Becoming a guide needing info

mmcnew88mmcnew88 CrossvillePosts: 4 Greenhorn
So me and my family are planning to move to the Orlando area within the next year or two. I'm planning on starting a charter or guide service. Trying to find the right kind of boat that could accommodate a fair size group to do some inshore or bay fishing for like reds or any other game fish offered down there. Been inshore fishing in Louisiana and Orange Beach multiple times. I have always had a heart to do it and always had a dream to pursue this and get it to grow one day and maybe offer offshore as well. Needing help on trying to figure out what all is needed to get the ball rolling. Like what boating or guide license is needed in the state of Florida for inshore/bay fishing? I know a business license is needed I'm sure and insurance. But boating license I'm clueless about and fishing license that are needed for this. Also looking at boats and areas to live around Orlando and what marinas are best. I'm not new to fishing just new to the area and laws and whats required. Any information websites or places or people I can call would be much appreciated. Any other info in anyway or opinions will be much appreciated. Thanks

Replies

  • dragon baitdragon bait Posts: 5,592 Admiral
     Look up OUPV 
  • 10kman10kman Posts: 325 Deckhand
      I'm sure there will be alot of disagreement but not real sure your in best area
    to get into guiding.Why?Too far from saltwater.When I think of guides,I think
    of Keys,Miami,Stuart,Big O or 10k area.
       Second and I love to fish also but are you going to put up with a client who
    says worse day of fishing ever,I want my money back,your no guide.If your 
    heart still set on it,volunteer to be a mate on a boat first.Don't waste your
    money till then.
  • Grouper GeniusGrouper Genius Posts: 1,150 Officer
    10kman said:
      I'm sure there will be alot of disagreement but not real sure your in best area
    to get into guiding.Why?Too far from saltwater.When I think of guides,I think
    of Keys,Miami,Stuart,Big O or 10k area.
       Second and I love to fish also but are you going to put up with a client who
    says worse day of fishing ever,I want my money back,your no guide.If your 
    heart still set on it,volunteer to be a mate on a boat first.Don't waste your
    money till then.
    This...completely agree.
    2400 CC Sea Chaser-Yamaha F250-Bad **** Tower (SOLD)
    Grady White 306 Bimini 300 Suzukis
    Hurricane 246 FunDeck
  • mmcnew88mmcnew88 CrossvillePosts: 4 Greenhorn
    I completely agree with that and I have a few friends with boats that I have been a hand on in Orange Beach so being on the boat and doing things that need to be done shouldnt be a problem plus I have dealt with customers and customer service for years. I was a racing instructor at one time and had to deal with customers so I'm good with dealing with customers in that way. So I'm not really worried about customer issues. Family is moving to the Orlando area for career opportunities, but we are going to say around 30 minutes to an hour outside of Downtown so that I can put us closer to saltwater. I know its not the hot spots like the keys or Miami, etc. It is definitely something I have my mind set on and confident in me being able to be successful in it. As much as I have enjoyed making people happy in things they enjoy like fishing; even though I know you'll have days of bad fishing from time to time, it is something I know I can be capable of doing and it'll make me happy being able to do something I love making people happy. 
  • mmcnew88mmcnew88 CrossvillePosts: 4 Greenhorn
    Plus I know ultimately it will have to be able to make me and my family some money because it will be a job and no i don't expect to be making the big bucks overnight I know it takes building a clientele and getting your name and advertisement out there.

    Thanks again for these responses   
  • Reel TealReel Teal Posts: 2,660 Captain
    I would move down here and learn how to fish down here first, and what fish were catching. Just my .02. Do you have your captains license?

    Myfwc.com is a good place to start.
  • mmcnew88mmcnew88 CrossvillePosts: 4 Greenhorn
    Reel Teal said:
    I would move down here and learn how to fish down here first, and what fish were catching. Just my .02. Do you have your captains license?

    Myfwc.com is a good place to start.
    Do not have my captains license yet. Have a vessel license in the state of Alabama and have had it for 13 years. But yes that is the plan to move down within the next year and get a mindset for the fish and finding spots and areas to fish in. Learn the area and the waters. 

