)
Many can relate to the allure of spending time, better yet, earning a primary or secondary living, while adventuring in the woods and on the waters of Maine. The reality is that to receive any form of remuneration, for leading Maine-based adventures, the State of Maine requires that person to be a Registered Maine Guide.

Recently, The Windham Eagle Reporter and Registered Maine Guide, Craig Bailey, upgraded his Guide License, adding Fishing to his pre-existing Recreational Guide License. This article shares his experience in doing so.

After earning his Recreational Guide License earlier this year, Bailey began preparing for the test to earn his Fishing Guide License. Here, Bailey indicated, “I’ll preface with: in the spirit of full disclosure…”

That is, his original Fishing Guide test took place in June, on the Monday after he had returned from an adventure on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. Bailey emphasized, “unfortunately, I did NOT sufficiently prepare for one area covered in the test. And, I failed…”, stressing further, “that was humbling…”

You see, when testing for a guide license, there are two major segments, which are based on the nature of the license being pursued. First, a written test, which Bailey indicated he passed with flying colors. Second, an oral test, in which the applicant meets with a panel consisting of Game Wardens and Master Registered Maine Guides.
Bailey shared, “during the oral exam you are literally hammered with questions and scenarios covering fishing laws and techniques (hook and worm, lures, fly fishing, trolling and ice fishing) as well as the safe and efficient operation of watercraft and related regulations, the identification of species of flora (trees and plants: edible and otherwise) and fauna (birds, mammals and fish), and finally, handling situations you may encounter with clients (illness, injury and/or behavior).”

Bailey stated, “What makes this part of the exam most interesting is the panel of interviewers are quite coy, in true Mainer fashion!”

As an example, Bailey shared, “one of the questions asked was: ‘How do you adjust the freeboard on your canoe?’ Here, the interviewers are determining if you understand the anatomy of a canoe, and if you don’t - will you try to B.S. your way through it. Fortunately, I do know the anatomy of a canoe, so I responded with ‘Well, I suppose that would be based upon how much you put in the canoe.’ You see, the freeboard is the amount of a canoe’s side which is above the waterline. The more you put in the canoe, the less the freeboard.”

At the end of the test the scrupulous interviewers indicated Bailey had demonstrated significant knowledge in the area being tested but had missed on an important item. He wasn’t able to identify a sufficient number of flies. And, since Maine is well known for its fly fishing, they felt this was an important area to demonstrate significant competency.

cstlouis@spurwink.orgBailey indicated his annoyance, “especially given that I used to tie flies as a kid. And, I am quite good at fly fishing. I simply didn’t take the time to refresh my memory banks and prepare for the identification of a sufficient number of flies.”

Upon humbly, yet wholeheartedly, agreeing with their decision, Bailey graciously thanked them for their time and promptly put in his request for a re-test.

“At this point”, Bailey mentioned, “I went into cram mode, which included preparing flashcards covering a number of flies. I studied these at least weekly, awaiting my retest, increasing to multiple times daily, leading up to test day.”

Example flashcards prepared for fly identification:

The re-test was scheduled for September 6 and, Bailey was happy to report, “I passed. I am now a Registered Maine Guide with Specialized licenses in both Recreation and Fishing!”

What is next? Bailey responded with, “Later this month I'll be guiding a group (upwards of 10) on a hiking / camping expedition on Mt. Katahdin.”

In addition, Bailey indicated, “I'll be updating the website for my guide business to include Fishing Guide services.”

In closing, Bailey stated, “never give up on your goals and dreams. And, when (not if) you have a setback, get up, dust yourself off and give it another go.”

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