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Guides can be worth every penny

May 9, 2009

When visiting a new body of water, I usually hire a local guide for at least half a day. Even though I am a guide and feel confident that I can "usually" find fish anywhere in the country, I still hire a guide.

Four or five hours with a good pro is a super learning experience for a beginner or expert alike, as there is always a new trick or technique that can be added to your fishing arsenal. A good guide not only will teach, but put you on fish (quickly), fish that may have taken you three to four days of your annual five-day vacation to find. Saving money and, more importantly, your time is the ticket.

A lot of times the do-it-yourself vacationing fisherman will spend big money renting a boat, buying supplies, gas, bait, ice, fishing licenses, maps, renting fishing rods, buying tackle, etc., and usually comes back at the end of the day with no fish and a sunburn. Or worse yet, run aground in South Matlacha Pass for about six hours.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

He is not saving money or having fun. This is the guy that goes back home to Iowa and tells everyone how bad the fishing was in Florida. A good guide provides all of the above, great boats and equipment, great local fishing knowledge, polite service, and all you have to do is step onboard.

A good guide is not cheap, so expect to spend $300 to $600, or sometimes more, if you are fishing with a big-name guide. It's usually worth every penny.

Guides can be easy going, laid-back types, to drill sergeants. Friendly, arrogant, downright rude, fish hogs, or can't do enough for you, nicest folks in the world. Years ago, I once fished with a well know local guide that can really produce fish, but can be a miserable person to deal with. Fishing with him I once broke off a big redfish, shook my head and laughed it off. About five minutes of silence later he muttered, "I can't stand people that laugh all the time."

Oh boy. Dead silence for over an hour.

Later that day, as we stood side by side on the casting deck, things went from bad to worse. I had hooked and fought a large jack. He was on his knees trying to release it when a wave made me lose my balance and I knocked him out of his boat into the water, where he promptly lost his $400 prescription sunglasses. I never knew that the human body immersed in sea water, can make the surrounding water actually boil, if said immersed human is angry enough.

It's true. I extended my hand and did not dare crack a smile, and I caught more than 20 reds.

A good guide is worth every penny and usually will provide you with the trip of a lifetime. You cannot beat local knowledge and friendly, courteous, service.

Call ahead to tackle stores and marinas to get info on guides several months before your trip, as many good guides are booked far in advance.

The tarpon are here - big time. Capt. Roy Bennett of Hot One II Charters has had a great week with daily tarpon encounters.

"These fish were tackle busters and there are a few I'm sure past Sarasota by now."

He is considering using big Penn Internationals this next week as his Penn GLS 45s could hardly stop these fresh, tough, fish. All fish were caught on the inside as well as off Sanibel Island. Sharks were less of a problem for his clients fishing on the inside, but spinner and blacktip sharks eating tarpon baits were more of a problem on the outside.

I strongly recommend any novice looking to fight a silver king (tarpon) should hire a guide. This fishing requires experience, knowledge, and proper tackle.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.



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