Live now : Sam Rayburn Reservoir - FLW Live Coverage

Get More out of Guide Trips

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 

Why You Shouldn’t Second-Guess Your Gut

Why You Shouldn’t Second-Guess Your Gut

In tournament fishing, you can beat yourself up for days with the “what if” scenarios that cause you to second-guess your gut. Well, in this case, I guessed wrong. I finished the Lake Champlain event in 145th place. It knocked me all the way down to 60th in points and out of Cup contention. READ MORE »

More Fishing, More Focus in 2020

More Fishing, More Focus in 2020

People talk a lot about the offseason in professional bass fishing, but when you do this for a living you pretty quickly realize there really isn’t much of an offseason anymore. READ MORE »

New Challenges, New Opportunities

New Challenges, New Opportunities

Now with 2019 in the rear-view mirror, 2020 is in the crosshairs, and I look forward to the challenges ahead. With the rebranding of the Tour to the new FLW Pro Circuit, there are some great new opportunities that both fans and competitors will benefit from. READ MORE »

Why I Chose FLW

Why I Chose FLW

My name is Richard Dunham, but most people know me as Dicky D. I currently live in Palm Harbor Florida where I work for the Folsom Corporation, one of the largest fishing distributors in the country. In 2020 I am fishing as a boater in Southern Division of the FLW Series. READ MORE »

Prepping for the 2020 Fishing Season

Prepping for the 2020 Fishing Season

This is one of my favorite times of the year, the (not so) calm before the storm before the tournament season kicks off down south in January. READ MORE »

I’m Signed up and Ready to Go

I’m Signed up and Ready to Go

Following a great season in 2019, I just signed up for the FLW Pro Circuit for 2020. Foremost, I’m excited about the opportunities that are being provided by MLF and FLW. I see overall growth in the platform as we strive to be a bigger and better industry. READ MORE »

FLW Foundation Volunteers Have a Big Impact on Youth

FLW Foundation Volunteers Have a Big Impact on Youth

For the past several years, the FLW Foundation has been working diligently on a mission to introduce young people to their local natural resources. One strategy employed by the Foundation is to host free youth fishing derbies across the country. READ MORE »

4 Easy Ways to Store Soft Plastics

4 Easy Ways to Store Soft Plastics

One of the easiest and most controllable ways to save time and be efficient on the water is to keep tackle organized and accessible. Hard baits are easy to organize in Plano boxes, but soft plastics can sometimes cause a bit of a headache. Here are some tips for doing it based on how I go about tackling the issue.  READ MORE »

How to Land More Bass

How to Land More Bass

My technique for fighting a bass depends significantly on the equipment – my Dobyns rod, Ardent reel, Seaguar line and Cornerstone Baits – that I’m using at the time. READ MORE »

God, Grace, Grit

God, Grace, Grit

Life isn’t always easy, and we all find ourselves in situations that seem impossible to overcome. But with God, grace and grit we have not only persevered, we have risen. And we are continuing to rise together, and can commit to uplifting one another along the way. No matter what you are going through on or off the water, know that with God, grace and grit, but most of all God, anything is possible. READ MORE »

How to Prepare for Big Water 

How to Prepare for Big Water 

As many of you know, fishing big water for giant smallmouths is my favorite type of fishing. Competing on the Great Lakes, 1000 Islands, St. Clair, Champlain and other big Northern fisheries is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes it gets rough, which is why it’s critical that you have the correct equipment and understand how to use it. READ MORE »

How to be a Pro Angler 

How to be a Pro Angler 

I get a lot of questions from young and old anglers alike about the steps to becoming a pro. I guess maybe sometimes I take it for granted. The process seems somewhat obvious to me. How to execute on it might not be simple, but the steps you need to take really are. There are only a couple of ways to get into this sport, and they all start at the grassroots level, in $200 and $300 tournaments.  READ MORE »

Introducing Myself

Introducing Myself

I want to start off by telling you a little bit about myself. I grew up in Pennsylvania about 45 minutes north of Philadelphia. I grew up fishing for whatever would bite with my grandfather and in middle school I had a friend who started taking me with his dad down to the Chesapeake Bay. That was my first time ever on a bass boat, and I was immediately hooked! READ MORE »

Riding the Roller Coaster

Riding the Roller Coaster

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog, although it seems like the last one was just yesterday. This season has flown by, and I finally have some down time before the last stop on the FLW Tour at Lake Champlain. This Tour season has been full of ups and downs, and I’ve learned a lot. READ MORE »

The History of the Drop-Shot

The History of the Drop-Shot

FLW Tour pro James Niggemeyer recalls his first introduction to the drop-shot, as well as what came before it and how he developed his tackle to have better success with this capable finesse bass bait. READ MORE »

From Dead Last to Making Money

From Dead Last to Making Money

If you were hanging out with me at the FLW Tour event on Seminole recently, you would have thought I won the tournament. I was congratulated by every pro I saw, and they were being genuine. READ MORE »

Fishing the Worst Conditions

Fishing the Worst Conditions

Watching giant bags of bass caught down in Texas and Florida on FLW Live during FLW Tour events has many anglers dying to get on the water. The only problem is that a lot of people are still facing some of the toughest conditions for catching a bass – cold, muddy, moving water.   READ MORE »

How to Deal with Dock Talk

How to Deal with Dock Talk

If you fish tournaments or follow tournament fishing, you know about dock talk. It’s the chatter that goes on among bass fishermen during and around tournaments on subjects such as how the fish are biting, what patterns are in play, the weather and just how much of a grind it’s been. Dock talk can be dangerous. It can lead you astray if you listen to the wrong person. It can hurt your confidence if you hear about someone else really catching ’em doing something different. It can distract you from your game plan and your goals. Dock talk rarely gives you the complete story. READ MORE »

Moving into My New Office

Moving into My New Office

The new year to many professional fishermen also means a new boat. Some people like the smell of a new car — who doesn’t, really? But the smell of new fiberglass is better than that. It’s better than the smell of warm apple pie to me. READ MORE »

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 »