Picking The Right Fishing Guide
Picking the right fishing guide can be a real challenge in todays market. There are hundreds of “guides” in Wisconsin and throughout the midwest. Fishing guides can be a dime a dozen with social media allowing anybody to advertise their service. Booking a fishing charter should be a fun, exciting experience. There are several key elements that make up a good fishing guide and guide service, but what are the key factors to look for? If your looking for a Wisconsin fishing guide, or a fishing guide in general, consider these tips to help you find the right service.
1. Fishing Equipment
Anybody who has hired a fishing guide in the past is aware of the daily abuse a guides equipment gets put through every day. As a full time fishing guide I spend sometimes seven days a week on the water for months on end. There is no time for equipment failure. Equipment can be from line, lures, reels, rods, boats, electronics, motor, etc. As a guide, my customers expect a top notch experience, and that means top notch equipment.
A good guide should always have quality products in their boat. No matter sponsors, as a guide, you need your equipment to work flawlessly day in and day out. You find out very quickly what products are the real deal very quick. Most guides also upgrade boats on a regular basis. The sheer number of hours put on a boat/motor in a season is more than the average person will put on in a lifetime. Good quality equipment will keep you fishing longer, putting more fish in the boat!
2. Communication With Guide/Call Before Booking
Guiding is a 24 hour a day 7 days a week job. From booking trips, fishing daily, boat and equipment maintenance, repairs, etc a fishing guide can be a hard person to get ahold of. A fishing guides website should be loaded with information on the trips they offer. From licenses, deposits, rates, what to bring, weather cancellations, should all be listed to help the client be prepared on what to expect. Talking to your guide before you book a trip is a very key role in booking. No matter how busy the guide is they should always communicate with the customer (they are the ones paying for the service).
When booking a trip make sure to “feel out” the guide on the phone. If a guide “guarantees” to catch fish beware. A good guide never will guarantee anything. Fishing is fishing, a guide can’t make the fish bite , but they can do everything in their power to make it happen. The guide should be just as excited as you are to take you fishing. If they are not, then maybe they are not the right guide to book.
3. Part Time/Full Time Guides
It may not sound like a big deal whether your guide is a full time guide or a part time guide, but it can mean the difference in a great day on the water or a terrible experience. There’s a few factors to consider in choosing a guide who is part time or who is full time. Insurance is the first big difference in a part time/ full time guide.
As a customer you should never fish with a guide or charter service without insurance. Insurance can be fairly expensive and many part time guides take a chance without it to save money. Ask your Wisconsin fishing guide about their insurance when you’re communicating with them. When you’re talking to your guide about insurance make sure to ask them about their licenses for guiding. Different areas require different licenses/requirements to run customers. Here in Wisconsin on the Bay Of Green Bay, a captains license is required to guide on federal waterways. Along with many other qualifications, a guide should be happy to discuss necessary licenses, if they are not they may not be qualified! Another factor to consider with a part time/full time guide is being on the water daily.
A part time guide may only fish 1-3 days a week on the weekends and be off the water for five days between trips. A full time guide is normally on the water daily. On large bodies of water such as Green Bay, the fish are constantly on the move. Whether you’re booking a Green Bay musky trip or a Green Bay walleye fishing trip, having a guide who is on the water daily is key. A full time guide is also established. They have a customer base big enough to fish full time, which typically means they have a good track record with customers.
Cheeper is not always better! You get what you pay for. This theory has been proven true for more than just fishing guides, but it defiantly is something to consider when looking for your next Green Bay fishing guide or guide in general. There are loads of guides in the industry nowadays, a lot of them undercutting other guides just to book trips. This should be a red flag to any consumer looking to book their next trip.
The price of a charter normally reflects on the quality of the captain you are hiring. A well established guide with lots of experience is harder to find then you think. Fishing seasons can be short and a good guide who keeps up on their equipment can be a bit expensive, but well worth the price. Experience is another factor to keep in mind. Not every guide will have 25+years of experience. Thats not always a bad thing. Yes experience is a great advantage for most guides who have been in the game for years. But younger captains have a lot more to prove to establish themselves as a guide also. A young captain can have plenty of experience and also work harder to put you on fish on a daily basis. It should be very easy to tell if your guide working for you or just there to take your money.Hopefully you have figured this out before hand while communicating with your guide while booking.
A super simple, quick and effective way to check the credibility on a guide service or outfitter is by reviews. Reviews are a way clients/ customers can rate their experience with other people. Whether it’s positive or negative feed back you will be able to see it and make a decision from there. A Great way to give back to a guide who you have had a good experience with is to leave a review for others to read. The more reviews a guide has the more people will trust booking with them, and will in turn create more customers with a great experience. There are always going to be some people who are never happy and may leave bad reviews trying to hurt the guide because they are not happy with them. Maybe the fish were not biting that day or the weather was not great. If a guide has several customers repeatedly complaining about abad experience then you might want to keep looking for another guide. If the reviews of the guide your researching are more positive than negative you’re on the right path.
6. Website/ Social Media
The internet is the single most important aspect for a guide to book new customers. A website says a lot about a fishing guide. Their website should be very informative for customers to find out as much information as possible before even contacting the guide. Certain seasons, whether your looking for trophy walleye, a giant Green Bay musky, or to fill the freezer with a bunch of eater sized walleye, a good website should have information on season dates and best times to target the fishing experience your looking for.
Pictures, videos and tv shows are also great for clients to get a feel of their guide. A guide who keeps up on their website, showing their work ethic, is more likely to offer a great experience on the water than someone who is outdated. Social media, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or twitter are also great ways to keep up with a guide and for updates on fishing. Most guides will update daily or weekly to keep clients informed on what’s going on. Where I guide on Green Bay thing are changing daily and most customers love to keep up with the action! And if you’re do your homework hopefully you will end up on their site.
7. Referrals and Repeat Customers
Referrals are always a great way to get in with a new guide service. Talking to someone you know or trust and having them refer you to a specific guide service can take a lot of time out of searching for a guide. Its pretty simple, if you had a good experience with your guide you would refer them to others. If it was not a great experience time to move on. Word of mouth is always a great way to find a trustworthy guide. Repeat customers are also something to talk to your guide about. If your guide has a big turnover of customers, who are not rebooking trips in the future, then they might not be offering the experience they are selling. Many customers of mine have become great friends through the years. If you’re doing your job correctly as a fishing guide your customers will keep coming back.
Selecting a Wisconsin fishing guide or a guide in general can seem to be a hard task. Hiring a guide should be a fun experience, unfortunately there are a lot of bad guides out there who can give customers a bad experience. If you follow these 7 tips hopefully they can make your experience on the water one to remember!
Capt. Jacob Kaprelian
Owner, Epic Guide Service
Ready To Book Your NExt Fishing Charter?
Please fill out the short form to submit your booking trip request and one of our fishing or hunting guides will get in touch with you within 24 hours. For a faster response time call our direct number – 414.484.7768. Whether your in Green Bay, Oconto, Door County, De Pere or Shawano, Epic Guide Service is the best guide service to reel in your next trophy fish.