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Dances with Walleye

Curious... Becoming a Guide?

42 posts in this topic

So last night I'm having dinner with my soon to be mother in law, and conversation turns to the future and how we'll afford expenses and the like...

We talked about little side things we could do for money, I mentioned cutting and delivering firewood in the wintertime etc...

M-i-L turns to me and says "Why don't you just spend a couple days a month working as a fishing guide?"

****

I didn't have an answer... Why don't I spend a couple days a month as a fishing guide?

I can get on fish consistently, I'm a good teacher, and have great personal skills...

I'm guessing though that there's a whole heck of a lot more to it than that... And in the end it's probably not an idea that will come out in the wash...

But I figure why not at least ask and learn something new?

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Here's what you'll need to start. A good boat, motor and trailer. A minimum of $300,000 liability insurance, a good tax guy, possibly USCG certification (depending on where your guiding) and some sort of advertising budget. Enough good equipment to outfit at least 3 other fisherman. Other than that not much.

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Gotta love those M.I.L's....a number of years ago, my mother in law was giving me a hard time saying I should have a job in the summer, I shouldn't be fishing all the time, i need a summer Job. This went on for a good half of an hour. I finally looked at my father in law, who teaches as well, and said, "Gary, you don't have a summer job, why don't you have a summer job, I think you should have a summer job!" Needless to say the conversation stopped then and there, I think my M.I.L learned an important lesson that day, I am not her son.

Now, I have a friend in Iowa that considered become a trout fishing guide, and he would be awesome at it, but he decided against it when his dad said, "Why would you want to take something you love to do and relax with, and make it a job. Think of the schmucks you see out there pounding the water with their baits and garbage, and realize these are the people you would be guiding."

Good luck in your decision, consider the idiots you will run into and how you would handle that

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Let me know if you decide to go ahead with this idea. I might be able to help you out in the advertising department.

I'll give you a good deal.

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Here's what you'll need to start. A good boat, motor and trailer. A minimum of $300,000 liability insurance, a good tax guy, possibly USCG certification (depending on where your guiding) and some sort of advertising budget. Enough good equipment to outfit at least 3 other fisherman. Other than that not much.


Now the insurance part is a snag I hadn't thought of... (And possible certification thing) Everything else I have covered.

I take it the insurance is related to if I sink the boat with a client on it, and he drowns/gets hand caught in the prop/ kid suffocates in my livewell while we're not looking... Type of thing...

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Good Luck. Guiding & just going fishing are 2 different animals. Its great when things are going right, fish are biting, good customers, all equipment is working everythings going right. Not so good when windy, raining, fish aren't biting customers an a$$. Pressure is on to catch fish all the time. Not trying to discourage just sharing my experiences and giving you food for thought. I have great respect for those who guide.

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Let me know if you decide to go ahead with this idea. I might be able to help you out in the advertising department.

I'll give you a good deal.


Thanks Bro... But I've kind of got that end covered as well...

If I did start anything up it wouldn't be this year... The last thing I want to do is rush into something like this...

As my research journal shows, I'm a guy who like to comb every detail.

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Good Luck. Guiding & just going fishing are 2 different animals. Its great when things are going right, fish are biting, good customers, all equipment is working everythings going right. Not so good when windy, raining, fish aren't biting customers an a$$. Pressure is on to catch fish all the time. Not trying to discourage just sharing my experiences and giving you food for thought. I have great respect for those who guide.


Yeah I'm not looking at it as a career... More of additional income...

I've got a slew of friends, and their kids that have gotten into fishing recently... And I've been spending a lot of time as "Teacher"... Which has been fun... I think when guiding I'd take the same mentality that I do when I'm teaching my buddy's son to fish... That I'm there for them to bring in the fish... Not for me...

Just spending 1 our of say every 3 Saturdays running someone's else's fishing experience, so that I can more easily afford my own fishing adventures, seems like a decent trade off...

But I'm sure there's more to it all than what I'm envisioning.

Thanks for all the feedback guys!

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We run quite a few guide trips out of our shop over the season. This is what I require of my guides and qualities required to guide for us.

1. Guide Insurance- Must have. Good guiding insurance that will cover you in all situations will run upward of $1000 for the year. That is one of the drawbacks if you are just starting out.

2. People skills and the ability to keep customers happy. The fish do not always bite. Learn to fish with 3-5 lines hanging out of the boat. It can be difficult to manage sometimes when the conditions are not ideal.

3. Fish, Fish, Fish. You can never have too many spots. Learn to fish as many lakes as possible. Diversity goes a long ways.