    Thanks for the website I will look into it
  • DropTheHammerDropTheHammer East CoastPosts: 341 Deckhand
    That's some question! ;)

    We all new what we were doing until DropTheHammer showed up.
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 2,859 Captain
    First.... enroll in Sea School to enable you to pass your CG license (OUPV) - They'll walk you through your needed paperwork, etc - then administer the test on site after a week's schooling.  You could do it on your own but you could spend lots of time with no certainty of success... 

    Second... before hanging out your shingle you need to spend a minimum of six months fishing almost daily in whatever venue you choose, so that you actually have some fishing to offer... Don't kid yourself - there's a world of difference between being able to catch fish yourself and actually being able to take first timers out -making sure that they have good results...  None of the above even touches on all the things you'll have to do before that first paying customer ever steps aboard - more about that later....

    Third... The guiding business is only what you make of it - there's no template to follow anywhere that I know of (and I've been full time now since 1996....).  You're going to have to decide what size boat you're going to work out of (and that will directly decide how many anglers you'll have aboard each day) and  you'll have to decide exactly how you're going to go about it - inshore or offshore (or a mix of the two)... are you going to be a live bait operator or strictly lures only (or once again, a mix of the two...).  Answering those questions will at least get you  in the ballpark.. Be aware that most who take up guiding have already been fishing a particular area for years and years and will have most of the questions I've just asked - long settled... Me, for instance, I've been fishing out of the same beat up old Maverick skiff now as long as I've owned it... around thirty years - so long, long before I came back to guiding....

    Once you finally have all of the above questions sorted out you're finally ready to get that first business license (you're running a business, remember....).  After you have that business license (for the area you're going to be working out of...)  your next step is re-register your boat as "commercial -for hire" and that's easily done - just a trip to the local tag agency.  Once you're registered commercial that triggers some additional requirements... the first will be to upgrade all of your safety gear to commercial standards (call your local CG if you need to know exactly what's required...) -that means all new type one life jackets for a start (and that's just the start... don't skimp on safety gear since you're directly responsible for all of your passengers - like it or not..).  Remember as well that once you're "commercial" any law enforcement you run into will hold you to a "higher standard"...    Now for the first surprise... your old recreational insurance policy will be voided the moment you re-register your craft (and most outfits that insure recreational boats won't offer any commercial policies at all -another of those "ask me how I know" propositions..). The good news here is that Charter Lakes will cover you - I've been with them for 22 years now and have nothing but good things to say about them... go to charterlakes.com for additional info... They're not the only game in town so don't be afraid to shop around if you're not satisfied with what you hear from them...   Remember as well that if you intend to operate in a national park or similar jurisdiction that they'll have specific levels of liability insurance for any guide that works there... 

    Now you're licensed (almost), re-registered, safety gear up-graded, and insured - and you haven't gotten a single customer... Now for your fishing license... Here in Florida we're able to purchase a guide's license (issued to the vessel or the guide... your choice..and they'll want to see both your captain's license and your business license before they proceed...) that allows up to four anglers to fish with you under your license... It's an annual license (mine is $208 as of this year - it includes a snook stamp and a lobster stamp...) and I have to renew it every year... Since I'm not fishing offshore (out in federal waters...) that's it for me.  If you fish there you'll have additional licensing requirements.  My only additional license is my permit to guide in Everglades National Park (another $300 per year -as of this year...).

    Now for the bad news... guiding isn't a job that will bring in much money - certainly not to start... I was told, all those years ago that it would take roughly five years to get up and running properly (and I didn't have a boat payment at all...).  I expected to increase my business about 20% each year - and that's pretty much exactly how it went... But you're always at the weather's mercy (and also the economy's --- nobody will be taking any guided trips if the economy goes bad...).  Just to give you one last glimpse of what guiding is like... here's an old joke they tell down in the Keys...
    "What do you call a fishing guide that just broke up with his long-time girlfriend?"  Just a one word answer that says it all... "Homeless"... 

    Good luck and hope it works out for you.  I didn't come back to guiding until I'd won a a full pension from another job and had already set aside monies for two kids headed for college... and it was still touch and go...
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • FishInFLFishInFL Posts: 1,974 Captain
    I believe savemyriver runs a boot camp for people trying to be guides. PM him. 

