Guide Relief Program
Supporting our fishing guides on and off the water.
Fishing guides are the backbone and the very face of the recreational fishing industry, a distinction earned from thousands of hours spent coaching and educating anglers from all walks of life each and every season. They are the ambassadors of the sport and the gatekeepers of our angling resources. It’s a rewarding but demanding job.
How long is a fishing guide’s day? Surely, it’s much longer than the hours spent on the water with their clients. The nonstop communication and logistical efforts with customers, gear wrangling, gassing up, meal prep, drive time and end-of-day gear maintenance stack up to make a guide day anything but a 9-5’er, and many seasonal guides go hard for dozens—sometimes hundreds—of days in a row. Days off are precious, unpaid and often full of provisioning, boat and equipment maintenance, bill paying, personal relationship mending and everything else a small business owner riding razor-thin margins must deal with. While most guides enjoy what they do for a living, the demands are stressful and often overwhelming.
As a group, professional fishing guides are prone to a variety of social and economic stressors and mental health issues. Established in 2020 by Mollie Simpkins and KynsLee Scott, the Guide Relief Program (GRP) acknowledges this fact. Its simple mission is to lend meaningful support to these angling ambassadors and resource protectors on and off the water.
“Our goal is simple, but our task is challenging,” says Simpkins. “The GRP exists to take care of the people who take care of the resources every angler enjoys. We do this in a variety of ways. We were born out of COVID-19, helping fishing guides navigate and access the complicated and rapidly changing forms of assistance available to them. We’ve since expanded our role to offer small but meaningful grants to fishing guides dealing with all manner of personal and professional crises. These hardships can be related to things like last summer’s historic flooding in Montana or the devastation unleashed by storms like Hurricane Ian, but we don’t limit our assistance to guides impacted by natural disasters alone. Life comes at fishing guides fast and hard, which is why facilitating access to no-cost mental health services also lies at the core of our mission.”
Through a partnership with BetterHelp, the GRP offers approved guides two months of access to comprehensive mental health services at no cost. The 100% confidential program is available to anyone who can prove they are a guide. Once approved, guides are matched with a licensed, board-certified therapist according to specific needs and preferences.
Because program demand is so high, the GRP is seeking tax-deductible donations that will help expand the number of guides that can be served. Learn how you can help at guidereliefprogram.org.