The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 11 - December 26, 2012

reel time

Guiding principles

Reel time

Rusty Chinnis | submitted
Captain Scott Moore has led countless anglers
to their snook of a lifetime.

I have always been a great fan of fishing guides. They are a great initiation to the local waters, and indispensable in foreign ports. Not only do you get the benefit of a guide’s considerable knowledge of where to find fish, but you get a lesson in the natural world as well. Most guides not only take you to the action, but they will show you some of the area’s most beautiful natural assets.

I know many experienced anglers who still 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, (all they have to do is fish all day), few really understand the rigors of long days on the water. Not only do these men and women strive to provide experiences that last a lifetime, they also work tirelessly to protect the valuable resources that we all too often take for granted.
What few appreciate is the demanding process a charter captain must go through to get his or her license in the first place. Licenses are issued by the United States Coast Guard only after the applicant has completed a battery of requirements that are daunting.
First they must pass a test to show proficiency in their knowledge of the “rules of the road,” which include knowing nautical light combinations, whistle signals, fog signals and maritime conventions in both international and inland waters. They must also be skilled in charting and plotting courses on nautical charts.

Other areas of expertise they are required to master include an understanding of tides, boat handling, electronic navigation, fire prevention, marlin spike seamanship (knot tying), weather and passenger and crew safety. Once they pass the test, they still must take a drug test, complete a first aid course, document 720 hours on the water and obtain a maritime security card.

My first introduction to guiding came at the able and legendary hands of Holmes Beach guide Captain Scott Moore. Moore never ceased to amaze 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 flat for redfish.”

And they would be right where he said they were. He introduced me to snook fishing, taught me lessons that have made me a better angler and helped me appreciate the need to protect our marine resources.

I learned a lot of what I know from fishing with guides and they have saved me countless hours of frustration with their tricks of the trade. Tips like how to prevent a backlash, how to remove one one if you get one, finding fish by looking for signs that may not be intuitive and how to remove a hook with a barb from your hand have proved invaluable.

Guides helped me with casting, showed me how to chum live shiners, how to throw a cast net and much more. Guides are trained professionals that will help you catch fish, and if you’re attentive, teach you lessons they’ve learned over years of hard work on the water.

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. Split a trip with friends, and you’re guaranteed to get your money’s worth and much more.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper