If you are an avid or even a professional fisherman, you know all the best places, seasons, and gear to fish in your hometown or region. But what about other areas? In this case, probably, you’ll need a local fishing guide who knows his or her territory as well as you know yours at home to have a successful fishing trip with a big catch and a great outdoor experience. In this article, we will tell you who is a fishing guide and how to find one.
A fishing guide is just like a normal tourist guide, with one big difference that follows from the name. He is primarily a fan of fishing, not history, architecture, or culture, although he can be a versatile person like Leonardo da Vinci, for example (even better).
Yes, fish guides are usually men because, understandably, they are more passionate about fishing in general. But there are both men and women among fishing guides. (Hence, if you are a woman and love fishing, don’t despair and look for female guides if it’s crucial for you.)
So the fishing guide's task is not only to accompany you on your trip but above all to help you fish successfully in a place you are unfamiliar with. Given that fishing is not as easy a sport as it seems (you need to know the places and things), a fish guide is more like a mountain guide, without the help of which you just can't get around, rather than a tourist guide, whose services you don't have to use. I mean, it's always optional. But a good fishing guide knows the native fish spots as well as any professional guide. With him, your trip to get a big catch or just a great outdoor recreation in the case of sport fishing is almost guaranteed to be a success.
Fish guides have all the information: in addition to the actual places to fish, they also know what season and time of day or night it is best to fish; what equipment and fishing methods to use (fly fishing, spinning, boat fishing, and others); what to do if the fish are not catching at all, and so on. It can take you days and weeks, if not months and years, to learn it all on your own. A fish guide will save you time.
The fishing guide can be especially useful in marine fishing, where it is even more difficult to choose a location, even if it seems easier: "Well, the sea and the sea, wherever you throw a fishing rod, everywhere will bite." No. You still need to know places and the best times.
On a separate note, a fish guide knows the ins and outs of local laws when it comes to fishing regulations. He will tell you what you can catch without a license for sure and what kinds of fishing permits you need and how to get it.
A good fishing guide also speaks at least English and ideally your languages like Spanish, Italian, French, German, or Chinese. Among other things, it is simply a pleasant person to talk to, with whom it is interesting to spend time and chat about something other than the fishing itself during the hours of waiting for the catch or walking down the river. With such a fish guide, you are likely to remain good friends.
A fishing guide also helps you plan your entire trip: get there quickly and cheaply, find lodging options, places to eat, and more.
Guillaume Coupy / Unsplash
The first thing you need to know when looking for and choosing a guide is that good professional and even the amateur guides with great experience (and these are the ones you need) are usually become "out of stock" quickly. So do your search in advance, at least a week before the expected trip. That way your chances of finding the right person go up a lot.
Secondly, where do you look for fishing guides? Let’s take Italy as an example:
These are the various travel sites and applications where, in addition to the regular guides and excursions, you can find and book fishing guides too. However, this method is worth using, rather if all the others from the list below do not work, because specialized resources are almost always better than the general ones. Anyway, here are three examples of such sites in Italy: Viator.com, Getyourguide.com, and, Airbnb Experiences.
These are sites and apps that gather fish guides from all over the world on their platforms, just like Booking.com or the same Airbnb help you find accommodations. By the way, if you are a fishing guide yourself, you can sign up on one of these sites to find clients. The two main international aggregator sites for finding guides are Fishingbooker.com and Fish.travel.
These are loca sites, apps, and associations, which are the most effective because they specialize in a particular place, which resonates with the very notion of fishing, where the main thing is to choose where to fish, where it will bite. Such resources are divided into three main types: national (countries), regional (regions), and local (parts of these regions: provinces, cities, and various natural places outside the administrative structure).
National fishing sites
For example, there are at least a few national fishing guides sites in Italy... in English. I was very surprised when I found this out! It shows how popular fishing is in the world. It seems that fishing is more popular than soccer. So when looking for fishing guides in Italy, check these resources with similar names, but they are different at least in that they specialize in certain types of fishing: Italianfishingguides.com, Fishingitaly.com, Flyfishingitalia.it, Flyfishersitaly.com, Flyfishingguideitaly.com, Italyonthefly.com. As you also see, fly fishing is the most popular in this country.
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Regional fishing sites
Among the regional sites, I'd like to take the province of Trentino in the Trentino-Alto Adige / South Tyrol region in the north of Italy as an example.
Why go fishing in Trentino? According to the official tourist site of the province, Visittrentino.info, there are three main reasons for that: 1. Unique landscapes (many rivers, torrents, and creeks with beautiful rapids and many Alpine lakes); 2. Short distances between spots; and 3. Tailored services (fishing lodges, licenses that can be acquired online, and so on).
