top of page


This is the second in a two part series on making your guided fishing trip a success. In Part 1, we talked with three guides from the southern half of the U.S. about what makes for a good guided trip. We covered the questions to ask your guide before the trip, how to prepare for your day with the guide, and tips that could make the difference between a great experience and disappointment. Now that the weather is more spring than winter in the northern half of the U.S., we will travel that direction and talk with three more guides specializing in northern waters.

Booking a fishing guide is a great way to learn a lot of information quickly about a body of water if that is your goal. It is also a great way to get outside and just have a good time fishing and, even better, letting someone else do a lot of the work it takes to locate, hook and land fish. Even if you are not specifically targeting the species on which these guides focus, their insights should help you draw insight about how a guided trip works, and how to make it a great day. As before, we will focus on guides who involve the client as active participant in all parts of the fishing, as opposed to those who employ techniques like offshore trolling. It is worth noting that professional guides are required to go through a rigorous (and costly) certification process to ensure your safety on the water. We at strongly encourage you to check with your guide to be sure they are fully licensed and insured before booking a trip.

Many folks head to the beach rod in hand without a clue how to catch a fish. If they are serious about learning the art of surf fishing, they may want to higher a guide.That brings us to our first “Captain”, Bernie Hoyt, aka Bernie Bass Surfcasting Services.

iBass360: Where do you do your guide trips, and what for what species?

Bernie: I guide mostly on Long Island, but also arrange trips to some of the legendary surf waters of New England. My trips are unique in that I only do surf fishing from shore- so we are on foot. We fish beaches and inlets all around Long Island, Montauk, and the Cape Cod area. In these areas, you’re always less than 15 minutes from a beach or fishable area which gives us a lot of flexibility. The north side of Long Island is all hard structure, the remains off glacial movement a long time ago. This structure does not change and is consistent season to season. The south side of Long Island tends to be sandy, so it changes frequently with the tides and seasons. A good coastal storm can totally alter an areas making it unrecognizable from your last trip. Both areas offer great fishing, but the south side has the added challenge of the need to relearn how the fish are moving through the area as the structure shifts.

I guide trips to Cuttyhunk Island as well. This is a unique multi-day destination that offers some of the best fishing on the East Coast. As for species, we mostly chase stripers, bluefish, and albacore tuna, but it’s the ocean, so you never know what you will catch which is great! You will also see some things you won’t encounter on inland waters- whales, dolphins, and seals are common visitors to some of the areas we fish.

iBass360: How did you end up guiding there?

Bernie: I have lived on Long Island my whole life. I grew up on the south shore, and now live on the north fork. I have been guiding for about fifteen years. It all started by word of mouth. I was against social media for a long time. A friend of my wife’s is into to the business side of things and she helped me out with social media and a website and it absolutely snowballed from there. I stay very busy during the season.

I learned everything from my dad. He turned eighty in April and we still fish together. He started me fishing freshwater lakes but there are not a lot of good ones in the area. I hooked my first bluefish in the saltwater when I was young, and that was all it took to get hooked. Saltwater fish are amazingly strong fighters. Stripers, bluefish, and albacore are fantastic fish- built for power, speed, and in the cast of bluefish, plain meanness. They are always migrating as well which adds

to the challenge and excitement of the hunt. Many times I can’t tell my clients where we are going to fish until just before the trip because they move so much. It is all part of the fun.

iBass360: Do I need any fishing experience or knowledge to come fish with you?

Bernie: I take anyone who wants to enjoy a fishing trip- the complete novice to the highly experienced. It is not uncommon for me to have a complete newbie one night, and then the next have an experienced fisherman swim with me out to the rocks in the middle of the night to chase stripers. I tailor the trip to the clieny’d level of experience to make sure it is enjoyable and that they learn something to help them improve as an angler.

iBass360: What are the best times to fish in your area?

Bernie: I start my first trips of the season in mid-April, but the fishing really starts to pick up in mid-May. The stripers show up first, then the bluefish on into June. At that point I usually head over to Cuttyhunk Island with a crew. I do some fishing in June in the Cape Cod area, mostly for stripers. I take July off. Family is very important to me so I spend that time vacationing and relaxing with my family. The stripers slow down anyway at that time of year. I start back up in August with all the folks on vacation, and the fishing remains good all the way through November, especially as the fall runs get going. September brings good runs of albacore tuna which are a lot of fun. They will burn up your drag and they are a beautiful fish! The stripers will follow the bunker and some of the best fishing is late in the fall. I wrap up my guide season at

Thanksgiving time.

iBass360: What kind of techniques will we be using?

Bernie: The majority of what we use are artificials. I feel that is much better from a sportsman’s perspective. Tricking the fish into believing something is real when it’s not is where it’s at for me. We use a lot of bucktails and saltwater darters. From time to time we use live or rigged eels. It is all casting and it is a workout. No passive fishing here! We also do a lot of night fishing. You can catch fish anytime, but stripers are opportunistic nocturnal feeders. Night fishing is a great thrill and we try to do that as often as we can.

iBass360: What would be one thing specific to your type of trip that you wish more clients knew or listened to you about?

