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Guide Your Way To Success

with D.C. Reid


British Columbia has a huge biomass of fish in its fresh and salt waters - over 50 game fish for the avid angler. Traditional shore casting with weighted lead lures is complimented by boat trolling, offshore trips to the banks and, more recently, fly fishing for big salmon. The latest quarry is the ubiquitous mackerel which, on a 5 weight fly rod, can provide exceptionally zippy action in the right spot.

Each of these species requires special techniques. I fish from the suburban waters of Victoria , the capital of the province, to the remote pristine outbacks of the northern saltwater areas. The best tip that I can provide to visitors, whether from this province, the United States or from offshore destinations such as Germany, Australia or South Africa is to acquire the services of a local fishing guide. B.C. has about 1,000 saltwater guides and over 750 freshwater guides. Guides spend several years acquiring the specialized gear, perfecting technique, catching fish and understanding the annual cycles of the species with which you want to battle. In many freshwater locations, guides must serve a several year apprentice under a master guide. Most large saltwater lodges designate a fishmaster to have responsibility for the fishing plan of the entire fleet.

A guide will make your fishing more enjoyable and productive. Time and time again I have seen people arrive from distant lands, rent boats at considerable expense and get skunked, even though there were fish all around them and boats right beside them were catching fish. I think this is a real shame because lifetime holiday memories are made by having successful days on the water. In my four decades of fishing I can say categorically that if you don't know the local waters, you should employ the services of a guide.

In choosing a guide, ask some basic questions so that you have a clear idea of what is involved.

  • What months of the year are the best for the various species? Different runs of fish arrive 12 months of the year along the coast, for example, few guests realize that winter fishing for chinook salmon is often the most consistent fishery of the year. And, of course, winter steelhead, peak in many areas in January and February. May and June often provide the most consistent halibut fishing in offshore areas, with remote spots offering up fish as large as 200 pounds during the summer months. The recently-developed coho fly fishery on Vancouver Island's west coast peaks in September. These are just a few of the thousands of opportunities and local knowledge will inform you of the peak times. Considering the cost of a vacation, it makes great sense to come in the high season.
  • How to arrange local accommodation, and what type do you wish? B.C. recreational sites offer accommodation to suit individual preferences from rustic tent camping to five star cosmopolitan hotels with helicopters to waiting boats. Guides can make recommendations, and many hotels have their own websites.
  • General information, such as how long the guide has been in operation, how long his trips are, his fees, the number of clients that will fit comfortably on his boat, whether the boat is heated, his electronic gear, including fish-finding depth sounder, black box, GPS, Loran, radar, the opportunity for whale, eagle or sealion watching and the areas and type of fishing that are his specialty. If you are a real aficionado, ask the type of rods and reels. Most guides will use single action, fly-reel style reels with 8 - 12' rods for salmon and steelhead, and carry stout 6 - 7' halibut rods with levelwind reels loaded with the newer, braided spiderwire-type lines. On occasion I have been surprised by the real treat of Sage rods and Islander reels.
  • Does the guide carry adequate liability insurance? Although I have never come across a guide without insurance, you should not venture out on a boat unless it is adequately covered.
  • How long is the boat, is it covered and heated? Can you stay out of the rain? And the chief consideration in a party of men and women: does it have a bathroom? Is lunch provided or do you bring your own? Does the guide carry gravol or sea sickness wrist bands?
  • Ask for current information. Fishing is cyclical and if a guide tells you that the fishing is hot right now, the answer may be to drop your plans and get on a plane. I fish several areas where the local guide will phone and tell me that I should be at the site in less than 48 hours. The alternative, of course, is to plan ahead for the next season. Many reputable guides have repeat customers who book as much as a year in advance. Word of mouth may be your best source of a satisfactory guide.
  • Is fish packaged, frozen, blast frozen or sealed in vacuum-packed plastic? Can arrangements be made to ship the fish to a canning or smoking operation which will then forward it to your home address when processed? Remember, fish is very heavy and airports are very long. This is an important consideration when returning long distances, and when the angler may have health conditions that make moving heavy objects inadvisable.
  • Are raingear, floater jackets and boots provided? Most guides provide these and this is by far a better alternative to lumping your own bulky items through airport terminals.
  • Can the guide arrange to sell you the various fishing licences that are required?
  • Are there any special features that make fishing with this guide more attractive than others? Coming home without fish occasionally occurs. Ask the guide if he has any sweetener for such a possibility? Having said this, it makes much more sense to go out with a longstanding, successful person than one who has a damage control plan.
  • Ask the guide for his promotional materials. Most guides will have a brochure and business card and can provide happy customers for you to contact. Some guides have websites and videos for you to view, along with photos of clients with their catches.

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Articles
Coastal BC Fisheries
Seafood Recipes (Pt1)
Seafood Recipes (Pt2)
Seafood Recipes (Pt3)
Seafood Recipes (Pt4)
Hot Spots
Bamfield
Campbell River
Gold River
Hakai Pass
Langara Island
Port Alberni
Port Hardy
Port Renfrew
Prince Rupert
Rivers Inlet
Shearwater
Tofino
Victoria Waterfront
Salmon Online
Chinook Salmon
Chinook of Juan de Fuca
Chum Salmon
Coho Salmon
Contacting the Fish
Guide Your Way To Success
Happy Halibut Hunting
Happy Halibut Hunting (Pt2)
Happy Halibut Hunting (Pt3)
Harvesting the Herring
Likes the Lakes
Pink Salmon
Sockeye Salmon
Steelhead Bobber Tip
The Butts of Bamfield
Trolling Tip for Sidney
Techniques
Boat Electrical Potential
Casting for Your Catch
Drift Fishing (Pt1)
Drift Fishing (Pt2)
Mooching for Salmon
Tough Knots for Big Fish
Trolling for Salmon (Pt1)
Trolling for Salmon (Pt2)
Trolling for Salmon (Pt3)
Winter Fishing the Capital

Writers:
Peter Caverhill
Brian Chan
Fred & Ann Curtis
Ian Forbes
Geoff Hobson
Gordon Honey
Steve Kaye
Fred's Custom Tackle
Ron Newman
D. C. Reid
Philip Rowley
Barry Thornton


Guide Your Way To Success