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Why wouldn't you hire a guide for surf fishing?

Caught these while fishing with Mike of Smitty's Surf Fishing

I talked with Mike Smith of Smitty's Surf Fishing the other day when we discussed a possible client I met and recommended his business. My customer (I was working on his RV) seemed a little hesitant to jump on board with calling someone to take him out surf fishing with his family, but I didn't press the issue. After all, I was working on his RV, and it just wasn't the time or place for that. But it got me thinking, why don't more people call a fishing guide when coming to an area to fish from out of town? Let's talk about some of those points and break some numbers down.

I am incredibly fortunate to know several of the guides in the Panhandle region, and they are some very bright people. It is always great to see their posts on Facebook after a successful guide trip, especially seeing their clients with full-on smiles. You know that they had an epic day out there on the surf, and they walked away with some good knowledge. I also noticed that the guides were almost always on the fish (we know that we cannot all catch all the time), especially on the days where many other people were reporting that they got skunked. The times I have seen a guide get skunked are highly minimal (I've seen one in maybe fifty posts as a no-hit day), which is attributed to them knowing their area.

I reached out to several guides in the area, letting them know I was writing this article. Blane Roberts of Perdido Blane summed up that last point well:

"We know the holes on flat days. Meaning we know our land/water. On flat, Northwind days, we do not need the breaking waves to find the spots to fish." -Perdido Blane

Blane making his plan on a flat water type of day (photo courtesy of PerdidoBlane FB)

This is an excellent point for having a guide. For those that have ever fished in those conditions, you know it is a bit of an extra challenge to get on the fish that day. You have to know the area and how to attack your zones to increase your chances of success. If you were coming down here from out of town, this would be a disadvantageous situation as you might not be familiar with how the beaches here act in those windy or non-wave days.

If you're new to surf fishing or coming from out of town, you can learn so much in a single trip with a guide. I can honestly say here that if you're on vacation, you know your time here is extremely valuable as it is finite. You have to go home and get back to life. If your goal is to do some fishing while on vacation, why wouldn't you take the extra advantage of going with someone who can get you on the fish so you're not struggling and feeling like your time was wasted? Speaking of struggling while fishing, Mike Smith of Smitty's Surf Fishing had this to say about it:

"Why struggle with the process? One 4-hr trip with a guide will teach you so much or reinforce things you thought you knew but weren't sure about. There's nothing better than hands-on learning, and that's what fishing with a guide is…hands-on learning" –Mike Smith

Mike showing how it gets done! (Photo courtesy of Smitty's Surf Fishing FB)

"Why would I pay $XXX.XX to go fishing on the beach when I can do it myself?" I love this question because at the end of the day, money talks! Here is my most straightforward answer to this question. You're going to spend about $200 on a rod, reel, line, tackle, and bait to go fishing in a new area if you come down without your gear. On top of that, you might not have the "right" equipment for surf fishing (by this, I mean having too short a rod, hooks that are too big, or line that is not the right pound strength to help you), and that's going to be an added expense. Brad Warren of Bearded Brad had this to say:

"I think just not having to get the equipment, don't have to buy all the different baits, and you don't have to figure out where to go [are important]"Brad Warren

Brad rolling his gear out to fish (photo courtesy of Bearded Brad FB)

I remember when I was a young Marine, I had a Gunny (Gunnery Sergeant, E7) tell me, "If you're not learning, you'd better be dead." That is one of those odd things that just stuck with me. Surf fishing is something that has a learning curve. You can pick a lot of information up on YouTube, reading articles like this, from fishing the beaches, or you can get knowledge from someone that has been out fishing for years. Even if you have been out there beating the sand catching fish, knowledge is power! Gregory Findley of Maddog Fishing said the same thing when I asked him what he thought:

"They can teach you in a few hours what takes most people years to learn about surf fishing"Gregory Findley

Greg with a bull red drum (photo courtesy of Maddog Fishing FB)

Also thinking along those same lines is Brock Meyer of Panama City Beach Surf Fishing Tours:

"The right guide can show you years of surf fishing experience condensed down into four hours. The bonus is catching the fish. I tell people after four hours fishing with the right surf fishing guide, you won't have to hire another. They should teach you everything you need to know to do it yourself." –Brock Meyer

Brock with a beast of a Black Drum (photo courtesy of Panama City Beach Surf Fishing Tours FB)

Not to be forgotten when it comes to knowledge about this game is someone I contact when I have questions. He was one of the first guides I called when I moved down here. Blake Hunter of Reel30A.

"Hiring a guide can help the person learn how, why, and what they use & why they do what they do. Learning how to surf fish one can learn faster by hiring a seasoned guide." –Blake Hunter

Blake of Reel30A ladder fishing (photo courtesy of Reel30A FB)

As you can see, a lot of the guides mention education. If I were going to go freshwater fishing, I would want a guide personally. If you know me, I have never been very good at fishing on the freshwater side of the sport. I just never had a good education in it. If I went out with a guide, I would probably know a lot more to be confident enough to go out and get after it on my own. The same thing applies here.

There are plenty of YouTube videos of people walking into Wal-Mart®, grabbing a Spiderman™ pole, and then going out fishing with success. Cool story, bro; tell me another! That video needed to be successful for that tuber to get paid, right? Do you think they went out blind with that equipment, or did they know where the fish would be, what bait to use, and what set up to put in play to be successful? Please don't fall for the trap of that!

I made light of the money portion a little earlier in this article, and I want to explain a little further. This is not a cheap sport! It is a blast and borderline addicting, but there isn't a huge "cost savings" or immediate ROI (return on investment) for fish to gear. It takes time. I stress the point of the guide to give you the ROI in experience while out there fishing and the knowledge for later. Both of those things are huge and helpful. That investment in yourself will pay itself off for years to come. That is why I think it is great to hook up with a local fishing guide in your area or where you will be fishing.

Thanks for coming by and reading today! If you'd like to request something to be investigated or written about, please send me an email to, and I will get on it. Thanks again, now go forth and do good things!

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