Bernie: I want them to know that they are going to walk away having learned something. With

me, every trip, no mater what your experience level, is about learning. I always give my clients tips they can take away and use to improve their fishing. It’s like the old adage about teaching a man to fish. Identifying patterns is the key to catching fish time after time and we work on that on every trip.

iBass360: What is one piece of general advice you would give to people going on a guided trip?

Bernie: Never stop learning. Arrive for any guided trip with an open mind, ready to enjoy the trip,

and ready to learn. When I am not doing seminars, I am sitting in seminars. You can never learn enough and a guided trip is a great way to really enhance your learning.

iBass360: If you have more questions or want to book a trip, contact Bernie at:


Podcast: Hooked on Surf Fishing (all major platforms)

Phone: 631-987-6837


Instagram: Bernie_bass


Once you have mastered swimming out to rocks in the ocean carrying your surf gear, you are ready for an upstate New York fishing experience. Captain Bill Lortz of NY North Country Bassin’ guides out of north central New York on Lake Oneida, the St. Lawrence River 1000 Islands region, and Lake Ontario. He targets smallmouth bass but frequently encounters many other species of fish in these rich waters.

iBass360: Where do you guide and on what species do you focus?

Bill: Due to our harsh winter weather, and seasonal fishing restrictions, I start guiding on Lake Oneida around May 1st and that runs through the middle of June. After that I switch over to largely guiding on the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario through the rest of the season. We fish Henderson Bay and Chaumont Bay in the southeast corner of Lake Ontario, as well as areas of the main lake, and on the St. Lawrence River.

iBass360: What brought you to guiding in that region?

Bill: I grew up in Rochester, New York along the south shore of Lake Ontario. There is good fishing there in the lake, but there is not much else there in the way of tourism. I had done a lot of fishing in the 1,000 Islands region and the Finger Lakes and finally I just set up a camper there in the summer and started guiding. It is a much better place than Rochester for guiding due to the variety of outdoor opportunities in the region. I also started working for Home Depot in the winter doing home installations and this allowed me the flexibility for guiding in the summer and setting my own schedule at tournament times. As the guide business became more established, I decided to build a house up here and just live here full time. This is now my 8th season guiding in the region.

iBass360: What kind of fishing knowledge or experience do I need to fish with you?

Bill: No fishing experience is needed at all. We really cater to our clients experience level. We have a wide variety of places to fish that accommodate different experience levels. For example, I recently took a father and his nine year old son fishing. The kid was all about bass fishing but he had the attention span of a flea- like most nine-year-olds. I had him throwing a dropshot and I am watching him and he was not letting it get to the bottom. The bait was just dangling about eight feet under the boat and wouldn’t you know it, a four-pound smallmouth came up and ate it! Obviously not all of our fish are that cooperative, but central New York is a great place to fish for people of all experience levels.

iBass360: What are the best times to fish in your area?

Bill: When clients ask me that question I usually respond by asking them how they would like to fish. If they really want to fish offshore or learn how to use electronics, then August and September are the best time for that. If you are more interested in power fishing for shallow fish, then June, early July, and then again in late September and October are the times for that. We don’t really have a down time during the season, it is just a matter of how you want to fish. Due to fishing regulations, we don’t have too much of a pre-spawn season here. I really like the fall

myself because if you can get onto a school, they feed real well giving us a good chance to catch a giant. We catch them as deep as 40 feet and as shallow as 5 feet.

iBass360: What kind of techniques will we be using?

Bill: We usually start the season off with lots of swimbait fishing. I keep it pretty simple. There is no reason to go all crazy with lots of different techniques. Our smallmouth are ready and willing, it’s just a matter of getting a bait in front of them. Of course, they have a lot of water to roam around, so tracking them down is always the challenge, but once you do, they bite. Once we get to the post-spawn and summer, we start to fish deep with jigs and dropshots. We are starting to see the Carolina rig come back into play and, of course, the Ned rig. The swimbait picks up again in the fall. I feel like the less complicated you make it the better.

iBass360: What would be one thing specific to how you guide that you wish more clients knew or listened to you about?

Bill: I will give you two things. First, for our area, make sure you know what kind of charter you are hiring. We have a lot of charter captains here that target species like the salmon, but will do smallmouth charters at certain times of year, and that means they are fishing for food. They eat the smallmouth. Make sure you ask the charter what there main target fish is. If it is something other than smallmouth and you are not a catch and release guy, you probably want to pick another charter. There is no reason to eat the smallmouth when there are so many more plentiful and good eating fish in the region. Second, if you prefer baitcasters, I have my clients

bring their own. They can use my rods, but we put their baitcasters on them and it makes for a much more pleasant experience because when it comes to baitcasters, most are more

comfortable with their own reels.

iBass360: What is one piece of general advice you would give to people going on a guided trip?

