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Ok guys and gals. I have decided to see what everyone thinks a fishing guide should or should not be.

We have all either used one at one time or another or thought of using one. Either for Bass, Stripers, Saltwater, or whatever. We all have some experiences with them or know of people who do.

Here are some provoking thoughts I have on the subject.

Is a fishing guide someone who loves to fish so much that they wanted to make a living at it? So whenever they get the chance to fish they will? Ie, even when the customer pays them they will still cast away at the fish many times in fact most of the time catching the biggest Bass of the day. Is this a fishing guide? Is this what we have come to expect as clients of these guides? Do we really want to pay upwards of $300 to someone who will fish alongside us and many times outfish us?

What is really strange is that guides all have a pat answer for this. You see they say they have to "figure" out what the bass are doing that day so they have to fish so they can help you catch fish. Hmmmm. Is that right? So the fact that yesterday all those fish that where caught didn't give this guide a clue as to what the fish are doing today huh? Well, I beg to differ. I think, a guide worth his salt should be able to know what is going on based on what his clients are doing. If the client needs instruction then the guide should show them how to make the right presentation. Folks this is not rocket science. It is just like a coach. Coach's need to show proper technique and the guide is no different. But do they need to do this while fishing in the best spot? I don't think they do. I think they can show the client how to work the bait properly with instruction. Or if they have to show them how they can do so with 1 or 2 casts and retrieves. Certainly they do not need to fish for several hours.

What is really interesting is that Bass fishing guides are the only ones guilty of this. If you hire a Striper guide they will rig you up bait on your or their rods and will put you over fish and you will be the one hauling in these fish not them. If you hire a saltwater guide they will rig your rods and take you to known spots that hold fish and you will be the one doing the fishing not them. Why don't those guides need to pattern the fish by fishing themselves?

Do you ever watch fishing shows in Mexico? All of them have guides on the boat. Most if not all sit in the back of the boat and simply take the angler to the spots that hold good fish and allow the anglers to catch the fish. This to me is what a GUIDE should be.

Here are definitions of the word "GUIDE"

# usher: someone employed to conduct others
# steer: direct the course; determine the direction of travelling
# someone who shows the way by leading or advising
# lead: take somebody somewhere; "We lead him to our chief"; "can you take me to the main entrance?"; "He conducted us to the palace"
# guidebook: something that offers basic information or instruction
# be a guiding force, as with directions or advice; "The teacher steered the gifted students towards the more challenging courses"
# use as a guide; "They had the lights to guide on"
# template: a model or standard for making comparisons
# scout: someone who can find paths through unexplored territory

Boiled down to it's simplest terms a guide is someone who leads, instructs, advises and basically serves people. The guide has knowledge that the person who hired them does not. So this guide is expected to pass on this knowledge to the client so that the client benefits. Is this a correct understanding of the term guide?

Do we as fishermen learn something by a fishing guide when they catch the largest bass? I learn the same thing when my friend does it to me. Or heck, maybe I don't want to learn something as much as just catching that fish.

I hired a guide a few times in my life and once in Texas a buddy and me split the fees. The guide took us out on Lake Fork. It was August and really hot. He took us to a tree row. Now a tree row in Texas is like a welcome fish here sign. They are almost always productive. So the guide flips his jig out to the tree row and after 3 casts he hooks and lands a fat 8lb bass. Guess who was second in line? Me. I was in the middle of the boat my friend in the back of the boat. I was pissed. If this guide was my friend I would have been happy as heck for him. But he was not my friend and I was not invited to come fish with him. I indeed PAID this person to take ME and MY FRIEND fishing. Did this guide do the right thing? Should he have let us make those casts to those trees with our jigs?

I know this is a long post but this is my biggest problem with guides. I have been out with them several times and all of them will tell you of the big fish they have caught. Wait a minute what about your clients I always think? What big fish have THEY CAUGHT? How many bass guides have photo's of them holding up double digit fish on their websites? I can tell you this, If I where a guide and that was my job. I would not fish with my clients even if they asked me to. I would instruct them on how to work their baits, teach them what I need to teach them and let them do the catching. I would be happy to put them on fish and work hard so that they are the ones holding up mamma bass not me. I would be embarrassed to have caught the big gal at their expense. Now, if I were out fun fishing you bet your butt I will be the one trying to catch the biggest and most. haha.

I think this is what most guides have confused. They treat the day as if they invited a fishing buddy out with them and that they should be fishing too. To me that is sad and horrible customer service.

