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How to Select a Professional Fishing Guide
by George & Scott Welcome, Imagination Bassin' Guide Service

Questions to Ask a Prospective Fishing Guide:

Ask for a list of references, including clients who have fished with the guide recently. Call the references.

If required by locale, did the proper authorities license the guide?

Does the guide fish full time? A guide who's on the water every day keeps up with productive patterns better than a weekender.

Does the guide fish himself? Most bass guides do fish, at least enough to determine how the fish are biting. Your guide fishing not only shows you where the fish are but also allows for the opportunity to educate you further in techniques.

Does the guide give instructional trips or is he simply a charter service?

What does the guide furnish? Should you bring your own water or other drinks? What about tackle, lures or bait?

Do you need to bring specific lures? If so, they are usually cheaper in the city than at lakeside?

How much gear should you bring with you: tackle, poles, rain gear, etc?

How much are the costs for the trip and ensure that there are no hidden extras?

How many hours can you expect to fish for your money?

Can you hire the guide for half a day? If the fish are biting aggressively, a half-day of fishing could be enough for some casual anglers.

What about lunch? Does the guide furnish lunch or stop for lunch at a lakeside cafe or marina? Should you bring your own lunch?

Does the guide practice catch-and-release fishing? Many bass guides on good fishing lakes discourage their clients from keeping any fish. If you intend to keep fish to eat, you need to have this discussion with your guide.

If catch-and-release only, can a trophy be kept? Can the guide handle getting a trophy to a taxidermist...or other options to have a replica made from a photo, etc.

If fish are kept for food such as (pan fish, walleye, stripers, etc.) who cleans and bags?

At least have a telephone conversation with a prospective guide to try and determine if the two of you are compatible. If the guide is devoutly religious and your favorite shtick is dirty jokes, it's probably a bad idea.

If the guide fishes strictly with live bait and you like to cast lures, you need to know before you go.

What kind of boat and what age is the boat are things you should know. There are "guides" out there that have inadequate equipment for both safety and comfort.

Do you need a fishing license for the fishing location and if so, how is it obtained?

What is the cancellation policy for weather days? Does the guide cancel for weather? Refund? Credit for future? Discounted future trip?

In some areas, guides have to charge more to make long runs to remote areas which may be the best discuss the option for this possibility and any extra fees that may need to be assessed for gas, a longer day due to the longer run, etc.

How to be a Good Client for a Fishing Guide:

Just as there are lousy fishing guides, there are lousy fishing clients. Those clients make the unwritten list of people who are not welcome in the guide's boat a second time. Some guides are vocal about their displeasure and others will simply be busy whenever the lousy client calls.

Establish realistic expectations for your trip. i.e.: if you're interested in ONLY trophy opportunities, let that be may NOT be available on the water/season you've chosen. On the other hand, a client may be interested in a particular species that is not in the best season at the moment...or a particular species may be very hot right now, but the client does not want to target it.

Be honest about your fishing skills. Don't pretend to be an expert angler if you're a novice. After watching for a few minutes, the guide will know the truth, anyway.

Never book fishing guide and simply fail to show up because you changed your mind at the last minute. The guide may have turned down other clients because you had him booked. If there's a last-minute emergency, at least call the guide and let him know you won't be there. Offer to pay a portion of his fee for costing him a day's income.

Don't try to tell the guide where and how he should be fishing. He is the professional, and that's why you hired him.

If you enjoy fishing with a guide, become a regular client. By developing a long-term relationship, you'll get calls when the fishing turns on.

If you have had a great trip and feel like you want to tip the guide than by all means do so. A typical tip is 10-20% but the amount is totally at your discretion. A tip is not a requirement for a good trip and you should in no way feel that any standardized method makes you obligated to do so. However if you do so because you are satisfied, I am sure it will be greatly appreciated and remembered.

How to Find a Good Fishing Guide:

Call marinas at your favorite fishing lake. Ask the marina operators to recommend a fishing guide. Marinas make money when you catch fish. Also locate guides through tackle shops, the local gathering spot coffee shop, Chamber of Commerce.

Watch for guides who advertise in the newspaper or in fishing magazines.

Ask any guide the usual questions and check his references.

Ask fishing buddies to recommend a good fishing guide. Word of mouth recommendations are often the best.

Good Luck on Your Next Guide Trip

George & Scott Welcome

(P.S. Special thanks to former Lake Powell guide, Jerry "Bubba" Puckett, for adding a few of his pointers to the above.)

Author Information.

Imagination Bassin Guide Services is based in Florida and offers guided trips on Stick Marsh/Farm 13 and Ansin/Garcia Reservoir. These waters are the best in the world and offer an outstanding opportunity for that "BASS" of a lifetime. Our clients are either the experienced fisherman that is seeking to learn the layout and techniques that work best on these waters with artificial baits or the beginner looking for a great day on the water. Artificial baits account for more large bass caught than any other method with soft plastics being the number one bait. Fishing platform is a current model Nitro 896 Savage fully equipped. Clients supply their own tackle (up to three rods) and tackle box. We carry a complete tackle setup if needed,  and we advise on what to purchase if you don't have local lures. Our preferred method of fishing is with artificial bait however we can and do enjoy live shiner fishing at times when that seems best for the bass and for the client.

Give George or Scott a call at 561 225-6755 Days or 561 337-1147 Nights
Visit their web site at Imagination Bassin' Guide Services
Email George or Scott at

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