When traveling to an exotic location for a fishing trip, it’s always smart to employ the assistance of a local guide or charter service. Anyone who’s utilized a guide before will agree that the quality of your guide can make or break your entire day on the water. However, popular destinations often are home to dozens of local experts, which makes deciding on just one a difficult task. After all, how do you know which guide has the most knowledge and experience? How do you know what is a fair price for their services? Well, today, I’ve got a few tips for you on what to consider when deciding on a guide for your next fishing trip.

Weeding out the less qualified guides from the efficient ones is a process that starts before you pack your first pair of socks, really. Once you’ve decided on a location, next you’ll want to do some research online to find some guides in the area. Look through their websites and read through customer reviews to get a better idea of what kind of guide they are. Also, if you know anyone who’s fished around your location before, ask for recommendations on guide services. Also, if you’re staying at a lodge during your trip, the resort might know of a few local guides that have been a great help to guests in the past. Try not to get sucked into flashy brochures that populate visitor centers or hotel lobbies. Yes, brochures have a lot of information, and can be helpful, it’s important to not use them as your sole source of knowledge on a guide or the reasoning behind your decision to choose a specific one.

Once you’ve narrowed your list down to one or two potential guides, there are a few questions you’ll want to ask in order to obtain all the details up front and avoid any unfortunate surprises during the trip. It’s a good idea to ask how much of a deposit is required, as well as what the rates cover, so you’ll know what you’ll need to bring, in terms of food, tackle, etc. Check the available boat sizes, as well as what types of outings each boat embarks upon and how many guests will be on the boat. Sometimes, anglers prefer a more private trip, without a crowded boat. Also, try to find out how long the guide has been fishing the local area and if they’re properly licensed and registered.

When you have a good idea of which guide you’ll be going with, follow up on a few more details to be fully prepared for your outing. Verify your expected arrival and departure times, as well as your return time. Lastly, I’d also inquire about the guide’s cancellation policies, as there are instances when situations arise and you might be unable to attend the trip. You don’t want to be hit with a fee or lose a deposit, so working out those details will help.

Often, we can be so immersed in the tight schedule of our fishing trip that we simply go with the first guide on a list and our trips suffer for it. I hope you’ll keep the aforementioned tips in mind the next time you think about taking a fishing trip. After all, neglecting the importance and positive impact a quality guide can have on a fishing trip can mean the difference in a great experience on the water and a horrible one. 

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