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Do I Need a Fishing Guide?

Do I Need a Fishing Guide?

To save a little money split the cost of a guide with a fishing buddy.

Guides Have Valuable Information When Fishing New Waters…And Secret Fishing Spots

Hiring a fishing guide is a great way to put smiles on the faces of anglers visiting new waters.

Some of my best days on the water happened thanks to the helpful advice of a fishing guide. Unfortunately, a lot of anglers shy away from booking a fishing guide. Call it foolish pride or simply being penny wise, but many anglers have a hard time admitting that someone else might know a little more about a fishery than they do.


The Fishing 411 TV crew visits a host of fisheries across Ontario’s Algoma Country every year in our quest to film high quality television episodes. If I’ve never fished a body of water before, I’m inclined to spend at least a day with a local guide to get a better feel for the fishery.

A good guide can not only help put you on fish faster, he or she can also narrow down the lure and presentation choices so time on the water is spent more efficiently and productively. A guide can also help you avoid navigation hazards that can tear up a boat faster than you can say “oh crap!”

When the Fishing 411 crew visited Lodge Eighty Eight they hired a local guide to help them learn the lake and get on fish fast. Navigating in uncharted wilderness waters can be intimidating, and using a guide is a good way to learn where you can operate a boat safely and where it’s best to avoid boating.


The thing about hiring a guide most anglers rebel at is that it adds substantial cost to a fishing trip. I mitigate this cost by hiring a guide early in the trip, and then spend the rest of the trip fishing on my own. The things I’m hoping to learn from a good guide aren’t just spots to try, but rather presentations that seem to produce in a multitude of spots. A solid fishing pattern, like pitching jigs to rocky shorelines or trolling crankbaits in the saddles between islands, amounts to invaluable information that can be applied in a wealth of places.

These are the tidbits of valuable information a guide can share that an angler visiting a fishery cold turkey may never discover on his own. When I hire a guide, I also strive to jump in the boat with an open mindset. Different fishermen do things differently, and I enjoy learning new or different ways of doing things. If a fisherman gets too rigid in his or her skill sets, it becomes difficult to get the most from the services of a fishing guide.

A fishing guide has lots of jobs. Finding fish and helping clients catch them is certainly important, but a good guide is also knowledgeable about navigating on uncharted waters and handy when it comes to cooking shore lunch as well. 

I also measure the success of a guide differently than most anglers. When I hire a guide filling a cooler with fish is not my primary goal. Instead, I’m more interested in learning the finer points of fishing. Every time I fish with a guide, or any avid angler for that matter, I find myself picking up tips that make me a better fisherman.

The things I learn from others is what helps me turn a poor day of fishing into a good day. Even if the skills learned only catch me the occasional fish, I view that as a step in the right direction. I look at fishing as a non-stop form of education. Anglers who take the time to absorb the finer points of fishing from others are better equipped to use that information again and again.


It’s also important to understand that fishing can be a singular activity, but for most of us fishing is a form of fellowship. Many of the guides I’ve hired over the years have become lifelong friends. A lot of bonding takes place in a fishing boat, and that’s a good thing.


I’ve never met a guide who didn’t appreciate a couple extra bucks for doing a good job. Guides depend on tips to help make a living at a job that frankly doesn’t pay all that much. Guides don’t do what they do to get rich, they are guiding because they love to fish and share what they know with other anglers.

When your guide does a good job, don’t be afraid to offer them a few bucks as a tip. How much you tip is a personal decision. I often give a cash tip and sweeten the deal by offering the guide a piece of my personal fishing gear.

Hiring a guide helped this pair of anglers get a quick limit on a recent trip to Pine Portage Lodge. Most lodges offer guiding services for their customers, but there is a limited number of guides available. It’s a good idea to book a guide at the same time you book your fishing trip. 

Guides who live in remote areas often have a hard time finding the gear they need to be successful on the water. Sharing a few lures or other pieces of gear goes along ways towards saying thank you, and developing relationships that can bear fruit for years to come.


For those anglers out there planning a fishing trip to Ontario’s Algoma Country this year, the question of hiring a guide is something that is almost certain to come up. My advice is if you’re even a little intimidated by a body of water, hiring a guide for a day or two is money well spent.

Fishing is full of all kinds of investments including rods, reels, line, lures, boats, electric motors, sonar units and about a thousand other items. All this stuff costs money, and most of it is worthless without some local and friendly fishing savvy to help put the investment to good use.

(Photo credits: Mark Romanack)

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