Planning a Fishing Trip

Any day now I will head to the beach and find that there are no fish to be caught.  My striped bass and bluefish are migratory and when the Fall Run is over there isn't a fish to be caught until they return in the spring.  It won't be long before I'm itching to catch a fish anywhere. Whether fishing close to home, or visiting friends and family, here are four tips for planning a successful fishing trip any time of year.  

Hire a guide
When planning a fishing trip, start by deciding how long you’re going to be in one spot. If you're in an area for a short time it makes sense to hire a fishing guide.  They know the water, where the fish are, and can get you into the catching pretty quickly.  Guides fall into one of the following categories: hardcore, lifestyle and teaching.  Hardcore fishing guides want to put fish in the boat.  If you've got the skills and stamina then book one quickly for the best guides are booked early.  Lifestyle guides enjoy the fishing experience and are great for a variety of anglers ranging from experts to beginners.  Teaching fishing guides focus more on mechanics which ranges from casting and rigging to gear and general fishing skills.  Be sure to match the type of guide with the experience levels of all members in your fishing party. You can usually tell what kind of fishing guide you’re dealing with by researching their website or social media pages, asking your family and friends and/or by having a brief phone conversation with them.

Professional conduct  Nothing kills a fishing trip more than misunderstandings between a client and guide.  Plan your fishing trip the right way: ask upfront about the deets: hours of the trip, what gear is or isn't provided, meals, drinks, gratuities, and other costs (think bait or fuel).  Knowing what happens in case of a weather cancellation is important particularly as it relates to your deposit.  Good businesses practices make for a great fishing trip.

Fishing Trip Prep: DIY 1  If you're going with your buddies then you know what to expect.  But if you're mixing family with friends or if a friend-of-a-friend comes along you've got to iron out expectations.  There is nothing worse than wanting to fish a full day while listening to someone complain that you've been on the water for far too long.  Part of your fishing trip planning should be to determine expectations up front (including food and lodging).

Fishing Trip Prep: DIY 2  Get Fresh, reliable information.  Your fishing trip plan should include finding tackle shops or scouting areas via nautical charts and Google Earth are great ways to get current information and to find spots.  Social media groups or fishing forums are good for gathering information, too.  Just be sure that all offer solid, reliable advice.  

Whether fishing in your area is winding down or you just want to take your show on the road, a little planning ensures that your fishing trip meets-or exceeds-expectations.

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Tom Keer

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at