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Good fishing guides are successful for a reason

DULUTH -- I've fished with a lot of fishing guides through the years, and I've come to some conclusions about why they are so good at catching fish. They seem to possess some common traits that allow them to be more successful than the average an...

DULUTH -- I've fished with a lot of fishing guides through the years, and I've come to some conclusions about why they are so good at catching fish. They seem to possess some common traits that allow them to be more successful than the average angler.

Of course, a lot of people who aren't fishing guides also are good anglers, and they catch plenty of fish, too. I'll bet the ones you know have many of the same attributes of guides.

Here are some of my observations about guides:

They come prepared: This sounds obvious, but guides are the best-organized anglers I know. They usually have several rods pre-rigged for various presentations, so switching up is as easy as dropping one rod and picking up another. Their tackle is impeccably organized, jigs sorted by sizes or colors or both.

They believe in themselves: I've never figured out whether guides are just positive people who happened to become fishing guides, or whether they've become more positive because of their past success in fishing. Whatever, it works. They believe they're going to catch fish, and they usually do.

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They move often: Most of us, I think, work unproductive spots too long. If a guide isn't finding fish, or the fish he's found aren't biting, he moves within half an hour or so. I remember Gordy Poehls, a longtime walleye guide on Saganaga Lake, saying, "There are fish biting somewhere. If they aren't biting where you're fishing, move."

They change tactics: If jigging isn't working, the guide will make sure someone in the boat tries a Lindy rig. If nightcrawlers are producing a few fish, a guide often will have someone else try a leech to see if they'll produce more. Guides never assume that what's happening at the moment is as good as it can be. They're always trying something else.

They have experimented with gear: Most guides I know have tried several kinds of line and line weight to arrive at the kind they use most often. They constantly upgrade their fish finders and GPS units. They try various brands of hooks. They use reels that hold up over the long haul. They're always looking for something better.

They buy a variety of bait every day: Jeff Sundin, with whom I fished walleyes on Cut Foot Sioux Lake recently, figured it would be a nightcrawler bite when we were out. But he had a cooler full of leeches and another swimming with minnows, too. And guides take good care of their bait, keeping it at the right temperature so it stays healthy and active.

They put in long hours: Most of us go out for three or four hours at a time. Guides start early and finish late. They put in full days. The longer their lines are in the water, the greater the chance they'll be fishing when the bite turns on. Failing a strong bite, they'll just chip away all day and end up with a decent catch.

Want to be a fishing guide? That's some of what it takes.

The Duluth News Tribune and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.

Related Topics: FISHINGSAM COOK
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