Booking a Guide? Things you need to know!

Booking a Guide? Things you need to know!

Musky Shop April 26, 2022

Spring is upon us in the North Woods and though the ice is still weighing heavy on our lakes and minds, many folks from out of town are already planning their seasonal vacations to put them face to face with a monster musky.  If this sounds like your family, self, or friends, the following tips are some pointers when booking a trip with a local fishing guide.

As many people travel to Northern Lakes and Rivers for the abundance of muskies, the fish of 10000 casts can always disappoint if you’ve never navigated these new waters.  In this situation, many natives and tourists alike prefer to hire a local fishing guide for not only their musky expertise, but also for their knowledge of local waterways.  As some might find out too late, there are several appropriate dos and don’ts for guides that can save you some embarrassment or even planning when it comes to traveling with your hired hand.

Most fishing guides and captains are more than aware of the customer service portion of their chosen profession.  Guides are equipped to provide all of the utensils you will need for the day to ensure you see, hook up, and hopefully land a musky.  It’s important to point out that rods, reels, and tackle are all provided for your day, but interestingly, most guides prefer that you don’t bring your own set up.  It might seem odd, but the reasoning behind this has a lot of merit.  Guides pride themselves on the maintenance of their gear.  The provided gear will always come equipped with a well tied knot, appropriate class and age line, sharpened hooks, oiled gears, etc.  All guides prefer that a trophy fish doesn’t break off because of unexpected or unknown gear issues; it saves the lives of our musky population year after year. 

Also guides will always have knowledge of what lures are working per the time of year: color, size class, and type of lure will make or break a trip.  This being said, feel free to leave your baits at home, because you’re favorite bucktail might be leaps and bounds away from the target muskies want during your trip.  A guide will carry what is needed and any variations of color and size as they fish week by week and follow the pattern all season long.

Many guides will provide other items outside of gear, but this should always be discussed in advance.  Rain suits, hats, sunglasses, etc fit different for the many travelers each guide assists, so it’s best to bring all of those items yourself.  Also, check with a guide for storage guidelines on their craft.  Loose items must always be stowed, so it’s important to know exactly how much or little you can bring.  Duffle bags of hats, sunscreen, books, etc should be left behind, but a small personal cooler, phone and car keys are gladly accepted.  Also, smoking and consuming alcoholic beverages are not preferred so it’s always best to ask prior to launch. 

A quick list you need to go over to your guide prior to launch for your own preparedness:

  1. What time/location do we meet/launch?
  2. Other services provided: cleaning fish, shore lunch, etc?
  3. Type of preferred payment at trip conclusion?
  4. What gear is included?
  5. How many is an acceptable party size?
  6. Are their any fuel or bait surcharges?
  7. Appropriate size cooler and stowage area?
  8. Do you have child size life vest?
  9. Can you fish for bycatch (panfish or other)?
  10. Preference on reel handedness (left or right) for trip
  11. Spinning or Baitcaster reel preference
  12. Special needs accommodations.

This list should help you get on the same page as your guide for the day on the water, so you can get all of the specifics out of the way and enjoy the day.

For those who have never taken a guided fishing trip,  the following is a quick discussion on how to respectfully enjoy your outing on the guide’s water craft.  Outside of what has been discussed, like bringing gear or appropriate amounts of stowed items, it is also important to note that you are paying for the expertise and service provided by a professional fisherman, but this requires travelers to be respectful of their captains vessel.

Most guides prefer that guests keep their hands to themselves when it comes to the compartments and gear on the boat.  Each guide will set you up with the appropriate gear and tools you’ll need so it’s not in your best interest to help yourself to snooping in compartments or changing baits prior to being told.  All of the guides pride themselves on knowing what will work, so lures will be presented as needed and typically changed by the guide for you if you like.  Compartments on a boat are like cabinets in your home, guides usually keep various things out of reach to guests for their own safety, so remember to ask prior to opening hatches or changing baits.

Recommendations of where to store your items, where to stand, and how to appropriately act upon hooking up with a fish are also very important.  Guides go out each day with various groups of people so their recommendations come with a long, hard-earned strategy.  Stowing your items so no one trips during active moments, standing and casting in a safe direction, and reeling in all lines when someone is fighting a fish goes a long way to keep everyone safe on a boat.  Each guide carries the weight of keeping all of the individuals safe while under their care, so keeping this in mind when given instruction is very important.

Lastly, it should be said that guides hope their clients not only have a successful day on the water with loads of fishing and entertaining conversation, but they also hope that you treat their boat just like you would treat a rented car/driver.  Keep your area clean, don’t be a backseat driver, and respect everyone’s personal space.  Some guides will make it known about the rules and expectations, and some will let a lot slide, but it’s fair to say that customer service jobs are difficult.  Guides always want to do their best and share in disappointing losses or tough days.  It always helps when a client is respectful and equally willing to make the day go by without a hitch.

If you are interested in booking a guide in the Minocqua area, feel free to visit our website or call (715) 513-7700.