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How to Become a Fishing Guide in 7 Steps

How to Become a Fishing Guide in 7 Steps
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Often times, when people want to learn how to start fishing, they enlist the services of a fishing guide. A fishing guide is a person who takes fishing newbies out sometimes on a boat, to show and teach them how to fish. Even without being enlisted to help a newbie, fishing guides go out almost every day to keep up with new trends on the water like where the fish are going and how they are doing.

If you want to become a fishing guide, you need to know the best time to go fishing and where to fish safely. You will need to know the waters too, so that you can teach your learners all they need to succeed in the business or pastime of fishing.

That being said, being a fishing guide involves much more than just catching fish. Teaching others how to do the same is the main goal while delivering amazing customer service.

As a fishing guide, your boat passengers will ask questions like how to hook a bait, how to catch fish, how to tie a fishing knot, and even practical lessons on how to clean the fish they catch. You have to be willing to get your hands dirty every time they ask. And all of these require patience and great interpersonal skills.

Fishing guides make a healthy sum every year. But they put in the work too! Note also that the business is a bit capital intensive even though the rewards are worth it.

If you’re already an avid fisherman with experience, a good knowledge of prime fishing spots in your area and the willingness to teach others, becoming a fishing guide may be right for you.

Want to find out how to become a fishing guide? This article will teach you all you need to know about certification, advertising your business, and what the job entails.

Think you may have a special interest in bass fishing? Start with this video on how to become a bass fishing guide:

7 Steps to Becoming a Fishing Guide

  1. Get Relevant Training.

You may need to hire an experienced fishing guide to teach you the tricks of the trade and show you prime fishing spots in your area if you’re new to the game. It helps to also have a concurrent liaison with a fishing guide partner in practice so you can easily navigate your way through any potential challenges in the future.

The importance of building relationships too cannot be overemphasized. Remember that you’ll be dealing with people first, before fish. Create alliances with other fishing guides and undergo mentoring. Who knows? Your best referrals might come through them.

If, however, as a fisherman you know your way on the waters already, you may need only a little guidance. The next thing you might consider is getting certification.

2. Get Certification.

Many countries require potential fishing guides to get trained to prove themselves capable of dealing with general health and water emergencies, considering that other lives will be under their care on the water.

Every country has unique qualifications for becoming a fishing guide. You’ll need to research specific guidelines for certification in your area with the relevant authorities. Afterwards, register for all necessary courses until you get the permits or licenses. Some requirements may be flexible, while others are rigid.

One common skill you may need to learn in any country is First Aid. Another skill is CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation). CPR is an emergency lifesaving measure deployed when a victim’s heart stops beating. It is believed that CPR can double or triple the chances of survival for a victim whose heart has stopped beating. Both First Aid and CPR are necessary for you to learn, as lives will be under your care, and accidents may happen out there.

You can take a course through your community college or Red Cross organization to learn first aid.

Click here to check out this 160-Piece First Aid Kit and Emergency Bag on Amazon

3. Determine What You’ll Be an Expert In.

Because fishing itself is central to a guide’s job, you need to determine what type of fishing you’ll present yourself as an expert in. Is it fly fishing or saltwater fishing? Will you be catching bass or trout? Whichever you choose, present yourself as an expert in it while having a general knowledge of other types of fishing.

If you live in a place where the water body type doesn’t match the type of fishing you want to do, consider moving. Whatever you do, make sure you’re doing what you love and are good at.

4. Track Your Expenses.

As earlier stated, starting out as a fishing guide will cost you some money. Except you get an endorsement from a fishing company, most of the cost of running your business will be on you. If you’re just starting, it may take up to 3 years to break even in the business. If you are not able to bear the financial burden during this time, then it is advisable to keep your 9-to-5 and work as a guide on a part-time basis.

Remember that most of your money will go into buying fishing tackle and other equipment.

Ensure that you maintain an accurate record of your income and expenses, knowing that your business is a sole proprietorship, and you’ll pay your own taxes. Keep all your receipts intact too.

5. Determine the Things You’ll Need.

  • If you already own a boat, you have one less thing to worry about. If you don’t own one and you need to buy one, factor in the cost and go for a good one with a long lifespan. Remember that you’ll have to get a captain’s license if you’re sailing your boat. However, you can consider hiring a boat with a captain. That way, the captain already has a license.
  • Purchase fishing nets, and plenty of fishing hooks and fishing rods. Note that you’ll also need fishing baits.
  • Purchase all the necessary safety equipment for both yourself and your passengers in line with safety regulations in your area.
Check out this Full Fishing Kit with Carrier Bag on Amazon

6. Get Insurance.

Because there will always be unforeseen circumstances in business and on water, you’re required to insure against all these. You can make inquiries at an insurance company to know what it costs to get cover for your business.

7. Advertise Your Business.

Look out for slots in your local tourism or entertainment magazines and place adverts there. These days, advertising online can gain you massive results too. Focus on online publications that deal with adventures and outdoor activities and put in the best in selling your brand.

You may consider paying someone to build a website for your business, where you can share useful information about your field, and share adventure-related updates to gain followership and client engagement.

Your local fly or bait shop may even be the ones to hire or refer you, but you’ll need to spread the word about your competence first. Nobody will hire you if they don’t know you.

Speak to hotels and resorts, and seek to have them enlist your services. From time to time, host free or low-cost outdoor activities and clinics, and leverage these to advertise your business. You can ask for referrals in exchange for your free services.

Photo by Valentin Antonucci from Pexels

What Being a Fishing Guide Entails – Bottom Line

Of course, fishing guides can’t be novices in fishing; but being a guide means more than just catching fish. You won’t have to catch any fish sometimes; you may only need to teach others how to do that. This is why while improving greatly on your outdoor skills, you have to do even more to improve on your interpersonal skills.

Your clients will pay you for your services. We all know that some can be nice and friendly, while some can be annoying and grouchy. Either way, you need to be patient and courteous, knowing that one client can be the link to another. But, picking offence at the slightest provocation will not make those referrals happen.

However, there may be extreme cases where you’ll have to exercise good judgment to avoid further damage. If you have one of such situations, go back to the dock and settle your differences there. On dry land, you can either offer a refund or any other resolution.

To have even qualified as a guide, you would have put in many hours outdoors. When you become a guide, you’d put in the same or even more time every day; firstly, to get better at your craft, and secondly, to deliver maximum customer satisfaction.

If you plan to guide with a boat, then you will need information on how to get your captain’s license. Check out this video to learn how.


Fishing guides are to fishing what coaches are to sports — they help others do their own thing and become better in the process. Becoming a fishing guide perhaps may be the right job for you if you’ve proven yourself as an avid fisherman with a reasonable knowledge of the water in your area and great fishing skills.

Teaching others, however, is what being a guide is mostly about — your clients should have a great time learning! Different countries have different guidelines that potential fishing guides must follow to get certified. One of such is a course in First Aid and CPR to prove their ability to save lives in the case of any emergency. You also need to  learn how to pass a fishing boat for times when you need to sail into the deep parts of the sea.

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