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Thread: Starting a guide service

  1. #1

    Default Starting a guide service

    In answer to Yukon on the other thread:

    If anyone out there is interested in the trials and tribulations a guy has to go through to start up your own charter operation I'd be more than happy to answer any of your questions. Yeah, I'm a "rookie" guide and have a lot to learn, but I have been through the whole process and might be able to help anyone else that might have designs on doing the same thing with any questions you might have. This will be the 20th year I've fished the Kenai Peninsula, so hopefully any knowledge I can share with anyone interested will be educational.

    In answer to your question, Yukon, I've been thinking about starting my own guide service since about the time that "the other" forum was really popular. Won't go into all the details, but I finally got around to it right about the time that they instituted the new halibut charter rules in this area. But since I had moved myself down to Homer and bought a nice boat already I decided to just forge on.

    Of course it won't effect me this year, but when next Feb. rolls around and it takes effect I'll deal with it then. This is my own personal opinion, but I have an odd feeling that for some of the people down this way that will be put out of business there are going to be serious repercussions. My guess is there may be a lawsuit or few for the feds to deal with that might change things, though I wouldn't want to bank on it. So that could change things.

    I also know that there will be quite a number of charter operators wanting out of the business that will be selling their "share" if it's transferable---for some it will be, and others not. So time will tell how much I would have to pay for one of those "shares" for a 4 person boat. I may be able to buy into it and I certainly will if I can find an affordable "share".

    I just love to fish and if it comes down to it I'll just guide for salmon and any other fish other than butt. That other "administrator" and I keep in touch quite often and we've been discussing the options. I have fished winter kings almost every day you could be out there since last fall, so that's something I can bank on---there are a number of winter king operators down here, but there's always room for another one.

    I know of people that love to catch rockfish and lings. I guess I could start specializing in that.

    What it boils down to is there are other options. But the more I can fish and the more I can share the experience of one of the finest fishing opportunities you can find in Alaska, the happier I'll be to do just that.

  2. #2

    Default FYI

    Mutt...Be sure and put your ADF&G decal on...

  3. #3

    Default

    Yeah, I've got them set up so I can put them up when I'm "engaged in sport fish guiding service" as the regulations say.

  4. #4

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    I saw a 2c halibut charter permit for 17k on Craigs List. I agree, it'll be interesting to see where they end up, price wise.

  5. #5
    Member homerdave's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Muttley Crew Fishing View Post
    , I'm a "rookie" guide and have a lot to learn
    gee, if you hadn't said it i wouldn't have thought you had noticed.
    no offense, dave, but lots of forum members have been fishing the bay for as long or longer than you.
    high post numbers won't get you cred here as fast as you are hoping... the "posts per day" stat doesn't count for much.
    Alaska Board of Game 2013-2014 tour... "No animal left behind"
    http://www.alaskabackcountryhunters.org/ http://www.obviouslaw.org/

  6. #6

    Default

    You know homerdave, I couldn't care less what your opinion is since it obviously is always only going to be contentious when it comes to what I have to say. For some reason you have something against me, so please when I post something that is meant to help other people that are out there that would like to take something away from that knowledge just go on to the next posting. Meaningless comments like yours are harassing and useless and I will report harassing comments because it is counterproductive and against the rules of this forum.

    I am not posting a lot to try and get "cred" as you call it. I am sharing what knowledge I have. That's all. If other people have as much as, or more, experience than I do that's just fine. If they do I can't imagine they'd be interested in what I have to say. I realize fully well that there are people out there like that. And I have no doubt everyone out there knows there are other people in this world with more knowledge than me. Great! That has absolutely nothing to do with this post.

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by 270ti View Post
    I saw a 2c halibut charter permit for 17k on Craigs List. I agree, it'll be interesting to see where they end up, price wise.
    Yeah, I saw someone advertising one somewhere and they just said, "Price. ????" I have a feeling there's going to be a lot of "testing the waters" to see what the pricing will bring. And since it's still 10 months away from when it becomes a law I'm sure things will change drastically. I'd really hate to give someone big cash for their share and then find out 9 months from now that the ruling is under appeal. Or give someone $100,000 for it right now and then find next March that shares are being sold for only $10,000!

