10 Questions to Ask When Booking Guided Fishing Trips
Guided fishing trips can help contribute to the best possible angling experience when traveling to a new destination or when targeting a new species. The knowledge and expertise of a local guide who is out on the water for several days each week can be invaluable. However, there are certain things you’ll need to know before you book your first trip with a fishing guide or outfitter.
Guided Fishing Trip Details
Whether you want to learn more about Alaska guided fishing trips for salmon or Florida guided fishing trips for largemouth bass, make sure you get the answers to these questions before you book so there aren’t any unexpected surprises once you get to your fishing destination.
1. Target Species
Which species of fish will be active and targeted during the time of my guided fishing trip? For example, if you are interested in offshore guided tuna fishing trips out of Cape Ann for bluefin tuna, you will want to find out what time of year bluefin migrate through the area. Fishing guides and outfitters can also give you recommendations on the best timing of your trip if you have flexibility in your schedule and want to focus on fishing for a certain species.
2. Fishing Guide Rate
What is the length of the trip and the rate or cost of the fishing trip? Do you require a deposit to book my trip? Which forms of payment do you require for the balance of the trip? Most guided fishing trips are either a full day (8 hours) or half day (4 hours). Guide rates can vary quite a bit, so always ask about the current rate and what that cost includes. For example, booking a large private offshore sportfishing trip is going to be a considerably more than a guided fly fishing trip that involves wading in a mountain stream.
3. Number of Anglers
How many anglers are permitted on your guided fishing trips? Again, this answer can be vastly different depending on the type of fishing trip and boat used for the trip.
4. Required Skills
Are there certain fishing skills I should have or be working on prior to my guided fishing trip? If you are planning a Montana guided fly fishing trip, for example, find out how many feet you’ll be required to cast and how accurate your casts need to be.
5. Fishing Gear
Will the fishing gear and tackle be provided by the guide or outfitter, or do I need to bring my own? Most guides prefer that you use the tackle and fishing gear they provide. Reputable guides know exactly what type of rods, reels, line, leader, and flies or lures work best given the species and fishing location.
6. Business History
How long has the fishing guide or outfitter been in business? Brand new guides or outfitters might not have the same track record of success or key knowledge about a fishery that only experience can provide. It often helps to ask friends or family members for referrals.
7. Fishing License Information
Do I need to purchase a fishing license, or will a license be provided by the guide?
8. Standard Gratuity
What is the standard guideline for tipping my fishing guide? In many cases, you can follow the same standard that you would in other tipping situations. Reward your guide with about 20 percent for good service, or more if you feel they went above and beyond to provide a great experience.
9. Catch and Release or Keep?
Is your guide business based on catch and release fishing or are we allowed to keep fish that are within the regulations? The answer to this question often depends on the guide and the location. Many fly fishing guides practice exclusively catch and release for conservation reasons, while many saltwater bottom fishing captains or guides allow clients to bring home fillets for dinner.
10. Cancellation Policy
What is the cancellation policy if I need to cancel or reschedule my trip? How much notice do I need to provide if I must cancel? Can my deposit be applied to another date later down the line?
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit shefishes2.com or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.