What do you all think about this?
 

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Keith, I would have to agree with you on this. I liked the compairison to a guide as a coach.

I have never hired a guide, but have thought about 2 or 3 times. Infact there is a guide on one of the lakes we was having a tournament on and I contacted him ( his site said he would be happy to help you out ). I didnt want his sweet spots or anything, but asked a few simple questions and even on color choices.

I did not get any of my questions answered. I got a line of b/s !! I showed the email to a few of my friends ( in my club ) and they said I should write him back and ask him if he was a moron ! lol I just left it as it was. Now, if he didnt want to tell me anything, why say on your site you would ? He lost a potential client with his b/s !
 

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I've been a crappie guide, black bass guide, striper guide off & on depending on where I ended up working. But I've also hired guides more times than I could list. My 30 year career took me to many states for seminars, and TDY work assignments, including Annapolis (DC area) times total 5 weeks. I flew to most of those places, taking no equipment at all. I usually had enough lead time to book a guide that supplied everything I needed. I always asked guides to figure in picking me up at a government facility at the end of a day, then delivering me to my motel at the end of the trip.

By far the majority of guides didn't fish because I asked them not to. That's settled on the phone before the trip. However, I've had a lot of clients that wanted to take fish home, wanting me to fish so they could count on a nice box of fillets as well as photos. That extra limit was precious to many. But most just wanted boat access, equipment supplied, and simply getting put on some decent fish. If I fished with them I always offered my clients the thrill of fighting and boating a big bass on my line, handing the rod to them. I ran the landing net practically 100% of the time.

My philosophy was to be a teacher companion. I rigged rods, trolled, took out line tangles, put them on good honey holes, attended to their safety, and kept them busy fishing among many other duties. I considered myself their employee. With more than one client there usually wasn't enough spare time for me to fish. It's a big job if done right. My suggestions were welcomed, pulling out lures I thought would be better choices. I talked them through techniques, presentations, reminding to slow down or speed up.

In no case would I put anyone on my premium hot spots. Many times my clients were experienced bass anglers preparing for a tournament, so of course I maintained as much advantage over them as possible. Those guys usually understood why I reserved spots, who would do the same thing.

Speaking of bad business practices, the one most aggravating to me was contacting a guide service featuring a Classic guy or one with several hundred thousands in winnings, only upon arriving to be paired up with one of his associates. The last such service had one feature pro and 5 employees that actually guided. In each case I drew good anglers, but they just were not the guy I assumed to go with. All that is covered in their advertising small print. Well, if they are the only ones around that can book you you're stuck with them.

Jim
 
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Rodney, I agree. That guide shouldn't advertise something and not do it. It is weird how guides guard their honey holes even from those who pay them for their service. That is something I don't get.

Jim, I agree with everything you said and appreciate except for the last part. To me being a guide is to help these people even if taking them to my premium spots. Now, guides all should have quit a few spots to take fishermen too and one spot full of big bass for example is something that I would hope a guy I just handed $300 to would take me too.

Again this just boils down to common courtesy, doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. Since I would want people to do me this way I in fact do others this way. When I take friends fishing with me I take them to spots I have caught bigger bass from and even point out the exact location to them.

I could have kept my advice about throwing red traps to myself and never told anyone but I do it anyway. I tell people at the boat ramp and then I see them using lipless like I did when I won that tournament the next weekend. Maybe I should be more secretive but I guess I am a blabber mouth :) Hey, I have had people tell me how they are catching them and I go out and catch fish the same way. So to me it all balances out.

But that is all well and good and I wouldn't tell everyone who will listen where some spots are that I found. But if that guy paid me to show him then yes I would. I would also ask them to respect that I showed him this spot and if he sees me taking another client to this spot to let us in there. I think most people would do that. If not, then shame on him. I am not going to let a few bad apples ruin it for everyone else.
 

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Well, sure, if such a promise was made the guide can't hold back. It never happened to me and I never asked a guide to show me his secret spots. Let me use analogies.

I hired a bug spray guy that came out and killed all my bugs, and we had no more for several months. The fellow wouldn't tell me what chemical he was using except that it didn't require a license to buy it. His thinking? I hired him to kill, not to divulge his business secret and bypass that fellow next time.

