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Discussion Starter #1
As fisherman, i'm sure we have all had the thought of being a guide cross our minds in some shape or form. I often hear people say "I wish I was lucky enough to be a guide" or "maybe ill just quit my day job and become a fishing guide." On the other hand I hear a lot of "It would ruin fishing for me" or "don't turn your favorite hobby into a job."

To those who made the plunge, can I get a little bit of your story? Why did you decide to guide? What did you do before you were a guide? How long did/do you plan to guide?

Were you happy? Did it ruin any part of fishing for you? Did it make fishing more enjoyable?

Did you make a comfortable living?

Not saying I am about to quit my job, just day dreaming behind my god forsaken computer screen....like all of you have.
 

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Zephyr Cove is on FIRE!
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It takes a special breed to be a full time or even part time guide for sure. I can say I would not expect to get rich guiding but generally speaking if you have some other irons in the fire you can make a decent living. I’d love to be a full time sight fishing/wading guide but I will be happy building a client base and doing it part time until then. It’s a pretty saturated field so expect to have lots of competition.
 

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I considered it in my mid to late 20's and ultimately decided it wasn't the right timing, just starting a family. Maybe later in life when I don't have the stress of a family to support I would be more open to the idea.

I don't ever want to dread having to go fishing, the way I dread going to work on a Monday morning. I know at some point that will happen if I turn fishing into a job.

Income is somewhat capped and dependent on other variables. Only so many days a year and so much you can reasonably charge and that's assuming you don't have weather issues, environmental issues (red tide, algae), boat issues... Long list here of things that are out of your control.

Other things to consider are declining water quality / poor management ( in FL), constant sun exposure, inconsiderate customers, spending full days with people that you don't like, spending full days with people that can't cast. I'm not saying it's a bad job, but it's not for everyone. I'm sure the good days when you have skilled anglers are great, but all the other days in between will turn into a grind. You also need to be a patient person.
 

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I've thought about early retirement with a Captain's license. But that's at least 10 years in the future and proving to myself that I can more consistently find fish in varying conditions. Our area of the bay would be damn tough to guide fly...

Also...I once turned my obsessive college football fanaticism into a position writing columns for a large metropolitan newspaper. It sucked all the fun and passion out of attending and watching the games. So there is that...
 

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My perspective may be unique, hopefully not.
My father was and still is a relatively successful bonefish guide down here in Biscayne/flamingo. while i was growing up in the 90's and early 2000's we fished literally every weekend, i owe everything to my dad in regards to fishing/maintaining a boat, when most kids are thinking about their first car i was already thinking of my first boat (i wanted a b1 lol). When i was probably 14 or 15 i remember telling him of my aspirations to get a boat and take up guiding once i turned 18, to which his response was "Go to college, get a good job, and pay someone to take you fishing". Growing up he worked really hard, missed probably 3 Christmas, sometimes totally booked in the spring time, hauling the rig to homestead or flamingo, poling all day, and making the haul back home to rinse the boat off and do it the next day. I never really understood why he told me that until i got older, went to college and am now a teacher, Youre livelihood depends on someone else leisure time. Now im considering getting my CL this year to take the odd booking or multi boat charter with my old man, who now thinks becoming a captain part time is a good idea.
I say go for it.
 

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I've had this thought...

I'm in retail already and love working with people and I'm damn good at it as well. Being a guide is being a salesman. You may not catch any fish... but your customer better say they had the best time not catching anything. The successful guides build relationships with their customers and don't even need new clients.

The fishing part is important but I would say the people part is far more important. If you don't like dealing with the general public guiding is not for you. A lot of weekend warriors that tried it out never understood that until they got into the game.

The only reason I didn't do it personally was because I didn't want to take the pay cut. Plus I'm not in the elements and make enough to support my habbit (fishing).
 

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Zephyr Cove is on FIRE!
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I think you had better be able to produce consistently or not give it a thought.
It’s not always about catching a bunch of fish. Most people are happy to get a couple of shots at a fish per trip. Some guides just do what the customer wants and goes where they want to go because it’s cheaper to hire a guide a few times a year than own your own boat. Some people just want a guide to run their boat and show them where to and not to run.
 

