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Eric trophy walleye


Where Are They Now? Former Aikens Staff Spotlight: Eric Turenne

févr. 28, 2020

The Aikens extended family is like the mafia. Once you join, you never really leave (and let’s face it, Pit could definitely be an epic mob boss).

The friendships formed between Aikens guests and Aikens staff members endure for years, decades and even lifetimes. Those relationships don’t end when an Aikens staff member graduates from university and moves on to a full-time career. Guests enjoy staying connected via social media, the occasional fishing trip (many former guides come back for special occasions) or getting updates from Pit and Julie about various former Aikens staffers, which is why we created the “Where Are They Now?” feature on our website.

Based upon that interest, we also spotlight former Aikens staff members in the occasion blog, and this is one of those occasions. Let’s catch up with former laborer and pro-staff guide Eric Turenne, who first came to work at Aikens 10 years ago, just days after his 18th birthday.

If you think being a fishing guide at Aikens would be a dream summer job, wait until you hear what Eric Turenne does for his full-time career now. Eric works as a fishing biologist for an environmental consulting firm in the Winnipeg area, getting to study fish and lakes in scenic setting all across Manitoba, Ontario and British Columbia. Many days his office is a boat. He recently had the opportunity to “work” on a project catching and filleting walleye each day to send in samples for mercury testing. It’s a hard life, but somebody’s got to do it, right?

Of course, Eric studied long and hard to earn the unique opportunity, just as he earned the reputation at Aikens as hard-working, conscientious young adult.

“A phrase that gets tossed around a lot at Aikens was, ‘The harder you work, the luckier you get,’” said Eric, noting that this Aikens lesson has helped him throughout his career. “There really is no substitute for hard work, and you won’t accomplish anything waiting for someone to take you by the hand.” 

Another lesson learned on the water during his six summers at Aikens which serves him well in his current job, too, is the knowledge that fish––and fishing––will always surprise you.

“Fish are predictably unpredictable,” said Eric, whose uncle is the late Gerry Turenne. “Just when you think you've got them figured out, one fish, one day, can throw you a curveball that makes you question what you thought you knew. I think that's part of what I found most exciting about guiding. No two days on the water are ever the same. It's a constantly evolving puzzle and trying to piece it together can be frustrating at times, but it can also be very rewarding if you've got the patience to put in the work.”

Nothing was more rewarding to Eric during his days at Aikens than the relationships he made with his co-workers. “I know it probably sounds cliché and that anyone who has been asked about it says the same thing, but it really is like a family,” Eric said. “When you spend that much time in a remote setting with the same bunch of people, I think that's inevitable. Those I met and worked with at Aikens, we came up through very formative years together and they became some of the closest friends I still have to this day.”

One of those Aikens friends and fellow former guide, Griffin, actually helped Eric get his current job at the environmental consulting firm. They work quite closely alongside each other on many projects, and enjoy the broad scope of their environmental work.

“We do research-based field studies to fill in knowledge gaps related to the biology and ecology of species at risk, often government-backed projects, for example, to more industry-based environmental compliance type of stuff, such as water quality monitoring, fish salvage, environmental impact assessment for pipelines, construction, and highway maintenance,” said Eric, who got married last spring with three other Aikens alum as part of his wedding party. “We also do things such as fish and fish habitat assessments that aim to provide recommendations for various conservation and fisheries enhancement projects for conservation districts, fish and game clubs, fish brood stock collection for hatcheries. The list goes on and on.”

It’s the perfect career for an intelligent, hardworking fish-head. Of course, Eric also loves the chance to go back to his old “dream job” once in a while and spend a few days at Aikens as a contract guide. Pit––and the entire Aikens team––welcome the chance to get Eric back whenever they can.

“You are never sure what you are going to get when you think about hiring family, and Eric grew up and lived in Ontario away from us in Manitoba. But it was clear from the first interview that Eric was a dedicated and serious fisherman.  He had the skills to keep the guests reeling, both in a fishing sense and in a joking way too… his people skills were there from the beginning,” said Pit. “He spent 6 years and became one of those guides that was requested over and over again.  Today, it’s really rewarding to see someone that came through the “Aikens Boot Camp” now enjoying a great career, great friendships, and now a whole new life in Winnipeg since his move to our province for work this past year.  This type of stuff wouldn’t have happened without Eric spending his formative summers working at Aikens and making a lasting impression on everyone.”

“The earliest memory I have to pinpoint my love of fishing is being only a couple of years old and going down to the dock at the cottage as my grandfather showed off a big pike he had just reeled in,” said Eric. “It was the size of a dinosaur. Something about that flipped a switch, I guess. After that, I spent every summer growing up at the cottage trying to get someone to take me out on the water any chance I could, until I was finally ‘big enough’ to go out on my own, and I was rarely seen on dry land again.”

Being big enough to actually take his father out fishing and eventually guide him at Aikens was a special moment cherished by both father and son, teacher and student, friend and fishing partner.

“I had the privilege of guiding my old man to his biggest pike ever at Aikens, one of my fondest fishing memories to this day.”

Click here for a quick update on other former Aikens staff members.