How to get insider information while traveling, Cheaply
People have told me several times, If you want to get some good fishing spots in a new area, hire a guide.
Problem is, hiring a guide can be anywhere from $400 to $600 in most areas. Justifying that cost is an onerous task for most of us. Blindly going to different spots and casting can be incredibly discouraging and every unanswered cast only serves to amplify your inner critic. Most fly shops run their own guide service or the people behind the counter are guides. If neither is the case, they are still not inclined to give you any insider information for free. What can you do?
The cheapest resource is found online. In my experience, this is the most unreliable option. People are unreliable, and the advice you get is likely to be the fishing equivalent to suggesting Chili’s as a local food option. That may not always be the case, but you get what you pay for more times than not.
The other option is my favorite. Find a local fly shop and buy some stuff. Spend anywhere from $20 to $50 on flies and other light tackle, and THEN ask for advice. They aren’t going to give you their best spots, but they will give you better advice than they will the next guy. MY favorite approach is to spend $20 one day and chat them up. Then I come back and drop a little more money before asking them about somewhere to fish.
Some places have guides that do “DIY” trips. They’ll take you out for 1/2 to 1/3 the normal price and row you around, but that’s it. They’ll put you on the water, but you do the work. Your gear, your flies, your trip. I haven’t done one yet, but I know they exist. Ohio’s Donnie Knight offers these trips, for example.