It's considered anathema for a co-angler to take over a premium hot spot from a pro who had to let him in on it since the pro had to fish that spot to lock his weight in as high as possible the last day. The current mode is to leave the spot alone unless the "owner" gives definite permission. Those places are too difficult to locate to pass them around. There might only be one such spot on a lake. But it's possible to do well on many other spots, just not as consistently.

I wouldn't agree to take a client on that wanted my premium spots. I said earlier "in no case" would I share a premium spot. By that I mean in such a way as to probably end up finding someone else fishing that spot within a week, it no longer being a secret, a fact passed on to 20 other friends of his. of course it wouldn't be much of a risk to let some guy from New York in on a secret spot, figuring he'll probably never come back. A premium spot isn't usually a "biggest bass' spot. It's one I can rely on that will replenish quickly. I can count on catching a bass there most any day, a place that always has one or more hanging around. The idea is to line up a milk run of such spots to win tournaments. Giving them out is a good way to fail to make the cut. I'd fish it once to catch one if there were any witnesses, then return to get one more later. I just wouldn't make a big deal out of it. Most anglers seeing that would first assume you got the one and only bass there. Aside from tournament value, a guide won't likely please many clientelle if his secret spots get out. He'd be forced to spend countless hours assembling more instead of guiding. How many hot spots on a lake? I'd say it's quite finite.

As I've written before, I readily share hot lures and techniques, but not in connection with a tournament having significant money on the line. If I'm there to get in the money I'd consider myself foolish to spill my beans too early. I've usually gone to the trouble to remove good lures and replace them with duds before going in to a weigh-in. Well, that's a common practice around here. It's just sound business. Wanna have a secret? Don't tell it. I don't believe secrets are expected to be told around. Just want to help everyone out? Tell it all. But there's no advantage in doing that if you wish to finish tournaments.

Jim
 

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Being a fishing guide is a business and like all businesses you have a good, mediocre and bad. The successful guides satisfy their customers needs. If the customer request something that goes against their ethics, it's up to the guide to establish rules to be followed. If you have a bad experience, then you wouldn't recommend that guide to anyone and eventually the bad to mediocre guides go out of business.
I know several guides and pray they never find my honey holes. When I fun fish with a pro that guides, I never take them to my favorite spots. A guides relies on catching big bass for some clients for tip money. Big bass are worth extra tip money and guiding is a business.
Tom
 

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I agree. Another way I look at it is if I consider myself to be a successful guide, I ought to be versatile enough to lead a client to secondary honey holes where he can catch a big bass. It's probably not a good business practice to say to him "I have some hot honey holes, but we won't be going there." The idea is simply get out there and catch some nice fish. I might have 10 hot holes for numbers of fish of decent size that can win tournaments. But if that's all I have I'm in trouble since it's possible someone will be found occupying those sites. I have probably 80 "good" spots on Lake Ouachita, good enough to please most any client. Few clients would detect any difference. In fact, not many clients would appreciate going back to fish a former spot, so honey holes wouldn't be properly utilized anyway. Most want to see new water. Even lots of lifetime experienced anglers don't catch on to this concept, not going back to hot spots to grab another fish off it. They just keep moving along the shore on a one-way route.

Catch a big bass? Not many clients will tolerate fishing all day for one critical bite. An experience angler who fishes for trophies would. I think most are happier to catch numbers of good fish.

Jim
 

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Super discussion, very good points from all. I want some of this to sink in a bit before I respond. Quite honestly I have thought about looking into the Fishing guide industry after I retire. Reading this post has brought up a few more questions I have to consider. Thanks for the response and opinions
 

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Jim, The guides that are trying to catch a trophy for their clients will usually catch a limit of bass first, then stop at a known big bass spot and soak live bait, usually during a lunch break and hope to hang a good fish. Some clients are willing to soak bait all day and they catch some good fish and hope for a trophy to bite.
It's really upsetting to see guides sitting on one of your good spots bait fishing, because you know it's only a matter of time before that area is toast. The guide is trying to make a living, the water is open to public use and they have every right to fish the spot as I do. That is one reason I don't like bait fishing, it's too easy to catch good bass with.
Tom
 
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Good points as usual Jim and Tom. It really amazes me when I listen to guides reason why they are doing the fishing and catching monster bass. What a gig? Get paid $300 to go fish all day. Where do I sign up? haha.

On another site a guide is boasting about catching a 15lb 12 ounce bass. Now I would be boasting about this too. That is not what bothers me. What bothers me is that he was out with a client at the time. Seriously he should be feeling lousy right now. I would.

