BUCKSPORT, Maine — Back in the early 1980s, Rob Gould and Jeff Fahey were two of Bangor High School’s top athletes.
In football, Gould was the quarterback, Fahey the wide receiver, on a state championship team.
In baseball, Gould anchored the defense as its catcher, while Fahey patrolled center field. The duo helped the Rams win another state title.
But during those years, the pair also learned that they had something in common off the field.
“We fished together first, then started hunting together probably in the mid-’80s,” said Fahey, 45. “Really, since then, we’ve hunted together in the fall, and we fish together, have done different trips together.”
Eventually, that love of the outdoors led the duo to explore the idea of sharing their knowledge with others. They went through the process of becoming Registered Maine Guides.
Not long after that, Sunkhaze Outfitters was born.
“I figured it would give us a chance to get out, go fishing, have some fun, and to do what we want to do,” said Gould, 46. “And [we could] make some money at it.”
And since passing their tests and becoming Guides in 2002, that’s exactly what they’ve been doing when real life hasn’t been getting in the way.
Summers off … eventually
When Fahey and Gould got into the guiding business, they knew they could spend the summer months in the woods and on the water: Both are teachers — Fahey at Bangor High School, Gould at All Saints Catholic School, where he also serves as athletic director
And although the school schedule is well-established, if things go according to Fahey’s master plan, he still won’t be available to guide until late June.
He’s the head baseball coach at Bangor, and if the Rams progress deep into the state playoffs, as they often do, he’ll be focused on that task.
The fact that he and Gould must wait until school and coaching duties are over before they can commit their full attention to guiding changes their operation’s focus.
“I like to trout and salmon fish, and that’s the best time of year to be doing it, May and June [when baseball season is in full swing],” Fahey said. “But at the same time I still enjoy the competition of coaching and I enjoy the kids. But at some time, at some point, it would be nice to be able to fall back to something that we’ve established with our clientele.”
Big-time bass … and more
Since neither is available during the week in peak trout and salmon fishing, the duo take most of their clients fishing for bass.
Smallmouth fishing on the Penobscot River is outstanding, and Fahey and Gould take clients to a number of lakes and ponds that have good smallmouth and largemouth fishing.
On Wednesday, that meant Silver Lake in Bucksport, where they promised a bass-fishing novice he’d be able to land his first largemouth.
They were right. In a half-day of fishing, four anglers caught and released nearly 20 largemouth bass, including one that weighed 3 pounds. There are bigger bass in the lake, both guides say … and they’ve got the photos to prove it.
Sunkhaze Outfitters isn’t all-bass, all the time, though. Salmon and trout trips are available, though clients may have to book a full-day outing to allow for the travel time it’ll take to get to a good trout pond. Moose hunts, rabbit hunts, youth turkey hunts and recreational outdoor adventures are also available.
But clients looking to fish for bass keep Fahey and Gould hopping during the heat of summer.
Gould and Fahey fished for salmon and trout together when they were in high school, but Gould grew up fishing for bass with his dad. When the duo started guiding, Gould tapped into those old lessons and found he hadn’t forgotten much.
“If I wanted to go fishing, I had to do the bass thing [with my dad],” Gould said. “Then we started this [business] and I said, ‘I can catch some bass. I can remember how to do this.’ So we started in and this is what we’ve got today. It’s fun.”
Gould said the transition to bass makes perfect sense for him and his business partner.
“For our schedules and what we can do, we try to cater to the bass people, because we can catch bass all season,” Gould said. “We can get people some decent trips and some fun trips where they can catch a lot of fish. I had a guy and his son out a couple weeks ago and we caught up to 50 fish in a half a day.”
Gould said making a living at guiding full time would be difficult, but admitted that sitting around or lying on a beach during the summer would be equally hard.
“I don’t think my wife would like that,” he said with a laugh. “She wants me out of the house, working, and if I can go fishing on top of that, she’s happy.”