Season Update and Seasons Greetings!

Wow. Who would have ever guessed we would have had a season like we did in 2020? To start with, we would like to thank the amazing people who supported us in any way that they could. It did not go unnoticed. To everyone who was able to travel and decided to join us on the river this season, to those who wrote, called, or sent us e-mails to see how we were doing through all of this we thank you. It was overwhelming to see the amount of support you all gave us through our online and in-store purchases this spring. This truly showed us the relationships that we have fostered over the years and how our clients have become more like friends, and in many cases like family. For this we are truly thankful, as it all meant so much to all of us at Elk River Guiding Company. The season had its ups and downs. To describe it, I would say it was full of a lot of uncertainty, stress, risk, and change. Starting with the uncertainty, we found planning the season our most challenging task. Being relatively isolated from Covid-19 out-breaks, Fernie opened to reasonably “local” visitors and the Fly Shop had its doors open mid-May after being closed for 2 months. Unfortunately, with the continued extension of the Canada/ USA border closure, it made planning nearly impossible for us and our many international clients. We really appreciate those who willingly moved their reservations to our 2021 Season. We know how disappointed you all were to miss out on the trips that you had planned, and we really missed having all of you here this year. The result of all the uncertainty is the stress. Not knowing when the border would open again, was hard on the staff who were kept extremely busy dealing with the ever-changing situation. On top of that, the arrival of our spring orders contributed to an unforeseen level of stress on a small business. The worry I had for my family’s health and the extended family of the ERGC team as well as the company’s economic future weighed heavily on my mind. Whiskey consumption was slightly up but not to dangerous levels! Then comes the Risk. Do we open? Can we run our guided trips safely? Should we cancel our stock orders? We decided to take the chance and developed our own COVID-19 plan. Working with the guides, we put both the guides and client’s health and safety as our number one priority. This was not an easy task due to the lack of guidance from our government specifically for our industry. Once the season did begin, we had to adapt and change, which resulted in reducing our Guide and Fly Shop staff and incorporating new safety protocols. We also increased our marketing towards Canadians, as well as encouraged our online sales. By July 1st, the Rivers were in decent early season conditions and the fishing got better day by day. A relatively dry summer with the right amount of rain at the right time helped to prevent any major forest fires or back country closures. Trips were run but we were down over 60% of our usual levels. Some of our Guides were able to continue their off-season jobs or find other work and stepped aside for the season, which left us with a smaller group of Guides to handle the trips that we did have. It was interesting to see the Elk River with less pressure on it. There were more locals and BC residents out camping and fishing this summer, however, we found the back county getting more angler traffic than the main stem of the Elk River. We found ourselves able to spend a lot more time on the obvious waters that have been overlooked in the past. We enjoyed taking advantage of our beautiful rivers in the Elk Valley. Given all these changes to our season, what remained the same was the exceptional fishing and making new memories with some truly wonderful people! Now we are facing a second wave and a pending vaccine so again we move into 2021 with uncertainty. I will not even try to predict what will happen or what the 2021 season will look like. I will say that Elk River Guiding is ready and able to deal with anything thrown our way. Why so confident you may ask? Well, simply put, we have the best team in the industry, and an amazing following of supportive clients and customers. Again, I thank everyone! Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and all the best in the New Year!