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What does it take to be a guide?? #13264329 08/30/19 12:23 AM
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JSouther Offline OP
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Kicking around the idea of getting a bigger boat and guide license. Love fishing go out 2-3 times a week and do not have a full time job. Disabled vet and retirement pay from Fort Worth pay my bills but getting tired of sitting around.Wife has already approved but would trade in boat 2013 mako 18lts on a falcon or big aluminum center console. Would love to hook up with another guide in the area to learn the ropes or just be a second boat. I live between Benbrook and granbury. Just want to know what it takes to get started.

Re: What does it take to be a guide?? [Re: JSouther] #13264360 08/30/19 12:59 AM
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Jake Blood Offline
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I am not a guide, but can tell you what I expect from one if that helps... Before we get on the water, I want a guide who is friendly, responsive and on time. He should be reasonably priced and well equipped in terms of gear and boat space/boat functionality. On the water is very simple. He has to get me on fish and even someone like me who is not great at fishing, he has to explain well enough that I can replicate the lesson and catch fish. The bad days have to be few and far in between with a guide. I can go fishing with lots of people and not catch fish... that should not happen often with a guide.

Added extra: I like guides who teach... not just take you out, get you 25 dinks and zip you back to shore with their hand out. Teach me something... make me better... that is perhaps the best value that you can ask for.

If you can do all that let me know when you start guiding and I will be your first customer.

Re: What does it take to be a guide?? [Re: JSouther] #13264391 08/30/19 01:26 AM
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JSouther Offline OP
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Thanks for that brother as I have been on a couple of trips at Texoma and off shore coast fishing where the guide doesn’t speak at all and runs you back in as soon as he can. I don’t want to be fish specific but a tell me what you want and we can find em. Growing up in North Texas living on lake arrowhead as a kid I fished almost every day whatever was biting from crappie to sandbass to noodling and running jugs. I do have a lot to learn and am technologically dumb when it comes to new fish finders. Would love to check out the livescope and take the guesswork out of stumpjumping crappie. Not in it to make money just love fishing.

Re: What does it take to be a guide?? [Re: JSouther] #13264404 08/30/19 01:34 AM
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Pm sent.


Some people go to church and think about fishing. Some go fishing and think about God.
Re: What does it take to be a guide?? [Re: JSouther] #13264908 08/30/19 02:33 PM
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Interesting question. I have considered doing a "guide" business as well. As Jake commented some people want to catch fish, not necessarily dinks, and I agree with that. But I think there are also a lot of people, and I have ran into a bunch who want to learn how to fish, period. Having been a captain for high school kids I had a lot of parents who were non-fishing people tell me they would love to have someone who could take their kids out and teach them. There is also another segment who want to fish, but that do not have the cash for a boat, the time for one, or the place to store it. Ran into several of those who would like to fish a few times a year. Others want to have someone teach them about overall boat ownership, good and bad. Then there are those who like to fish, may have a boat, but do not have the experience with electronics and need someone to give them guidance.

Be sure to look into your insurance to have adequate coverage.

It is still in the back of my mind and I may do it one day. Good luck.


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Re: What does it take to be a guide?? [Re: JSouther] #13265015 08/30/19 03:44 PM
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How to be a fishing guide. Get a Resident All-Water Fishing Guide license. Buy a jar of marbles. Every time you take out a cliet, throw one of the marbles away. When you lose all your marbles, your a fishing guide...

Sorry for the bad joke, but unless you have dealt with difficult people on a regular basis, I'd find another hobby. The guides I know at PK work extremely hard. They have to go catch live bait before daylight ( no excuses like I can't find it), have everything ready for cliets who will likely be late, take their time to get all their gear in the boat while the daylight and possible fishing success flitters away. Oh, and that 22 foot guide boat will set you back some. I remember fishing with Randy Wood at PK, he was running from bow to stern baiting hooks, managing the boat, untangling bird nests, etc. It would be bad enough with nice folks, but I bet some of the guides could tell you some hair raising tales of crazy loony customers. I've owned a business that I sold to retire and customers are a pain.

