What do you do when you’re at your desk working and all you can think about is fishing?
Harrison High School graduate Aaron Hodge was that guy. After 17 years at FedEx, he decided it was time to follow his dream and passion — and become a fishing guide.
He came by the fishing bug honestly. His grandfather is the late “Chicken” Hodge and Aaron is told that Chicken tied a rod to his hand so he wouldn’t drop the pole in the lake.
“I have no memory of that … but that’s what I’m told. He loved to fish and I learned a lot from him,” Hodge said. “He did share some secret fishing holes with me, but the lake is constantly changing and secret fishing holes change. Some places don’t work like they used to,” he laughed.
“Now that my grandpa has passed away, it does seem strange to hear him called Chicken. But that’s all I ever heard when I was growing up. I’m told his family was poor and he was a skinny kid. But he liked to go around flexing his muscles and his sister told him one day that he looked like he had chicken muscles — and ‘chicken’ just stuck.”
So in January of 2022 Hodge opened, “Catch MO Fish Guide Service.” He admits January was a difficult time to start a new fishing business, but by April of that year, word was spreading and he was staying busy.
“The saying ‘Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life,’ is sort of true. But 15 days in a row can be hard work,” he admitted.
“You meet some interesting people as a fishing guide,” he said. “I do a lot with Branson tourists and they come from all kinds of backgrounds, areas of the US and different nationalities.”
He loves to meet new people and get to know them over the phone before they go out. “I like to know what their expectations are, and the kind of fish they are interested in catching.”
He basically fishes for Bass, Crappie, Trout and Spoonbill. “All my clients need is a fishing license.”
He baits the hooks and will clean the fish too if desired.
“When I first started the business, I was told, “Guiding isn’t about being the best fisherman. There is more to it than that. You are working with people and they need to enjoy themselves.”
“Most of the people I take out are not ‘fishermen.’ Sometimes I have to find fish that are more apt to bite for them.”
“Most people are on vacation and they just want some time out in nature,” he said. “Some don’t care if they catch anything or not. But I still try to give them a good trip. Then there are some that are all about catching the biggest fish they’ve ever caught.”
The average spoonbill fish is probably 50-60 pounds. But he recently took some guys out and when they returned to the Bent Hook Marina it weighed 100 pounds.
Hodge said some of his clients just want to take their kids fishing. But instead of having the expense of owning their own boat, buying the gas, and equipment, they prefer to use a guide.
Most days his clients come home with lots of fish and feel satisfied. But there are a few days when the fish aren’t cooperating.
“Believe me, nobody in that boat wants to see fish more than I do,” He laughed. “If I could make them bite I would.”
Hodge has seen some days where every cast produces a fish. “But we are working with nature — it’s unreliable. If you enjoy fishing, it can be very relaxing.”
He used to enjoy fishing any time he could get a few moments away. Now he provides that time for his clients. “I still enjoy being out on the lake and seeing people catch fish. But then there are some days, it’s an honest day’s work. But in reality it’s meeting new people that makes it a lot of fun and always different.”
Now, when I’m not fishing, I get to spend time with my family. Aaron and Jenny have two daughters, Katie and Addie who keep them very busy.
Interested clients can visit his website at catchmofish.com or call him at 870-704-9288. He is also one of the fishing guides for Big Cedar Lodge.
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