A guide to fishing guides

Posted: Monday, April 10, 2006


  A sockeye salmon jumps through rapids in the Russian River. Prepared anglers stand a better chance at landing a fish. Photo by M. Scott Moon

A sockeye salmon jumps through rapids in the Russian River. Prepared anglers stand a better chance at landing a fish.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

One way to improve your chances of having a successful fishing trip is to book a good fishing guide — with the accent on “good.”

Before booking a charter, spend some time thinking about what you want to do. Questions you might ask yourself include:

· How much time and money will I have to spend?

· What species do I want to fish for?

· Where do I want to go?

· What do I want to see and experience?

Armed with answers to those questions, gather information and reduce your choices to those that best meet your wants and needs.

The Internet harbors hundreds of fishing charter Web sites. Enter “Kenai Peninsula fishing” in your favorite search engine, and you’ll find much of the information you seek. Be sure to visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Web site (www.adfg.state.ak.us) and click on “Sport Fishing.”

Before hiring a guide, not after, is the time to ask questions. And don’t assume anything.

Some questions you might want to ask a potential guide are:

· How much time will we spend actually fishing, and how much time traveling?

· What size is your boat, and how many other people will be on it?

· Will you have a mate aboard, or does the skipper do everything?

· Where we fish, will a lot of other people be fishing nearby?

· What can I expect to see in the way of wildlife and scenery?

· How many and what size fish can I expect to catch?

· How much experience will my guide have?

· Do you have references?

· How many fish will I be allowed to keep?

· How will I get my fish home, and about what will it cost to ship them?

· Can I buy my fishing license from you, or do I need to get one ahead of time?

· How much deposit do you require, and what’s your policy on returning deposits in case of bad weather and if I cancel my booking?

· What does your charter rate include and not include? Lunch and soft drinks? Cleaning and filleting fish? Sales tax? A fuel surcharge?

For the peak fishing times, the better guides usually are booked several months in advance. That said, cancellations do happen, and one or two people can sometimes be accommodated on short notice. If chartering is a last-minute decision, ask a friend to recommend a guide.

Good guides have the finest equipment and plenty of experience and expertise. They put you on fish, if any are to be found, and they’ll also show you a good time. By investing some effort in finding one of these “pros,” you’ll help ensure that the reality of your fishing trip meets your high expectations.

— Les Palmer

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