I’ve just returned from a trip that had me following the Delaware River from its branches in New York to the tide line at Trenton, NJ, in five straight days. The goal was to catch a different species at each location. I nailed it except for the muskie…which, for the record, are the toughest fish in the river to catch.

But what made the trip so great was that I got to fish what I consider home waters with pro guides, and man, I truly cannot begin to express how much I learned…or to put it another way, how little I knew to begin with. I fish this river a lot and do pretty well, but to fish it with those that make their living on the Big D changes your perspective.

For example, during my smallmouth outing, the blue-bird sky and clear water looked wonderful to me. But guide Blaine Mengel had been praying for high, dirty water to concentrate the fish on the banks. He positively hated the conditions, but he still found me some smallies.

In the tidal stretch, I thought surely no stripers would take considering the amount of outboards ripping over their heads. My good friend and guide Eric Kerber said it wouldn’t matter, and it didn’t. In the ocean, heavy boat traffic will shut the bite right down.

What I’m driving at is hiring a guide on water you think you already know may open your eyes. It’s like great guitar players that still take lessons. Have you ever thought about hiring a guide on your home turf?