Although guidebooks are very handy and highly recommended, they cannot replace human experience and wisdom.
Guides don’t just take an angler to the best place to catch fish; their expertise extends to knowing all the rules and regulations regarding licenses, seasons, harvests, limits, how to weigh and measure a fish—even to knowing what kind of fish has been caught, which is not always an easy task.
Fishing guides do not have to be licensed by the state of Florida, but if they operate a boat for hire on what the federal government defines as navigable waters they do have to have a Coast Guard captain’s license and special equipment.
Although not technically required on some freshwater bodies in Florida, using a licensed guide is always a good idea. It is also a good idea to make certain that your guide has had some first aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training.
Florida does not recommend specific guides, but it does offer tips for selecting a guide. The Coastal Conservation Association, Florida, publishes the CCA Florida Fishing Guides Directory, and the Florida Guides Association maintains a directory of professional guides. In each case, the directories are divided by region.
Whether a beginner or an old hand, a professional guide can help make almost any fishing experience more successful and safer for the angler and the fish.