When G. Wayne Byrd was just a toddler, his grandparents introduced him to the music of Al Hurt, a premier trumpet player. His grandparents also introduced him to another passion he developed as a little boy: fishing.
Byrd has been able to turn both passions into careers.
Before his current gig as a professional fisherman, Byrd was a musician – playing with several of his music idols; and also a corporate sales manager; and an independent consultant.
Byrd was born and raised in Port Arthur, Texas. “Grandfather was in the oil business, and my father was with Sears and Roebuck,” he said. When Byrd was in junior high, his family moved to Pineville, La. “I went to junior high and started some high school there,” he said.
When his father left Sears to go into the coal business, the family moved to Gillette, Wyo. “The most God-forsaken place in the universe,” Byrd said. “It was a shock going from 98 percent humidity to 60 below.” Byrd described the small-town of Gillette as a “melting pot.” “You had oil fields. You had coal,” he said. “You had all these people from all over the world. It was just a town that grew leaps and bounds.” Byrd graduated from Campbell County High School in 1983.
On a music scholarship, Byrd attended Casper College in Casper, Wyo. Two years later, he received another scholarship and went on to Black Hills State University in Spearfish, S.D. In 1989, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences. Byrd moved to Rapid City, S.D., and began playing music professionally. As primarily a trumpet player, Byrd hooked up with some big name bands, including the Woody Herman Orchestra, Buddy Rich, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Cherry Poppin’ Daddies.
In addition to playing with well-known bands, Byrd had two bands of his own. “Plus, bands would come through (town) and they’d make a call needing a horn player,” he said. “I got a lot of calls. Word just gets out and people call you.” Byrd said he had three or four gigs a week in Rapid City.
On the side, Byrd taught private trumpet lessons, did some conducting and arranging of music and recorded nine CDs. He also did studio work. “Studio work is great,” he said. “You go in and play your little doo dad; and, in 45 minutes, if you get it in the first couple takes, you are out of there.”
In 1995, Byrd moved to Parker, Colo. After making the move west, Byrd quit the music business and did “the corporate America thing,” he said. He managed the United States branch of a Canadian Yellow Page company called The Locater. As the regional vice president, he had a team of 48 sales representatives. In 1998, McLeod USA bought the company, and Byrd remained in the same position.
In 2001, Byrd left the Yellow Page business and started an independent consulting business for “everything from the telecommunications business to the auto industry,” he said. His services included sales training and profitability.
In 2003, Byrd took up another gig: this time in fishing. At age 4, Byrd started fishing at his grandparents’ lake home in Texas. “I fished all the time growing up as a kid,” he said “And did very well at it. I always had a knack for it.”
While living in Parker, Byrd participated in fishing tournaments. “Pretty soon, people are asking me to come to sporting goods stores and talk about fishing,” he said. “And then one thing led to another, and I found myself in fishing tournaments professionally.”
Major manufacturers began sponsoring him, Byrd said. “I have always had the knack to get money out of people to do the stuff I wanted to do,” he said. “I am able to promote their products.” Byrd said he has 14 sponsors and speaks at 15 to 20 fishing seminars a year. The seminars are opportunities to educate people, specifically children, on how to fish. “I just want to help people catch bigger fish and more fish,” he said. His favorite part of the seminars is connecting with kids. “I will give them my email, and they (kids) email me back saying, ‘Look what I caught!’” he said. “That just brings it all full circle.”
In addition to participating in fishing tournaments and outdoor sporting shows, Byrd writes for a couple of major fishing magazines and blogs.
Byrd said he enjoys fishing in Colorado, but his favorite fishing spots are in Texas, Louisiana and Florida. “I fish any species,” he said. “But bass; that’s where my love lies.”
In Colorado, he said he finds bass at the Pueblo reservoir and in Larimer County.
In 2008, Byrd met his wife, Ranata, who lived in Peyton. They married in 2009, and Byrd moved to Peyton, where the couple and their five children reside.
Byrd enjoys life on the prairie. “It is a slower place environment, and I feel it is a safer place to raise children,” he said. One of his favorite places to visit in Falcon is the High Prairie Library. “I want hundreds of more books from the library,” he said. “So, when I do retire and I’m sitting on the front porch, I have all the fishing books I want to read.”
However, retirement is a ways off. Byrd wants to pursue a degree in entomology (study of bugs and insects) and return to Spearfish. “My plans are to be a fishing outfitter and teach entomology and fishing classes at the university (Black Hills State University) – and fish a lot,” he said.
“Fish to the end: absolutely.”
(Click photo to enlarge)
G. Wayne Byrd shows off a 10 lb. 8 oz large-mouth bass he caught in Larimer County in Colorado.