Not all fishermen are created equal, and the same goes for fishing guides. Some are better than others, and many of them have a specialty species they understand better or have more success when targeting, so you want to find the best guide you can for the species you want to target.
There’s a lot of ways you can find a fishing guide, and one of the most common is to do a search on the Internet for fishing guides in the area you plan to visit. The search will usually bring up a lot of different guides, so one of the first things you want to do is look at their bio page and see how long they’ve been guiding. As a rule, a guide that has been on the water for more than 10 years has been successful at what he does and knows the waters well.
Less than 10 years, and you want to maybe delve into the website more, looking at photos of the fish and for any recommendations or comments on their trips.You can also look at their Facebook and Instagram or other social media pages, to get an idea how much they fish and what they regularly target. Some of the best guides in the state are not active on social media or have super active websites, so don’t go on those alone.
The single most consistent way to find the best guides is by word of mouth, which is a personal endorsement from someone who spent time on the water with that guide. Many of the best guides in the state rely entirely on word of mouth to promote their business.
I suggest you narrow your choice of guides down to three or four, and then call them and talk to them about what you expect and want to do while on the water. Fishing guides don’t want to have a tough day on the water, so they’ll usually be straight with you and tell you want to expect, and if they don’t have that fish species dialed in, will usually recommend another guide that does.
What you want to remember about the fishing guide experience is that we want you to catch fish, and lots of them. When you catch fish, you’re happy, and that takes a lot of the pressure off of us, and lets us relax and enjoy our jobs. We are in the entertainment business. It’s our job to make you smile, relax, have fun and see the marine life and natural world that we love. We want you to take that experience home with you and remember it for the rest of your life, so we don’t want to try to grind out a bite or two or have a long day of not catching fish, so will often hand off charter opportunities to other guides who know that species better.
When reviewing a guide’s website, be sure to look at what type of boat they fish, whether it’s a bay boat, flats skiff or bass boat. There are so many specialty boats out there designed to help anglers catch more fish, that you want to be on one that skews the odds in your favor and at the same time can handle the size of your group. Remember, boats are a tool and good tools make the work easier.
When taking to your guide, be honest and up front about your abilities and comfort zones. Many guides specialize in specific tackle like fly rods, baitcasters, etc. You want to let them know your abilities with each type of gear, so they know what to bring and how to rig for your trip. If you talk to a guy who mostly fly fishes and you want to spin fish, then ask him for a recommendation for another guide that spin fishes on a regular basis. Don’t put yourself in a position to be uncomfortable with the gear or style of fishing, or it won’t be as fun.
Ask the guide what he supplies and what you need to bring, so you know before you show up. Most guides supply drinks, tackle, licenses and the boat, and expect you to bring any food, sunscreen and specialty beverages you might want while on the trip. Be sure to bring foul weather gear in case a storm moves in. In Florida, we get rain storms that pass through and last 20-30 minutes, then the sun is shining again, but you want to be dry and comfortable if it does rain.
Finally, ask the guide what they accept as payment. All fishing guides take cash and most take checks, but few accept credit cards. You want to know the rates, and payment methods before you show up, to avoid any issues after the trip is over.
And have fun. Fishing is supposed to be a relaxing experience. Don’t put pressure on yourself to make the perfect cast every time and catch fish every time. It doesn’t work that way. EVERY fishing guide has been skunked. It happens. Some days the fish don’t feed. Don’t put extra pressure on yourself to make up the difference. It will only dilute the experience. Go into your day hoping to have an entertaining day on the water, see a new environment and its marine life and get an education from your guide on what makes their area special, so that when you do catch fish, it’s a bonus on the experience.Captain Tips