UPCOMING EVENT: YETI FLW COLLEGE FISHING - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Get More out of Guide Trips

James Niggemeyer

I’m blessed to make my living as a professional bass angler, but I don’t just fish tournaments. I guide, too.

Now, I don’t do a lot of guiding, mainly because a lot of people want to go in the spring when I’m not available, but I run 20 to 30 trips a year.

Guide trips are great opportunities to learn about bass fishing and to have an enjoyable day on the water without the pressure of having to find fish and figure out patterns on your own. I highly recommend them, especially if you’re sitting around during the offseason with nothing much to do. Take the opportunity to book a trip somewhere new, and go improve your skills.

Unfortunately, over the years I’ve noticed that some anglers don’t take the best approach when booking a guide trip. They set unrealistic goals and don’t temper their expectations based on the conditions, which can potentially set them up to miss out on the great parts of the experience.

This is a pretty big issue at Lake Fork, where I do most of my guiding. Guide trips on Fork are a good news, bad news thing. The good news is that people come from all over the world and want to go fishing. The bad news is many of them come with the sole goal of catching their personal best. It’s a double-edged sword because more people go home disappointed than they do having achieved their goal.

Before you judge my abilities as a guide, let me unpack this a little bit. Lake Fork is a tremendous fishery, and you can absolutely catch giant bass there. I’ve guided clients to some really amazing days. But in every case, so many things had to go right for it to turn out that way.

An old-timer I know here on Lake Fork broke this down for me one day. He pointed out that, in most tournaments, one “over,” or a fish longer than 24 inches, gets weighed in for every 75 entrants. On Fork, an over could weigh anywhere from 6 1/2 pounds to 11 pounds, so for you to catch a double-digit fish, it pretty much has to be an over.

While I like to think I’m a decent fisherman, if you have two anglers per entry, and there are 150 fishermen on the water, and only one over gets caught on average, the chances of a guy catching a double-digit when he comes to Lake Fork are obviously very slim. It’s still better than most places you fish in the country, but if that’s your whole mindset you’re probably going to be disappointed.

All that being said, the keys to getting the most out of a guide trip are simple.

 

1. Change your mindset

Whether it’s with me or anyone else, come with the idea of having a great overall experience, rather than with one very specific goal. Treat a guide trip as a chance to learn as much about the lake as you can from someone who knows a whole lot more about it than you. Unless your guide is a great narrator for the day, you’re going to have to pick his brain to get the most out of it. Ask a lot of questions about the techniques, the baits and how he presents them. Learn the overall characteristics about the reservoir, lake or body of water. Just glean as much knowledge from the guide and the experience as you can.

 

2. Book two days

Believe me, this isn’t a sales ploy. I’ve had people come fishing and think that, regardless of what the weather does, the fish are always biting. I promise you, above all else, the weather conditions are going to dictate how well the fish bite on a given day. Especially during seasons when the weather is highly unpredictable, bad weather can put the kibosh on even a great bite in a hurry. I tell most people to come for two days to at least have an honest chance if the weather isn’t quite right.

 

3. Have fun with it, share the experience

One of the best ways to ensure a fun outing is to bring somebody with you to share your experience. Most guides charge the same or just a little more whether they’re guiding one or two people.

 

4. Be realistic, be flexible 

Be up front with the guide about what you want. Most of my clients just want to catch fish, but some are more interested in instructional trips focused on electronics, techniques or other aspects of bass fishing. I do both, as do many guides. Likewise, once I know your goals, I might suggest a different fishery or approach based on the season or conditions. I’ve taken clients out on some of the power plant lakes we have around my home in east Texas in the wintertime when it gets really tough on Lake Fork. They’re not as legendary as Fork, but the fishing can be great. There’s a small lake I fish that has a really strong shallow-water bite. There’s another that, in the spring, kicks out 30-pound bags. I can go to those other places, but I have to know in advance about your goals so I can put in some pre-fishing time to give you the best experience.

 

I guess my best piece of advice is to recognize all the opportunities that a guide trip has to offer. You might catch a double-digit personal best, or you might not, but once you realize all there is to learn and enjoy, you should never go home disappointed.

Follow James Niggemeyer’s career, and learn more about his guide operation, at JamesNiggemeyer.com.

