BlogJuly 2016

4 Tips for Choosing a Fishing Guide

4 Tips for Choosing a Fishing Guide

By Andy Whitcomb

Jul 25, 2016

Finding the right fishing guide can make or break your fishing trip. Here’s what you need to know about planning your charter fishing adventure, and maybe catch an unforgettable marlin.

Photo credit Capt. Clay Eavenson.

20 some years ago, I didn’t know what I was doing when I hired my first fishing guide on the big island of Hawaii. I flipped through the yellow pages and called a number from one of the first fishing guide ads that caught my eye. A fellow answered and I asked if he was available for charter fishing in a few days. He said he was bowling and asked if I could “call him back in the morning.” 

His response almost made me continue calling other ads, but then I thought, perhaps foolishly, “Wow, he has some nerve. Maybe that means he’s really good.”

When I called him the next day, I explained what I wanted: to have an epic battle with a big fish. I said I wanted to be “sore for days.” His laughing response sealed the deal: “I’ve put people in traction.” 

I learned later that maybe I was lucky. There were 40 some charter fishing boats that went out of Kona harbor that day. Only 2 caught fish during this somewhat off period. My boat was one of them. And although I wasn’t sore for days, I certainly enjoyed my first and so far only experience with a striped marlin.

Here are some (better) tips for choosing a fishing guide: 

1. Recommended. Does the guide have a good reputation? Perhaps you have a friend or relative who has fished with this guide? Have you read the reviews online?

2. Catch status. What is done with the fish you catch? Catch and release? Load a cooler? For example, in Hawaii the fish usually belongs to the captain. Some Hawaiian guides may split the catch with you, depending on the species.

3. Rules. Many fishing guides these days have their own web sites. This will contain valuable information regarding: what to expect, what to bring, and what NOT to bring.

4. Versatility. Is your guide able to work through Plan A to Plan E or beyond to put you on fish?

A guide is a great investment, especially when traveling for a fishing trip. Time is short and you want a lot of screaming reel for the buck. It is also a great way to learn. Where they go, what they cast, and why. Be sure to check here for fishing safety tips.
Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.