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Guided or DIY?

 

I recently returned from a self-guided fishing trip to a vast lake in the Northwest Territories. There is a lodge on the lake, but a friend and I made an arrangement with the owner to rent a boat, motor and fuel and head out on our own for eight days. We explored the lake from end to end and didn’t see another boat or person until our return. The weather was unseasonably windy and cool - in fact we were completely windbound one day - limiting the hours we could fish, but we managed to hook into enough lake trout and grayling to keep us well-fed and well-entertained. Each day we set up our tent on whatever beach we could find and, with no fuel-supplying trees on the tundra, cooked over a stove each evening. Over the week we saw caribou, muskox, Arctic wolves, foxes, peregrine falcons, Arctic loons and a host of other plants, mammals and birds not found elsewhere. In short, it was a wonderful experience, and one that wouldn’t have been duplicated had we opted for the guided fishing experience offered by the lodge. That’s one of the benefits of do-it-yourself angling - you get to set your own agenda.

 

DIY means fishing how, where and when you want.

DIY means fishing how, where and when you want.

Over the years I’ve had the privilege of fishing with guides numerous times, and I couldn’t begin to count the number of self-guided days I’ve enjoyed over the years. Both have their benefits, and their liabilities, and it pays to think carefully when deciding which is right for you.

 

Guided Fishing

The obvious benefit to a guided fishing trip is that you’ll be introduced to the water, the tackle, the tactics and the fish themselves by someone who has local knowledge and experience. This can save you days and potentially thousands of dollars versus the DIY, trial and error approach. Make no mistake, guiding is a professional occupation, and the good ones go to great lengths to ensure you’re successful; like most businesses, they depend highly on repeat clientele.

 

Most guides are professionals who want you to be successful.

Most guides are professionals who want you to be successful.

Some guided angling is conducted as day trips, where you meet your guide in the morning at a prearranged location and fish the day with them. Once you hit the dock at the end of the day, you’re on your own. Other guides, meanwhile, work out of lodges that also provide meals and accommodations. Each has its place.

So when should you consider a guided versus a DIY excursion? First and foremost is when you want to fish remote locations where there’s no easy access. This is the case for most northern lodges where the only way to get there is to fly in. These are vacations in their truest sense, where fishing is often the only available activity. In nearly all cases you’ll be provided accommodations and meals as well. Many are surprising affordable and offer a great way to spend time with family or friends with minimal responsibilities other than to enjoy yourselves.

 

Lodge experiences usually include meals, accommodations and guided fishing.

Lodge experiences usually include meals, accommodations and guided fishing.

Another situation where a guided trip is warranted is when the equipment requirements are beyond your capabilities. Want to go fishing for Pacific salmon? Unless you have a substantial boat and the specialized rods, reels and lures required, a guided trip is definitely the way to go.

It also makes sense to hire a guide as a quick way to learn new water, or fish for a new species. Say, for example, you’re a first-timer in the Calgary area and want to fish the renowned Bow River. There’s lots of information to be found in tackle shops and online, but hiring a guide for a day or two will shorten the learning curve immensely. A guide will teach you how and where to look for fish, and what tackle and technique to use under a variety of conditions. After a day or two of guided angling, you’ll be much more prepared to fish the Bow on your own.

 

When you’re fishing for a new species or in new waters, hiring a guide can shorten the learning curve.

When you’re fishing for a new species or in new waters, hiring a guide can shorten the learning curve.

Limited time provides another valid reason for hiring a guide. If your life commitments limit the time you have to fish, using the services of a guide goes a long way to ensuring what little fishing time you have is productive.

DIY

Most of us fish without the help of a guide the vast majority of the time. It allows us to fish where we want, when we want and how we want. We have the gear required to be successful, and likely have some familiarity with the water, the species were targeting, and the presentations required to be effective.

DIY fishing also facilitates experimentation. When you want to explore a hidden stream or try a new lure, there’s nothing better than simply getting out and having fun with a buddy or on your own. Plus, there’s something about discovering success on your own terms that makes it that much more rewarding.

 

A self-guided trip this summer led to some great lake trout angling.

A self-guided trip this summer led to some great lake trout angling.

Of course, DIY fishing requires that you have the requisite tools, and that can mean significant investment in boats, motors, electronics and tackle. But remember, if you maintain your gear properly it can last a lifetime and over the long haul will prove to be worth every nickel. Not to mention, knowing there’s a new rod or reel coming at the end of the week makes working just a little more tolerable.

Combo Fishing

There are times when guided and DIY fishing work in harmony. Earlier this year my wife and I travelled to the Bahamas where, along with enjoying the sun, we wanted to fly-fish for bonefish. Not knowing much about how or where to find them, we hired a guide for a day and a half, then fished on our own for four days. What we learned from our guide served us well, and we were able to find, hook and land several bones on our own, which would have been very unlikely had we not hired a guide first.

 

My wife and I hired a guide in the Bahamas to teach us the basics, and then went bonefishing on our own.

