With temperatures rising and buds starting to appear on trees — you’re probably eagerly awaiting the coming spring and summer months and spending more time outdoors.
More time spent outdoors means more opportunities to bowfish.
Whether you’re new to bowfishing or a seasoned bowfishing enthusiast, it’s that time of year to check in on your gear and think about the days on the water wreckin’ fish.
Maybe you budget for it every year, or maybe you’ve decided you’d like a little more action this bowfishing season, but choosing to hire a bow fishing guide is rarely a choice you apply little thought to.
You work hard for your paychecks, and choosing to give some of that hard-earned money to a bowfishing guide you expect the same work ethic to give you the most bang for your buck.
If you’ve never hired a guide before, or if you’re looking to hire a different captain, here are the top 6 things to consider when searching for your next bowfishing guide.
1. Safety First
We can’t stress enough that saving a few dollars is never worth risking the safety of you or who you’re bowfishing with.
When you look at a guide’s website, try to find if they list where they are licensed and insured.
Look for pictures of the boat and the captain or crew to make sure the operation looks like a quality and safe group to go out on the water with.
There’s nothing wrong if it’s a new captain just starting out, but if there is a lack of pictures, or something doesn’t look right, it could be a red flag and a good idea to keep looking.
2. Previous Customer Reviews
Most bowfishing guides know that plenty of pictures of past clients holding up behemoth ray, snakehead, catfish, or carp and smiling ear to ear is the best form of advertising.
This shows they can put clients on fish and the more smiling faces the better.
In the social media era — a strong social presence with updated photos is a great way to vet your potential bowfishing guide.
If the guide can provide you with written references or testimonials on their website, or social accounts, too — that’s even better.
More experienced and top-tier guides will have phone numbers and email addresses posted all over their site and social accounts.
Many of them will have times you can call their personal number to ask questions or schedule a trip.
This is important in the event you have to reschedule or postpone your trip due to weather or unforeseen circumstances.
Anytime you provide a guide with a deposit you should really know you can get ahold of them when you need to.
Standing at the boat launch waiting for a guide with no way to contact them is pretty low on a list of things you want to happen on your bowfishing trip.
Also, quick and timely communication throughout the booking process is always a plus.
If your potential bowfishing guide is hard to contact or doesn’t respond in a timely manner — it may be time to look for another bowfishing charter service.
4. Bowfishing Experience
Like most things in life – experience is key.
If you can’t find the information on their website, ask them how many years they have chartered bowfishing trips and navigated the waters that they plan to take you.
This information is crucial for both your safety and success on the trip, but most of us can agree we’ll pay the guide that knows where the fish are and the submerged rocks, tree stumps, and sandbars aren’t.
The point of all this is to have fun, and what fun is a crotchety guide that gives you a hard time, no fish, and expects a tip at the end for their “hard work.”
Try to find a guide that has reviews of being patient, funny, can hold a conversation and is genuinely fun to be around.
Ask if they have any stories about previous trips and feel free to ask them questions, after all, they should have the answers for you.
Listen to their responses, whether via email or phone, and you’ll get a better sense of whether they are a fit for you and your bowfishing outing.
6. Bowfishing Equipment
Not all members of your group will have all the bowfishing gear they need to get wreckin’.
That’s totally fine because a great bowfishing guide will have all the gear you and the members of your party will need.
Some bowfishing guides may charge an additional fee to use the equipment, while others may include that cost in the overall bowfishing guide fees.
Again, you might not need gear, but if members of your crew do — make sure to ask the guide if they have all the required bowfishing gear to wreck fish.
Bowfishing Guide Recap
Don’t forget, this is your time and money and while being within reason, the guide works for you.
Be upfront with them before you even step foot in the boat about what you expect and want out of the trip.
You might find a life-long bowfishing guide with your first hire, or you may switch a few times, either one is fine.
Try to remember to look for these main points so it helps you to a great trip and not wasted time and money.
For more bowfishing articles about equipment, tips, and tactics – make sure to check out our Fin-Finder bowfishing blog.