Admittedly it's a question that I love to answer. Not because I get to tell the story of how things happened, but because it always serves to remind me of my humble beginnings. Here's the short version of the story...
I graduated in 2004 with no idea of what I wanted to do with my life. After one year of college I found a short-term volunteer opportunity with a small organization in the country of Botswana. My reaction probably being the same as yours right now - Botswana? Is that in South America? It's not. Botswana is a small country right smack in the centre of southern Africa, directly north of the country of South Africa.
Of course the first thing I did when I decided to go was to see what kind of fishing was available there. Knowing that most of the country was arid savannah I had low expectations, but got pretty excited when I began to read about Tigerfish on the Okavango Delta.
I first landed in Botswana in April of 2006, but it wasn't until October 2008, when I desperately needed a vacation, that I finally made it to the Okavango Delta.
I will never forget driving 1200 km across the Kalahari desert in my Toyota Venture with no air-conditioning in 45 degree plus weather. Arriving on the banks of the Okavango after such a trip was something I will never forget.
I spent 5 and a half days fishing, and it was a dream come true to not only just see and experience the Okavango, but to get to fish it. It was truly a magical place.
The first day I was there I met a couple of fly fishing guides from South Africa. Each day in the evening I spent some time with them and got to know them. They were great, offering me a lot of advice, gave me some flies and even invited me to have dinner with them and their clients a few nights.
It was the evening before I left that I was having a drink with them at the bar and the head guide of the outfit, John, turned to me and said "Luke, why don't you come back next year and guide for us?"
I about fell off my stool. Me? A 22 year old kid from Canada guide on the Okavango river in Botswana, southern Africa? This can't be for real! But John meant it and the next year I began my fly fishing career guiding on the Okavango River.
I didn't ask for it, did nothing to deserve it, and never dreamt it could even happen, but it did. I spent the following 3 unforgettable seasons guiding with John who taught me more than I can ever thank him for.
Unfortunately, after the third season I had to come back to Canada to take care of my hip problems.
I don't know if I will ever make it back to guide on the Okavango, but would love to some day at least go back and fish it with a few friends.
Below is a small gallery of photos from that first trip.