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Guides worthy investments

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I used to avoid fishing with guides as much as possible. I blame that on two reasons. I am stubborn and I figure that I can find fish and catch them on my own without anyone’s help. I am also thrifty, which is a polite way to say that I am cheap. I felt I didn’t need to pay a stranger to do something I could do on my own.

I will admit that I was wrong. Taking a trip with a good fishing guide is one of the best investments you can make, if you can afford to do it.

Most people go on a week’s vacation to a resort or cabin with little knowledge of the lake they’ll be fishing. I’ve done this plenty of times. The first couple of days are spent catching no fish as you try to figure out the lay of the water.

By mid-week, you start getting things sorted out and you begin to catch a few fish. You find that you are very happy and you approach the final two days of vacation with confidence.

The last couple of days give you excellent results. You have the lake and the fish figured out. You know the best times to fish, the right locations and the perfect baits. All is good in the world, except that you are out of time and have to go home.

Think how much better your vacation would have been if you had hired a fishing guide to take you out on the first day. You would have caught fish from the get-go. Of course, it is fun and rewarding to figure things out for yourself, but why waste all of those days of valuable vacation time practicing your casting skills and burning up gas?

Not all guides are the same. Some definitely are better than others. You have the right to ask a prospective guide to furnish references of satisfied clients. Don’t just ask to see pictures. Anyone who spends as much time on the water as a guide should have albums of pictures showing him with big fish. The Internet is also a good way to research a guide’s talents.

When you fish with a guide, you have the right to ask that he doesn’t fish himself. I never would do that but some people do. You have the right to complain if the guide is fishing and making the first cast to the best spots. Remember, he is fishing on your money.

Ask a lot of questions and listen to what the guide is telling you. You are paying him to help you catch fish, not only that day, but in the future. You’ll do that if you pay attention and do what you are being taught.

Being on a fishing trip with a guide can be an incredible experience that I highly recommend. Don’t forget, guides graciously accept tips, but tipping isn’t mandatory. Make sure your guide earns his tip.

Next week, I will offer you my annual list of guides that I recommend who are working area lakes.

Fishing report

Dave Kranz from Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake reports: “Trout season is open! I have had good reports from Lake Atwood at The Hollows and Banana Lake in the Lake County Forest Preserve in Wauconda. Small spinners such as Mepps, Rooster Tails and Panther Martins along with spoons such as Kastmasters and Lindy Vikings all will work well. Berkley trout bait on a treble hook with a split shot placed 15-inches above it always catches some fish. Crappie fishing has been good on the Fox River and Fox Chain with most fish in the channels. Small jigs, Mini-Mites or an ice spoon with a small fathead minnow will catch fish. Walleyes have been slower but can be caught on a jig and minnow combo.

For up-to-the-minute water conditions on the Fox Chain and Fox River, go to or call 847-587-8540.

You can call Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan Fishing Hotline at 414-382-7920 to hear the latest fishing information for Lake Michigan and its tributaries.

IDNR open houses: The open houses promised by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for the purpose of public discussion of Illinois deer hunting are going to happen. The public is invited to attend and ask questions. IDNR staff will be on hand at the meetings to discuss the deer management program, hunting regulations and surveillance/management of chronic wasting disease. The meetings will run from 4 to 7 p.m. on five dates in early June. I will be in attendance at the meeting closest to our area, June 4 at the Hickory Hills Discovery of the St. Charles Park District, located at 3795 Campton Hills Road in St. Charles. There is a meeting June 3 at the Rockford Public Library, 6685 East State St, in Rockford. The complete list of meetings is available at At the completion of the meetings, all information will be posted at the same website and the public will be allowed to post comments.

• Northwest Herald outdoors columnist Steve Sarley’s radio show, “The Outdoors Experience,” airs live at 5 a.m. Sundays on AM-560. Sarley also runs a website for outdoors enthusiasts, He can be reached by email at

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