Of the hundreds of reasons to hire a guide (I will list some below) the main reason should be, to have a pleasant day of catching and LEARNING how to catch fish. If you leave your guide without taking away some memories and techniques that you can use later, you've really missed out on what a good guide can offer, and didn't really get your money's worth.
Guiding is hard work and only the truly dedicated men/women that love the outdoors and interacting with total strangers can make a living at it. Guides don't do it for a hobby or something to kill time. It is demanding work that requires a lot of work behind the scenes to insure a productive day on the water. Anyone can get in a boat and throw out a lure, but the difference is knowing your particular body of water and the species of fish that you are going after. Only experience and hands on knowledge will give you the confidence that years of fishing somewhere can produce.
A good guide lives to fish and fishes to live. They want to share their experiences with their customers and family and friends. There is nothing in the world like watching someone catch their first striper. The excitement they have is contagious and should never "get old" or routine for the guide.
A good guide spends a lot of time on "his water" 250-300 days a year is about right for a guide to keep up with current fishing conditions and fishing patterns. Anyone can read a fishing report for a lake and see that today fish were caught at spot X, using lure X. But tomorrow, this news is outdated and old. What do you do when they aren't there anymore and they don't want to bite lure X? A guide has a backup plan, because he knows his fish and what they want under different conditions, because he has encountered those conditions before. Numerous times. Year after year. Guides have learned through trial and error what to do, where to go, and what the fish want at any particular time of the year. How expensive would it be for you to put in that much time to get the same information? How many times have you had a slow day, only to see a guide pull up to the ramp with multiple limits? If everybody could catch fish without experience, guides wouldn't be needed.
A good guide keeps a journal of where, when and what his catch was each day. Stripers can swim miles a day looking for food. Why they are located in a particular spot isn't just luck. There is a reason they like a certain depth, or shoreline, A journal will help a guide see a pattern based on water temp. time of year, time of day and types of forage available. These journals are coveted and are maintained in detail by good guides.
If you are going on vacation, hire a guide the first day and pick his brain. Ask questions of why he is going to a certain spot, why he likes fishing at a certain dept, why he like the rigging he uses, what would he do different if the wind was blowing from another direction, if it was raining, if he couldn't catch bait, etc...now is your chance to take advantage of all of his years of tough and great fishing days. If you don't take notes and get all of the info you can, you are not getting your money's worth.
Let a guide do the dirty work: Let him pay for the boat, insurance, gas, tackle and equipment. Let him get up at 2 in the morning and catch bait. Let him untangle the backlashes, and get the fish off the hooks. Let him worry about what the fish are biting and where they are at today. Let him take your picture and best of all...let him clean your fish.
A good guide will cherish new fishermen and will encourage you to bring your kids and spouses. A good guide will be patient and a good teacher. There is nothing like a child catching their first fish on your boat. As a guide, you are part of a moment in their lives that they will remember forever. How many jobs can boast that comment?
Guides want to know your experience level. Let them know what types of fish you fish for and why. Ask them how fishing for Stripers, can help them catch Black Bass and so on. You would be surprised at the number of things different species have in common with each other.
Let your guide know what you like and don't like. Not all guides fish the same. Some fish only with live bait, some only with artificial lures, and some do both. Find one that fits the type of fishing you will be doing on your own later.
Find a guide that shares your interests and beliefs and you will find a friend forever. Remember, you are going to be stuck on a boat with a total stranger for up to 8 or more hours. It can be a very warm and fun time, or a strain on your patience. Find a guide you like, and use him again and again.
Another big reason and probably the most common reason people hire guides, is the equipment needed to catch a particular fish.
Striper Boats: Each guide has experimented with different boats and has his "favorite" style that he has found works best for him. You will notice that most guides on Texoma use center consoled boats. I like them for the durability and room they provide. These boats are mostly built for fishing and space isn't "wasted" on non-fishing items like storage space for skis and other recreation items. Each trip requires that the boat be cleaned, gassed up, batteries charged and maintained. Wiring checked, safety equipment like fire extinguisher checked and first aid kits kept fresh. Tires on the trailer must be checked and replaced periodically. This also includes the tow vehicle and it's maintenance.
Boat Motor: Oil and gas needed to run the motor can be a very costly part of the business. The repairs I had done this past July ran $4,100 alone. Another great reason to let a guide worry about the costs of owning a boat.
