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HeyCoach

New lake - show up and fish or hire a guide?

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Let’s say you are going to a lake you’ve never been to before, one of the “great ones” like Guntersville, Table Rock, Big O, etc...

 

Do you read reports leading up to your trip, try to find navionics charts, or look and see what lures/techniques were used by tournament winners?

 

Or do you hire a guide, show up, and fish?

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That all depends on how much cash you've got! I prefer trying to figure it out myself, which is ironic since I'm a part time fly guide. I'm suppose I'm more of a fly casting instructor . Guides will teach you a ton and shorten the learning curve. Then again some of us enjoy the learning curve part

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I'm cheap so I'm gonna do internet searches on tourney results, study maps and use google earth.

 

To me google earth has been the best tool for me when fishing a new lake.

 

Actually, I use it a lot on my home lake as well.

 

 

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To me it depends on the situation. If it were a once in a lifetime trip to Baccarac, I'd hire a guide. If its to somewhere you will be going again, I'd figure it out.

 A few years ago, a buddy and I went to Falcon; we hired a guide for all 5 days.

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Having been a guide, I was hired a lot to pattern fish before a tournament.  I was also hired by folks who were spending a week at the lake and just wanted to know where to go to find fish.  In that case, I would take a 1/2 day and fish with them showing locations/baits that work and take the other 1/2 of the day and take them to different spots around the lake that I feel will hold fish.  Usually we don't have time to fish during the "tour" part but I would try to give them enough spots to put a pattern together.  I've also had clients use a "Shadow Boat" for a reduced price.  I have also gotten in their boat.  My advise is hire a guide for a day if you've never been there and are going to be there for an extended time.  Make sure you tell the guide what you want to accomplish.  

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The Big O ... Toledo Bend kind of reservoir  ... check out his references ... hope to catch a fish of a lifetime or many nice ones ...   pay him the guide for his services ... 

 

good fishing ...

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Back in the days when I travelled a lot to fish, and was broke, I wish I had the money to have hired a guide. My usual patterns on Northern lakes don't work on southern impoundments. A guide would have shown me how to fish the the reservoirs and made my trips more productive.

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16 minutes ago, Scott F said:

Back in the days when I travelled a lot to fish, and was broke, I wish I had the money to have hired a guide. My usual patterns on Northern lakes don't work on southern impoundments. A guide would have shown me how to fish the the reservoirs and made my trips more productive.

good point ... and not all southern impoundments are alike ... different patterns ...

 

good fishing ... 

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Time is a valuable commodity for me, so if it's a big body of water, and I want a reasonable shot to get on fish, I'll hire a guide rather than try my own luck and potentially waste lots of time at low chance spots/wrong lures.

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Hiring a guide can be a fun day and great learning experience.  However, there are few things more satisfying than planning your trip, executing your plan, and wacking them.

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If it's a long distance destination trip where it'll probably be "the only time I'll fish this place", a guide for sure, even if it's just for a half-day.  If you're spending the time and money to go to a destination lake to catch fish, might as well spend a few extra hundred bucks to maximize your odds of catching fish.

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On a lake like Okeechobee that is not only big but physically changes from year to year.  Places you were good last year will often look totally different from water levels, blown floating vegetation, and spraying.  it never looks the same if you have been off the lake for a while.  I would hire a decent guide to show a novice the latest spots.  The lake can also be dangerous during low water levels with rock walls and showls.  If you going with a group, paying a guide for a half day is worth it.

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Back before I was retired and time was short, I hired guides for the larger lakes. When I would get back home I would combine what I learned from the guide with what I already knew about seasonal fish behavior and hopefully maximize my time when I visited the lake again.  Larger lakes require a lot of time to really learn where all the "choice" structure is located. Now days, time is not an issue as I have my choice of any day of the week, at least until the "Last Roll Call" announces my name.

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If you can afford the added expense factor in the cost of the giude, boat, tackle, knowledge and expertise vs your time wasted trying to learn a lake you know nothing about.

Nothing wrong with doing research before a trip, it will help you get more out of the fishing trip with or without a guide.

I was fortunate to fish with locals whenever I was traveling during my business years and some were guides. Lakes like Lake of the Woods in Canada you would get lost without local knowledge. Lakes my local lakes Castiac and Casitas are small but fish very different and a guide would save you from getting blanked and turn your experience into a productive trip.

Tom

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Hiring a guide for a half or full day the first day of your trip can go a long ways to making your whole trip productive on some lakes. Lakes like Table Rock however, what you learn one day is likely no good the next day, or at the very least the locations won't be. 

 

If you hire a GOOD guide (not Billy Joe who has a boat and some free time), it's going to be worth it a vast majority of the time. If you're not afraid to go it alone and risk striking out though, it can be very rewarding to try to go out and figure out a lake and the bite on your own as well. 

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7 hours ago, Bluebasser86 said:

If you hire a GOOD guide (not Billy Joe who has a boat and some free time)

Very, very important fact.  Check out the guide thoroughly.  Best way is to ask the local marinas.  The marina I guided out of had a "Brag Book" with pictures and dates of guides and their clients fish.  

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I think if you have to ask yourself if you should hire a guide, then you probably should.

 

Some guys get a lot of their thrill of fishing from the mental game of trying to figure out a new lake.

 

Don’t get me wrong, hiring a guide won’t take all of that away though.

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