    Plus orlando is far from salt.
  • Turner River TerrorTurner River Terror Posts: 5,169 Admiral
    I would never take up Guiding to raise a Family and buy a house . College ect.
    Do a good day job and when you retire start guiding..
    It's not all that much fun when you've been out 10 days straight in August melting all day in the full bore sun..
    Killin and Grillin :grin
  • DropTheHammerDropTheHammer East CoastPosts: 341 Deckhand


    Look what I'm paying for!


    We all new what we were doing until DropTheHammer showed up.
  • DropTheHammerDropTheHammer East CoastPosts: 341 Deckhand

    What A cute young boy! ;)

    "A Day In The Life Of A Party Boat Mate"


    http://dai.ly/x3r86ip
    We all new what we were doing until DropTheHammer showed up.
  • bostonsox2904bostonsox2904 Posts: 93 Greenhorn
    FishInFL said:

    Plus orlando is far from salt.
    Orlando isn't THAT far from saltwater. On the east of I-4, you're looking at around an hour. IRL, Mosquito Lagoon, Ponce, Cape Canaveral - lots of options. I bet a lot of the clients would be theme park visitors too.

    That being said, it's probably rough doing that commute 4+ times a week before sunrise. 
  • Reel TealReel Teal Posts: 2,660 Captain
    FishInFL said:

    Plus orlando is far from salt.
    Orlando isn't THAT far from saltwater. On the east of I-4, you're looking at around an hour. IRL, Mosquito Lagoon, Ponce, Cape Canaveral - lots of options. I bet a lot of the clients would be theme park visitors too.

    That being said, it's probably rough doing that commute 4+ times a week before sunrise. 
    Its about as far as you can get from saltwater, being a saltwater guide living in florida. Remember no place is far from salt in florida but yea, try burning all that gas towing your boat every day.....eats up your revenue
  • Reel TeaseReel Tease Posts: 632 Officer
    You may be better of guiding freshwater, Lake Kissimmee or Tahoe which will be in your neck of the woods. Jmo 
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 2,859 Captain
    Although most guides live near the areas they fish... not everyone... For the past 22 years I've been commuting every day I'm booked to either Flamingo or Chokoloskee.  Each ramp is exactly 93 miles from my house here west of Ft. Lauderdale... A good tow vehicle, cruise control, and one or two good radio stations and you're up and running....

    As far as Flamingo goes - the closest you can live to the ramp is still fifty miles out (and at least where I live -and raised two kids... you never hear gunfire at night...).  

    I'm not the only guide living here in Broward and commuting down to the Everglades each day either.  You get accustomed to it after a while...  Many years ago, when I belonged to a competitive fishing club I knew quite a few that hooked up their rigs on Friday after work and got down to Key West later that night for a three day trip (or just two if that's all they could manage) and did that weekend after weekend all winter long... 
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • 10kman10kman Posts: 325 Deckhand
      Captain LeMay,there may be many reasons you live in
    Broward Co.but you don't make money driving to a fishing
    location.I'm sure if an option was to live in a town where
    your 5 minutes away from launching your boat and catching
    live bait that would be preferable. 
       Guiding today can be more than fishing.I've seen guides
    taking clients to beaches so they can go shelling or campers
    who want to spend few days on an island and need a ride.
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 2,859 Captain
    --Actually every mile towing for business  purposes... is a substantial tax deduction coming directly off of your income....  and towing 20 to 24,000 miles  a year turns into a bunch of money at year's end... No it's not ideal but is very do-able....

    If I only had myself to think of - I'd have re-located years ago (maybe)....
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • Fishin' MusicianFishin' Musician Posts: 67 Greenhorn
    Gee, it sounds like being a fishing guide is almost as easy as being a professional musician!
    Dave
  • conchydongconchydong Pompano BeachPosts: 3,543 Captain
    Gee, it sounds like being a fishing guide is almost as easy as being a professional musician!
    Yes, but a struggling musician still has a chance with the girls. A struggling fishing guide......not so much.  :)

    “Everyone behaves badly--given the chance.”
    ― Ernest Hemingway

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