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How To Hire The Best Fishing Guide

Holding an Alberta Sturgeon caught on the North Saskatchewan River

There is nothing worse then being disappointed with your guided fishing trip. I have experienced both good and bad, and learnt what to look for in a good fishing guide. There are four major characteristics I look for before hiring a guide:

Guide Confidence

One simple trick in knowing if your guide is confident is by actually talking to them. A lot of trips are booked online these days however, talking on the phone or in person allows you to ask questions on the spot, and listen for the tone in your potential guides voice. This is when you can determine if they are a confident veteran, or an ignorant greenhorn. Usually I have a list of questions to details that matter to me. For example, where are we meeting, what time, are we gonna be car pooling, will we cancel due to weather, what is the protocol for bathroom breaks, are we going to be on a boat all day, what's the travel time on the water, how often do you fish this body of water… and the list continues. Avid guides have a plan and a answer, they've usually heard and seen it all.

Target Fish

It's a really good idea to have a specific fish in mind that you want to target. So when you're looking for a guide try and find one who has a short list of target species with the one your interested in. If a guide claims he can catch most species of fish in the province I would be concerned that he hasn't put in a focused effort in the target fish you're interested in catching. The best guided experiences I've had has been with guides who have a very small list of target species.

Specific Location

As mentioned above, if a guide claims he can guide on all bodies of water within a 100km radius of his business, I would be concerned. Bodies of water change on a daily basis, and that effects how the fish feed. So when I'm looking for a guide, I want one that is on my desired body of water a few times week. The best thing to do is ask your guide when the last time he was at the body of water he's taking you, and how often he fishes it throughout the year. If it's a few times a week you can be sure that they'll be able to put you on fish despite weather conditions. And a good guide will usually cancel the trip if he knows conditions won't produce fish.

Provided Equipment

I love my fishing gear, however good guides have good gear, that is pre-set for the type of fishing you are doing. I always ask if rods, reel, and tackle are provided, and if they are ask them what kind of equipment they have, and how often they service it. If your guide is pre-pared it's best to use their equipment because if anything goes wrong they usually have spare rods ready and can resolve any equipment problem quickly, which gives you more time to fish.

Hiring a guide is an investment. It's not all about catching lots of big fish, it's about knowledge transfer and becoming a better fisherman. I usually book one guided trip a year and consider it apart of "my fishing education". Even during some of the bad experiences, I have been able to take away information that has made me a better fisherman faster then if I spent days on the water alone.

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