4. Equipment is a given. Make sure that you are well equipped and your customers are safe while using your gear.

5. The business end of guiding. This is usually the hardest part. It is a game of who can market themselves the best. It can be tough to find enough customers. Guiding is nothing new, so sometimes it is hard to aquire customers. Keep doing legwork and treat it like a job. The harder you work the better it will get.

6. Do not cut corners. Your customers will expect a quality experience. They are paying top dollar for this fishing trip. In our area sometimes the fish only want to eat the most expensive bait available. It will reduce the profit on the day. But what you are working for is repeat business. Sure you might be able to go out and catch fish on a bare hook at times, but your customers may not be as seasoned with a rod and reel. Make it as easy as possible for your customer.

I am sure I missed a few things but these are a few things to keep in mind.

Jason Erlandson

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We run quite a few guide trips out of our shop over the season. This is what I require of my guides and qualities required to guide for us.

1. Guide Insurance- Must have. Good guiding insurance that will cover you in all situations will run upward of $1000 for the year. That is one of the drawbacks if you are just starting out.

2. People skills and the ability to keep customers happy. The fish do not always bite. Learn to fish with 3-5 lines hanging out of the boat. It can be difficult to manage sometimes when the conditions are not ideal.

3. Fish, Fish, Fish. You can never have too many spots. Learn to fish as many lakes as possible. Diversity goes a long ways.

4. Equipment is a given. Make sure that you are well equipped and your customers are safe while using your gear.

5. The business end of guiding. This is usually the hardest part. It is a game of who can market themselves the best. It can be tough to find enough customers. Guiding is nothing new, so sometimes it is hard to aquire customers. Keep doing legwork and treat it like a job. The harder you work the better it will get.

6. Do not cut corners. Your customers will expect a quality experience. They are paying top dollar for this fishing trip. In our area sometimes the fish only want to eat the most expensive bait available. It will reduce the profit on the day. But what you are working for is repeat business. Sure you might be able to go out and catch fish on a bare hook at times, but your customers may not be as seasoned with a rod and reel. Make it as easy as possible for your customer.

I am sure I missed a few things but these are a few things to keep in mind.

Jason Erlandson


Good to know...

The insurance thing so far looks like the hitch that will kill the cat...

I mean I have the regular boat insurance because my boat is financed etc... And that costs me $120 a year... Knocking it up to $1000, means I'd have to guide more just to pay off the extra insurance, and try to turn a profit later in the season...

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A friend of mine is actually taking the plunge into full-time guiding over on Lake Michigan - he had to do the USCG 7-10 day captain's course ($1,000+) over in the UP, get Red Cross certification in First Aid and CPR, set-up website and marketing, arrange for place to stay, work on local lodging establishments for referrals, etc. etc. etc.

Makes me tired just typing it....

Good luck if you venture into this arena!!

Daze Off

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I thought of guiding too....why cant a college kid just put up fliers at like baitshops and outdoor places and charge 100 bucks a day until he gets good?? Is the insurance required by law?? I know a few ppl who started guiding this way and my buddies and I are constantly getting questions on where fish are at and how to catch them...we dont answer them truthfully of course grin.gif

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Why not just make the clients sign a waiver?

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You can do umbrella insurance. I have a million dollar policy for my rental that is carried under my regular home owners. Only costs an extra hundred or so a year and covers me and my family from a lot.

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That is fine... until somebody gets hurt... then you would be glad even if the insurance was $10k per year smile.gif

Good luck if you decide, but a part time cash job painting houses would bring in much more money wink.gif affording you to go fishing more.

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Waivers are worthless if you're negligent. The large majority of lawsuits against guides are from slip falls. (Getting in and out of the boat) I'm going on my 5th year and I haven't had any real problems with peoples attitudes. Even if the fish aren't biting I basically put on an "on the water" seminar. Most fisherman know a lot more about walleye fishing when we're done.

I think that you can do a little better than $1000 for insurance but it probably depends on where you guide and what type of equipment that you use. If you don't have insurance you have no business guiding. You could pay for someone else's foolishness for the rest of your life. If you can't afford insurance you can't afford to guide. That's just a cold hard fact.

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Gunflint is correct. To guide without a separate liability policy covering each boat ( we use 2 boats, a ranger and a pontoon boat) is foolish. One law-suit and your ruined, as is your family. Your home owners policy will not cover a commercial venture. You can save some money by having your agent cover your equipment on the home owners, but the liability insurance is separate and there are only a couple of companies I've found that will write it. Then there is the problem of paying for 1 year of insurance and only fishing from April to Nov. but you are forced to keep a current policy. The next largest cost is advertising, then finally equipment.

