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Aikens’ Guide Named Top 5 Guide in the World

Mar 16, 2015

We’re always proud of our Pro-Staff fishing guides––their fishing expertise, professionalism and engaging personalities are an important part of the “Aikens Experience.” Our guides’ dedication and excellence was recognized in an exciting way this winter, when former head guide Dave Smith was named one of the top five fishing guides in the world by the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper.

Minnesota’s largest newspaper reviewed top guides from all over North America and Europe, and Dave made the short list for being “the best of the best.”

“My favorite thing about guiding at Aikens is getting to know people from all walks of life,” said Dave, who was our head guide in 2014. “By spending 8 or 9 hours a day in a boat with people, three or four days in a row, I have a chance to really get to know them and develop a friendship with the people who come here.”

Dave, who is Pit’s cousin, came to work at Aikens ten years ago and achieved the position of head guide last year.

“You have a lot of people watching you when you’re head guide,” said Pit. “The other guides watch you to see what you’re doing, and the management team watches to see how you’re managing all the groups and taking care of our guests. Dave did a great job.”

A former hockey star, Dave’s a standout in our Annual Aikens Hockey Classic. He’s also known for the delicious shorelunch he meticulously prepares.

He always drops a dollop of beer batter into the frying pan to gauge the temperature of the oil before he starts frying fish.

“You want the batter to sink to the bottom of the pan, float back up, and then bubble,” Dave said. “Otherwise this beer batter doesn’t have quite the right viscosity.”

Not only is he a skilled angler and cook, he’s a genuine guy who connects well with anyone he takes fishing for a day––a skill which was called out in the Star Tribune feature.  

“Smith unquestionably makes a trip to Aikens more enjoyable, not only because he puts you on big fish but also because it’s a pleasure to spend a day on the water with him,” wrote the newspaper’s reporter. “Dave’s into anthropology and archeology, with a passion for European history. He philosophizes about Chrenobyl’s nuclear disaster, knows more about U.S. politics than most Americans and speaks at length about travelling in Italy and marveling over Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.”

As our friends and guests know, we encourage our guides and staff to socialize with our guests at Big Molly’s in the evening. Dave’s friendly presence has added a lot to Aikens on and off the water for the past decade, and we hope to see him again in the years ahead.

Dave will be on our “Contract Guide” network in 2015. After 10 great years at Aikens, Dave is taking the next step in his career, working as an apprentice with an electrician in Winnipeg.

“We’ll miss Dave, but I’m happy for him to have this opportunity,” said Pit. “It’s a natural process for our guides and staff as they develop in their lives and careers and move on, and it’s always fun to stay in touch with them. Hopefully Dave will come back and help guide a couple times throughout the season.”

“I’m definitely going to miss it at Aikens,” admitted Dave. “It’s such a special place. I’m lucky I’ve gotten to live here, go fishing 7 days a week, and help people catch fish––a lot of times help them catch the biggest walleye they’ve ever caught, or have the best day of fishing of their lives. Doesn’t get much better than that!”