Month: September 2009

Fishing Resort Exposé: Your need-to-knows about the industry

Guided fishing trips can provide many anglers the best chance to keep the line tight and the coolers full, and many fishing lodges and fishing resorts do this. Unfortunately, many do not. Instead, some lodges are plagued by having a fixed location or substandard guides. In order to ensure the best possible fishing experience, potential customers should ask sufficient questions to find a guided-fishing experience that lives up to its claims.

Location, location, location. While location is not everything, when it comes to fishing it is definitely a big deal. When choosing where to go, investigate the catch quality of the prospective location. Many fishing lodges and fishing resorts have fixed locations, and to stay in business they aim to bring in as many customers as possible, whether or not the fishing is productive anymore. In some locations, fishing has declined drastically over the last decade or two, but fishing resorts still charge visitors thousands of dollars to fish mediocre areas.

Even some “floating lodges” have a similar problem. While they claim to move to the fish easily because they are built on a barge, large leasing space is difficult to come by in many areas. Because of this, some floating lodges occupy the same parking spot in the same harbor for many years, whether or not the fish are still biting there.

Finding quality, experienced guides can also be problematic for fishing resorts. In areas where fishing has declined and the bites are few and far between, the best guides have little motivation to stay. Instead, to keep staffed, these resorts pick up new guides or whoever will apply. The customer experience can decline significantly at lodges and resorts with high turnover rates and inexperienced guides. If an area has slow fishing and the guide has yet to master the art of when to wait for a bite or find a new location, there is a good chance that the cooler will stay close to empty.

Another possible guide-problem is substance abuse. While this issue is by no means exclusive to fishing lodges and resorts, it does seem to run rampant in the industry. Usually, if guides are hard to come by, troublemakers will be tolerated longer. Some guides wake up with hangovers on most mornings and still take out customers to fish.

Luckily, while some people’s lodge and resort experiences are impacted by these factors, there are still great options for guided fishing. By having awareness of these issues, potential customers can ask questions and read reviews that will help determine the quality of the lodge and guides.

Guided charters can offer an alternative to lodges as well. Some charter operations offer a lodge-like experience without being tied to a fixed location. Since charters can change their location to follow the productive fishing, they may have an easier time attracting qualified guides.

Whether fishing with a fishing lodge or a charter company, customers should do research and ask questions about the catch sizes and numbers throughout the season. Every location and lodge is different, as are customer expectations. Having an idea of potential issues helps possible customers ask educated questions to find the trip they want.

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Salmon Give Canada-Bound Fishermen Run for Their Money

Due to poor spawning returns in 2008, many fishing areas in the northwestern United States launched the 2009 fishing season with low limits and strict regulations. Washington, for example, announced a late start to the season while Oregon and California closed salmon fishing in some areas altogether. Some fishermen wondered if great salmon fishing was a thing of the past. British Columbia, though, did not have to lower salmon limits and had a surprisingly strong season of King salmon fishing.

The fishing rebound in areas of British Columbia was aided by returns of larger Kings and high volumes of Silver salmon. Many visiting fishermen returned home with tubs of fish. Fishing charter owner Sam Vandervalk noted that in Ucluelet, where he owns and operates Salmon Eye Charters, there were so many Silvers that a fisherman could catch and release 200-300 fish a day.

The success of the 2009 fishing season helped keep lodge and charter owners from feeling the full effects of the recession. Vandervalk reported, “Like everyone else, I was concerned with how the economy would impact business this year, but the salmon fishing in Ucluelet was so good that we were 20% busier than last year. Despite the down-economy, good fishing kept us virtually one hundred percent full throughout the season.”

While Fisheries and Oceans Canada forecasted a better salmon fishing year than 2008, 2009 surpassed their predictions. Though for many this was unexpected, the areas of Canada that brought in these large Kings are known for consistently productive fishing. “We weren’t surprised by the good year. We have a lot of good years. In fact, an old fishing guide from Sitka, Alaska recommended that his friends come fish Ucluelet, Canada because of how consistent it is,” commented Vandervalk.

Forecasts for 2010 are calling for another year of good salmon returns, and many charters have already started booking for next season.

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