Here's another option for you. Why not just offer to take people fishing? There are lots of shut ins and people with kids that would love to go fishing. It's a lot more fun when they are not trying to get their monies worth.

Kids are the most fun. The parents without a boat really appreciate it.
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The elderly who cannot launch a boat:

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John 21:3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee.
Re: What does it take to be a guide?? [Re: JSouther] #13265090 08/30/19 04:57 PM
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JSouther Offline OP
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Cob I didn’t get the pm

Re: What does it take to be a guide?? [Re: JSouther] #13265092 08/30/19 05:00 PM
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As a wildlife biologist I have guided hunting, guided fishing, and provided wildlife tours to guests for over a decade. Guiding is a time consuming and complex business. The actually fishing is often the easiest part. Setting up a business, maintaining a boat, booking customers, advertising, insurance, getting bait, maintaining and purchasing fishing equipment, and finding fish consistently all require time. You have to be able to deal with unruly customers and provide safety to your guests, all while creating an enjoyable experience. Your phone will ring constantly and in today's world of social media your reputation is everything. Guiding is a great profession but make sure you understand what you are getting into or your passion may become your biggest headache. It is really difficult to be a part time guide. Hopefully some current guides will give their prospective.

Re: What does it take to be a guide?? [Re: JSouther] #13265140 08/30/19 05:52 PM
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Some people go to church and think about fishing. Some go fishing and think about God.
Re: What does it take to be a guide?? [Re: Osbornfishing] #13265720 08/31/19 02:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Osbornfishing
As a wildlife biologist I have guided hunting, guided fishing, and provided wildlife tours to guests for over a decade. Guiding is a time consuming and complex business. The actually fishing is often the easiest part. Setting up a business, maintaining a boat, booking customers, advertising, insurance, getting bait, maintaining and purchasing fishing equipment, and finding fish consistently all require time. You have to be able to deal with unruly customers and provide safety to your guests, all while creating an enjoyable experience. Your phone will ring constantly and in today's world of social media your reputation is everything. Guiding is a great profession but make sure you understand what you are getting into or your passion may become your biggest headache. It is really difficult to be a part time guide. Hopefully some current guides will give their prospective.



Good points! cheers




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Re: What does it take to be a guide?? [Re: JSouther] #13270538 09/04/19 10:54 PM
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Being a guide is work. All the time work. You need a fishing license and a guide license for fresh water that is considered non-navigable. If the lake is considered navigable, then you need to attend and pass the USCG course for a captain's license and meet the requirements. (months of prep and a couple thousand dollars for: week long class, drug screen, physical, hearing and eye exams, paperwork, course completion and submission to USCG MMC office. Your license is good for 5 years and then requires renewal (everything all over except the class.) Freshwater route - boat and gear and professional insurance, a million dollar policy about $1,200.00 a year to maintain.

Boat and trailer. If you plan to fish 6 clients, then you will keep 12 to 15 rods/reels aboard. $500 in lures on the boat. PFD sized for each person, usually you end up with too many of these. Tools such as pliers, boga grip, and misc tools. First Aid kit. Boat bumpers, dock lines, etc.

So you have expendables, things that are used up. Gas for boat and truck, lures get lost, rods get broken or fall overboard, fishing line has to get replaced regularly, baggies for fillets, ice every trip to cool fish. Cleaning supplies for cleaning public fillet station as well as the boat and gear. Boat must be clean for each trip. You have to drink water and eat while on the water, but most guides do not provide that for clients. Bait (live or dead) if you use it.