Rods: Guides have to buy and keep maintained a lot of rods and reels. They are used on a daily basis, and must be checked for daily abuse and wear and tear. Stripers are a powerful fish and rods will be lost overboard each year. I lose an average of 3 rods a year. I personally do not charge for lost rods, but some guides do, so be careful and hold on tight.
Reels: There is a big debate raging over which reels are the best. When bait fishing, many guides will use bait casters. (the type I use most often) For more inexperienced anglers, Spinning reels are used more often. These reels require more attention and must be inspected regularly. This also goes for fishing line. It is the only thing between you and that trophy fish. It needs to be inspected not just daily, but throughout the trip to find the nicks, knots, and abrasions that fishing for Stripers can cause.
Electronics: Most guides invest a lot of money in fish finders and rely on them for numerous things. From water temp. battery voltage, water speed, water dept, condition of the bottom, structure below the boat, dangers under the boat like sand bars and stumps, is there bait fish present, and is there fish under the boat? Most guides will invest in more than one graph so a trip isn't interrupted in case one of them goes out. There are also marine radios, GPS units, and cell phones dedicated to the safety of all on board the boat.
Trolling Motors: Used for numerous jobs that can sometime make or break a good fishing trip.
Tackle: Hooks needing sharpening, line needing replaced, Lures needing replaced and just having all of the possible lures that the fish have wanted in the past can easily cost a guide hundreds if not thousands of dollars. But you want them there on the days that the fish would rather have a 1oz. slab than a 2oz. slab.
Batteries: A charged and good working battery is a must on any boat. But a boat that goes out for 8+ hours a day, sometimes 26 days a month is crucial. All of the equipment that guides rely on, use a battery in some sort of way. With the addition of chargers and upkeep, this can be a good chunk of money over the course of a year.
Bait: I use mostly live bait (Shad) when I fish. Ask anyone how hard it is to catch and keep these baitfish alive and you will see a main reason people do not take up guiding as a profession. Shad are very fragile and finding them for sale at a bait shop is almost impossible. I don't know of any on Lake Texoma for sale. All guides here have to catch their own. They don't last as long as minnows and ANY type of system that keeps them alive more than a day costs hundreds of dollars. Most guides don't even attempt to keep them more than one trip and will catch fresh ones for every trip. Lately this means getting on the water around 2a.m. to insure enough are caught for the trip that starts at daylight. It doesn't matter if it is raining, windy, or if there is a layer of ice on the boat, It has to be done if that is the bait the fish are wanting. What is that worth to you? When you catch the bait (by throwing a cast net for hours) you must have a quality bait tank to keep them in. They require a certain environment to survive in or they will die within minutes. Even the best guide still struggles with them, and any mistakes or short cuts could mean the difference in healthy bait and dead floaters. Shad require a certain water temp. They need salt in their water, You have to have a superior air transfer and filter system. Chemicals to treat the water for chlorine and ammonia, and constant monitoring in case something goes wrong. Most guides have a duplicate systems in place in case of emergencies. More than once a backup pump or filter system has saved my day.
Weather: Guides must be ever watchful and observant of the weather. He must know when bad weather is a possibility and know what to do in case a situation comes up. The lake is not the place to be when strong winds and lightning suddenly appear.
Safety equipment: Life jackets, throw cushions, fire extinguishers, flare kits, first aid kits, all checked daily.
Throw nets, ( I go through about 6 a year) fillet knives, portable chargers, cell phones, maps, gas, advertising, telephone bills, internet service, ice, tax bookkeeping systems, time spent on web pages and internet promotion, trade shows, brochures, boat shows booth rentals, etc.....all needed to keep in touch with new and repeat clients.
With all that is involved, you see only a truly dedicated person to the sport, someone that loves the outdoors and nature, could go through all of the expense and work involved, just to see somebody else catch a fish in their boat. I promise you it isn't for the money, Most guides don't have 401ks and elaborate retirement programs, we don't do it for the money.
We do it because we love it and it has always been our dream to share that perfect day, when the weather is perfect, bait is easy to catch, the fish will bite anything you put in front of them, all of the fish are monsters, and the clients truly love to catch fish and literally scream each time they catch a fish. That is why I guide. I would love for you to be a part of an upcoming trip, call or email me today.