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!


lowtrj said...

You are exactly right about choosing a guide for fishing. I have used a few guides in Islamorada and Tavernier, and while we mostly caught some fish, not all were interested in making the day special, or putting forth much effort. I have used Capt. Mark Gilman out of the World Wide Sportsman exclusively for the past four years. Mark is a nice family man who knows the water and gives his anglers 100% attention during a trip. More than once we were on the way in when Mark stopped the boat because he saw more fish to throw to, extending our day easily past the usual eight hours. I have given his name to a dozen of my friends who have all enjoyed his professional help. Merry Christmas to all of our friends at Pines and Palms. See you in February.
Jim Popa
Columbus, Ohio

Anonymous said...

Good Saturday morning, Jim:

Stayin at the resort at the end of February and looking for suggestions on a laid-back, back country charter. Thanks in advance.


Jim said...

Hi Jim

I do have a couple of real easy going guides to recommend but I need a bit more information. Will you be the only one in the boat or will there be additional fishermen? Any children, if so what ages? Any preferences on species of fish or just lots of what is biting?

Let me know the answers to these questions and I can either give you names now or we can set up the charter a few days before you arrive.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Jim:

3 of us - me, Dad, brother (all old men) - all relative beginners. we try to do an off-shore trip together every couple of years. never been back country. would love to fish for tarpon; but understand it may not be an ideal time of year. so basically lookin for a sunny day on the water with a few beers and a few bites.


Jim said...

I do have a few guides that would be a good fit for you. Please contact me on my resort email address. This address goes to the front desk so please include the phrase "forward to Jim" in your message. Its

Anonymous said...

Jim: sent e-mail to above address the other day. hope it made it to you. take care.