I don’t like surprises when it comes to fishing trips. I am a gear and preparation freak. And, I do a lot of homework prior to booking a trip for myself or clients. We all have limited time and money to chase our favorite species, so it is important to know as much about a location before we arrive or book a trip.
As a consultant and angler, I have a mental checklist I go through prior to booking a trip. I list these below, not necessarily in order, and discuss some of them in detail. I hope this might help you in your own personal planning or if you use a consultant, it will give you some pointed questions to ask and begin a good dialog.
1. Are there fish at the location? This is what drives everything. Is this a steelhead location that has tribal netting along the river and diminishing yearly fish returns? Are we on a river where an angler hopes to get one fish to the fly per day? Is this a bonefish location or does it also have Permit, Tarpon, and Snook, the Grand Slam? Having a firm understanding of the fish populations and catch rates and recent trends is vital in knowing if this trip is worth the effort. Trips are not all about numbers, but I want my clients to know what type of fishing they can expect. Of course, run timing and weather are variables that we can not control, but history and experience are our best key indicators of the fishery.
2. Professional Outfitter and good guides. I need to know if I’m paying for a service, that it will be provided and is worth my hard-earned cash. Does the outfitter love what they do, and do they go the extra mile to control what they can control? How long have they been in business? Do they have; great guides, fantastic staff, well done meals, well maintained equipment, rental equipment available, clean lodging, and a professionally run fishing program. Are the guides good teachers, and have good communication skills? On my recent hosted trip to Ascension Bay, fishing with La Pescadora, my group had 4 anglers that had never been to this location and 4 of us that had.
It was fantastic to see the excitement of the new anglers and the anticipation of the older group based on previous experience. But what was rewarding is the pre-trip preparation of the new anglers working with my experience and knowledge really paid off. The groups were well prepared, the guys had what they needed and were successful in catching new species. In fact, 3 of them caught their first permit that week. Expectations were met by the Outfitter and the fishery – A Fantastic Trip!!
3. Safety: Is the location safe? We do domestic and international trips and need to be aware of the risks associated with different locations and countries. Does my outfitter pick me up at the airport or am I on my own to get to the lodge? Many outfitters have a seamless transportation transition from the airport to the lodge. Is the location safe for the skill level and health of the angler?
4. Trip cost and Travel logistics: Does it take 1,2, or 3 days to get there. What are the trip and travel costs? Are flights readily available?
5. The Culture or Nuance of my trip. This is wide ranging and really a fun part of the planning process: Possible Questions: Will the location be crowded or have seclusion? What wildlife might I see? Is this trip on my “bucket list?” Is this the El Pescador of Belize, with amazing activities available for a non-fishing spouse? Can I combine this trip with another? Will I target a new species or learn new techniques? What special equipment might I need? Is my gear sufficient to do this trip? Do I need cash, or do they take credit cards? What is customary for tips for guides and staff? What is the cancellation policy and is there trip insurance available for this trip? Lastly: I look to see if my most important details are covered, then weigh if the adventure warrants the cost.
Best of luck to you on your next adventure, may it find you well prepared and standing where the fish are.
Got Fishing Consultant