Pandelis Kolkas: A Guide’s Life

Pandelis Kolkas: A Guide’s Life

“A fishing guide is much more than a good angler. It takes a person with certain qualities to be successful in this endeavor. Knowing how to fish well is part of it, but among many things, you have to be good at making the venture about your guests, not yourself.” – Pandelis Kolkas

Pandy is what his friends call him. I’m usually formal when I write about an acquaintance, yet after speaking with Pandy and listening to his story, I feel a connection so using his nickname just sounds right to me. 

A Journey

Map by Google Earth

Map by Google Earth

Pandy is from Kastoria Greece. Greece is a peninsula nation that merges with the Mediterranean Sea. Kastoria, a city in northern Greece, is also located on a peninsula along the shores of Lake Orestiada. It’s not surprising that Kastoria produces keen worldly anglers.  

Beautiful, postcard perfect Kastoria on the banks of Lake Orestiada, Photo by DiscoverGreece.com

Beautiful, postcard perfect Kastoria on the banks of Lake Orestiada, Photo by DiscoverGreece.com

Passionate fishing has always been a big part of Pandy’s days in Greece. He tells of a life surrounded by water, always fishing and spending more time sleeping next to the water than in his own bed. Despite great fishing, and having secure employment, it was 4 years ago during a collapsed national economy that Pandy said goodbye to his home and parents. He set off to find a new future on new waters departing with only one suitcase.

At first, I wasn’t going to mention the one suitcase, but I realized there was significance to only one bag on a journey of this magnitude. The importance is confidence, you have to be well-rounded and secure with yourself to make such a bold step into the future, traveling far and light. 

Not knowing what he would be doing, and never expecting to be a fishing guide Pandy set off for Canada. It didn’t happen immediately, but along the way, he found a new home and a new family with Plummer’s Lodge at Great Bear Lake Northwest Territories Canada.  

Guide boats are returning to the main Plummer's Lodge on Great Bear Lake, photo by D.Stewart

Guide boats are returning to the main Plummer's Lodge on Great Bear Lake, photo by D.Stewart

Focus and Persistence

Happy Clients

Happy Clients

When Pandy first started this new chapter in his life, he wasn’t familiar with this new style of fishing and new fish species. He had a lot to learn, but Pandy has skills that make him more than capable of handling these new challenges. “I was never concerned with finding and catching fish on a lake where most fish have never seen a lure before,” said Pandy. 

Here at the BBZ, we teach that the underlying basis of any technique can be broken down and re-applied to any fishing discipline. That is exactly how Pandy approached the task at hand. In Greece the target species is Carp. To say that here in the United States, and Canada fishing for Carp is highly overlooked is an understatement.  Pandy learned how to fish for all these new species because of what he already knew from fishing in Greece for Carp, that’s right Carp.

In Greece Pandy had always fished from shore, so when he found himself as a guide at Great Bear Lake he wasn’t familiar with boat operations and he was faced with new fish species, new fishing equipment, new techniques, plus providing an entertaining day to his clients. Wow, what a challenge. “The first season was very stressful, to say the least,” explains Pandy.

Persistence paid off, now he is very comfortable running the boat and the associated methods that a boat provides. “Believe in yourself and put in the time, persistence will pay off.”  This is the same attitude that Pandy teaches his guests. “Go fishing to enjoy yourself, be happy that you’re there, listen to your guide, keep casting, and the fish will come.”

Dreams Do Come True

Tree River, photo by http://www.plummerslodges.com/

Tree River, photo by http://www.plummerslodges.com/

Well into his first season on Great Bear Lake, Pandy was instructed that he was going to the Tree River with guests. It was a dream come true. Sometimes boats come into play, but frequently the angling there is done on foot along the river’s banks.

Plummer’s Tree River Lodge, photo by http://www.plummerslodges.com/

Plummer’s Tree River Lodge, photo by http://www.plummerslodges.com/

Nestled on the bank of the mighty Tree River, This Plummer’s Lodge offers a fly-out excursion unlike any other. The Tree River flows through the Nunavut Territory. Nunavut is the largest, least populated, and northernmost Canadian territory. The Tree River Lodge sports rugged beauty just miles from the shores of the Arctic Ocean, an oasis in the Arctic offering world class char fishing.

“I learned how the fish use the river, some are further upriver to spawn, others enter to feed and then go back into the ocean; these fish are very fresh.”

