Different fishermen will receive different benefits from a guided trip. Professional Fishermen on the tournament circuits hire guides when they fish new water. TV fishing shows hire guides as they travel to different sites, sometimes several different guides at the same time.
So, the right question is not “Who needs a guide?”, but “What can I gain by hiring a Smallmouth Guide?”
Guides are a different breed of people that sometimes cannot seem to place any importance on anything not directly related to fishing. Guides eat sleep and drink fishing. They live a life that only the most passionate fishermen can tolerate or relate to. Living on shoestring budgets, grabbing power naps in their trucks between morning and afternoon trips, catching shad in the hours and days when they are not guiding, But, they are a happy bunch, they love the life they have chosen, most cannot imagine ever doing or wanting to do anything else.
These folks fish to live and live to fish and want to share their experiences with their clients, friends and family. Many guides I know spend 125+ days per year on the water. The real pleasure of guiding comes in watching a child, grown man or woman giggle like a school kid because they just caught a big Smallmouth bass in your favorite spot. No money can replace watching that type of exhilaration from children or grownups.
Fishing reports or reading literature about lakes for the most part, cannot give you all the information you need to fish effectively in a few hours on a new lake. I read reports before I embark on new water, but only as a resource, fishing reports are yesterday’s news. They will never replace the knowledge you can receive from a guide who has been on particular lake fishing for Smallmouth bass 100 days a year, for years. The fishing reports might tell you Smallmouth are hitting tubes or some other nondescript baits off points, but the reports can in no way tell you what to do when you find the point and there seem to be no Smallmouth around.
A Guide can. Because they have learned through trial and error and frustrating fishing days, what catches fish when what “always works”- isn’t working. It is this knowledge gained only by raw and sometime frustrating experience and years of persistence that can turn a slow day on the water into a day that creates lasting memories.
Some fishermen revel in the challenge of “figuring out” new water, but if you are willing to spend thousands of dollars on equipment, rental cars, and accommodations, why not spend an extra couple bucks, hire a guide early in your trip, and learn some valuable inside information that will save you time and make your entire trip more productive. You may only get a few weekends a year to fish, so hire a guide your first day. Pick the guide’s brain on where to fish, what to use, and what time of day to be on the water and for the rest of your vacation. I am certain you will enjoy the trip much more.
Pamper yourself. Let someone else furnish boat, tackle and bait. Tie your knots, undo your backlashes, take you to the best spots on the lake, tell you jokes and take your photos.
If you have a map of Door County, take it out and look at it. There are approximately 300 miles of shoreline that hold Smallmouth bass. All Lakes and rivers are not created equally, and not all are suited to your particular style or your skill level. Especially in the July and August days when Smallmouth move deep or scatter throughout the lake.
All Fisherman can learn from a guide. Beginners will be able to grasp the fundamentals more quickly in one day on the water with a guide, than they could in one month or much more fishing on their own. Most guides are patient, experienced objective teachers. They truly enjoy teaching a beginner how to catch their first fish or improve their skills.
People tell me they listen better to instruction from a guide than their husband, brother, friend, or whoever got them started. Experienced anglers will learn better from a guide if they are honest with themselves and the guide about their strengths and weaknesses. Do not exaggerate your abilities to impress them. Everyone serious about catching or learning to catch a large Smallmouth can benefit from a day with Captain Chris Johnson of Fishcrazy Guide Service.
Communication is the key to a successful fishing trip. Let your guide know what you expect, what you like and don’t like. Ask what type of technique you will be using, what type of baits you will be fishing with. Not all guides are alike; some will bark at you like a drill sergeant all day long, some are very mellow and relaxed. The one thing guides all have in common is the love of Fishing. Find one that suits your style and you will become lifelong friends. The trips I enjoy the most are the ones with my return clients, we know each other, and we have developed an understanding of each other. I cherish these relationships. If you do your homework, you will find a guide you enjoy, that I can promise you.
Each guide has their own unique style. I learn something new every time I am on the water, not to mention the pleasure getting to enjoy what I love to do with people who love to do it. These are just a few reasons to hire a guide and there are many more reasons, but you hire them for their knowledge and their ability to find and produce fish. They know the water and know the different area’s where the fish are. A good guide has this knowledge and ability. A great guide will show you more in a day then most learn in a month. They also will make it fun for you and your partner.
What a Guide Expects from You
Truthfulness: Don’t try to tell the guide that you know what you are doing he will soon catch on. Give him an assessment of your skills and abilities up front. That lets the guides tailor his trip to your abilities, making it a great trip for you. If you are physically challenged or have a handicap this should be told to the person who is booking the trip so it can be handled before you head out.
Courtesy: The guide you hire should be a professional and should be treated with respect. You can help with a bag or rod if he looks like he needs help. He will help you with your equipment if you need it. If you’re fishing with a partner don’t help your partner out let the guide do that. Its great to offer encouragement, but don’t interrupt while the guide is attempting to instruct.
Expectations: You are paying a bit for a guided trip and you expect to catch fish. Hiring a guide is like going to the doctor or getting your car fixed. You need to check his references, referrals or testimonials from the guys who have experienced these trips. There are no guarantees you will catch fish every time you go out.