I guess I have this view of a Father figure who will lower himself to uphold his clients and basically humble himself and put his clients needs above his own to better serve his clients. Then when the client reaches success the guide should feel a sense of overwhelming satisfaction for putting this person on that fish of a lifetime. Indeed it is better to give then to receive. One of these days I want to see a guide proudly proclaim the succes of Client A for catching this monster 15lb bass or whatever.

Mark down who this person is and hire them. They are a rare breed indeed.
 

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Well, as The Fishing Coach and retired guide, I guess I should chime in. A fishing guide should try to insure a quality day on the lake for their customers. That will vary from trip to trip based upon client goals. Therefore a GOOD guide will question his clients long before they hit the water as to what they hope to achieve. It might be basic instruction, a trophy fish, numbers, learn the lake better, get on fish for a tournament, entertain a client for out of the area and a variety of other goals.

Now, that being said, what should a guide do during the day? I fish very little if at all when the fish are biting well. If they are not I go to work. Many times I can determine what my clients need to do to catch the fish that I know are there. That leads to my final point. I would never hire a guide that did not spend 3 or more days on the water every week. You cannot possibly track the fish if they haven't been on the water in two weeks.

that's my two cents.

cbs
 
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CBS said:
Now, that being said, what should a guide do during the day? I fish very little if at all when the fish are biting well. If they are not I go to work.
First, I appreciate your 2 cents and believe me they are wanted and I am glad to hear from a previous guide like yourself & Jim. However, I will politely disagree with you on the above quoted statement I took from your post.

I don't disagree with what you said here in fact I agree with it totally. I disagree with what was implied. You see I would go to work also but it wouldn't be with a rod in my hand it would be with a watchful eye on theirs. I can offer suggestions on what they are doing wrong or doing good if I know fish are there. I would know fish are there if I was a good guide because I would have been there yesterday or a few days ago with another party who caught fish there. You see I can keep track of fish without me actually doing the catching.

But like I said earlier, if I need to show them a better technique I will make them stop and I will make a cast or two and show them how I want them to work the lure. Then hand it back to them and let them get it. Now of course if they are a complete novice well that will be a tougher task. In that case maybe live bait is the way to go. But if they are decent fishermen then I think they can figure this out with a little coaching.

That is all I am saying. I wish bass fishing guides would go out with their saltwater brethren sometimes to see a guide and how they work to put their clients on fish.
 

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No two guides will do it identically. There's a lot of way different guides, and some will never be copied, some being eccentric, others philosophical, etc., some great comedians. I know there are some fly fishing schools for guides, but probably none for bass guides. So we have that to figure in. We also have to figure in whatever was agreed to before the client shows up. Maybe all they really want is to sip beer and troll for bass, just to get away. There's just too many variables in a guide contract to say all ought to do it the same. Non-guides really can't appreciate what happens before and after the trip. I might have to drive to Stuttgart at 2 am to pick up some giant shad. It's a good 4 hour drive both ways. The alternative is to go net some shad at Little Rock, which can take a lot more time.

Another factor is guide burn-out. I burned out once. I guided but really didn't want to pick up a rod. It had become like a factory assembly job. But to stay on the fish I had to get out there every day to stay up with the bass, the crappie, the stripers, hoping to pick up some straggler clients at a marina, hoping the answering machine had a booking message. Catching a monster bass didn't have the appeal it had. I'd much rather someone else did, just let me take the pictures.

There are clients who will request the guide to try catching a really big fish so he can claim it, get some photos, hang it on his office wall. Where's the self esteem?

Always "knowing" where bass are and when? I could never claim that, even following them daily. I worked hard to maintain those honey holes, but the bass didn't usually show up there "on time". They are bad to miss their appointments. The job is to figure out the next day when they will show up where. That involves a lot of simply going back and checking a spot.

Jim
 

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Very interesting posts here. I have considered getting into fishing as a guide sometime in the future, but jobs are'nt supposed to be fun, and I don't think I ever want fishing to be not fun. I know who you are talking about, Keith, I have considered hiring him. I have been to the lake he is fishing, and had a tough day. Had I been the man on the back deck, I would have been proud for him, helped take pics, but my tip would still depend on how MY day was. That is the ultimate key to being a guide, I guess. Not so much whether you fish or not, but find out what your client wants and do your best to give them a good day. I also agree 100% with not giving away your best honey holes to some guy you are about to fish against in a tourny, or a local yokel. Why ruin a good spot? That's my 2 cents.
 