Where to fish in Trentino? The local experts name you at least the top 10 fishing areas and spots, starting with the following: Sole Valley (Val di Sole) with 120 km of rivers and torrents and 12 lakes; Giudicarie Valley (Valle Giudicarie) in the middle of the Brenta Dolomites mountain range; Non Valley (Val di Non) with Tovel, Santa Giustina and Smeraldo lakes; Comano Terme on the Sarca River that hosted the 2018 FIPS-Mouche World Fly Fishing Championship; and Velle di Chiese with the Chiese River, whose landscapes resemble Canada.
With whom to fish in Trentino? A typical guide looks like Sergio Berti, one of the Trentino Fishing Gudes. Here's what he says about himself: "I have been a fly fishing enthusiast since the age of 18. Fly fishing is a philosophy and way of life for me, obviously always according to the no-kill practice. I assemble bamboo fly rods, customizing them according to my fishing style being a member of IBRA (Italian Bamboo Rodmaker Association). I master all rat tail fishing techniques (nymph, dry, etc.) and love to prepare all the bait myself. I am a habitual frequenter of almost all the waters of Trentino-Alto Adige / South Tyrol and the Lombard and Venetian Prealps." A nice person to meet!
Sergio Berti and other guide of the Trentino Fishing
An example of a geographic region and site where you can also look for fish guides are Alpsflyfish.com and Lakecomofishing.com. As you can see, it could be an entire mountain range, a popular lake, a valley, or something similar.
Local fishing sites
Local fishing guides sites are very small resources that may be difficult to find on the Internet but if you can, they are the first place to look. You are guaranteed to find the best specialists there.
For example, in my home region in the Dolomites, there is a Bacino 11 project, the name of which refers to the 12 basins in the province of Belluno in the Veneto region. The project tells about the features of fishing and helps to find guides around two small towns, Lamon and Sovramonte. This is the very beginning of the Dolomites about 100 km from Venice.
Here, as in Trentino, you can fish on three mountain rivers, including Cismon, Ausor, and Senaiga, as well as the lake of the same name, Senaiga. It is an artificial but very scenic lake formed by the construction of a dam of the hydroelectric power plant. There are many such artificial lakes in this area and the Dolomites in general. But again: they are incredibly beautiful. And there are fish in them.
From talking in Zoom with one of the founders of the project and the secretary of the local fishing association, Claudio Canova, I also learned, for example, that local guides gave tours for many people, including such a famous person as the founder of Patagonia outdoor clothing company, Yvon Chouinard. You may know him from his famous book "Let My People Go Surfing".
From the example of this project, it is also clear that many of the fishing spots in Italy follow the no-kill rule. That is, it is sport fishing for recreational purposes. If you catch a fish, you have to let it go. Claudio also told me that he once walked more than 20 kilometers through the Senaiga torrent with his fishing rod but no catch. This is what you should expect from the local fishing guides in the Dolomites.
Fishing in Senagia Lake / Bacino 11
These are personal sites of fishing guides who use the power of the Internet to promote themselves. You can find them through a Google search, typing for example “fishing guides in Tuscany”. This is exactly how I found Luca Castellani, who also specializes in the Umbria region. To my mind, he seems like a knowledgeable and interesting person.
There are numerous blogs, groups, and communities on social networks like Facebook, where you can also find guides. For example, in Italy I managed to find at least two of them: "The Fishing Specialists Team Italia" and "Pesca Con La Mosca in Italia — Fly Fishing in Italy". Yes, not much, but in other popular fish countries like Canada or Finland, there may be... too many. Still, Italy is not the first thing that comes to mind when you say "fishing".
You can try to find fishing guides in the Windy.app, a professional weather application that provides accurate weather forecasts for fishing and tens of other outdoor activities.
Moreover, there are two special weather profiles available in the app — Fish and Fish Pro — with a ready set of weather parameters important for fishing: wind direction and speed, atmospheric pressure, air temperature, and, of course, solunar, whether you believe in it or not. The solunar is presented on a special chart, which conveniently tells how good biting will be in a particular place at a particular time in the morning, afternoon, evening, and night — and so on for the next 10 days.
Fish Pro weather profile with Solunar feature in the Windy.app for iOS
In addition to the weather forecast, you’ll find a huge database of thousands of popular and well-known only to locals fishing spots around the world in the app. Spots are not just points on a map, but a database with useful information about fishing in those areas.
Fishing spot on the Weather map in the Windy.app for iOS
Finally, going to some popular spot you will find a chat where local fishermen communicate on a regular basis, so you can try to find a local specialist there or just ask for advice, for example, how much to tip fishing guide in this particular place and country? You can also search for guides in the app’s Community section. In it, fishermen often share their catches — so often that we usually don’t have time to moderate them all.
Windy.app Community section in the Windy.app for iOS
Sign up for the app to find a guide, find out about sports and weather forecasts, and share your catch. Read also the separate Mini Guide to Fishing with the Windy.app.
Text: Ivan Kuznetsov, an outdoor journalist, editor and writer from the Dolomites, Italy, and Karelia, Finland, with 10 years of professional experience. His favorite sports are hiking, cycling and sauna. Read his other articles
Cover photo: Federico Giampieri / Unsplash