What You Should Know Before Hiring a Guide
Booking the trip
Most guides have web sites and they say they are licensed, bonded and insured. However, they should clearly list any licenses and numbers and documentation that they have, so there is no question. Ask if proof will be provided when you board the boat.
Ask how the fishing is. If the guide suggests a different lake than the one you want to fish on, he may want to go where the fishing is better. Guides spend a lot of time on the water- take advantage of their knowledge. A good guide will be honest if the fish have been small or tough to catch- this doesn’t meant you should go fishing- you will still have a great time!
When you call a guide to book a trip, ask if lunch and drinks will be provided, or should you bring your own? Will there be ice to store your catch, or should you bring a cooler? Can you keep your fish, or do they practice only catch-and-release? Will they clean your fish? Most guides prefer to provide all tackle- space on the boat is limited, so if you want to bring your own equipment, ask for permission first. Be sure you are very clear on what the rates are, so there are no surprises.
Bring your fishing license, and dress appropriately for the weather- layering clothes is recommended.
Guide’s Log Book
Upon entering the vessel, the first thing the guide should do is ask you for information for his Guide License Log Book. He will need your name, address, and your fishing license- DON’T FORGET TO BRING IT!
When you get in a boat, a professional guide will offer to show you all documentation: Department of Fish and Game Guide’s License, Proof of Insurance, Department of Boating and Waterways License (this is not a must, but a real guide will have one. This is a must if the guide is carrying more than three people) , U.S. Coast Guard License (not necessary on all waters-is the guide fishing rivers? On any navigable waterway that leads to the ocean, or Lake Tahoe or Folsom Lake, he must have a captain’s license from the United States Coast Guard, and he must have a C.P.R. card and be trained in first aid).
When you enter the boat, be sure the guide shows you where all safety equipment is located. You may choose not to wear a life jacket, but one should be offered to you, and you should know where they are located in the boat. Be sure the guide shows you where the throw ring, fire extinguisher, and first aid kit is, too.
Treat the guide fairly
Remember- no one can guarantee that you will catch fish. Some days the bite is tough for everyone- even the pros! A professional guide will do everything he can you get you a limit, but remember, the most important thing is to have fun, and hopefully learn some new techniques while you are out with a professional. A good guide will also be a good teacher, and usually will have some fun fishing stories to tell- don’t forget to enjoy the company and the time on the water on a well-equipped boat.
With the cost of all those licenses, the high price of fuel and boat upkeep, etc, most guides are barely breaking even on your fishing trip- they are basically subsidizing their love of fishing by guiding! Tipping is the norm- don’t forget to show your appreciation!