It’s not about collecting money and being a celebrity. Being a guide is “entertainment” but it also about “catching fish.” The bottom line, people have to have the opportunity to catch fish. Getting paid to take people fishing is a good place to be in life. I went into it because, quite honestly, I’d already caught my share of fish myself. Taking people still had me out there but had me not being the one doing the work.
Opportunities are tougher than they used to be. The cause: Unknown. The future: It should come back but if it doesn’t I will make some changes.
Communication: Customer feedback tells me a lot about what I’ve done to meet the expectations during a fishing trip. “What people want”. Getting the information before the trip. I try to determine what kind of trip it is. Action trips, the out of towners who are pretty much happy with a bent rod and as much action as I can possibly provide. They’re pretty easy (usually). Ladyfish are a very cooperative fish for this. Years past, a silver trout hole is gold. The more specific trips are the people who are into fishing, live local and want to get better at catching specific species. Redfish is a prime example. I have trained hundreds of people how to target and catch this species. It is more exact.
Expert knowledge is what is provided in either case. I take them to the best locations, I teach them what they need to know to be successful. For beginners a big one is casting. Make the longest cast, catch the most fish. Being quiet. Being efficient. The whole picture: What can I teach you? I can teach you everything you need to know.
There are a number of things that come up in trips. The spouses who take instruction better from someone else is one I encounter occasionally. The spouse will listen to me and my instructions when the might not listen to their significant other. These ones are fun.
Teaching kids the right way, the kids often reaffirm the lessons to the parents better than vice versa. Kids are fun. Newer to them than older people, kids absorb what you tell them and with good action the enjoyment is obvious.
Using the equipment, the boat, the positioning: Part of what I teach, there are just ways of doing it that are better. Using the lures to get active gamefish to eat them, fighting technique and handling the various fish. All the skills. Can you learn it from me and go back out on your own and be successful? The answer has been yes over and over again throughout my career. I’m proud of it.
Skills. Picture taking. Ease on the fish. Getting a photo that makes the fish look realistic. “Where is the picture of the big one?” That was it, you just held it in too close to you. Properly using the gripper. Getting good light. Perils, fish with teeth and gill plates. Get better at it, get faster at it. Get your picture, get the fish back swimming healthy. The internet, frequently you see it where people don’t have these skills and I know that fish pictured may no longer be alive. It’s too bad but it happens.
Pretty much, mostly all enjoy the experience. My estimation: 80% of the people I take fishing get kayaks and continue to do it on their own. The trick is not to tip off what you “think” it will be when you have had days like you had there right before that. Notes from the past: “I had the clients yesterday throwing lures at packs of snook that were all slot to over slot for over two hours.” Oh, to have opportunities like that again. It has gotten much more difficult around Tampa Bay and situations like this just aren’t possible anymore. Some days are very good. Some days are not so good. That, quite simply, is fishing.
Weekend versus weekday? When to go. The tides, the wind and the weather. Building your trip has a plan. Use the right criteria and you are out there at the better times. It really is that simple. I contend, you can have equally successful fishing trips on the weekend if you choose the right spot.
When it’s easy? When I am
able to say this:
I was literally blessed with people with decent talent this week. When it is someone who is already really good: It can be an outstanding day, easily.
When it is easy, the results are fast and good: “Today was cool. Second cast of the day Wally caught his first ever redfish. On the 12 Fathom SlamR rootbeer glitter.” Talk about a monkey off the back right out of the gate! Big redfish minutes into the day will do that.
I get requests. I refer them off to other people. Location is one. Guys send me clients for my area and vice versa. I’m kayak fishing. There are certain requests that are better done in a power boat.
Fifteen years into it: It’s still fun.