PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THE COUNTRY ARE LEARNING NEW SKILLS AND SEEING NEW SIGHTS, THANKS TO A GUIDE WHO’S COMBINING HIS PASSION AND EDUCATION IN AND OUT OF THE CLASSROOM.
“With combining education and fishing, I use the two together to become who I am now,” said Erin Riibe.
Tucked into the heart of southeast South Dakota is a plethora of walleye, paddlefish and bowfishing, and waterfowl, pheasant and turkey, plus a guide who is eager to show off the area.
Erin “Chummy” Riibe doubles as a professor at Mount Marty College. Riibe, which rhymes with frisbee, grew up coming to Yankton to sail the waters and bask in the outdoors. Now, he’s taken his passion of exploring and turned it into a living.
For the past two years Riibe Outdoors has been taking groups of two to six people on guided fishing, hunting, and sightseeing trips around Yankton and even Alaska. One of the popular tours is bowfishing, which is where a bow and arrow is used to harvest the fish.
“A typical day would be starting out in the morning and floating the river real quietly. These fish are really spooky, so it’s almost like a big game hunt,” said Riibe. “You can’t make noise, you can’t stomp on the boat. You have to be stealthy to get close enough to them to shoot them.”
With the invasion of Asian carp in the last decade, Riibe’s expertise contributes not only to the recreation of his guests, but to the conservation of Yankton’s natural waterways.
“You can start out in the morning or night since that’s when it’s calm and it’s almost like a natural video game… just floating down the river and shooting these fish that are a problem in our river,” said Riibe.
Yankton is home to a population of 14,566, the Missouri River, Mount Marty College and has nearly two million visitors annually, according to Yankton’s Parks and Recreation.
Riibe says he enjoys showing off South Dakota, especially to those who are from out of state.
“They get to the river valley and they go ‘holy cow this is like a different world in South Dakota,’” said Riibe. “The dam, the river, the bluffs, and rolling hills. They get a whole new perspective on what South Dakota really is.”
Riibe says things book out a year in advance, but he’s also had spontaneous calls come in and, 24 hours later, he’ll be on the boat bowfishing.
“I try to accommodate everything in between,” he said. “If someone wants to book way in advance they can do that, but if they call and if I’m available the following day I try to get them out.”
Riibe is his only employee, but does have volunteers from time to time. While bookings slow down in the heat of the summer and on the coldest winter days, Riibe can have one to four trips weekly, and is usually full each weekend of pheasant season.
“All of the things I grew up doing, fishing, and hunting, coupled with my education background… I want to teach people how to do these things and also give them the experience of doing so.”
While Riibe is a teacher of the outdoors, his time is limited, as he’s a full-time professor. He teaches recreation management and tourism to college students.
“One of the reasons I was inspired to begin my own business was from teaching an outdoor recreation class,” said Riibe. “I’ve been taking students on hunting and fishing trips for the past decade, and seeing them replicate the experience with their family and friends is rewarding.”
While some may be skeptical of having a guide, Riibe says it’s important, because of the knowledge and experience that comes with one.
“I provide all my own equipment, so those who are traveling don’t have to also bring their stuff along,” said Riibe. “Also people can have all the equipment in the world, but they might not know where to go or what to do, so a guide can provide equipment and experience.”
Riibe says the best part of his job is showcasing the beauty of the state.
For more information, visit riibeoutdoors.com.
Walleye, Paddlefish, Bowfishing
Waterfowl, Pheasant, Turkey
The Missouri River