I’ve fished with five fishing guides. On average about once every few years. Four of the five were pretty good to excellent. I’ll leave the not so good guide for another time.
Why hire a fishing guide? They can be expensive, especially if you are not splitting the cost with a fishing partner. I don’t hire a guide just to have a new fishing partner for a day. That costs money that would be better spent elsewhere. I found three reasons to for hiring a fishing guide and consider money well spent.
First, if you are new to a body of water that you will be fishing for the first time and fishing for consecutive days, such as a week at resort. You want to get on the pulse of the lake or river as soon as possible. The guide, if he’s good, will take you to places where the fish are have been active and will show you similar places to drop a line. Some guides will tell you why you are fishing in certain places If he doesn’t tell you why, ask him why we are “here” and not over “there.” I’ve asked guides to mark up my lake map with other areas that produce the time of year I’m out and for during other seasons as well. I always let him know I’m not asking for all of his spots – not that he would give them to me. It’s just a courtesy thing.
The second reason to hire a guide is to take you out on one of your local lakes that you fish regularly. Even if it’s a lake that you’ve done fairly well on, a guide can give you ideas on new places, point out features on his electronics that you didn’t know existed and suggest a new presentation. found over the past few days or week and possibly in a neutral to positive mood. He or she may tell you why you are there and what to look for in other parts of the lake.
Anglers overlook my third reason for hiring a guide: Teaching you a specific fishing presentation. Four years ago, my wife and kids got me the gift a guided day of fishing with fishing educator Spence Petros on Lake Geneva in southeast Wisconsin . He was specifically teaching drop-shoting for bass that year. That’s the only presentation we used for 8 hours. Doing one presentation for a whole day forces you to concentrate. I did not do well. He out fished me something like 18 to 4, but that was not the point. I learned what rod to use, line, terminal tackle, type and color of soft plastic worms. Why, where and how. Even to an older guy like me, Spence was very encouraging. I kept up with the drop-shotting presentation and have done extremely well since, with my best day being 36 largemouth bass in my boat in five hours of fishing.
Two years ago, my bass fishing partner Kenn and I were on Lake Delavan, just west of Geneva, with Spence to learn the where, when, why’s and how’s of wacky rigging for bass. Again it was one technique for 8 hours. I was “Best In Boat” that day with 14 largemouth bass, Spence with 10 or so and Kenn with 6. Most of them three to five pounders. All day we had 14 to 16 boats fishing the same area and to my knowledge, no one noticed the fish we caught. No one moved in on us, and no one waved or gave us the “thumbs up.” We saw a few guys bring a fish to hand but not like we were. Spence has a special technique for hauling bass out of the water with no one around noticing. It’s satisfying to say the least bringing in nice bass when there are boats all around are catching few of any fish.
All that said, the number of fish in the boat is not the measure of a good guide. In Canada, we were out with a guide on a lake that I’d fished several times before. We didn’t get many fish in the boat that day. Air temps dropped drastically the day before and the hard wind shifted 180 degrees. He worked hard to get us on active fish in a variety of locations, depth, and structure. I had a good time. I saw “new” water, explored places that I hadn’t been before, and filed away locations to try the remainder of the week and return trips.
To increase you chances of getting a good guide try these suggestions:
1. Carefully review the guides webpage or written material. Don’t fall in love with the pictures and be sure to recognize the hype. Read the site to decide his fishing approach, what species he or she may specialize. He could specilaize in big trophy fish. That could mean you may not get many fish, but what you hook might belarger than average. He’s looking got the big ones. Or the guide maybe be a numbers guy, which means your may catch a good number of fish but they could be more of an average size. If you think his style and species matches your goal, call the guide and explain what you are looking for, the type(s) of fishing you want or don’t want to do. Ask if for the bodies of water he covers. Listen to what he says. Most guides are friends and share information with other guides in the area and will may recommend a another if you are looking for a certain species.
2. Check availability. I like to hire a guide on the first full day of a long trip, with no later than the second day if possible. If your first choice is not available ask him for another name or go to the second name on your list.
3. If you have friends that have used a guide, ask about their experience. What did they like? Did they have any problems? Don’t judge a guide by the number of fish boated. It’s fishing, not catching. Word of mouth is the best advertising and often is the source of great recommendations.
4. If you are staying at a resort or camp, the owner can supply you with names of reputable guides. Camp owners want you to have a memorable week of fishing, and want you to return. They know who are the better guides and can supply you with contact information.