Over the years, professional angler Mark Martin has taken hundreds of fisherman on guided fishing trips. Martin built a name for himself by winning walleye fishing tournaments across America. As a result, anglers started to hire him to take them fishing. “I enjoy taking anglers of all experience levels fishing,” Martin said. “One thing I have learned by guiding fishermen is that all of them have a different idea of what a guided fishing trip is, what I should provide them for the trip, and what they should get out of the trip.” Below are a few things fishermen should consider before hiring a fishing guide.
LEARN AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
Mark says every angler should ask themselves why they are hiring a guide. “Many anglers want to have fun on the water for a day and catch a few fish,” Martin explained. “I believe the number one thing anglers should do when hiring a guide is to learn as much as they can about fishing so they can go home and become successful on the water without a guide. Some guys come to me already knowing a lot about fishing, but they can still learn a lot from me. There are many tips and tricks I can give an angler that can help them catch more fish. The most important thing an angler can do when hiring a guide is keep an open mind and learn as much as possible.
A GOOD GUIDE WILL WORK HARD
A fishing guide is not a magician with a magic wand. “Many people come to us thinking that the moment the boat enters the water we are going to be catching lots of fish,” Martin said. “We cannot control the weather, we cannot control if the fish are biting, but I ensure all my customers that I will work as hard as I can to help them catch fish. Sometimes we have to move all over a lake in order to find fish. Sometimes we have to try several different baits. Usually if anglers have a good guide, sooner or later the guide will find fish.”
GET A REFERENCE LIST
Mark Martin suggests every angler should do research before hiring a guide. “I always suggest that a person get a reference list from a guide they are looking to hire,” Martin noted. “Call a few people on that list and make sure the guide they are looking to hire has a good reputation. People should spend some time on their website or their social media pages and make sure they have a good reputation and plenty of pictures of customers with fish.”
ASK FOR A GEAR LIST
When hiring a guide, ask for a list of items that must be brought along on the trip. “People often forget rain gear or cold weather gear so their trip ends up being miserable,” Martin said. “Anglers even forget fishing licenses so we have to go get fishing licenses before they can go fishing, which puts us behind and takes away from the amount of time we can spend on the water. People forget coolers, snacks, and all kinds of things. Before hiring a guide, anglers need to make sure they ask exactly what needs to be brought along.”
ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES
A year ago, my son and I hired a fishing guide while we were in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. We planned on fishing for trout with a fly rod and we ended up doing a float trip on a river for smallmouth bass. Some anglers might have said no thanks, but we decided to roll with the punches and had a great time. The water levels were too low to fish for trout so the guide improvised. We had a great trip and learned some new fishing techniques. Because we were fishing a great distance from home, I did a ton of research on fishing guides months ahead of time and booked my trip months ahead of time. I looked at Google reviews, checked out the website, and interviewed the guide on the phone weeks ahead of time. I am glad I did.
A great fishing guide can provide you with great memories from a body of water you have never been. A good guide can teach you fishing techniques you may have never learned without them. The key to success is planning the trip months ahead of time and coming prepared. “Most fishing guides love teaching people how to be better anglers, and as a result, a guided fishing trip can turn into a fishing school where the tactics taught by the guide can be applied on the water by the customer for the rest of their life,” Martin said. “When you look at it that way, the cost of a guided fishing trip is well worth the expense.”