  8. #8
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    Default Your bookings...

    Most will come from the Cold Call, the visitor who is coming to Alaska for the first time and wants to fish and knows zip about it. He will find you by your brochures around your community, your inclusion into your communities website, and your own website.

    He will not find you by word of mouth because he knows nobody. Nor will he find you on this forum, because chances are he has never even heard of it let alone read it.

    Certainly word of mouth, reputation, and message boards are credible, but their applications are often times, undiscovered.

    The out-of-state fisherman out numbers the in-state fisherman by almost a 3:1 margain and has for years.

    These are my observations as a 22 year visitor and player in the tourism industry in your state. Best of luck in your brochure, comunity inclusion, and website design. In my opinion, these are the big three into finding your business...

    Rosenberg/Florida
    "Two decades researching and defining fishing opportunities in the Last Frontier!"


  9. #9

    Default

    I think for the most part you're correct Bernard and I definitely appreciate your comments and suggestions.

    So far the majority of my clients have come from another Alaska fishing website that has an actual fishing reports page that I report on every time I go out on a personal fishing adventure.

    I am in the process of getting flyers and rack cards out into the community, too. I have a feeling that despite the fact that the economy is showing signs of improvement a lot of people that have been thinking of coming to Alaska are doing it on a little shorter notice, so will tend to make plans for things like fishing adventures on a sort of "spur of the moment" basis.

    So far all of my clients have been people from the Anchorage/Wasilla area. And once again they have all been on more of a "spur of the moment" sort of basis---"Hey, I'd really like to go out this weekend. Do you have any days open?" I have a feeling there's going to be a LOT of that throughout the tourist industry this year.

  10. #10
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    Default The ocassional tourist...

    I deal with long term planners and the ocassional impulse visitor. Most of the persons I assist are those that plan ahead. They are a viable market, perhaps the strongest, thus my advice.

    The annual visitor's guide put out by any community is a good place to advertise. That's the largest expense undertaken by any community to bring tourism in. Though the advertising rate might be high, your ad will reach thousands, so make it good.

    Do the same on the community website. They will link their browsers directly to your own URL with the click of a button. You want to be button ready, thus my website design advice later on.

    Your brochures will do you justice if they are well designed and placed all over. Contact me privately if you wish to learn how how I handle printing.

    Create a website that navigates easily and spells everthing out. Get some decent testimonials on it to add credence to what you do and how you handle people.

    The best outfitters I've run across are those that take the time to define everything up front and are caring to their customers.

    Good luck to you and "fair weather"...

    Rosenberg/Florida
    "Two decades researching and defining fishing opportunities in the Last Frontier!"


  11. #11

    Default

    Yeah, the Homer visitor's guide is a biggie. Unfortunately it went into production long before I established myself, but next year it will be on the top of my list. I don't know what it costs to advertise in it, but I have absolutely no doubt it would be well worth it.

    I appreciate your offer on printing help, but I worked as a prepress production assistant and graphic artist at the University of Alaska Anchorage printing services for about 17 years. I won't be so bold as to say I know it all, but for the last couple of years I was there we outsourced all of our printing and I was the person that got all the bids out and decided who to use. So I do have a little experience there to fall back on.

    It also helps in the business card/flyer/rack card area, too, to have been a graphic artist. It sure is nice being able to do your own work. And I also was the website administrator for the university's Corporate Programs so have a good background in web design and HTML. So I did my own website. That experience sure doesn't hurt.

    The "caring to their customers" thing is what I really want to stress. The most common complaint I hear from people is that the captain that took them out just didn't seem to care about what he was doing. I think I could go so far as to say that I actually enjoy getting people into fish just as much as I love getting into them myself. When I can give someone an experience like the girl I took out a couple of weeks ago that had never caught a king before and she went home with a nice 19 pounder it makes my day just as much as it made her.

