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General Question about Fishing Guides

6/4/18 @ 7:09 PM
User since 9/3/01

I admit I have very limited experience with fishing guides. Once with a very well known fishing guide in Vilas County and another well known guide in Sawyer County. Both of these were ice fishing trips.

My fishing partners and I are not novices. We wanted to experience something different and we were up front and honest with the guide that we wanted to learn as much as we could about techniques, what the guide looks for when he is searching for new spots, baits, etc. 

Honestly, we did not intimate the guides as one guide dropped us off on a spot and we didn't see him more than an hour for the whole 8 hour trip. That includes the drive out to the spot. The other guide who is a very nice man put us on 4 -5" panfish and 20" northerns.  The first guide did clean our catch but scolded us by telling us that we were going to have to keep some fish for pictures. My fishing partner and I were honestly embarrassed being seen in those pictures. The second guide picked us up, dropped us off then picked us up again. 

I have always heard on fishing shows to hire a guide to learn the patterns to look for, what to use and enjoy the experience.

Not boasting at all but my partners and I could have easily done what what we did with the guides by ourselves.

My intent is not to start any arguments or name calling. I would like to know what other people have experienced both ice and open water.

Thank you for your thoughts.

12/28/18 @ 1:03 PM
MEMBER since 2/16/04

Sorry to hear of your ice fishing experience. My open water guided trips were few and far between but like some other posters here, the money seemed to me to be well worth the leap taken in knowing how to catch fish on a given body of water. A perfect example was the walleye guide who taught us how to score on a lake my inlaws had been fishing for decades. We learned to slow down, use fresh bait, move until you find fish, and don't hesitate to try fishing deeper water. Doesn't sound like rocket science, but we caught twice as many fish after seeing the guide in action on a big western Minnesota lake. The other guide was out of Algoma and much the same happened fishing Lake Michigan. We got to see how it's done by the pros and copied it the best we could. Neither of these guys was the cheapest we could find but both were recommended highly by others.

12/27/18 @ 10:51 PM
User since 10/22/13

Guides are not good money spent. Give that money to your boys, you will feel much better.

12/27/18 @ 11:59 AM
User since 3/27/06

I only use a guide once, and would be most reluctant to ever use a guide again. I was partially at blame, given it was a sports show special at half-price. Drove from Milwaukee to the Mississippi River to use my bargain purchase. We only went to three spots. While he was a very nice guy, he was on the phone 90% of the time. Very little advice. It was supposed to be a daylong trip. At the third spot, we were not doing any good and we asked to try another spot. He told us there were no more spots to try. We actually asked to go in and ended the trip prematurely. My partner was most reluctant to tip the guide but we did so even after a rather terrible trip. I remember he was a tournament bass fisherman who had  just gotten his new boat. He was so excited about the new boat, that he forgot to bring a net . He believed that he was giving us a great ride by traveling at a ridiculously high speed through the backwaters of the Mississippi. I remember feeling it was an unsafe speed if we hit anything.

12/25/18 @ 1:45 PM
User since 6/29/01

First you have to understand why you want to hire a guide.  Convenience, to learn a specific body of water or technique, to catch eaters, to catch a trophy.  It comes down to understanding what you want and then finding a guide that will do that for you.  A guide that goes above and beyond to meet your mutually agreed to goals deserves a great tip and reference, if they do not you can make your own decisions regarding tips and references.  It is your responsibility to communicate your desires in advance and be clear about the experience you want.  Great guides have LOTS of references so talk to those folks to get the real story about their experiences.

10/30/18 @ 12:24 AM
User since 12/3/01

I agree with certain types of fishing a guide is the best way to go like big water or specific species. But my couple of times on inland lakes I learned nothing & beleve or not have taught the guides a thing or 2. But what I want to say i have used 1 mentioned here for an 2 ice trips on bago 2 separate times. Told him before the trip we wanted to learn about catching eyes. Gives us castmasters & comes back a couple times or  sends someone else maybe move 1 or 2 still whitebass I don’t want. Never again. Oh yeah I figured out the eyes myself like I usually do. Got to put in the time. Some sawyer co fish from last week

7/19/18 @ 3:22 PM
User since 12/14/12

My question has to do with tipping.  Should one tip a guide who is the owner of his business?  Works independently for himself.

7/19/18 @ 12:05 PM
MEMBER since 11/5/17

Throughout the years I’ve fished with Larry at least20 times. Only twice did we strike out fish wise but always learned something. The first time we fished together at Winneconne it was in March. I laughed to myself because he used nighrcrawlers and everyone knows that in March you HAD to use minnows for Walleyes.  Well, he cleaned my clock! Lesson learned.  I learned much from him!     You want to learn?  Hire Larry!  CARPIO 

7/19/18 @ 9:53 AM
MEMBER since 10/28/05

Several years ago my small team at work wanted to do a fishing outing ("Team Building"), so we hired Larry Smith. Many of you will know this guy.

First... a funny story: when we launched his boat, there was a problem. The boat wouldn't start. Seemed like a dead battery. He was sure it wasn't. Luckily for him, he had a team of electrical engineers on the boat! We went to our car, got a VOM, troubleshot the problem to a short in his speedometer that blew a fuse. Disconnected the speedometer, changed the fuse, and we were off and fishing in no time!

He took us out in his boat, all day on Petenwell. Showed us how to fish for Walleye, and we had off an on luck, but at one point in the middle of the day he hit on a school of white bass and we did that for a while, (caught a bunch of them). That was a nice change of pace, and we got back to walleye fishing a while later. 

He stuck with it until almost dark, he worked hard to help us catch fish, to teach us, and in the end we had a BUNCH of keeper walleye and bass. Had a great fish fry with my team a week later. 

He also cleaned all of the fish, didn't ask for any pictures, was patient with us, and nice as could be all day.

We all thought it was a great experience, and would do it again. But then, I haven't had a whole lot of fishing experience like some of you, so maybe not worth it if you're looking for more than just catching some fish.


6/11/18 @ 8:13 AM
User since 1/6/09

Fished salmon with a guide out of Kewaunee a few years ago - he heard there was a morning bite so he encouraged us to get to bed earlier than normal so we could get out there before sunup.  He was putting glow spoons on - he had an older flash unit from a camera, gave each spoon a flash before lowering it.  Those spoons really lit up.

We had the first fish on before he got the lines in on one side.  If I remember right, he called it a 3-year old??

6/11/18 @ 7:21 AM
User since 9/3/01

Thank you for the great posts.  

After reading what everyone has said I should go out with a guide on open water to see the comparison. Although I'm retired I really don't have the time to get out on the water due to medical conditions, so I was hoping to learn as much as I could so the time I do spend on the water can be as enjoyable as possible. 

I'm not looking to take big fish or a lot of them. If I put another trophy on the wall it's going to be a graphite mount. 

This post has had a lot of readers. Can I ask a favor. Please tell me about your great experiences. I know there are guides out there that I can learn from and have a super time with. Did you catch a big one and what did you learn.

Again thank you, and the best of luck to all.


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