Jaime Fickett Poland: Reel Girl Guide Service
By Sarah Holman
“I feel like this is a cliche, but I’ve always loved to fish,” says Reel Girl Guide Service owner Jaime Fickett Poland. She received her first fishing pole for her fourth birthday and was immediately hooked. Her family had a boat they took to Sebago Lake, and she spent “countless hours” fishing with her family on their boat and from shore.
After college, Jaime spent less time outside. “I became very career oriented and worked hard in the business world.” In 2014, she found a house in Standish on Sebago Lake, and her love for fishing was rekindled. She picked up where she left off, learning techniques and skills from friends, family, and neighbors. “It was a lot of trial and error,” she laughs.
A friend in her neighborhood was a Registered Maine Guide, and he encouraged Jaime to pursue a guide license so she could share her love of fishing and the lake with others. She took a Maine Guide prep class—”which I highly recommend for anyone considering becoming a guide,” she says—and passed her test in 2019. At the time, Jaime was married and learning to fish and guide with her husband. “In 2020, when Covid flipped the world upside down, [my] life got flipped around also,” she says. She divorced and had to figure out how to do everything on her own if she wanted to continue fishing and guiding.
In 2021, Jaime bought her boat, a Robalo R227. It was a huge decision for her. Not only is it a significant financial commitment to buy, maintain, and customize a safe boat, but she had never operated a boat alone. “I wasn’t even sure how to dock it,” she says. A friend helped her bring the boat home to Sebago Lake, and she made him dock it for the first time because she was so nervous. But later the same day, Jaime says, “I ‘tough talked’ myself, and said, ‘get out there and figure it out.” After that, ‘figure it out’ became Jaime’s motto. She decked her boat out with state of the art downriggers, rods, and tackle, and began her solo adventure as Reel Girl Guide Service on Sebago Lake.
Jaime is one of very few female fishing guides on the lake. From her own experiences and conversations with other women, she knew not all women are comfortable going out on a boat all day with a man. Some women she spoke with shared stories of feeling intimidated or talked down too, or just generally uncomfortable. Jaime realized she could offer a unique service by focusing her business on guiding women and kids. “There are great male guides out there,” she says, “but I saw this as a niche for me.”
The best part of her job is seeing someone, especially a kid, reel in a fish. “You never know what’s going to be on the end of that line,” Jaime says. In addition to plenty of fish, she has brought up a rock, a frying pan, a fishing pole, tree branches, and a lot of clothes. And sometimes that’s all you get. “The fish can be picky,” she says. It’s the most challenging part of guiding, being at the mercy of the weather and whether or not the fish decide to bite. “You can go out one day and fill the boat with fish and then the very next day, doing the same exact thing, you may not have a bite.” On those days, Jaime gets creative with her clients, trying different spots on the lake and changing up the lures and bait.
Now in her second season of guiding, Jaime says Reel Girl Guide Service will never be her full time job (she already has one of those), and she doesn’t want it to be. Her goal is “just to share my love of Sebago Lake and fishing with others.” For other women thinking about starting an outdoor business, Jaime offers the same advice she gives on anything: “Jump in and you’ll figure it out. Everything is figure-out-able, and there are always people willing to help.”
More information about Reel Girl Guide Service can be found at reelgirlguidesservice.com
Sarah Holman is a writer living in Portland. She is enthusiastic about cheese plates, thrift shop treasures and old houses in need of saving.