Is a Guide Necessary?

One of the most important choices you will make on your next trip is whether or not to get a guide. But... Is it worth it?

Do you need a fishing guide in Canada?
Article By: Joel Prunty


A few years back on a Canadian fishing adventure, I realized in the simplest terms the importance of having a good fishing guide.

That perfect August morning our 40-hp Yamaha outboard was propelling us full-tilt up Saskatchewan’s famed Churchill River while making a spectacular run up to Black Bear Island Lake. Our native guide Sam pointed to wildlife along the way until we reach what can only be described as a waterfall...our final destination, or so I thought.

Thinking we “had arrived” I reach for my fishing rod...but Sam had other plans and all he said was “Hold on.” Putting the motor on shallow drive he gunned it again dodging underwater boulders like pot holes on a gravel road. About the time my fishing buddy, Norm “the Great” McCreight, grabbed the hat flying off his head we hit the pile of rocks and water.

Loosing speed to the rushing river the boat was almost standing still; Sam, now standing up at the tiller, looked like Evil Kenevil before a big jump. He hit the throttle for everything it was worth and instinctively Norm and I propelled our heads at our knees and our noses were just inches apart. Norm’s eyeballs were popped out of the sockets and he was mouthing, “He’s going to kill us!”

That’s when I realized, in essence, you hire a guide to take you where you would never go on your own. Obliviously, there is a bit more to it than that, for instance...shorelunch, shorelunch and shorelunch. But without our guide that day, I would have never experience the best walleye fishing of my life high above those falls.


- Cat Island Lodge guide Gord Jesmer cooks up a delicious
shore-lunch on the banks of Trout Lake.


So here are my thoughts on how to decide whether you need a guide on your next adventure. If you answer yes to more than a few of these points, hire a guide.


The "Do I need a Guide?" Checklist:

  • You want to eat the best shorelunch you have ever tasted.
  • You are not comfortable operating a motor boat.
  • Your trip is short and the water is unfamiliar.
  • You are fishing a large body of water.
  • You are concerned about your overall safety especially if you encounter bad weather.
  • You can afford a guide – roughly $150-200 per day plus tip.
  • You don’t have the fishing expertise to easily find fish yourself.
  • You are not sure what techniques to use to catch fish on that lake.
  • You want to experience remote parts of the lake you’d never pursue on your own.
  • You want someone to fillet your fish.
  • You want to enjoy a few beers on the water (Illegal in some provinces).


Tips for a great guide experience:

  • Be clear about what fish species you want to pursue and when.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your guide to try a new spot.
  • Want more time out on the water? Ask for a packed lunch instead of a shore-lunch.
  • Don’t want to hear your guide’s life story? Don’t ask them personal questions.

Personally, I like a native guides and I’ve had many good ones – they don’t typically talk a lot, but when they do it is worth hearing. In many cases the lake is literally their home and most enjoy sharing it.


Enjoy your next adventure!


Editors Note: Joel Prunty is the president of Fishulo,llc and is passionate about using his expertise in Canadian wilderness travel to assist anglers and hunters in planning adventures. Over a 20 year association with a Canadian fishing and hunting sportshow producer, Joel visited over 300 of Canada's BEST lodges, resorts and outfitters. He currently sits on the Marketing Advisory Council for Tourism Saskatchewan and was previously named the Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters Association‘s (NOTO) member-of-the-year.

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