Tags: james-niggemeyer  blog 

How to Work in Fishing

How to Work in Fishing

There was a time when the only way to make money at fishing and to express your love for our sport was by fishing tournaments, but that’s just not true anymore. With the growth curve we’ve had, the economic muscle of the fishing industry has spawned some interesting opportunities that didn’t really exist years ago.  Now, there are many jobs in the fishing industry that allow someone with a creative mind to indulge in what they love to do. I get to be around a lot of pros, but my job has also brought me into contact with a lot of folks with other jobs in fishing. So, here are four people I think you should follow and study if you know you belong in the fishing industry, but you don’t know exactly where yet. READ MORE »

Why We Need More Winter Bass Tournaments

Why We Need More Winter Bass Tournaments

FLW Tour pro Brian Latimer explains why he loves winter bass fishing and tournaments. READ MORE »

Martin’s Final Prep for the 2019 Tour

Martin’s Final Prep for the 2019 Tour

Getting mentally prepared is the biggest thing for me. There’s a process, and it has to be done. Everything has to be ready so when I roll into Texas to start practice for Sam Rayburn on Jan. 6 I know exactly where every piece of tackle is stowed and exactly how every piece of equipment works and exactly what I need to accomplish to support my sponsors and keep my own media  projects on schedule. Sometimes the preparation goes into panic mode, like I’m in hyperventilate mode or something, but that’s just part of it. READ MORE »

Life Between Seasons for a Pro Angler

Life Between Seasons for a Pro Angler

As busy as a Tour pro stays from August until December, getting things lined up for the following year, I still find time to relax a bit. Like most fishermen, I also enjoy passing time in the fall and winter by going hunting.   READ MORE »

Meet the Latimers

Meet the Latimers

I know everyone isn’t in the same situation, but personally, I wouldn’t want to try to be a pro angler and not have kids or a family. I got married in 2008, and I fished the EverStart FLW Series the first year I got married. READ MORE »

Create a Base List of Go-To Baits

Create a Base List of Go-To Baits

Every season, my garage goes from organized to absolute chaos as I come and go from one tournament to the next. By the time I empty out my boat in the fall to sell it, I wind up with a mountain of tackle that needs to be dealt with. It needs to be culled, cleaned up, organized, re-stocked or replaced so it can be packed into my new boat, organized in the garage or stowed in my truck bed camper, keeping in mind all the lakes and reservoirs the FLW Tour will be visiting from January through August. READ MORE »

A New Plan for 2019

A New Plan for 2019

If you haven’t been living under a rock this offseason then you know there are going to be some well-known faces missing from the FLW Tour next year. Over the years, my brother Jared and I have run a lot with the Johnston brothers, Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson and Jeff Sprague, and now they’ve all switched to fishing other circuits. It’s like high school again. At least, that’s the best analogy I can find: You grew up with the same buddies, but after you graduate you go your separate ways. I’m really sad about it. READ MORE »

You’re Not Great at Everything

You’re Not Great at Everything

My wheelhouse is shallow power fishing, mainly with single hook-type baits such as spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, bladed jigs, jigs, soft plastics, and flipping and pitching baits. But I also really like topwater and shallow cranking, plus sight-fishing. That’s where I feel like I really excel. READ MORE »

Fishing for a Championship

Fishing for a Championship

Watching the Forrest Wood Cup and the Bassmaster Classic as a kid was the source of, literally, my entire life’s motivation. I want to fish as a professional angler, and I love what I do every day, but the thought of fishing the Classic and the Forrest Wood Cup – that’s really what I want to do. I want to walk across that stage and be fishing against the top 50 guys in the world. For some guys the dream is Angler of the Year or finishing well in a Tour event or whatever, but mine has always been that big stage. READ MORE »

How to Fish Florida in the Fall

How to Fish Florida in the Fall

It’s been a while since my first blog, and with the season wrapping up around the rest of the country I figure it’s time to talk about Florida fishing. The big national tournaments don’t come down here this time of year, but the fishing is pretty good. It’s pretty simple this time of year, too. You just need a couple of rods. READ MORE »

