According to Scott: September 2006

According to Scott: September 2006
Legendary Trinity Bay guide Blaien Friermood is veteran with over 30 years experience. At home in the boat or while wading, Blaien is a good pick for anyone wanting to catch a fish or two or even twenty.

One day about five years ago, when I was driving around in Austin, I saw a bumper-sticker that made me laugh and at the same time cringe. It simply read- "NO, I'M NOT A FISHING GUIDE." What is even funnier is that I saw the same sticker on several different vehicles over the course of a weekend. These guys were obviously making fun of every Tom, Dick and Harry that gets themselves a boat and then wants to be a 'part-timer' and write off their expenses. The sad part is- there are times that I would love to be able to say the same thing because I am ashamed to be lumped into to the same group as those being mocked. The simple truth is- there are a ridiculous number of guides out there now days and the number continues to grow. So what is the person who wants to book a guided fishing trip to do? With so many choices, how does he/she know that they are making the right choice? Well I am gonna try to help you out here.

The first thing to recognize is that there are several types of guides out there and it is important to choose one that specializes in the type of fishing that you want to do. A good example would be for the fly fisherman. There are but a handful of reputable guides out there that specialize in fly fishing. These individuals are skilled in every aspect of fly fishing and can coach individuals on their casting, efficiently rig tackle and talk flies or about what is going on in the industry. Since I am a fly fishing guide, I take great offense in individuals that offer services to fly fishermen who are anything less than proficient with fly tackle. The point is- you need to decide what kind of fishing you want to do, whether it be fly, lure or bait and then you must decide do you want to fish from a boat or wade and then search out a guide that spends the majority of his/her time fishing the way that you want to.

To find a guide I suggest first going to a high-end tackle store and asking questions. The people who work in stores like Fishing Tackle Unlimited in Houston, Tackle Town in Rockport, Tackle Box in Victoria, David's Tackle Box in Rosenberg or Roy's Bait and Tackle in Corpus have had a chance to meet most of the guides from up and down the coast and hear routine reports from anglers that have fished with them. Next try the advertisements that appear in the back of the various fishing magazines, remembering that just because a guide takes out an ad, it does not necessarily mean that he/she is good. It just means that they are in the business of taking people fishing.

Once you have narrowed down the playing field a little, next on the list is to find out if the guide that you are considering is reputable. Many years ago this was not a big deal because there were but a handful of guides to choose from. Nowadays, with the hundreds of guides out there, it can be a little more challenging. I suggest hitting the World Wide Web and searching the guide's name. Good things to look for are how long the guide has been in business and how much exposure the guide gets outside his/her own ads and website.

Now that you have a few names to work with, it is time to ask some more questions. First start by asking other fishermen what they know of the guide and ask the tackle shop folks the same questions. You want to find out all of the good and all of the bad. The reason I say this is that there are several different traits that make up a good guide. Some of these traits are knowledge, skill, patience, temperament, confidence, personality and the ability to teach. And, while one guide many have plenty of knowledge and skill, that same guide may be known for taking off, wading across a flat while the customer is still in the boat trying to figure out what bait to throw. On the other end of the spectrum is the guide who can entertain a tennis shoe and has the patience of a rock, but is far from being considered a threat to the fish population. Heck one of the best guides I know is not the greatest angler, but what he lacks in knowledge and skill he makes up for tenfold in the departments of personality, patience and in the ability to teach and people keep coming back time and time again. It all boils down to what traits are you looking for in a guide? Sure there are guides that fare okay in every category, but I can assure you, very, very few excel in every department.

Giving the guide a call is the final step. Many of the traits that I mentioned above can be sampled over the phone through the course of a conversation. When calling a guide for the first time, treat it like an interview. Ask lots of questions but also realize that the guide has other customer's calls to return and, chances are, you will be catching him/her late in the evening after a hard day of fishing and the next morning comes all too early. If all goes well, all that is left is to get a date on the books and hopefully go enjoy some time on the water.

Now to summarize all that was scribbled above- Some guides out there are not right for everyone and it is important to do your research to try to avoid an unpleasant day.

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