Dorothy and Frank Normand say they spend about 100 days a year on various lakes and rivers across the province casting for fish.
Much of that is for business reasons — the Elmwood-based husband-and-wife team run WindRiver Professional Guide Services and enter tournaments together.
But even when they’re not on the clock, the Normands will fish anyway, heading down to sit by the river in Ernie O’Dowda Park near their home.
Frank’s love of the sport rubbed onto Dorothy, as he introduced it shortly after they met. The Normands just celebrated their 10th anniversary last month.
"It’s something we built with our marriage. When we first started dating, he was showing me his love of fishing, and it escalated from there," said Dorothy, who is also a tournament partner with Frank.
The business is a year-round labour of love for the Normands, as both have full-time jobs.
They still fit in two to three guiding trips per week, often on the weekend, focusing primarily on walleye and catfish.
"I’ve always really enjoyed getting out and getting people that don’t normally fish out fishing," said Frank, who drives trucks for Trimac Transportation. "One of my favourite things to do is help kids get that first fish."
WindRiver partners with local charities to get kids out on the water, and the Normands participate in the Walleye Warrior 24-Hour Ice Fishing Marathon.
The bulk of the service’s business comes from Manitoba and Ontario, but Normand said he’s taken anglers from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia onto Manitoba’s waters. In the service’s first year, it took a group of English tourists ice-fishing.
"They thought it was neat to fish on a river when it was frozen in ice," Frank said. "They had never tried ice fishing — that’s why they came to us."
Frank is particularly fond of going after walleye, as catching them is a challenge each and every time out on the water.
"Every situation is different. Every lake is different. Every day is different," he said. "One day, they’ll be relating to structure. One day, they’ll be relating to feed. One day, they’ll be relating to sunlight levels, and you always have to be willing to adapt."
Frank noted it was challenging getting all the licensing in place when he was looking at starting the business five years ago. He said the province told him at the time there were a good number of guides already operating, but he persevered and got the necessary paperwork. He’s hoping he can boost the number of hours he spends boating when he stops trucking.
"I’m looking at something I can do when I retire," Normand said. "I’m building it right now to the point where I’m going to have a steady amount of clientele. I’m going to be able to be out, enjoy the outdoors, and share my knowledge with people."
The business generally sticks to weekend hours, but Frank said he can be flexible with a month’s notice.
For more on the business, visit www.windriverwalleyes.ca.