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Good thread.. i have good and bad experiences with guides.. Here is one of the good ones:
I live here in Jacksonville, Florida, moved from South Fla, and had been trying for about a year to figure out how to catch reds, trout and black drum on our ICW here, I pretty much held the record for the ICW garbage slam,, sailcats, skates, jacks... Long story short,, I had been watching a TV show here in Jax, and contacted the guide who filmed the weekly show and ran the web site. I explained my situation, and that I wanted to learn how to catch fish on our ICW. He took me and my buddy out and put us on fish all day long ( 8 hrs ) showed us his special spots that he took clients to and even offered to GPS the spots for us. We begged him all day to pick up a rod and get in on the fun,, and he simply stated his fun was watching us have a blast catching all these reds, black drum, flounder, and sheepshead. He taught us how to read the water, look for reds moving water, tides and how to fish them, presentation and rigging of baits, ect... it was awesome.. The following year my wife booked a trip for my 40th B-day, and we had another great trip, when we booked the trip ,he asked do you want to go after reds , trout, ect.. or would you like to get into a 100# plus tarpon? I wanted to go for the inshore stuff, so we did,, about 6 hours into the day, we had really put a hurtn' on the fish,, and he said,, we going for a ride, and he took us to a special spot he does not take many clients to,, where we would have a shot at a 100 pound plus tarpon.. We did not catch the big one he was looking for, for my birthday ( present from him to me ) but it did not matter to me as I had another great trip with him.. Just my thoughts on my best experience with a guide on the water....

BTW... I had been a member/lurker on his website for about a year, trying to figure out the inshore fishing here.. anyway, that was how we broke the ice on the phone call made for the first trip...
 
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The Guide I referred to is Johnny Glass at Lake Fork.

U12, nice Avatar and team name :grin: We are the Team Lipless :)
 

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The difference between off shore blue water and inside green salt water fishing verses inland fresh water fishing is like comparing night and day. Off shore way points are generally well known and published for public use simply because the fishery is a vast and renewable resource. Sport fishing pressure has minimal affect on the fish populations, commercial fishing is another issue.
Guides that make a living on the ocean have little to worry about when giving their customers general information in regards to where and how to catch fish.
The fresh water bass fishery is very different, the bass populations can be affected drastically from over harvesting on smaller bodies of water. If the guides primary business is guiding and not tournament fishing, then he may be willing to put his clients on his best spots and may teach the client how to use electronics properly, if requested. However if the guide tournament fishes the same water that he guides on, the guide will be reluctant to show the client his best spots or places that are holding good bass, at that time. The guides job is to please his clients and catch fish, he doesn't need to give away the farm along the way.
You need to be a very versatile and highly skilled fisherman and instructor, plus have a out going personality and like to be around the general public to be a good guide. It's a tough business and very few good fisherman are successful fishing guides.
Tom
 

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I have guided in an amateur status for years. Meaning I don't make a living at it and do it to be on the water usually at some one Else's dime. There are people out there that you can not help. As hard as you try to put people on fish they have to have a small amount of god given talent to do things on their own. I have taken people who did not have a fishing idea but they possessed the simple grasp of what was going on under the water and actually learned how to catch fish right under my strict tutelage. That is the most rewarding to me. I have a rich brother-in-law who doesn't have clue about fishing but he loves to go and has the nicest stuff you can buy. Try as I may I can't seem to help him because he doesn't think like a fish. If that makes any since to any of you. Stuff like slow natural presentation and how to hold your rod for maximum sensitivity just doesn't seem to sink in. I also agree with what was mentioned before about getting to know up front what your client expects out of your trip. I am not a big fish guru so I don't take on those trips. Most people in my local are into catching fish and usually a decent one rares his head. I always tell them up front that I'll be fishing and if its gonna be a problem I'll give them a buddy of mine number to call him. But I have never had that happen yet. I think that people just don't want to be surprised as long as you can tell them as close to what is really gonna happen it makes for a good trip. Just my 2 cents.
 

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I never hesitated to tell my customers (freshwater) what and where to fish. I know numerous guides that tournament fisherman will not hire because they know they willget "guide" fish rather than is good fish.

I might also add..ALWAYS, and I mean ALWAYS tip your guide. Ten bucks will not make it. These guys spend untold hours putting you on fishand no one pays for that save the guide. Fifty bucks is not too much.

cbs
 
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