Important Tips to Consider When Selecting A Guide
There are many excellent fishing guides in the state of Florida so choosing the right one for your needs can be quite a task. I will outline a couple of things I think will help you ask the right questions and insure a fun and safe trip for your charter.
First make sure your guide is properly licensed and insured. Your guide should possess a current USCG Merchant Mariner Credential (commonly referred to as a "Captain's License") which is generally either an OUPV 6 pack license or a Guide License for a specific area. They are also required to possess a TWIC card (Transportation Worker Identification Card) for identification. Guides are required to have these documents on the vessel when fishing a charter. Perhaps most important, be sure to ask if your prospective fishing guide has commercial guide insurance with at least a $300,000 limit. Confirming these docs and coverage will establish your guide is legitimate. Your guide should also be outfitted with all required USCG safety equipment including Type 1 PFD's. Confirming your guide meets all these requirements is important for your protection and safety. Don't be afraid to ask these questions! They are extremely important and will help to weed out folks that are not legit or unable to legally acquire the necessary licensing and coverage and could leave you holding the bag!
When selecting a fishing guide don't be afraid to do a little research. If you have a body of water you're interested in fishing in particular, find a guide that specializes on that body of water and has years of experience guiding clients and not just fishing it. Be careful about using guide referral web-sites. Some customers have brought it to my attention that these services simply pulled a guide that was the closest they had to the body of water, but in fact had little actual experience for that fishing destination. These services sometimes also refer customers to the guide that gives THEM the best deal and is not based on a guide's results or knowledge necessarily. Don't be afraid to call local bait shops, outfitters, etc. and see who they'd recommend. Make sure that the guide service is a year-round fishing outfit. Some guides specialize and mostly fish during a select few months but might not be the best choice outside of that time frame due to inactivity. If the guide you are considering has a web-site, a good tip is to look at the pictures and fishing reports to see if they are current and not pictures that are from decades past!