If You Really Want to Catch Fish, Hire a Guide

By: Terry Tomalin

ADD TO FAVORITES

You have heard that Florida is the Fishing Capital of the World – and with good reason. We have more than 7,700 lakes, 10,550 miles of rivers, 2,276 miles of shoreline and more world records than any other state or country for that matter. Fishing opportunities are rich and varied. But if you really want to make sure you land a big one on your next trip, hire a guide.

Saltwater guides come in two varieties: inshore and offshore. The inshore guides typically fish the grass flats in shallow running skiffs that can accommodate two or three customers. These “flats” guides typically target trout, redfish and snook, Florida’s top inshore species. Offshore guides, on the other hand, travel to deep water in much larger boats that carry up to a half-dozen passengers. These charters are more expensive because a bigger boat burns more fuel.

Most fishing guides or charter boat captains have a U.S. Coast Guard issued license that allows them to transport up to six passengers. This certification is often referred to as a “six pack” license. In addition, most, but not all, charter boat captains also get a fishing license issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which covers their passengers as well. When choosing a guide, feel free to ask if they have the appropriate licenses, how long they have been guiding and if they are a full-time or part-time charter boat captain.

Prices will vary, but count on paying at least $250 for a half-day inshore or freshwater charter. It will be more if you plan to book the captain for the whole day. The price of offshore charters will vary depending on the distance required to catch fish. Most charter boat operations have websites which allow you to book online. Some of the more well-known fishing holes such as Boca Grande for tarpon require reservations a year in advance. But in today’s challenging economic climate, many boats are sitting idle at marinas. It is possible to negotiate a lower price for a few hours time. If you find the fishing experience a good one, the captain and mates will appreciate a tip. Use the same standards you would for a fine dinner – 15 to 20 percent.

To find a Florida guide, go to www.florida-guides.com.

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