Friday, December 14, 2007
How to Select a Fishing Guide
A lot of folks will be arriving soon and want to go fishing. Back-country or Off-shore, selecting the right guide to meet your expectations is crucial. I can't tell you how many times I've heard from disappointed customers who hired a guide and had a lousy day on the water. My first question is always: Who did you hire and then, How did you find them?
Islamorada has some of the best guides in the world. Please don't ask a total stranger for a referral and don't hire somebody you meet at the bar, the grocery store, or the tackle shop. Anybody you ask here in the Keys will likely say they are a guide, take you out in their boat, and take your money at the end of the day.
My advice is to get a list of names from somebody you trust. If you ask the hotel, your second question should be if they are paid a commission (great guides don't need somebody selling their trips). You need a list of guides because (in my opinion) personality is a big part of it. You are going to spend the whole day together in the boat. Select the guide who fits your style. Call at least 3 (more is better) and explain what you want and what your skill level is. Do you want to stalk Bonefish on fly and maybe have only one or two chances all day, or do you want to go fun fishing for whatever is biting? Guides do specialize in certain types of fishing. Don't hire the fun-fishing guide to take you looking for Bonefish.
You will meet the big Off-shore boats at the marina but many Back-country guides will pick you up at your hotel dock if you ask. The usual protocol is for the fisherman to bring the lunch and include the guide. Ask him what he likes on his sandwich. All tackle and licenses are provided. A tip of around 10% (+ or -) is customary and the guide will clean your catch too.
Through the years of operating Pines & Palms Resort, we've developed a short list of guides we send our customers to and they always come back happy. I'm sure other resorts do the same. Do your homework and have fun fishing!