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Gunflint is correct. To guide without a separate liability policy covering each boat ( we use 2 boats, a ranger and a pontoon boat) is foolish. One law-suit and your ruined, as is your family. Your home owners policy will not cover a commercial venture. You can save some money by having your agent cover your equipment on the home owners, but the liability insurance is separate and there are only a couple of companies I've found that will write it. Then there is the problem of paying for 1 year of insurance and only fishing from April to Nov. but you are forced to keep a current policy. The next largest cost is advertising, then finally equipment.

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wow and I thought the equipment was spendy....What about resorts?? I know some ppl who have started out mowing lawns and doing resort work part time and fishing on their own. eventually they get bumped up to guides. im assuming the resort covers the insurance pay ect?? or how does this work?? Do any places do that anymore??

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Good points about the insurance.

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Things I never knew years ago...

Liability insurance

Boat insurance(very spendy for a guide)

Lots of gear that gets trashed

GAS GAS AND MORE GAS

Grumpy clients( not very often but they do happen)

Clients that show up beyond drunk (no fishing for them).

New boat every two years since the old one is wore out.

Weather can kick you right to the bank on big water.

Hooks in your hands, head and other parts.

Potty break runs

Late clients and no show clients

You get followed around the lake

Phone rings 24/7 about fishing reports and "can you just point me in the right direction?"

Corporation or LLC set-up

Killer sun tan on the bottom half of your head and forearms

Coast gaurd/captians license on Federal waters

Accountants, service techs, advertising companies, marinas and launches all need to be paid.

Dockside politics

and my favorite; I only caught 9 crappies 13-15 inches, one 40 pike and 6 walleyes, I expected a limit of crappies. confused.gif

The funny thing is I wouldn't trade my job for anything. I have worked as a heavy equipment mechanic and worked in the financail industry. Both great jobs but give me a father son team and one big fish during father/son time and it is all worth it. You don't make much money guiding but if it is what you love...

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I like the topic, how many times have you heard someone say "I want to be a fishing guide". I am sure they are thinking I like to fish, getting paid to fish would be great!

It's nice to hear from the guys that do it so we can see first hand what it's all about. I would have never thought of the bathroom run thing. I can just picture it, you finally found the honey hole, 20 minutes from the dock, and someone says "I have to go in". There's $20 in gas and a lot of wasted time. Then they get upset with you becuase they didn't limit out.

All these stories make me appreciate a guide, for $300 I get to ride in a $40k boat, fish care free, am covered by insurance and I don't pay for gas, that's a steal!

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and my favorite; I only caught 9 crappies 13-15 inches, one 40 pike and 6 walleyes, I expected a limit of crappies.


That is unfortunate to hear. I think some of the best things about hiring and fishing with guides are

1) You get to share time with someone who has the same love of the outdoors and passion to fish.

2) You get to meet a new person and learn where they've come from; what they've been through in life.

3) You get to draw on a wealth of knowlege and walk away with more experience

4) You get to spend a day fishing

5) Last, but not least, as an added bonus you're typically going to catch a fish or two. If not, you're still going to walk away with much more than you ever came with! And that to me has much more value than walking away with a fish or two.

I'm sure there are many other benefits to fishing with a guide, but these are the benefits I take with me.

Besides, hiring a guide for a day of fishing is much cheaper therapy than needing to see a shrink on a regular basis! grin.gif

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That's brilliant basscatcher, I'm no longer a fishing guide, I'm an on the water therapist. CaaaChing prices just went up. cool.gif

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Yeah, the potty break thing can get you. I hired a guide on Mille Lacs for my birthday a few years back, October 1st. Just when the walleyes were really starting to hop onto the fall bite and had a full moon that night. My little brother and I were running a bit early and we were hungry so we stopped to eat. I made the mistake of having a big greasy burger, a decision I would soon regret. We get to the resort and the guide had the boat ready and off we went. Got out about 6 miles and we were fishing a bit when I started to feel a little rumbly in the tumbly. Very soon after that we were making a mad dash to the closest spot on the shoreline. Luckily we made it, had to do a preventative waddle to the bathroom, but all was good. We got back out and caught a bunch of fish well into the night. One of my most memorable trips to the pond.

Moral of the story:

If you are a guide, tell your customers to go easy on the risky food choices and make a trip to the bathroom before you get out on the lake. They might not be as lucky as I was. It would be a really crappy way to end a day, so to say.

Tom

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