A lifelong fisherman discovers a unique business opportunity has been waiting off the rocks on the Railway Trail.
Like many before him, Bryan Harvey has spent much of his life fishing off the rocks. But over the past two years he realized that he could use his knowledge of hand line fishing and the best fishing spots to make money.
With the Railway Trail becoming a popular spot for tourists and locals alike, Mr Harvey saw a great opportunity for creating a business that brings to life one of Bermuda’s cultural experiences.
“With the economy it has been hard finding and keeping a job but I had to figure out what I had to do to keep a roof over my head,” said Mr Harvey, as he threw out a net to catch fry off of one of Bermuda’s s many hidden spots.
“One day I went fishing down by the dock at Tucker’s Point and I would find that a lot of tourists would get lost coming down that way and start talking to me and asking me for directions.
“One guy came down and told me he’d been lost all day and he just felt like sitting off with me and he ended up having a good time and giving me $50. He didn’t end up catching much, maybe a couple of fish, but he really enjoyed himself.”
Along with working security in Dockyard where he made conversation with the tourists off the cruise ships, Mr Harvey realized that many of the people who travelled here wanted to have an authentic experience as well as mingle with locals. It was then he knew he was on to something and could not only make money from it, but also fill a hole in a currently limited availability of outdoor and recreational experiences in Bermuda.
“In Bermuda, we are one of the few places that use hand line to fish and we have developed that into a way of life. So now people who travel all over the world can say I’ve been to Spain to run with the bulls, gone skydiving in Peru, surfed in California and now they can add that they learned how to hand line fish in Bermuda,” he said.
Here was an authentic experience that had been hiding out in some of Bermuda’s most beautiful and often hard to find spots.
And Mr Harvey has also built partnerships with other businesses within the industry so that visitors (and locals) can get the most from their experience. Working with Grotto Bay, any catch from the tours can be taken to the restaurant to be cooked to the guest’s liking.
“I’m hoping to get it to the point where guests can have their pick of any restaurant in Bermuda,” Mr Harvey added.
From newlyweds looking to discover experiences together to families looking for an inexpensive way to bond with their kids, Mr Harvey found that people from all walks of life were interested in spending time fishing off the rocks with him.
Mr Harvey designs his tours based around his clients abilities – some of the spots he visits are more of a challenge to get to and add to the adventure of the tours, while others are easily accessible to ensure an inclusive service.
“I have areas across the island mapped out in my book but I find spots on the Railway Trail are good for families and seniors,” said Mr Harvey. “I know what areas are guaranteed a good spot – what fish you can catch and how challenging they are to get to.”
Like most fishermen he keeps his fishing spots close to his chest but one place you can be guaranteed to find him is along the Railway Trail.
He’ll be taking part in the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s (BTA) “Rediscover the Rail Trail” event in the East End on March 5, where both locals and visitors can experience how the Railway Trail can be re-imagined as a cultural tourism asset.
Many travellers want to find that unique experience they can tick off their bucket list and Mr Harvey has tapped into a much-needed offering with many jumping onboard.
“I’ve picked up a lot of customers who are looking for recreational experiences when they come to Bermuda. I see it like how I’m here now patching up holes in my net. Just like Bermuda, I’m patching up the holes so that we can catch every opportunity.”
The first “Rediscover the Rail Trail” event will take place on March 5 from 11am to 5pm. For more information, visit www.gotobermuda.com/bta