The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 15 No. 7 - December 10, 2014

reel time

Enjoy the services of a fishing guide

Reel time

rusty chinnis | submitted

Captain Harrison King caught this 9-pound tripletail on a fly
while working the crab trap markers off Anna Maria Island.

In Florida, we’re lucky to be able to pursue fish in relative comfort most of the year. Add to this the fact that there is usually one or more species willing to bite, and you have the good news. The bad, well not so bad, news is that fishing patterns change constantly with the arrival of cold fronts and rapidly varying weather patterns. I’ve always been a great fan of fishing guides, and this time of the year is an especially good time to employ their services.

Besides being a great initiation to the local waters in general, a guide’s considerable knowledge of where to find fish as they constantly move with the changing weather patterns is indispensable. As an added bonus, guides can take you to some of the area’s most beautiful natural areas.

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 clean fish and not having to deal with cleaning the boat.

While many people have the mistaken impression that guiding is an easy job, few really understand the rigors of long days on the water. When a sport steps on a guide’s boat the captain has already put in a lot of time getting ready for the trip. The same goes for time spent cleaning, outfitting and getting ready for the next trip at the end of the day.

In addition to showing us a good time on the water, these men and women also work to protect the valuable resources that provide the opportunities that we all too often take for granted.

Besides all the work involved in the day to day business of guiding it’s reassuring when you realize the process a charter captain must go through to get his or her license. Licenses are issued by the United States Coast Guard only after applicants have completed a battery of requirements that are daunting. First they must pass a test to show proficiency in their knowledge of the rules, which include knowing nautical light combinations, whistle signals, fog signals, and maritime conventions in both International and inland waters.

They also must 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, knot tying, weather and, most importantly, passenger safety.

My first introduction to guiding came at the hands of Holmes Beach guide Captain Scott Moore. He taught me the value of a guided trip and of taking care of the natural resources. Today local anglers have a plethora of guides to choose from including a new crop of young guns that have taught me a few eye opening lessons. Not long ago, there were few fly fishing guide in Manatee County, but that has all changed. As you’ve read about on these pages and hopefully experienced yourself, there is some excellent talent plying local waters.

Pay attention and you’ll learn a lot from fishing with guides. They can save you countless hours of frustration with their tricks of the trade. 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. Lessons including how to pattern fish during the changing weather patterns of a Florida winter.

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. To contact local guides look for their ads in this paper, consult knowledgeable local anglers or contact a local source like Anna Maria Island (AMI) Outfitters or Island Discount Tackle. 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