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I think you had better be able to produce consistently or not give it a thought.
^this^

I saw about 10 reds today and I couldn’t get one to eat... very frustrating. Takes a lot of skill and hours on the water to consistently find fish and ALSO get them to eat. I realized I am very far away from that level of expertise today lol. Also transitioning from a full time job to Fishing guide is difficult since time on the water is limited when you work a regular job for a living.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
All good food for thought. I realize that this a definitely a people business, and I love people! I am also an extremely patient person. Of all the fishing I do, and fish I catch, nothing compares to having someone else land a fish that you put them on. I would like to think that this feeling would keep me coming back day after day. I did look over the fact that a lot of clients have no idea what they are doing. These days would be frustrating but like some of you said, its about the time they had on your boat not necessarily the fish they catch.

The dream me and my soon to be wife have is to work hard while we are young, become financially set, and then take an early retirement doing what we love. She would be a personal trainer and I would guide. I just have this fear that in 25 years or so, her and I both may not be as physically inclined to carry out our dream jobs. Its like, would I rather spend my younger years of high energy behind a computer or on a poling platform? I can slave away behind a computer when i'm old and tired. I have not regretted a single thing in my life and I would regret it if I didn't guide in some shape or form at some point of my life.

I went to college, I have a good job in the construction industry, been at it for a few years. While being financially stable is great, feeling unfulfilled does not. I think about fishing from when I wake up to when I go to sleep. Almost all of my free time is taken up by fishing, tying flies, building rods, rigging for my next trip, and spending WAY too much time learning from everyone on this site. It wouldn't necessarily even have to be guiding, but if I could do something, ANYTHING in the fishing industry, that would fulfill my obsession with fishing I would quit my job tomorrow.
 

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Its a physically tough job.
Its mentally tough. Most jobs (I said most there are certainly exceptions) at the end of the day you go home and are done. Guides have to prep the boat for the next day. Rig gear. Answer phone calls and emails. Watch the weather to figure out the next day.
Its a saturated field. There are already tons of guides (some would say too many) and there are only so many client days available.
Have you ever spent an entire day on a boat, in close quarters, with somebody you couldn't stand? Thankfully they are not the norm but there are plenty of them.

Now here to me is the clincher:
What do you have to offer that guide XYZ doesn't.
a. Better equipment.
b. More knowledge
c. Better attitude
d. Better marketing skills

All this is not to discourage somebody from doing what they MAY love. Just have seen way too many people go into the guiding thing without really understanding what they were getting into.
 

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All good food for thought. I realize that this a definitely a people business, and I love people! I am also an extremely patient person. Of all the fishing I do, and fish I catch, nothing compares to having someone else land a fish that you put them on. I would like to think that this feeling would keep me coming back day after day. I did look over the fact that a lot of clients have no idea what they are doing. These days would be frustrating but like some of you said, its about the time they had on your boat not necessarily the fish they catch.

The dream me and my soon to be wife have is to work hard while we are young, become financially set, and then take an early retirement doing what we love. She would be a personal trainer and I would guide. I just have this fear that in 25 years or so, her and I both may not be as physically inclined to carry out our dream jobs. Its like, would I rather spend my younger years of high energy behind a computer or on a poling platform? I can slave away behind a computer when i'm old and tired. I have not regretted a single thing in my life and I would regret it if I didn't guide in some shape or form at some point of my life.

I went to college, I have a good job in the construction industry, been at it for a few years. While being financially stable is great, feeling unfulfilled does not. I think about fishing from when I wake up to when I go to sleep. Almost all of my free time is taken up by fishing, tying flies, building rods, rigging for my next trip, and spending WAY too much time learning from everyone on this site. It wouldn't necessarily even have to be guiding, but if I could do something, ANYTHING in the fishing industry, that would fulfill my obsession with fishing I would quit my job tomorrow.
Why don't you start out guiding on the weekends only? That way you can minimize your risk prior to going head first. Most people can only fish weekends anyway. Make your charter a little less $$$ than others and be up front etc. If you have fished a body of water for a long enough time you would know where and how to get on fish at certain times of year. Also developing a network of others that fish can help keep you in the loop.

