Think you want to start fishing? Congratulations and welcome! We’re thrilled to have you. You now join millions of Americans who consider angling our nation’s reel favorite past time.
Like most things in life, investing both a little time and money upfront will help ensure a positive experience, and pay off for years to come. Before you venture into uncharted waters on your own, consider booking a fishing trip with a professional guide. If you’re unsure where to look, you can start your search online with resources like OpenAngler.com, a website which pairs anglers with some of the best fishing guides in the country.
Here’s why it’s beneficial to use a guide or charter service when starting out in recreational fishing:
1. Guides Help you Find Fish
Pretty logical, right? A professional fishing charter operator is just that - a pro. When a guide reaches the point where they’re on the water around 120 or more days a year, they can pretty much quit their day job. That means, they are out there finding fish while we’re sitting around thinking about it. Not to mention a guide also knows how to fish. That means everything from casting and how to bait a hook, to the rules and regulations associated with the state and the current season. A charter operator’s job isn’t just to help you catch fish; it’s also to educate anglers about preservation and the laws which govern fishing and boating so that we can continue to enjoy the sport for generations to come.
2. Fishing Guides Know thy Water
When you’re navigating the same waters daily, it’s safe to assume that you know where the fish will be. Equally important? Knowing where NOT to venture. You must prepare in advance to identify the daily tides, locate sandbars, jetties and other obstructions which may be submerged, and understand the water levels. A seasoned guide already has these features mapped out, and knows his home turf like the back of his hand. If you’re trying to familiarize yourself with your own local fishing spots, it’s well worth taking a spin with a pro once or twice so that there’s no question about keeping yourself - and your equipment - safe.
3. Some are All Inclusive
One of the best reasons to charter a fishing boat is that it comes with everything included. We’re talking rods, reels, bait, coolers, ice, safety equipment, fish finder, licenses, GPS - you only need to show up! Plus, your captain and crew will know exactly the equipment to use for whichever species you’re targeting. Bring your own sunscreen, snacks and beverages. Just make sure you wear soft-soled, light-colored shoes (avoids dark scuffs once aboard), and never, ever bring bananas aboard any fishing vessel, as they are considered bad luck by fishermen.
4. They have the Fishing Regulations Knowledge
The rules and regulations that govern fishing are both numerous and fluid. A charter captain has his ear to the ground, and will receive important updates regarding the most current catch and keep allowances, which often change with very little notice. Sometimes a “season” is truly a three or even two-day period, which opens with only a few day’s notice. If you’re truly serious about your foray into recreational sport fishing: buddy up with a pro. Visit your local tackle or fly shops, or pop into the marina to rub elbows with the pros coming off the water.
Learn about the local guides in your area and book a trip by using an online resource such as OpenAngler.com. Once there, you can compare and contrast the types of trips offered for your waters (i.e. inshore, offshore, wading, etc.), the make and models of boats available, and which charter might be best for your skill level. You’ll pick up tips, find out who’s actually catching what, and be privy to the fishing 4-1-1.
Once you’ve taken a fishing trip with a licensed, professional charter operator, you’ll be prepared to hit the water on your own. By practicing responsible angling, you are contributing to state conservation programs including fisheries management, habitat protection and fishing education. You are now ready and committed to protecting, preserving and enhancing the sport of fishing today and for generations to come.