Grace Phillips is a guide at Rapids Camp Lodge. She is a well-seasoned guide who has guided in Alaska and Northwest Montana. Originally from Colorado, Grace was born into the outdoors. Growing up on a large ranch, Grace was born with a passion for the outdoors. We’re super excited she is on our team and looking forward to sharing her passion for fishing and the outdoors with our guests and us. So, let’s get to know a little about Grace.
DO: Tell me a little bit about yourself – Where you were born and grew up.
GP: I was born and raised in South-Eastern Colorado on an 87,000-acre cattle ranch. I have two sisters and a brother, of which I am the youngest. My family still ranches and my two oldest siblings and father run a ranch-management company based out of Colorado. One day I plan to work with them, but for now, I am spending time figuring out who I am and figuring out how to bring my passions with me into the future.
DO: How did you get involved with the outdoors and fishing?
GP: Being outside was inherent to how I was raised. I worked outside and started fly fishing from a very young age, but it wasn’t until college that I started working outside as a livelihood. I first started guiding backpacking trips in 2017, which extended until 2019, with a few intermittent climbing jobs sprinkled throughout the years. After I finished college, I lined up a job working in Bristol Bay, as I always wanted to observe sport fishing upon this scale. After this season, I was completely taken by the industry and have dedicated my life for the past 2 years to guiding in Bristol Bay.
DO: How long have you been working in the fishing industry?
GP: This will be my third season working in the fishing industry. The first being in Bristol Bay, the second being in NW Montana.
DO: What is your role with Deneki Outdoors?
GP: For Deneki Outdoors, I will be a fishing guide at Rapids Camp Lodge in Bristol Bay, Alaska.
DO: If you lived on a deserted island for the rest of your life, what is one music album would you take (no “best of” compilations :0). Book?
GP: If I lived on a deserted island, I would take any John Prime album, and I would take my favorite book, “Empire of the Summer Moon.”
DO: What is your favorite food?
GP: I constantly waver on this question, as I have worked with food every off-season since I started working seasonally. I grew up eating really authentic Mexican food because my dad grew up in Mexico, so not only is it delicious, but it also represents home. With this being said, however, I have gotten in to all types of Asian cuisine recently, specifically Japanese and Korean type of fermentation.
DO: What did you want to be when you were a kid?
GP: I really wanted to be a large animal Vet. I worked with livestock from a very young age, dealing with injuries of all types, which spurred this childhood dream, but then I learned that my brain was not cut out for science, and I went more in the direction of working outdoors with people and wild animals.
DO: Are you a morning person or a night owl?
GP: I am definitely a morning person!
DO: Who was your role model as a kid? and now?
GP: My biggest role model as a kid was my older sister, and she still remains as such today!
DO: If you weren’t a guide, what would you be doing?
GP: If I weren’t a guide I would probably be in graduate school for digital media or textile design.
DO: If it’s one skill you wish you could learn what would it be?
GP: I would love to be able to do a backflip on skis!
DO: What made you want to be a guide?
GP: When I was 15, I got a single guided day of fly fishing for my birthday with my dad. We didn’t catch any fish, but I had never felt that kind of connection to being outside. And along with this, I was very inspired by working outside every day and being able to share what I love on a very direct level, as my guide had for the day.
DO: What personality trait makes a great guide?
GP: I think the three biggest personality traits that make a great guide are communication, ability to be personable, and hard-working.
DO: What do you think are the biggest challenges to the fishing industry will face in the next 5 years?
GP: In the next 5 years, I believe that the fishing industry will have to face a vast overpopulation of rivers in light of the pandemic. While guiding this past summer, I noticed this beginning to happen—people were seeking these remote fisheries that had never seen that kind of pressure. I don’t believe that these fisheries need to shut down to human traffic, as we need to remain accessible, but there needs to be a balance because these delicate ecosystems cannot handle the stress.
DO: What is makes a successful day of fishing?
GP: The easy answer is catching tons of giant fish, but that is rarely the case. I think part of being a guide is facilitating a holistic experience. What I mean by this is that as a guide, I believe it is your job to know and teach about ecosystems and their inhabitants, make good conversation and connection, and make clients feel safe while also making them feel as though they have been learning all day long.
DO: What advice do you have for someone who wants to be a guide?
GP: Being a guide is not all about being fishy! Obviously, it is largely about fishing, but it is also about good communication, stewardship, and –surprise—having a good time. Be able to speak about your passions and show clients how much you love Alaska through your actions.
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