Some book fishing charters to spend a relaxing day on the water, others are looking to add a prize species to their life list, or maybe learn a different type of fishing. They all want to have the best day possible on the water. A little preparation and clear communication will ensure that both you and your guide have a pleasant and rewarding experience. Here are ten tips that will get you well on your way.
1. Communicate. The maxim “The only stupid question is the one that is not asked” is especially fitting when booking a charter or a guide. How long will we be on the water? Should I bring lunch? What about using the bathroom? Should I bring my own equipment? These are all good questions and any good guide will be happy to discuss. If you have health concerns, definitely let your guide know in advance of the trip, as it could influence the particulars of the day.
2. Prepare. Get your gear rigged the night before the trip. Knots are more easily tied sitting at your desk than on a moving boat or windy conditions. If you choose to use your own equipment, check to make sure rods, reels lines are all up to date and in working order. Read up on the fishery, take a casting lesson—whatever you can do to make sure that you are at your best for a great day.
3. Fish for what’s biting. Unless you have a specific goal, opt for your guide’s recommendation on target species. The guide is out there every day and will know where to find the best action.
4. Be on time, but not too early. You guide has a routine, and while being a little early doesn’t hurt, showing up an hour early will be disrupt the process of readying the boat, rigging equipment and so-on.
5. Be honest about your skills. If you are an accomplished angler, tell your guide. If not, that will be valuable information as well. A professional guide trip is a great time to learn new techniques and perfect your skills.
6. To keep or not to keep. If your goal is to bring a few fish home for the grill, you should discuss this prior to the trip. Many top guides are “catch-and-release only” and keeping fish will likely determine where you will go and what techniques you will use.
7. No sprays. If you favor spray sunscreen and bug dope, apply it BEFORE you board. The chemical make-up of either will make the deck of the boat very slick and can damage the boats finish.
8. Take a hand towel if fishing on a boat. Wipe your shoes before boarding.
9. Find the right guide. Do your research. Ask friends, search the internet and social media. Call the guide to make sure that you both have clear expectations. Not all personalities mesh. A phone conversation will usually tell you a lot. If the guide is not friendly on the phone, move on.
10. Decide with your fishing partner how to split time and cost. If you will be doing the type of fishing that allows only one angler at a time, discuss how to take turns. Some choose to set a timer (say a half hour and switch), or the “you catch one, then I’ll catch one” method. Either way, do your best to make it fair.
First and foremost, a fishing guide’s job is to get you back to the dock safely. When on a boat, the captain’s word is final. That said, you should demand respect and your guide should always be courteous and professional. Guiding is a service, and as with other service professions, tips for a job well-done are appreciated.