Whether you’re a first-timer or have fished in new waters before, hiring a fishing guide when you are in unfamiliar locations is a great option if you want to help increase your chances of a successful outing. However, before committing anything, you should make sure that the guides are professional and knowledgeable. To help you with the process of finding the right guide, here are 10 questions you should ask.
1. Are they insured and licensed?
No matter how careful a guide may be, accidents can still happen. For this reason, it is important to check and make sure the guide you are taking a look at is insured and is licensed. Federal regulations make it mandatory for captains of charter boats to be trained and licensed. Additionally, if an accident does occur and you end up losing your gear or getting hurt, you will want to make sure that you will be protected and reimbursed for any expenses.
2. What style do they specialize in?
The style of fishing the guide specializes in will determine many factors. From what type of boat they should be utilizing to the locations to be looking in can affect your chances of a successful outing. If they state a style that you are not familiar with, research it and see if it is something you would enjoy. If not, move on to another fishing guide.
3. Do they have a “No fish, no pay” policy?
No matter how good a guide may be, there is a chance that you could wind up coming home empty handed. This means that not only are you out luck but also out of the money it cost you to hire the guide to begin with. Some guides offer a no fish, no pay policy. This simply means that if you don’t catch anything while using their services, you don’t pay. If they do have such a policy, check and see what the stipulations are. If they consider you catching a Bluegill as being a trophy catch, consider looking for another guide.
Be wary of a charter offering this policy. There is usually small print that makes the policy not enforceable. The reality is that every fishing trip can end without a catch. It’s part of fishing and it happens. It’s best not to make a choice on a guide based on having this policy.
4. Are children allowed on the trip?
Some guides have an age limit for who is allowed on the trip. Whether it’s their personal preference or for insurance reasons, this could be a deal breaker if you are trying to plan a family event. Ensure you ask the guide if they have age restrictions and if so, what ages are permitted.
5. Are food and drinks provided?
Some guides offer refreshments while out on the water, some do not. If packing a lot of food and drinks to take with you while on the water doesn’t sound fun, ask the guide if they provide these with their service.
6. Do they clean your catch?
While most guide services throw in the cleaning of your fish as part of their fee, some will charge extra. Check with the guides that you are looking to hire. You don’t want to be hit with extra unexpected fees after you have already paid for the trip itself.
7. What is the cost?
The fees charged by guides vary greatly and just because one seems expensive doesn’t necessarily mean that they are better than the others. Compare the prices they are charging with other guides. Additionally, check and see what is included with their fee. Are refreshments provided? Does it include cleaning your catch? How long do they let you stay on the water? All of these factors can affect the price.
8. Do you need to have a fishing license?
In most situations, you will not need to have a fishing license when you are using a for-hire boat. As long as the guide has a valid vessel license that has the name of the boat operator, you should be covered. However, many states have different laws so make sure you check with the guide you are looking to hire.
9. What gear should you bring?
Guides are very good at keeping track of the weather. For this reason, ask the guide what type of gear you should bring. Once provided with the timeframe you are looking to make the trip, so long as it is not too far in advance, they can give you an idea of what you will need.
10. Do they provide you with gear?
While having the right gear to handle the weather is important, having the right gear for the fish is just as instrumental. Some guides will provide their charters with gear to save them from having to lug theirs around. It’s a good idea to check with your guide to see if that is an option.
While there are many more questions you could ask of your potential guide, these ten will help to ensure that you are getting a guide that can help to create for you a pleasant experience. Good luck.