So you’re an avid angler, and you’ve been wondering about putting all those skills to some use! Becoming a fishing guide sounds like fun, but there’s a lot more to it than that. As well as being an excellent fisherman or woman, you’ll need qualifications, insurance, and a certain kind of temperament.
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What Does a Fishing Guide Do?
First of all, it’s important to understand what you’ll be doing all day as a fishing guide. You might be imagining idyllic days full of casting and catching fish, but the reality is quite different. You’ll spend most of the time helping your customers find and catch fish, but you’ll get to do very little fishing yourself.
You’ll need to be confident navigating on the water, as that’s an essential requirement. Plus, you’ll have to search out the best spots for all sorts of fish. When guiding, you’ll be teaching clients how to set up their rod and gear and all about casting and presentation. Fishing guides share tips, offer advice, and spot fish. You may even spend time cleaning any fish that your customers catch. It’s all part of the job!
Who Can Be a Guide?
Are you the right type of person to take up guiding? Of course, you have to be a skilled angler, but there are some other essential qualities that you’ll need to have, too. You’ll also need to be an experienced boater who can handle float tube fishing in all conditions. It’s also vital that you understand fish behavior, where to find them, and what they’re eating at any time throughout the year. The best fishing guides are passionate about every aspect of fishing.
Having the right type of temperament is also important. You’ll need to be patient and a people-person. When guiding all day, communication is a huge part of the job. Every trip is different, and you’ll need to keep people upbeat, even if the fish aren’t biting! You’ve got to be able to connect with your clients (even if you don’t like them!)
Being a great teacher is necessary, as you’ll be demonstrating techniques and explaining fly fishing terms, casts, and more. Your customers may be complete beginners on the water, so they’ll need to learn a lot from you!
Guiding is hard work, so only the most reliable, dependable people can cut it. Are you willing to put in long hours in all conditions? Will you get up early and be a friendly presence all day, even if your customers are getting grumpy? You’ll be surprised to find out all the different ways that being a fishing guide will test you!
What Qualifications Do You Need?
You’ll need to check the exact requirements of your state when it comes to fishing guide certification. For example, how to be a fishing guide in Ontario will differ from the process in Florida, or California. The process can be complicated, pricey, and time-consuming (but don’t let that put you off!) 
In most places, you ‘ll probably need a coast guard license. To qualify for this license, you have to have spent 360 days on the water, with 90 being in the last year. Then, you’ll provide references and sit for an exam.
First aid and CPR certification are also requirements in most states. Accidents can happen when guiding in a boat all day, so you need to be able to respond confidently and quickly.
Next up, you’ll need to get liability insurance and all the relevant fishing permits. Other initial investments include buying or hiring a boat. Plus, you’ll need to invest in lots of fishing gear – the best quality that you can afford.
If you feel like you need more help to get started, there are fishing guide schools. When you enroll in one of these schools, you’ll develop all the skills you need to be a great fishing guide. Everything’s covered, from tying basic fly fishing knots to marketing your business. Some of the best-known schools include those run by Fly Fishing Outfitters, Sweetwater Travel, or Hubbard’s Yellowstone Lodge. However, this kind of qualification is totally optional and not essential for becoming a successful guide.
A Guide (pun intended) To Drumming Up Business
To be successful, it’s not just about getting out on the water in your boat. You will need to learn new techniques and stay on top of fishing trends. But you’ll also need to get your head around marketing!
There are lots of ways you can advertise your services to people. Think about putting ads in local publications and newspapers, or displaying flyers in stores, hotels, and fishing lodges. You can also print business cards or flyers. A great way to drum up business is by offering free fishing clinics and sharing your knowledge.
You’ll also need to be active online. Setting up social media accounts and a website is essential. You’ll be able to connect with even more people without spending too much money. People will search Google for local fishing guides in the area, and you want to be up there at the top of the results!
The key to success is not only attracting people, but attracting the right type of people! You want customers who will come back again and again, as well as recommending you to their friends and family.
The best way to make this happen is to impress your customers. Turn up early, provide quality fishing gear, share your knowledge so they learn something new, and help them catch lots of fish! You’ll need to search for the best fishing spots that no-one else knows about, and take them there on your next trip!
How much does a fishing guide make?
So you’re wondering what the average hunting and fishing guide salary is. Well, it will vary depending on how much you charge, how booked out you are, and other factors. But statistics show that the average salary for a fishing guide is around $55,000/year. The best guides can earn up to $85,000 – so there’s definitely money in it! But like setting up any business, it takes time to see the money coming in. You’ll need to be committed for the long haul to make it work.  
Fishing Guide FAQ
How much does a hunting guide make in a year?
Hunting guides make $33,800 in a year, on average.
How much do fishing guides make in Alaska?
On average, fishing and hunting guides in Alaska make around $45,000/year or $22/hour.
How can I be a good fisherman?
You can be a good fisherman by getting out on the water and practicing! Take lessons or team up with an experienced friend, and practice, practice, practice. Whether you fish from a boat or the shore, it doesn’t take long to see results!
The Wrap Up
So there you have the low-down on how to become fishing guide. It’s not a quick and easy process, but if you’ve got the skills and the motivation, it can be incredibly rewarding. You’ll be your own boss, doing what you love best every day. Guiding is one of the best ways to escape the rat race of the 9-5, and instead, spend your days working in the great outdoors. Setting up a successful guiding business involves determination and a lot of solid hard work. But it’s worth it!
If you found this article helpful, don’t forget to share it on Facebook or Twitter. And if you have any questions, feel free to drop us an email or a comment! Check out more fishing articles, tips, and destination guides at Fly Fisher Pro.