There are plenty of lessons to be learned from a good fishing guide. It could be as simple as learning to tie a new knot or how to launch a cast net to catch bait. Others are more complex, such as interpreting electronics or how to cope with a pesky thermocline.
Experience on the rear deck also has taught me a lot about fishing guides in general. Perhaps the most noteworthy lesson is that not all of them are created equal. Fishing guides are like others who charge a fee for a service. Some are really good at what they do. Others, not so much.
A day spent on the water with a good fishing guide should be a pleasant experience, not a disappointing exercise in patience. Even if the fish don't bite that well, you should at least go home feeling as though you've learned something, and that the guide put forth an honest effort to help you catch fish.
Here’s some advice to help avoid getting foul hooked when you hire a fishing guide:
It’s Hard Work
Good fishing guides work hard for their pay. They rise early and run up scores of expenses on boats, motors, fuel, gear and insurance. They also have regular bills to pay.
Don't sneer when a bass fishing guide tells you he charges $400 per day for up to two people. Based on an eight-hour day, that's about $50 per hour, minus fuel costs and wear and tear on equipment.
What Does it Cost?
Prices vary with the game.
Don't expect to pay the same rate to go trolling for marlin on a private charter boat as you do for a crappie fishing trip on Sam Rayburn.
Most guides have full and half day rates. Rates may or may not include multiple people. Larger offshore rigs, party boats and pontoons can accommodate more heads than a bass boat. Party boats usually charge by the person. Big offshore boats can carry larger groups, which can help divide the costs among multiple anglers.
Learn about rates ahead of time. Find out if other services such as lunch, fish cleaning, bagging, bait and tackle are included in the price. Check websites or making a few phone calls to tackle shops or bait shacks.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make sure the guide has a license to charge for his or her services.
Be cautious of part timers, especially those who undercut the majority, or those who claim they are sacking up the fish when it is well known that most anglers are struggling.
Experience a Plus
Making a living as a fishing guide and sustaining it over time is a tough row to hoe. A guide who has been in business for 20 years obviously has earned his stripes.
Newcomers can provide quality services, as well. Ask for references. A guide who refuses to provide references either hasn't spent much time on the water or may have some skeletons in the closet.
Some guides cater to specific crowds, while others are multi-species guides who fish for whatever happens to be biting best at the time.
Ambitious bass anglers sometimes look to established tournament pros to provide instructional trips with a strong emphasis on learning a certain technique or how to become more proficient with a certain lure.
Seasoned tournament anglers also can provide valuable information when it comes to managing your fishing time or learning the ropes of the fishing industry. One-on-one instructional sessions may be more costly than a regular guide trip.
What to Expect
A good fishing guide will be on time and be prepared for business when he gets there. The guide should be courteous, knowledgeable of the water and be accustomed to handling a boat in rough conditions.
Don’t be afraid to speak up if you prefer that the guide not fish, but don’t expect the guide to work miracles if your fishing skills are poor. A good guide will always keep the boat positioned so that the client gets the first shot at the best spots.
A good guide is a truthful one. If the fish aren't biting that well when the phone rings, a good guide will tell the client up front.
Listen to the Guide
It is the client's responsibility is to listen to the guide, show up on time and follow instructions when offered. If you’re told to be at the ramp at 6 a.m. to catch the early morning topwater bite, don’t come dragging in an hour late expecting things to pan out.
The same is true of fishing gear and general advice. If the guide tells you to bring plenty of green pumpkin stick baits, don’t show up with a bag full of 12 inch worms or deep diving crankbaits instead. If you’re instructed to hold your crappie jig steady and 12 feet, don’t insist on bouncing it up and down in 20 feet.
Fishin’ for a Guide
There are all sorts of ways to locate fishing guides. The Internet fishing forums are good sources, as are fishing magazines and newspaper articles. Perhaps the best resource is word of mouth. Anyone can buy advertising. The best guides are those whose good reputations precede them.
ET Sportsman’s Club to host first fundraiser, July 26
The newly formed East Texas Sportsman’s Club will host its inaugural banquet/fundraiser on July 26 at The Barn in Nacogdoches.
An affiliate of the Dallas Safari Club, the organization was formed last fall and has a blossoming membership comprised men and women who enjoy an outdoors lifestyle. Their mission: To conserve wildlife and wilderness lands, educate youth and the general public, promote and protect the rights and interests of anglers and hunters, and to adhere to the highest standards of game and fish stewardship.
“More specifically, the organization gives back to communities in rural East Texas,” said Vikki Boatman, ETSC membership chairman. “In March 2019, ETSC made its first donation to the Pineywoods Service Association, a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for deserving veterans through fishing, hunting and other outdoors activities.”
Boatman says the upcoming fundraiser will be get begin at 6 p.m. There will be bucket raffles and live and silent auctions for primo items like fishing/hunting trips, vacations, two safari adventures, a handgun training course, ladies furs, jackets and purses. There also will be a five-gun raffle, a helicopter/predator control hunting trip and boxing gloves signed by world champion heavyweight, George Foreman and much more.
Tickets cost $50 with limited numbers available. No tickets will be sold at the door. For more information, firstname.lastname@example.org.
ET youth anglers advance to world championship
Two East Texas youth anglers recently earned berths to The Bass Federation Junior World Championship (Aug. 8-10) on the Arkansas River in Little Rock.
Andrew Tutt of Longview and Austin Prazak of Hallsville qualified for the upcoming team world championship by winning the TBF Texas Junior State Championship on June 8 at Lake O’ the Pines in eastern Texas. The anglers weighed in 21.86 pounds. Tutt and Prazak, both 13, caught their fish on Zoom Ol’ Monster worms, magnum shaky heads and Rapala DT 10 crankbaits, according their team captain, Jim Tutt of Longview.
“It was pretty nerve racking,” Tutt said. “All I was allowed to do was drive the boat, net fish and help them cull. I wasn’t allowed to give any advice. The kids made all the decisions about where to go, when to leave — everything. They did a great job.”
The upcoming junior world championship will be held in conjunction the with the 2019 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs.
The full field competes for two days from their own boats and boat captains. The top team from each region will advance to the championship round and compete for thousands of dollars in scholarship money.
Each team will appear on the FLW Cup main stage on Aug. 10.