My wife and I hired a guide in the Bahamas to teach us the basics, and then went bonefishing on our own.

Summary

In our seemingly ever-busier lives, time to fish has become an increasingly limited commodity. Ironically, though, it’s when we’re busiest that we most need the soothing benefits fishing offers. As you plan your precious fishing time, weigh all the costs of time, travel and the experience you’re seeking. You’ll find that while DIY angling is the best choice most often, there will be times when using the services of a guide is the better option.

 



Previous Fishing Articles
(1) It’s OK to Be Little Bitty
(2) Exploring Tundra Waters
(3) The Jewel at First Ice
(4) Fly Fishing Bucket List
(5) Guided or DIY?
(6) Pond Power
(7) Caddisflies
(8) In the Good Old Summertime
(9) A Southern Escape
(10) Springtime in Alberta - Can Thrill You to the Bone
(11) Sunny Day Rainbows
(12) New "Fishing" Year Resolutions
(13) Five Fine Places to Find Trout
(14) Catfishing Revisited
(15) Discover Squamish, an Outdoor Playground
(16) Falling for Cutthroat
(17) New Water and Old Friends
(18) My McLeod
(19) Temperature and Trout
(20) On the Road Again
(21) Tips That Will Make You a More Successful Fly-Fisherman
(22) 5 Ways to Catch Your Trout
(23) The Difference Maker - Reading Trout Stream Waters
(24) Rollin’ on the River
(25) Windy Day Pike
(26) Cures for Cabin Fever
(27) Snowbirding with a Fishing Rod
(28) Alberta’s Spring Creek Browns - Blessings and Curses
(29) A day on our foothill streams
(30) Fly Fishing Crowded Waters
(31) Fly Leaders
(32) In the Zone
(33) Learners Permit
(34) Flies of Summer
(35) Selecting the Right Boat
(36) The Italian Job
(37) Making a difference
(38) Pass the Salt
(39) Hopper Time - Fly-fishing’s Second Season
(40) Pike on the Fly - Fishing New Waters
(41) Fall brings the big walleye out
(42) Hoppertunity Time
(43) Becoming a Better Dry Fly Angler
(44) Make Your Own Fishing Adventure
(45) Early Season Fly Fishing
(46) Walleye Logic
(47) Fly Fishing in the Desert
(48) Grammy’s Fish
(49) Top 10 Trout Lures
(50) All I Want for Christmas – Neil Waugh's Yule Tide Fishing Gifts Wish List
(51) Muskies - The Ultimate Predator
(52) What to expect when fishing the West Coast
(53) Tips & Tricks for Fall Fly Fishing
(54) There’s No Place Like Home
(55) A Golden Opportunity
(56) The Observational Trout Fisherman
(57) Un-matching the Hatch
(58) Alberta Super Bugs
(59) Glass is Back
(60) The Bull Trout of the Athabasca
(61) Speed Kills
(62) Entering the Twilight Zone
(63) Old Man River
(64) The Pink Salmon of the Squamish River
(65) Small stream BT fishing
(66) Fly fishing beyond Trout: getting started
(67) In The Walleye Zone
(68) Zoo Trout
(69) Fly Selection for Beginners
(70) Fly Fisher's Christmas
(71) New Waters
(72) Big Bad Burbot
(73) Looking Back
(74) Out of Africa
(75) Finding Success on Crowded Trout Streams
(76) Mountain Peaks, Fast Streams, Fall Colours And Rocky Mountain Whitefish
(77) The Browns of Autumn
(78) Fly-Fishing Pike Through The Seasons
(79) Walleye Town
(80) River Fun - One Bite At A Time
(81) Fly Fishing Larger Rivers
(82) Going With The Flow
(83) Becoming A Better Fly Fisherman
(84) Swinging The Fences
(85) A View From The Aerie
(86) Dixieland Delight
(87) Atlantic Salmon - The Fish of 1000 Casts
(88) Do It Yourself Pink Salmon
(89) Montana's Cool Missouri
(90) Pretty Is As Pretty Does
(91) Toothy Critters
(92) Hard Water Lakers at Cold Lake
(93) Top Ten Flies
(94) Northern Exposure
(95) Home Water Lessons
(96) Chicken Of The Sea
(97) Sealing the Deal – How to Ensure You Land More Fish
(98) Deep In The Heart Of Texas
(99) Keep It Up!
(100) River Fishing for Fall Walleye
(101) After the Flood - A look at Southern Alberta rivers and streams one year after the 2013 flood
(102) Reindeer Lake - A Diversity of Opportunity
(103) Hawg Holes
(104) Saltwater Salmon
(105) Early Season Dry Fly Fishing
(106) Down a Lazy River - A Fly-rodding Adventure on the Lower North Saskatchewan
(107) The Fly Fishing Season Ahead
(108) IN SEARCH OF SPECKLED FOOTBALLS
(109) FISHING CANADA'S PRAIRIE CITIES
(110) Bright Fish from the Land of Silver
(111) Canada's "Other" Salmon
(112) Fall Walleye
