March 2021 News/Columns

Crappie Basics – How to Choose a Guide, by Richard Simms

Jon Whitlock (left) and Carroll Waddle (right) show off a good stringer from the Tennessee River caught while fishing with a guide. Waddle believes the best guides have great personality and work ethic. Sure, they should be able to catch fish, but anglers should understand that even the best guides have tough days on the water. (Photo: Richard Simms)


Crappie Basics – How to Choose a Guide

by Richard Simms – CrappieNOW Editor

I play both sides of the fence. I am a fishing guide, however, whenever I visit new places or want to explore new water, I always hire another fishing guide. That gives me a pretty good handle on how to pick a fishing guide. Admittedly, the first time picking a new guide is often a guessing game. But here’s what I look for starters:

  1. Word of mouth is always your best means of choosing a guide. Social media can help but whenever possible, go first to trusted friends. Don’t just go by the number of fish they caught. Always ask about the guide’s attitude and effort. Was he or she personable? Did they really care about the clients or did they act like it was just another day at the office? Catching fish is important but the guide’s personality and attitude are critical to an enjoyable day as well.
  2. Pay attention to the guide’s website. Does it look professional? Is it well-organized with information that is clear and easy to understand? Is it up-to-date with fresh photos and/or information and reports? A true professional that cares about what he/she is doing is going to pay attention to the details of those “first impressions,” even on your computer screen.
  3. Read independent reviews. Don’t rely on reviews posted on the guide’s website. Whether it is on Google, Facebook or websites like TripAdvisor, independent reviews will tell you the most about what clients think of a guide. Many excellent guides may not generate independent reviews and shouldn’t necessarily be ruled out because of it. But if you are choosing between a well-reviewed guide and one without reviews, it can make your choice easier.
  4. Call and talk to the guide and see what kind of “vibe” you get. Remember if you call during the day your guide may be on the water with clients. Personally, I won’t answer calls or texts when I am out with clients. I don’t feel it is polite when my attention should be focused on them. Many days, however, I will spend an hour or two replying to calls, texts or e-mails when I come off the water. If I contact a guide via voicemail, text or e-mail and don’t get some sort of acknowledgement within 24 hours to 36 hours, I’m probably going to rule them out.
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