Reel Time: Guiding principles

Reel Time: Guiding principals
Capt. Scott Moore holds one of the snook that Adam Fernandez's sons, AJ and Henry, landed on a recent trip. - Rusty Chinnis | Sun

I have always been a great fan of fishing guides. They can provide a terrific initiation to the local waters and are indispensable when angling new destinations. Not only do you get the benefit of their extensive knowledge of where to find fish, but you’ll get a lesson in the natural world as a bonus.

Most guides not only take you to the action, but they will show you some of the area’s most beautiful natural areas. I know many experienced anglers who regularly fish with guides. They know that there is no substitute for the local knowledge gained from being on the water on a regular basis. They also appreciate the convenience of stepping on a boat, being taken to the fish, having the guide fillet fish if they decide to keep any, and not having to clean the boat.

While many people have the mistaken impression that guiding is an easy job, few people really appreciate the rigors of long days on the water. For anglers, an eight-hour day on the water translates into 10 or more hours for the guide. Not only do guides provide experiences that last a lifetime, many work tirelessly to protect the resources that we all too often take for granted.

My first introduction to guiding came in the 1980s when I was new to area waters. A friend invited me to fish with Holmes Beach guide Capt. Scott Moore. That first trip was a revelation to an angler new to the Gulf coast waters. Moore amazed us with his uncanny ability to find fish. He would literally say, “We’ll start over here and catch a trout, then move to that point and find snook and finally fish that mangrove edge for redfish.” And that’s just what we did. He introduced me to snook fishing, taught me lessons that have made me a better angler, and, most importantly, helped me appreciate the need to protect our marine resources.

I learned a lot of what I know fishing with guides, and they have saved me countless hours of frustration with their “tricks of the trade.” I learned how to remove a backlash from a spinning reel, how to find fish by looking for subtle signs, how to remove a hook from my hand, how to throw a cast net and so much more. Guides are not just anglers, but trained specialists that can help you find and catch fish on your own, if you listen and learn.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of a day on the water with one of the many professional guides in our area, I would encourage you to give it a try. When you do the math, it’s one of the wisest investments you can make for your fishing future. It’s also a great way to spend a day with friends and family and introduce kids to “catching.”  You’ll find information on local guides in the pages of The Sun every week, and I’ll share my experiences with the guides I still fish with regularly.