Fall Colors on the Tree River, photo by http://www.plummerslodges.com/

Fall Colors on the Tree River, photo by http://www.plummerslodges.com/

Map by Google Earth

Map by Google Earth

Guiding Is About the Guest

More Happy Clients

More Happy Clients

Millions of people have a passion for fishing, but it takes more to be a guide. “You have to be a people person, a good communicator, have the ability to read people and their mood. Your job is to entertain them. Big fish don’t come when you want them to, you have to put time in. So what do you talk about when you’re in the boat?  You have to be pleasant, likable, honest, and unselfish which doesn’t necessarily come easy.”

“Many fishermen, especially young anglers, think that they will become a guide and fish all day. No, you don’t fish, an excellent guide fishes through his guests.”  There isn’t a rod in the boat for Pandy when he’s guiding. Pandy points out that many of his previous jobs were all about people skills, as a guide these experiences have served him well.

“Give your guest what they want,” says Pandy. If they want to fish small and target Grayling, then Pandy is more than happy to please. He is there to do a job. Pandy says the Grayling are easy to catch, so he knows that his guests will be satisfied at the end of the day. With a big grin, Pandy adds, “Who knows, maybe a Laker will hit a Grayling adding, even more, excitement to the day.”

Grayling a freshwater fish in the salmon family, its not common but they can exceed 5 lbs., they occur in lakes but prefer cold, clean running riverine waters.

Grayling a freshwater fish in the salmon family, its not common but they can exceed 5 lbs., they occur in lakes but prefer cold, clean running riverine waters.

At this point in Pandy’s life, he would rather spend his personal angling time pursuing big fish. He would prefer spending 10 hours and catch one big fish, or nothing at all, rather than catch 20 small fish. But work is work, and this job is about the guest. Pandy says, “I’m super proud to be doing what I love the most. ”

Lesson Can Come From Anywhere and Anyone

“One species can teach you so much.”

Flashing back to when Pandy was angling in Greece he recalls a day with his father when he was twelve years old. They were watching a homeless man fishing. At first glance, Pandy wasn’t impressed, but his father explained that this man could outfish anyone in town. His father went on to tell him that it doesn’t matter who you are, everyone catches, and you can learn from anyone as long as you’re mind is open. It doesn’t matter if it’s a homeless guy or an aristocrat with the best gear; they all have something to offer and the ability to make you a better fisherman.

Not a One Trick Pony

Not a One Trick Pony

When Pandy isn’t at Great Bear Lake or the Tree River he is currently living in Manitoba. When he first started fishing in Canada at Lake Ontario, he quickly learned that he could catch many Carp weighing in at twenty plus pounds in a single day with a single can of corn. “I was blown away by this; I couldn’t believe it,” said Pandy.

Afterward, he would go to the Bass Pro Shop while telling his big carp stories guys would look down their nose at him stating that he must be from Europe because Carp are a ‘Trash Fish.' So Pandy started posting Instagram pictures of his catches explaining, “guys this is what you have, and in Lake Ontario they are plentiful.” “Carp have horsepower!” says Pandy.

It was hard for Pandy to understand that some anglers would spend an entire day fishing for a couple of largemouth bass when you can catch fifteen to twenty Carp averaging fifteen to twenty pounds each. It didn’t make sense to him, so he started posting more pictures and providing tips. Soon people started sending him pictures of their Carp catches thanking him for the helpful information. They explained that they couldn’t have done it without his help. Rightfully so this was a great source of pride for Pandy.

As a result, Pandy developed a large following on Instagram. Some thought he was some type of hacker because of the amount followers he soon developed.

During the process, he also became discontent with most fish hold pictures. Pandy felt that his pictures should showcase the fish, not himself. When I look at Pandy’s fish catch photos, they are for starters, big beautiful fish but there is another aspect to them. You can see how Pandy admires them, it’s much more than hey look at me and what I caught. He’s actually displaying how magnificent these fish are and how much he respects them.

Pandy your story is remarkable in many ways. To have the confidence to leave your comfort zone and seek out new horizons is something many people fear. Jumping into the ‘deep end’ and tackling new species and a new profession undoubtedly generates anxiety and will hold most people back. To see a bigger picture that happens to go against the grain when others are dismissive is uncommon. The willingness to put yourself in situations when you might fail is not popular. To teach others while you’re learning is not a typical trait. It is truly amazing what you have accomplished in two short seasons with Plummer’s Lodges, congratulations!

Pandy’s approach to fishing embodies what the Big Bass Zone represents; keep an open mind and think for yourself based on your experience and what is taking place on the water.

Pandy, The BBZ wishes you the best as you continue on your journey. Wherever you may find yourself, be sure to check in with us here at the BBZ.

You can follow Pandelis Kolkas and his amazing photos on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pandelis.kolkas and at Instagram https://www.instagram.com/somdreamscometrue/

All photos by Pandelis Kolkas unless otherwise noted.

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