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The Battalion

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Fisherman launches guide business

 
 

While many may consider fishing a hobby, Ben Paschal has made it into a career.
Paschal, Class of 2010, discovered his love for fly-fishing at the age of 11 after receiving a fly fishing rod for Christmas. Throughout high school, Paschal worked in fly shops, and the summer after his freshman year at Texas A&M University he received his first guide job.
While at Texas A&M, Paschal took a class under Ed Rister, a professor of rural entrepreneurship. Throughout the course, Paschal focused on developing a business plan for a fly-fishing lodge in Colorado, which would be open only four months of the year.
Though the original model was not successful, Rister said it was apparent Paschal was not going to let this obstacle prevent him from reaching his ultimate goal.
“Success does not find you, you must make your own success,” Rister said. “Ben [Paschal] has always had a passion for fly fishing, and when his final project did not work out he didn’t let that stop him.”After graduating with a degree in agricultural economics, Paschal split his guiding time between Alaska, Chile and Argentina because of their “endless summers,” spending the rest of the year exploring new fishing destinations such as Baja and British Columbia.
Paschal said the area around Bristol Bay southwest Alaska, where the more primitive fishermen join him in his endeavors, is one of the most interesting places he visits.
“The amount of activity around you can be somewhat overwhelming, especially if you are not used to fishing around bears,” Paschal said. “Some days you could see upwards of 30 or 40 bears that are sharing the stream with you, not to mention thousands upon thousands of sockeye salmon in the stream.”
Many places that Paschal fishes at can be somewhat of a “reverse culture shock,” as many of the areas he frequents lack modern conveniences. The Alaskan Bush is just one of the many undiscovered regions that Paschal has visited.
“Working in the Alaskan Bush is an experience,” Paschal said. “With a fly in, fly out, off the road system, and the only communication being satellite internet and radio, [it] can take a little getting used to.”
Paschal said fishing at the Chilean Patagonia took him “back in time” into a simpler way of life.
“Wood burning stoves and horseback milk delivery each morning was routine,” Paschal said. “We got our cheese from our neighbor. One day my truck got stuck in the sand where I was launching a boat and we got a team of oxen to pull it out. A lot more of the road traffic consisted of gauchos on horseback more so than other trucks.”
Paschal said the scenery of Patagonia created a captivating view as he fished each day.
“The scenery there was absolutely spectacular,” Paschal said. “Casting big dry flies to trout in a turquoise river in a rainforest with glaciers above us was a fun way to fish. One time we hired a gaucho to pack us and a raft into a river valley that had never been floated or fly fished in before.”
After years of travel, Paschal decided to start exploring closer to home.
“Instead of traveling during my months off, I started exploring waters closer to home and eventually began to guide my clients from other destinations to where I am located in south Texas,” Paschal said.
Paschal recently opened his own guiding service called “Laguna Madre Outfitters” on the Lower Laguna Madre in south Texas. He said the waters there hold some of the best fishing in Texas.
“It is a unique fishery in the state of Texas because we enjoy a lot of clear water, which allows for sight fishing,” Paschal said. “We also enjoy a healthy population of snook, which is unique to the Texas coast. Not to mention it is closer to home for me than alternative places.”.
John Pilmer, Class of 1976, said he met Paschal a year ago in a chance encounter. Pilmer who also runs a fly fishing business, said good salesmanship is critical for a successful business, a skill which Paschal exemplifies.
“He has a remarkable amount of experience for his age,” Pilmer said. “He has passion and infectious zeal for fishing. You have to sell people on the fact that they should choose you as a guide.”

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