    Anyway, thanks for all the suggestions.

  12. #12
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    Default Good planning...

    You seem to have plenty of it and you are quite fortitous to have those skills to assist you. I certainly wish you well.

    As I have evolved, I have found outfitters and communties in AK who value my opinion representative of their market. For the last five seasons I have been providing testimonials for outfitters running the gammut from hard core rafting to total remote lodge luxery. It's been great work with no losers.

    One thing I did notice is that some outfitters do not define sharing a boat among different paying guests. Trolling two lines when there are six customers and none of them know the other four is problematical in terms of ups and hook-ups. I've encountered many misgivings because of no definitions, so I took the time to define all of them as a consumer and gave it to the outfitter to improve services.

    You or any outfitter is welcome to it on request, free. Simply mail me a stamped self-addressed envelope and it's yours.

    Am I the expert?
    No.
    Am I an Alaskan resident?
    No.
    Do I represent the market you are trying to catch and wish to please?
    Absolutely...

    Bernard Rosenberg
    1705 Wharf Rd.
    Sarasota, FL 34231
    "Two decades researching and defining fishing opportunities in the Last Frontier!"


  13. #13

    Default May the Fish Be With You!

    Muttley--Congrats on getting your charter business going. I think you have a great attitude, a lot of positive thinking, a willingness to help others and a love of fishing--I do believe you will do great. Ignore the naysayers and Fish On!

  14. #14
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernard R. Rosenberg View Post
    Nor will he find you on this forum, because chances are he has never even heard of it let alone read it.
    On that note, I think you are mistaken. We are by far the #1 website for Alaska fishing information. Type in darn near any Alaskan fishing term and some link to the AOD will be in the top few Google links, if not #1. We get thousands of unique visitors per week, many of whom are researching upcoming trips. Our advertisers report great success as well.

    I think the rate of "cold calls" is falling dramatically as folks turn to the internet for their first round of research. The phone book isn't where people look any longer. They turn to Google, and increasingly Google sends them here.

  15. #15

    Default Bookings

    Bernard
    As Brian stated you are mistaken, no very mistaken. I spent last summer working in Seward and I can tell you that a large number of bookings came from people I met on this Forum and quite a few from Forum members. Members like Alaska Chuck met people on the forum and sent them my way also. Also alot of new members sent me PMs for advice and then came by and bought fishing gear. People coming to Alaska find this site and use it. I can say that I have some great friends that I met from using this Forum as a once new member.

    Randy

  16. #16
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    Default Where do they come from?

    I get almost zero cold call bookings. It is too easy for fishermen to do research and pick the charter they want to go on based on all sorts of reports and reccomendation. I have been fortunate to be treated kindly by members of this forum and others and that helps...A lot.

    If you look at this forum, trip advisor, other forums, magazine articles etc. ..They all seem to carry much more weight on helping fishermen make good decisions about how they choose to spend their money fishing than a print advertisment.

    The single most important way to get good referals is to try to exceed your guests expectations each day. I try to tell my clients how fishing has been and what to expect and then try to do better than what I told them in the morning. This has been the best policy for me to keep people coming back year after year.
    Knowing what you are doing and experience is only good if you can deliver most every day. Resident fishermen know a good trip and they know a bad one, so I feel like the reccomendation from an Alaskan is really the highest complement for a local guide.

    Good luck with your new business venture, I am sure you will be able to buy or lease a permit for 2011. I think there will be financing mechanisms that make it very affordable to do one or the other. Noone is going to put out of business if they give a good trip and want to stay in it.

  17. #17

    Default

    First and foremost I'd like to thank all of you that have posted positive comments. I'm trying my best to provide an exceptional fishing experience for those people that want to share with me doing what I love doing the most---fishing Alaska!