As mentioned previously about people wanting to go out to just learn the waters and channels. You can also provide eco tours, burials @ sea etc if you want the side $$$. Not everyone is trying to get on the water to fish.

Also if you do get into it I would pay someone for SEO (Search engine optimization) so you get to top of google search list.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Why don't you start out guiding on the weekends only?
Something I have considered. In my mind though, I really want to fully commit myself to something. Guiding on the weekends spreads myself thin in all aspects of my life. I would be half-assing my job thinking about my weekend charter, half-assing my charter thinking about the work week, and half-assing my family/free time because I will be working 6-7 days a week.

If I were to make the decision to guide, I would make sure I was financially sound enough to take an entire year to build a client base, get myself established, licensed, and knowledgeable of the fishery I decide to work in. That way I would not be struggling right off the bat.
 

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I'm not trying to discourage you but it's gonna get tougher to pass up a steady job and follow your dream if you decide to have kids. Also, make sure your wife keeps a job with access to good health insurance if you start guiding.
 

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Just personal preference, when I book a guide, I am looking for someone in the 20-35ish age range rather than the retired old timer. The young guys are hungry for it still, will go beyond and work harder than what others will and one of the most important things is are tech savvy. Last guide I took, Brandon Cyr in Key West was incredible and really worked for the fish. But also as I caught a ~8lb bonefish, he pulled out this dslr camera and took pictures, sent me the originals and edited some of them too before emailing me them. Its about the little things, and remembering the trips for years to come. Yes, catching numbers is great, but there is more to it.
 

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For the last two years I have worked in an office. I spent all of my adult life up to that point in high adrenaline jobs and this desk is killing my soul. Every waking moment is dominated by thoughts of the water and I truly love the feeling of watching someone land a fish that I put them on. The problem is I generally can't stand people and the older I get, the harder it is to put up with BS, so guiding full time is probably not an option. I was thinking of getting my CL and running a few "trips" a year for friends etc. and show all the money I waste on this hobby as a business expense. According to my tax lady, it should work. If not, please put some money on my books when I'm in federal prison.
 

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Going to offer a different viewpoint on the "start guiding on weekends" suggestion. I think that is a terrible idea for a reason not yet pointed out. When I am going to spend some hard earned cash and take a guided trip I absolutely shy away from weekend guys. Sure there are some really good ones. But I have found two issues with them.

1. Some of them are doing it as a means to get a little extra cash to pay for their skiff, etc. They may or may not have any business actually taking money to take somebody fishing.
2. There is just no way that a weekend guide has his pulse on the fishery as well as a full time guide who is out there everyday. Things change on the water quickly. What was happening a week ago may not be even close to where you should be looking this weekend.
 

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As fisherman, i'm sure we have all had the thought of being a guide cross our minds in some shape or form. I often hear people say "I wish I was lucky enough to be a guide" or "maybe ill just quit my day job and become a fishing guide." On the other hand I hear a lot of "It would ruin fishing for me" or "don't turn your favorite hobby into a job."

To those who made the plunge, can I get a little bit of your story? Why did you decide to guide? What did you do before you were a guide? How long did/do you plan to guide?

Were you happy? Did it ruin any part of fishing for you? Did it make fishing more enjoyable?

Did you make a comfortable living?

Not saying I am about to quit my job, just day dreaming behind my god forsaken computer screen....like all of you have.
All I can say is life's to short to have any regrets. You never get anywhere in life if you don't take any chances. I'm sure a lot of us have been broke once in our life. At least you would spend time on the water
 

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I'm in the "i just want to guide on the weekends" category. What's holding me back is that currently i'm friends with a lot of guides around our over saturated guide town and I don't want to ruffle too many feathers for a little side gig and tax advantages. Another is that My wife and I are going to start a family in the next couple of years and after that happens I can't imagine that i'd have the time to give it an honest run.

I believe it's an all or nothing type of thing, the more I think about it. If you live in a touristy area, know the water, and there isn't a ton of other guides to compete with then I think it's something I'd go for. Unfortunately there are something like 450 registered inshore guides in the Charleston area and I'm not trying to make it 451.
 
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