Developing good guide clients is a critical part of an industry that already has its own environmental complications. Hunting and fishing are hobbies for many of us. Even though it may not seem like it when we spend a great deal of our expandable income on the gear, travel, and fees to do the past times we enjoy. This could be anything from buying a license to booking a guided trip into the Yukon.
In this article, the goal is to communicate that while these are a hobby or a pastime for some of us, there are many who rely on them for income. These are the guides and Captains who we hire to put us on the game of our choice. In my opinion, we have an equal responsibility to be a good guide client as well.
I have been around some great guides and Captains who have told some horror stories of clients that they have brought on. Some folks understand the concept of respecting someone and their business. Others feel that if you’re paying someone to do something, they should have free reign and do what they want. This is not what we consider a good guide client.
Granted, there are guides and Captains that can be disrespectful and just plain not good at their job. You are offered the choice to not book their services again the next time. However, you should have expectations when booking a trip in the first place.
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Anyone who has booked a fishing charter or a guided hunting trip knows how much these can cost. Some are manageable, while others could cost into the high 5 figures. However, you need to manage your expectations. Everyone understands that when we’re booking a trip, that there is an expectation of success.
The game you are set out to find is a wild animal with a skillset and will to survive. There are many variables that the guide cannot control.
Your guide cannot control the weather. They cannot control the movement and predictability of the game. As much time as your guide spends honing their craft, Mother Nature always calls the shots.
While I’m not saying to go in with an open mind to failure, do realize that there is a chance you may come home empty handed. They call it “Fishing” not “Catching”. It’s also called “Hunting”, not “Killing”.
The Guide Is The Professional
Please understand that when I say “Guide”, I’m using this broadly. This could be your Captain, the deckhand, or hunting guide. At any rate, the crew that you hired to take you on your adventure didn’t offer their services on a whim.
These folks are the professionals. Even if you’re a Guide yourself, let them do their job. You may have a similar knowledge base or more experience. That’s not why you hired them. If it was, then you should rethink your strategy.
Listen to the crew managing your trip. All boats have rules and the captain is responsible for your safety. That’s #1. Second is your success. They work very hard to hone in their skills. And their success isn’t accidental.
Understand The Rules and Follow Them
Similar to the prior paragraph, each guide has their own set of rules and quirks. No, you don’t need a dissertation on why they developed them. You just need to follow them. You need the truth, not the whole truth.
One way to irritate a guide is to not follow the simply stated rules of their land. It’s a matter of common courtesy. If they don’t want you smoking on their boat, don’t do it. It may smell like fish, which is a very good sign BTW, but they may not like your smoking. I don’t want you spitting in my office trash can. Spit in a bottle or swallow your dip like a man. It’s no different.
Be Open About Your Goals
If you have a trip in mind, be open with the guide service about your goals. Generally, they will be able to give you feedback on how to achieve them and it will allow them to prepare properly.
If you’re going on an offshore fishing charter with your buddies and you want to just get away and drink ungodly amounts of booze, be open about it. This way the Captain can prepare better. If this is your ultimate goal, I would suggest not wasting the guides time and taking up a spot when he could be doing what he loves rather than watching your dumbass fumble around the boat.
The same goes if your goal is to target a specific species. That guide can give you an idea of what is in season and the likelihood of you being able to accomplish that goal.
As noted above, they cannot control the weather. More times than not, the forecast can greatly affect the chances of your success. For instance, if you’re going offshore before a major weather event, you’re chances of filling your cooler are much higher than if you go our right after the storm. You’re more likely to get skunked.
Don’t Be That Guy
In general, this is the entire crux of this article. I’ve been on many guided trips and there is always that guy who knows it all. Stop it. Ron Swanson is a character. No one likes it when someone is throwing rocks at them while they are working.
And the safety of the crew and clients is first overall. Be mindful of this. If you’re asked not to do something, it’s for a good reason. And yes, it’s likely happened before and sometimes morons ruin things for the rest of us.
Don’t throw up in the toilet. Everyone has to use it. Over the rail and let it sail. Chums the waters. Only your buddies will laugh at you because we’ve all been there.
If you’re new, it’s not a bad idea to talk to the crew about how to prepare and what to expect. They will give you a safety run down before leaving. At least all reputable guides will. If you have questions and concerns, DON’T be afraid to ask. Yes, you are paying for their experience but you’re also paying to learn so the next time you can be on the same page as everyone else.
The Tip Is Critical
Tip your crew well. At times, some aren’t on the ball like others you may have experienced. Fair, then they can receive a smaller tip. However, 20% isn’t out of the question as a baseline. Remember, you’re paying for their professional assistance which has a value attached to it.
I personally take this seriously. If I book a trip and take friends with me, they are responsible for tipping on their own. Yes, I will contact the crew a couple days later to confirm they were up to par. I want to have a credible reputation because I choose reputable guides. I don’t want to be remembered as the douche whose group tipped $20 for 12 hours of real work. That’s not cool.
I personally have a “do not invite” list because of folks who turned out to be a turd simply because of the tip.
Yes, the tip is a very critical part of being a great client. It will always be since this is hopefully the last thing the crew remembers from your adventure.
However, if you’re a disrespectful person, you may wind up being blacklisted. Many captains and guides keep a list of clients that they would prefer to not allow on their trips. These folks are selling an experience, their time, knowledge, and passion because this is how they make their livelihoods. Be respectful, have a blast, and make it enjoyable for them as well.
If you’re new to the offshore fishing world, visit my article “How to Choose The Best Charter For You” to learn more about choosing a successful charter. You can also visit “3 Most Popular Types of Fishing Charters Explained” to take a deeper dive into them.