Guided fishing can be the difference between a fishy day or a fishless day
by Michael Bok
Reading the last couple of issues of Tasmanian Fishing and Boating News made me wonder what I would do that would help me catch a Snapper.
Having a young family, being a part owner of a business and only a limited amount of time to go fishing, I thought about what I could do. I realise that the best time to catch Snapper is past, but I was thinking more about next season. I decided that I am going to have to do something I haven't thought about doing here in Tasmania, that is, see if I can find a fishing guide/charter operation covering the Tamar River.
I have fished with a guide in the Northern Territory before, and now, after six years he has become more of a friend. Rick Hucksteep no longer guides but writes for several magazines. A lot of what I have learnt about fishing I have learnt from him and also from other skilled anglers. I firmly believe that we do not take advantage of their services enough.
If you use a guide for a day, or an extended period, you can pick their rains and draw on their skill and knowledge. Most of them have years of experience in their fields and are top fisherman in their own right. What you are buying is local knowledge and fast tracking your learning in a foreign environment.
In Tasmania we have guides who fish the lakes for trout, the ocean for tuna and other pelagics, and the rivers for our bread and butter fish.
To find out about what guides are available, ask your local tackle store to look out for advertisements.
When you ascertain what guides are available, check to see if their style of fishing suits your style i.e. they cater for fly fishing, or do they use lures, or do they bait fish. Most good guides will be able to cater to your style of fishing. Also check what the costs are - you may be able to cut your costs by going in a small group of two or three.
After organising your fishing trip with a guide/charter operator, ask what gear/equipment they provide and what you are expected to bring. Most will provide all equipment if that is what you want, but it is more fun catching fish with your own gear (but make certain your gear is suitable).
Having most of my guided experience in the Northern Territory, I am surprised how much I learnt there that I can apply here. A suggestion I would make here is that just because you pay a guide it does not make them your servant, treat them as you would like to be treated. A happy guide will do more for you than a guide who is peeved with you. When you go out with your guide, ask them why you are fishing a particular spot and what to look for, why they use certain lure, fish or bait. Most are more than happy to share their experiences with you. The equipment they use can also be a good guide as to what is reliable and what is not. When I was looking for a sounder and motors for my boat, I looked at what the guides I knew were using and asked what they thought about their gear. This helped me decide on a Lowrance X70A Sounder and the Johnson motors u have on my boat. These are the tools of a guide. I trusted their judgment and I am happy to report both have been trouble free.
I asked the guides how the gear handled in their environment, what backup support was like and took this information on board before purchasing the above equipment.
Lure fishing with a guide up North taught me a lot, especially about sight fishing with lures. I remember casting to a fish one day and being pleased with myself at how I was lobbing the lure almost on the fish only to be asked by the guide, Rick Hucksteep when I last saw a lure attacking a fish. I though about this and then realised that he was trying to tell me that I should present the lure so that the fish can attack it, not the other way round. My catch rate improved remarkably after that. Having had Greg Hynes (Lofty's Lures) take me trout fishing (I know he is not a professional guide, but he can certainly teach many anglers a thing or two). I can relate to what can be learnt about trout. Before going out with him on Lake Sorell I had caught a few trout, but nothing to write home about. After a day with him, when he showed me where to fish, speeds to troll at and lures to use, the next time I went up to Lake Sorell, my brother Greg and I caught 23 trout. Little things like line colour also made a difference. This was something I would not have thought about.
In a recent tuna competition, reported in this magazine, I noticed that one of the most successful boats was a charter boat (the Norseman which operates out of St Helens). They caught Marlin, shark and large tuna. When you think how much it costs to run your boat, and enter, for a weekend competition (boat cost, petrol, gear, insurance etc) we might be better off not having a boat but using a guide for the number of times you go fishing in a year. I have heard that there are some nice Trumpeter to be caught off the East Coast but don't know where to start looking. Once again a guide will probably be the answer. If you consider how much fuel, wear and tear, and gear breakage you can expend looking for a target fish, you could actually save some money in the long run - as well as having a better success rate.
Once again if you are going to use a guide, look, watch, learn and listen to what they say. You will improve your catch and learn at the same time, though please show courtesy to them as well - you will get better value for your money.