Your day starts getting to the water, up at 6 and on the water at 7, finding bait or rigging gear and getting the boat in and ready, having a plan based on the lake and species you are targeting, get everyone on board, safety speech and any rules. Take off and go look for fish, drive and try to catch, repeat as necessary. If you aren't guiding every day, hope you can find the fish. Don't expect other guides to provide any help and don't follow another guide spot to spot, you don't want that reputation. Plan to help with catching, tie lures, talking to clients, controlling boat movements, helping with tangled line, helping with fish, talking, and repeating as necessary. Fishing slow start looking again for fish. 4-5 hours pass and it is time to go in. You stand in heat or rain or wind and clean a 100 fish for an hour or so while the clients wait to go home. If you are lucky there is a restaurant close that they can go eat while you fishing up. Now it is 1:30 and you finished filleting and the clients are gone. Clean the station and head home, arriving at 2:30. Eat lunch and come back out and spent 45 minutes or so washing the boat and cleaning and straightening gear for tomorrow.

Part-time guides don't usually make much, break even or make a little. After you pay for everything, you almost do it for free. If it was a tough day and you spend 3 hours driving around looking for fish, then you almost certain burned up enough gas for a loss of income. One of the hardest things for part-time guides, is a consistent client booking.


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Re: What does it take to be a guide?? [Re: JSouther] #13270804 09/05/19 02:42 AM
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Deck hand for a couple trips to see what it is all about. Fishing on your own or with family and friends is worlds different than the pressure of entertaining and catering to and coordinating and keeping safe the fishing efforts of all on board.

You also need to be comfy with rod and reel repair. I constantly have rods on the dryer and several waiting for repairs. Also usually have two reels in some stage of cleaning and repair. You also need to be a fairly competent mechanic usually fixing something on boat, motor, trolling motor, gear, trailer, whatever every week. I put 400-600 hours per year on the motor.

I enjoy putting others on fish. Very rarely do i get to fish. Very focused on my customers experience and assisting them. I will fish to show them the fish are there or to show them a technique.

Your job priority becomes a constant make ready. Secondly your job is to put people on fish they can catch. Most are not very good. At all. You have to put them on easy to catch fish. The techniques you spent years mastering to make those fish bite your customer will not be able to replicate in the few hours you have with them. Very simply they just cant catch the fish you know you can. The ones that are good and know how to fish are using you for your spots. They will be there tomorrow with their friends. So plan on taking tomorrows group somewhere else. So make sure you like cleaning up and resetting and fixing all your equipment first.

Plan on scheduling one full work day a week or so for full reset maintenance.
Plan on scheduling one full work day a month for accounting and computer work for all your income, expenses, and taxes.
Plan on deck handing, captaining other peoples boats, reel repair, trailer repair, bartending, or whatever else you can do on the side to make ends meet when business is slow or weather cancels all your trips. Plan on customers calling to cancel the morning of when you have stayed up all night to make ready, got up at 3 to get to the ramp, already launched the boat....then they cancel. Plan on customers doing crazy things you never thought possible with your gear. Plan on putting customers on the best fishing of their lives and some will give you a bad review anyway. Plan on being sick with your eyes popping out of your head and horrible food poisoning, wear a diaper and go anyway because your customer took their only vacation days, bought licenses and hotels to get here counting on you to take em no matter what. Plan on running doubles when it is 113 degrees outside.

It is the hardest easy job their is. I fished 25 days in June, 26 days in July, and 25 days in August. Fished 8 days in May
... i cleaned a lot of reels and fixed a lot of trailers in May. Manage your money between those gaps. Have enough cash to replace your lower unit or replace any big ticket item like trolling motor, electronics, even your outboard overnight between trips. You cannot afford to wait to deal with insurance. I lost a lower unit one day and had a double the next. Had to buy one that afternoon. My GPS died when i was making ready one evening and i had a tourney the next morning. You dont have time to get exactly what you want for a deal you just have to go get whatever you can find and spend all night setting it up. Breakdowns on the water happen. Your customer is not going to want to wait for your best buddy to come tow you. You have to call and pay for a tow boat to bring you in now.
Weekends are all booked. All holidays, spring breaks, summers are your busy season so plan your own family time opposite of that.