How to Long-Line Pressured Smallies

How to Long-Line Pressured Smallies

So, up north, what we call “long-lining” has become a popular technique. It’s not done with a crankbait, like Southern ledge fishermen do, but it’s similar. You get your bait out a long way from the boat, and then drag it over key areas. It takes a long time to reel a fish in, but you get probably five times as many bites just by getting your bait that far away. READ MORE »

Jumpsuits, Patches and Bell-bottoms

Jumpsuits, Patches and Bell-bottoms

These days just about everybody puts something on every square inch of their shirts. There’s even a style of jersey with elastic armpits. It’s so you can cast easier, but there’s also a place there where you can put another sponsor’s logo that shows up when you hold up a fish or a trophy. Those guys back in the day were nowhere in the same league as far as showing off sponsors. READ MORE »

Why You Need to be Tying the FG Knot

Why You Need to be Tying the FG Knot

In my last couple years in Australia I learned the FG knot, which is a Japanese knot that originated from the guys fishing for giant trevally. They wanted to be able to use 100-pound-test braid with a 130-pound-test leader and be able to cast it through the guides. It’s the only knot I know that has 100 percent knot strength. The FG knot is actually stronger than the line, and it’s a plaited knot, which means the braid is woven around the fluorocarbon, so it’s super thin and there’s no curl in the fluorocarbon or anything. READ MORE »

My Favorite Stop of the Year

My Favorite Stop of the Year

We used to have an opening weekend tournament for maybe two years. That was when the fish were at the end of their spawn, and my brother Cory and I finished with maybe 2 ounces under 30 pounds and were in third place. Both years that tournament happened it took more than 30 pounds to win. READ MORE »

Dealing with Wear and Tear

Dealing with Wear and Tear

For a while earlier this spring it looked like shoulder surgery would be the next in a long line of repair jobs. It’s no secret that I’ve had a lot of problems with my hands, arms and shoulders over the years. I had surgery on my left hand last August, and it was supposed to fix a chronic problem that was affecting my grip. READ MORE »

Using Chunks Doesn’t Make Me a Dinosaur

Using Chunks Doesn’t Make Me a Dinosaur

I’m 48 years old, but until a couple weeks ago I didn’t realize that made me a dinosaur. Well, I at least felt like a dinosaur a few times while I was conducting a seminar at the Costa FLW High School Fishing Summer Camp at Kenlake State Park. My age showed again when I competed with a couple of local high schoolers in the FLW Foundation Marshall Strong charity tournament on Kentucky Lake. READ MORE »

Need for Speed?

Need for Speed?

What I do value is torque, which is why I run an Evinrude G2. The extra torque means I get on pad faster, which adds up when I’m making 40 or 50 of those 2-mile runs in a day. That’s where I make up my time, by getting from zero to 50 mph in a hurry. READ MORE »

Jocumsen’s Fish Care System

Jocumsen’s Fish Care System

The main thing is, when I first catch a fish that’s going in the box I weigh it. So when I have my five fish, I’ve got exact weights. Especially in these Northern tournaments, specifically when catching a lot of smallmouths, if I was using the old system and caught a 3-pounder I’d be going back, opening that livewell lid and putting my smallest on a balance beam. Then maybe balance beam another one, and then let one go. That’s a lot of stress on them. READ MORE »

The Most Dangerous Thing in Fishing 

The Most Dangerous Thing in Fishing 

This is a blog written as a reminder to me, about how I had given myself no chance to do well in the Lake St. Clair FLW Tour event. I make no bones about it: I do not like St. Clair at all. It is the only lake I fear. I said exactly that when the schedule was announced. St. Clair is probably one of the top five lakes right now, but strangely enough, I fear it. How could that be? It all started with a bad attitude that kicked off a chain reaction that led to one of the most common mistakes anglers make – a mistake I often have to coach anglers out of in my coaching trips. READ MORE »

A Canadian Fishing in the U.S.

A Canadian Fishing in the U.S.

I’ve read interviews of my pals and fellow FLW Tour competitors Chris and Cory Johnston where they say they feel their skills are fairly well-rounded because we get to fish shallow and deep, in clear water and not so clear, in grass and in rivers and lakes. When we head south in the winter, we do so having experience with a variety of techniques to catch bass.  READ MORE »