I have written, filmed and podcasted extensively about fishing guides from all over the great state of Texas and beyond. I have fished and hunted with numerous guides in my outdoor career. Since I don’t own a boat at the present time, I find guides to be an affordable way to enjoy the great outdoors and the best it has to offer. While there are horror stories out there of guides being subpar in performance and overall success, those guides usually don’t last for very long in the outdoor industry and guiding world. As the old saying goes, “the cream always rises to the top,” and this is very true in the guiding business. As with most things in this industry, word and reputation travels fast and, typically, only the best survive in the long run.
This summer, I went on a few guided fishing adventures. All but one of the guides I fished with had no idea I had authored a book on Amazon Kindle about the hunting and fishing guide service businesses and I kept it that way until the end of these trips. All of the guides I fished with did an incredible job. There are a few common denominators here which I want to briefly touch on in this blog.
Royce Simmons with Gone Fishin’ Guide Service out of Richland Chambers Lake took my son, his grandpa (my father-in-law) and I fishing this past June, right after school went on summer break. What set Royce apart from the pack was his attention to detail in helping my now 8 year old son, Jackson, be successful on the white bass and hybrid fishing action. The bite was on big time on this trip and we were catching them on top water lures, slabs and jigs, and sometimes even two at a time! My son won’t soon forget that trip as we limited out with 75 fish by 9:30am making that about a 2 ½ hour fishing trip full of angling action. My arm was tired from all the catching!
This past August I ventured to Buras, Louisiana for the Buras Marsh Media Bash event for writers and other media folks. This was hosted at Cajun Fishing Adventures which is one of the nicest larger capacity fishing and hunting lodges I have had the pleasure of staying at when out of town. We had a different guide every day of this event and each of them demonstrated proper guide protocol. They were finding fish when the bite was slow and doing everything they could to make their clients successful when the fishing was hot. On this trip the fishing was smoking hot at times. Add to that fishing fun the quality of 13 Fishing rods and reels, the toughness of Z-Man swimbaits and other soft plastics and the incredibly realistic lures from LIVETARGET and we had a phenomenal fishing adventure.
Catching a 40” redfish is a fish of a lifetime to me. To catch 7 bull reds in that same category of overall size and weight in one day was a memory I will carry with me for a long time. That is the result of a great guide that knows what he or she is doing. You can’t expect every trip to be that wonderful but all three guides equally worked hard to put us on fish each day.
My point in this article is that a great guide takes care of his clients like they are family. He or she should do everything they can in the trip to grind out a good box of fish for the fillet table, if that is the goal, and, most importantly, ensure each angler has a solid amount of fun trying to catch fish or be successful in whatever pursuit they are on that day.
How do you ensure you get the best guided experience possible? In short, ask good questions and do your research before you trip. Check out the article I wrote here and the podcast I recorded here for the top 10 things to look for in your next guide or outfitter. It’s a long article and podcast but I assure you it is worth the read and listen. We have some fantastic guides in the hotspots section of Texas Fish & Game Magazine every month which is a good place to start your search. Many of these guides have been around for 20-30 years or longer. While many outdoor pursuits can get expensive in a hurry, my point in hiring a guide is that you don’t have to have your own boat to have fun at the lake or have a seasonal or year-long lease for hunting. Go at it hardcore and have fun out there on the water and in the woods!
Dustin Vaughn Warncke