You eat a lot of gas station and drive thru.

Then something breaks down that will require more extensive shut down and repair. Plan to buy a craigslist truck or boat that you can get by with while your main rig is shutdown. Then sell later if needed. Or deck hand and side job till you can get back to it. And networking with other guides to cover your customers. Will they give your customer their card? Or do you trust them to send your customers back thru you.

There is a lot of lil details. It is a pretty big learning curve in what kind of fishing and what kind of fishing is profitable. Its not always what you think or what you are used to. You may have to do a LOT of adjustments to follow the money.

Hope that helps.....i could go on forever.

Last edited by Sgrem; 09/05/19 02:54 AM.
Re: What does it take to be a guide?? [Re: JSouther] #13270888 09/05/19 10:14 AM
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I like to fish and enjoy fishing alone probably more than I do with other people. The people I do like to fish with understand fishing, searching for fish sign, understanding presentations. We sometimes leave fish to find other fish just because it’s enjoyable to do the search and find. There’s usually not really an agenda other than maybe seeing what’s around the next bend and catching a few for dinner and sometimes not even that.

Seems like guiding cuts across all of that and would take what’s fun about fishing out of the equation. Nothing any of the actual guides here have stated changes my thoughts on the subject, but only adds fuel to the fire. Does the OP like fishing with beginners? I live on a lake and have family and friends gather at certain points of the year. Naturally, people want to fish. Most are pretty terrible with every aspect of it so all I do is run ragged fixing tangles, baiting hooks, unhooking fish, etc. About an hour of that and I’m whipped.

My friend whose boat I fish on, he actually once was a guide a long time ago, is a joy to fish with. We sometimes take out another friend that is also a joy to fish with, but seems to struggle with presentations and the gear. So we will be thick in fish, but the struggling friend will have a much harder time connecting. I think it would be frustrating to have to produce results for someone like the struggling friend. You, the guide, put them on fish and it’s still not enough.

Joy isn’t about circumstances and is different than happiness. People can still have joy facing the worst of things. If you can be joyful around ingrates, incompetence, the unsavory, arrogance, the lazy, dishonesty, if you can have infinite patience and overlook a thousand things that aren’t right, then perhaps guiding is for you.

If you need just to fill some time and bring in a little extra cash, I can think of a thousand other jobs that might be more rewarding and suitable.

Some people have the right temperament to guide and I would think that’s more important than just about anything else.

I knew these guys once that were good friends, liked to cook and sit around and drink beer. They all decided what fun it would be to open a restaurant and they had done well enough to seed such an operation. Long story short, the restaurant left them becoming enemies, hundreds of thousands of dollars poorer, and ruined their health in some cases.

Be careful on what you wish for.

Re: What does it take to be a guide?? [Re: JSouther] #13271206 09/05/19 04:48 PM
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"Very simply they just cant catch the fish you know you can."

That is a true statement. I take people fishing all the time that cannot catch fish. Took a guy this week that got skunked while I caught a cooler full. I told him what he was doing wrong, ( no fluorocarbon line)offered him one of my poles rigged just like I was using...


John 21:3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee.
Re: What does it take to be a guide?? [Re: JSouther] #13271273 09/05/19 05:43 PM
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If you want to do it legally on Federal water you need a 6 pack license. Before everyone start hollering the state of Texas does not enforce it. But Feds do if you are involved with a injury that required medial attention or damage to property over $ 5000 ( I think it 5K) and are you on Fed water you might find yourself in a bind. If you remember back the guide that had the customer on a North Texas lake that fell out of the boat in rough, water but died for a heart attack the Coast Guard sent a representative to investigate the accident. The guide did not have a 6 pack, it did not go good for him.

The coast guard does check in the bays and gulf. You need a near coastal its 10 or 15 more questions over the Rules of The Road test.

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