(113) Wet Flies
(114) Versatility the Key to Success
(115) Grayling of the Boreal
(116) Teaching Kids To Fly Fish
(117) Size Matters
(118) Fly Fishing Small Streams
(119) Chasing Winter Whites One Lake At A Time
(120) Manitoba's Fishing Jewel
(121) The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas
(122) The Point Of It All
(123) Fishing With Friends-Big Weather Seizing The Day
(124) Fall Fly Fishing
(125) Personal Pontoon Boats 101
(126) Big River, Big Fish
(127) Bottom Bonanza
(128) Fishing Small Flies
(129) So Many Choices, So Little Time
(130) Four Seasons of the Bow
(131) Favourite Lakes - Some Like it Hot
(132) GEARING UP FOR SMALL STREAM TROUT
(133) Trout Hunting New Zealand style
(134) Don’t Leave Home Without Them – 10 Lures That Should Be In Everyone’s Tackle Box
(135) Edge Walleye
(136) FLY FISHING STRATEGIES FOR HIGH WATER
(137) Smallmouth Bass – An Oft Overlooked Challenge
(138) Four Corners – Four Waters
(139) Chasing Pothole Trout
(140) Springtime Stoneflies
(141) The Torrents of Spring
(142) Drift Boat Fly Fishing
(143) Bust Them With Bait
(144) Cure the Winter Blues with a Good Book
(145) Hot Strategies for the Cold Months
(146) Cutthroat: The Angler's Trout
(147) Terrestrials
(148) Fly In For Fishing Fun
(149) Rocky Mountain High
(150) Reading the clues
(151) Where the Trout Are The art of locating feeding trout in rivers and streams.
(152) K.I.S.S. and Tell Fly-fishin
(153) Fly Fishing 101
(154) To Catch a Big Halibut, or Ling Cod
(155) The Bountiful Bones of Ascension Bay
(156) Grayling in the Eye of the Beholder
(157) Fly Fishing for South Fork Clearwater Steelhead
(158) Manitoba's Red River - North America's Catfish Capital
(159) Eliminating the Spook Factor
(160) Trust Your Electronics
(161) The Most Important Hatch of the Year
(162) Early Season Nymph Fishing for Trout
(163) Finding Success for Ice Trout
(164) Walleye can be Humbling
(165) The Secret to Landing the Big One Finally Revealed
(166) Winter Flyfishing
(167) North Saskatchewan River - An Underutilized Fishing Gem
(168) Hot Fall Pike Action
(169) Tips and Tricks to Save the Summer Slow Down
(170) Reading Trout Stream Waters
(171) Frequently Asked Questions
(172) Streamer Fishing for Larger Trout
(173) The Lure of Big Walleye at Last Ice
(174) Deep Water Perch
(175) Post Spawn Brookies
(176) A Fisher's Life
(177) The River's Last Stand
(178) The Big Ones Come out at Night
(179) Coho on the Coast
(180) Chasing and Catching Halibut
(181) Summer in the Mountains
(182) Peak Walleye Season
(183) Slow and Steady Wins the Race
(184) Last Ice Rainbows
(185) The Burbot Event
(186) Tackle Matching
(187) Ice Fishing Strategy #2 - Going Light
(188) Ice Fishing Strategy #1 - Location
(189) The Lure of Brook Trout
(190) The Shallow Water Hunt is On
(191) Hot Backswimmer Action Happening Right Now
(192) Fishing Among Giants-Pursuing Lake Sturgeon on the Prairies
(193) Adventure at Davin Lake Lodge, Northern Saskatchewan
(194) The Vesatile Plug
(195) Bead Head Flies, Plugs and Shot and other Spring Favorites for Pothole Trout
(196) Planning your Upcoming Angling Adventures
(197) Good Fishing at Last Ice
(198) Maximize the Odds - Use Multiple Presentations
(199) Daily Fish Migrations
(200) Fish Migrations - Following the Spawn
(201) Lake Whitefish - An Ice Fishing All Star
(202) Pick Your Favorite Brook Trout Lake...and Go Fishing
(203) A Look Ahead to Great Trout Fishing
(204) Wrestling White Sturgeon on the Fraser
(205) The Fun in Ultra Light
(206) Flyfishing and Leadcore Lines
(207) Embrace the Spirit of Adventure
(208) Never Stop Learning
(209) Ice Fishing is Getting Hot
(210) Jigging through the Ice
(211) An Ice Fishing Unsung Hero – The Setline
(212) Rainbows on Ice
(213) The Season of Ice Begins
(214) Red Hot Fall Pike Action
(215) Hitting it Right with Water Boatman
(216) Facts On Cats
(217) West Coast Adventure
(218) June Walleye Frenzy
(219) Aerated Lakes are Big Trout Factories
(220) First Fish of the Year Pothole Rainbows and Browns
(221) Northern Exposure
(222) Sometimes There is More to Fishing Than Catching Fish
(223) Early Season Pike On The Fly
(224) Man Overboard
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