There has been some healthy debate among a few of us in the office recently about whether or not fishing guides should fish during paid charters. I realize that the answer is not exactly cut and dry, but rather highly circumstantial. Nine times out of 10, if I’m out with a guide I actually insist he or she fishes because I need as many hook-ups and landings as possible for videos or photos. I also find you can learn more from watching a guide catch fish rather than just explain how to catch fish. I feel differently, however, when the work element is taken away. Then it becomes a question of who else is on the boat.


If there are nothing but experienced anglers on board, I say let the guide fish, because an good angler won’t feel like shots are being taken away. If the anglers are not that experienced, I’m more inclined to say every single opportunity to get a fish on the line should belong to them. That’s even more important in a sight-fishing situation. I once watched a guide working the trolling motor at the bow hit 6 redfish in a row and never once asked the less experienced anglers on the boat to come up a take a shot. That kind of behavior, I think, can make an angler feel like the guide doesn’t believe they have the ability to get it done, and that can’t be good for business. So here are a few of my general rules:

– A guide should always ask if the clients are OK with them fishing or reeling in fish.

– A guide should never, even if the clients insist, kill his or her limit just to bring more fish back to the dock.

– A guide should always give anglers first crack, whether we’re talking sight-fishing or casting to a prime spot. Period.

– A guide should never deny an angler an opportunity because he or she thinks it’s just too difficult for the client. If they mess up, they mess up. Who cares?

I’m curious to hear your thoughts.