Bill: I’ll give you two things here as well. First, remember to have fun. You’re going to catch some fish and we are going to laugh and carry on and learn some things. Don’t lose sight of the “having fun” part of the trip. Have a good time and keep and open mind. Second, feel free to try things but if it isn’t working, listen to the guide. Always listen to the guide.

iBass360: If I have questions or want to book a trip, you can contact Bill at:


Phone: 585-738-7455



Lastly, we will head to the Midwest, to Michigan, to get insights from Captain Marcel Veenstra. Marcel runs a multi-boat guide service largely on Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie but he also specializes in multi-day trips to Northern Michigan waters which boast trophy class smallmouth fishing. Due to the popularity of the smallmouth waters of St. Clair and Erie, Marcel employees a handful of experienced guides and captains, including this author.

Marcel is originally from the east coast, but moved to southeast Michigan in 2004. He started guiding in 2006 and thoroughly enjoys his packed schedule of helping clients catch big Michigan smallmouth.

iBass360: What attracted you to St. Clair and Michigan lakes?

Marcel: My first time coming here was in 2002 for an FLW Everstart tournament. I had fished Lake Erie a lot out of Pennsylvania and New York, and adapted well to fishing Erie out of Michigan, but when the tournaments started launching out of St. Clair, I knew I had work to do. Many times in those tournaments I would try to run to Erie, but there were times that the weather prevented it. Plus that ride to Erie from St. Clair is grueling, so I was forced to learn St. Clair. It is completely different from Erie, and I love to fish offshore and get away from the crowds, so it did not take me long to learn to really enjoy fishing St. Clair. I appreciated that it was different from many of the other tournament waters we were fishing at the time, most of which focused on beating the banks. It was about that time that I realized that it would be a great place to guide. It is great for anglers of all experience levels from beginner to experienced, which was a factor in my decision to start guiding there.

iBass360: What kind of fishing knowledge or experience do I need to come fish with you?

Marcel: Zero experience is required. In fact I prefer taking out people who want to learn. It is fun to watch their progression both through the day, and when they return year to year as they improve. I do enjoy having more experienced folks from time to time because it allows us to specifically chase some trophy class fish, but one of the things about St. Clair, and really Great Lakes fishing in general, is that anyone has the potential to catch a trophy fish at any time, regardless of their experience level.

iBass360: What are the best times to fish in your area?

Marcel: It depends on what you are looking for, and what you are willing to tolerate as far as weather. If you are solely interested in a trophy fish, then very early in the year, or the fall are the times to come. If you come during those times, you better come ready to deal with the elements: heavy wind, rain, and maybe even snow! For numbers, May, June, and July are best. You definitely stand a chance to catch trophies then too, but the fish are their fattest late fall and early spring.

iBass360: What kind of techniques do you use?

Marcel: It is the typical great lakes fare. The dropshot is far and away the best producer, but I enjoy fishing a tube and a crankbait more. We work those in as often as we can. If you are not familiar with the dropshot at least look it up so you know what it is before you come, but it is a very easy technique to use. It is more about being in the right location.

iBass360: What would be one thing specific to your guided trip that you wish more clients knew or listened to you about?

Marcel: To have patience within the day. Sometimes clients don’t always have the patience needed to chase smallmouth. Yes, there are a lot of them in our waters. But they also have 400 square miles of water to roam around, and they truly use all of it. Weather, specifically the sun, can also play a major roll. A lot can change in the course of the day and it is important not to get restless and stay persistent and patient with the fishing throughout the day.

iBass360: What is one piece of general advice you would give to people going on a guided trip?

Marcel: Do you research in finding your guide and make sure you working with someone reputable and experienced, but who will also be personable and fun to fish with. And then listen to the guide. Sometimes we get folks coming in thinking they know more about the lake than we do. Our goal is truly to put them on the best spots with the best chance of catching fish. Listen to your guide. There is a reason you are hiring a guide after all.

iBass360: If you have questions or want to book a trip with Marcel, contact:


Phone number: 810-923-5035


Instagram: marcelsguideservice

Ryan Said is a tournament angler and U.S. Coast Guard licensed guide on Lake St. Clair and Lake

Erie, as well as many of Michigan's inland lakes. He books trips through Marcels Guide Service - an affiliation that is beginning its eighth season. His interest in the subject of Guided Trips stems from his interest in being open to new ideas. In 2011, after winning the Bassmaster Northern Open points championship, Ryan had the honor of fishing the Bassmaster Classic and the Bassmaster Elite series trail. He has fished the Bassmaster Open Series several times, as well as the Costa (now Toyota) Series. Ryan is an engineer and teaches high school math. He coaches the college bass fishing team at Lawrence Tech, and offers seminars and "on the water" instruction for high school anglers. Ryan is pro staff for Dobyns Rods, Lew's Reels, Costa Sunglasses, P-Line and Blackfish


bottom of page