    With the limited experience I've had so far I'd have to agree about the major impact getting info about yourself out on Alaska fishing sites such as this can have. I have a reputation on another Alaska fishing website and so far I'd have to say nearly 100% of my client base has come from people that "know" of me from the constant stream of fishing reports I post there.

    And, believe it or not, I am not in this as much for the money as I am just for the love of sharing Alaska fishing, and more specifically Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet. As I said previously I just love to fish and providing that service to people not quite as fortunate as I am for being able to do it every day of the week all year long is my prime interest. Netting that 19 lb. king for my client Julia a couple of weeks ago was as exciting to me as the first time someone netted a 50 lb. king for me. And that 23 pounder last week for Sharon...!? How can you beat being able to do that for a living!?

    RE Bernards comment: "One thing I did notice is that some outfitters do not define sharing a boat among different paying guests. Trolling two lines when there are six customers and none of them know the other four is problematical in terms of ups and hook-ups." That is what I hope to avoid having to even do and if you take a look at my website you'll see what I'm talking about. I am stressing a fishing experience where people don't have to "share" that experience with people they don't know. I've fished on charters before where the capt just booked as many people as his boat could hold. I won't do that. If one person wants to go out with me I'll be happy to do that. Two people? Not a problem. And so on. Maybe it's just me, but when I book a charter I want to be able to go out with just the people I'm happy being with. That's the kind of fishing experience I want to provide. And I'm willing to stake my reputation on it.

    And thanks AKCAPT. I used to fish almost exclusively in Res Bay and I'm totally aware of who you are and your reputation. I'm sure you'd never remember it, but about 17 years ago when the Hunting and Fishing News was "THE" Alaska Fishing "rag" to read I followed what you always had to say about what was going on in the bay with (dare I say it?) baited breath. I actually emailed you once back then to ask you for pointers for catching coho. As a result of that I developed a name for myself---"Coho" Dave---that many people know me as. I really enjoyed picking up some of the first coho to be caught out at the outer fringes of the bay in June. So you were pretty instrumental in getting me to where I am today. Thanks again.

  18. #18
    Member Phish Finder's Avatar
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    Default

    Regardless of what the law is, I'm paying for part or all of the fuel consumed. Someone would have to be a pretty unpleasant fellow to turn someone in over what I and most others that I fish with consider common courtesy.

    I have guided something for most of my life. Whether it was hunting, diving, fishing, or mountain biking, the common trait that ran through all of it was the necessity for customer service. You don't have to be a hot shot to be a guide.

    Anybody with a pulse can get a guide license and a 6pac. The separation between the really good guides and the "Jimmy Buffett" lifestyle guide is daily dedication. The lifestyle guys think they can phone it in. The professional is working strategy constantly while providing the best service and experience possible during the time period that he is contracted for.

    Catching halibut in KBay is not a difficult thing to do.


    Good luck in the private sector. It's a bit different than state work.
    ><((((>.`..`.. ><((((>`..`.><((((>

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    just like to pee a lot." --Capitol Brewery

  19. #19

    Default

    So you're essentially saying that because it happens all the time it's OK to do? Sorry. I don't condone breaking the law. If you are an Alaskan sportsman you shouldn't either.

    Whether or not anyone should turn anyone else in for it is a ridiculous argument. I simply stated it is against the law to do that and should not in any way shape or form be suggested it's OK to do it in a public forum.

    And this thread isn't about how easy it is to get a license or even catch halibut in K-Bay. I provide a service for people that don't have the means to go out and catch those "easy to catch" halibut. This thread is about my experiences in doing that and not a place to air your biased gripes. Start your own thread for that.

  20. #20
    Member Phish Finder's Avatar
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    Sorry man, I was trying to share some of my limited guiding experience with you. It seems that you have it all figured out. Good luck with your new venture.

    Would you mind sharing the name of your boat?

    It may save both of us some frustration
    Last edited by Phish Finder; 04-14-2010 at 11:58. Reason: taking advice and being more sociable
    ><((((>.`..`.. ><((((>`..`.><((((>

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    just like to pee a lot." --Capitol Brewery

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