Generally, as a starting point, consider giving your guide a tip of 20% of the cost of the trip. If the guide went further, it wouldn't be uncommon to increase the tip to 30% or even 50%. It's also important to remember that regardless of how much you paid for your day on the water, there are many factors that the guide cannot control. It is generally accepted that an adequate tip represents approximately 7 to 15% of the cost of the trip.
Of course, if a guide makes an exceptional effort, fishing for an hour or three hours beyond normal, or makes special efforts to keep the fish spreading well, it makes sense. That said, tips should not be based on the amount of fish you catch, but rather on the effort made by the fishing guides and the quality of the time you spend in the water. In a group setting, anglers can split tips, but help your fishing partner with advanced knowledge to keep him from feeling embarrassed at the end of the fishing day. Not only do you have to follow rules of etiquette with crew members, but you should also practice common etiquette with other Alaskan salmon charter tourists.
These include fishing on larger deep-sea boats, usually when fly-fishing for beefy fish, either booked directly or organized by a local lodge. Most enjoy keeping customers engaged, having fun and learning when fishing is slow, and they even consider this a crucial skill required to be a fishing guide. For me, being able to keep customers engaged, have fun and learn when fishing is slow is a crucial skill for a fishing guide. If you're not sure who to tip, give your money to the captains of the Alaskan salmon fishing boats and let them spend it among their own crew.
Fishing is all about experience, so if a guide is friendly and fun, attentive and willing to help anyway, that's what it takes to be a good fishing guide and the tip usually represents my gratitude for that. You should ask in advance when scheduling salmon fishing trips in Alaska to know exactly what to bring. The most important thing is that it helps you and tells you how to catch your fish and fillets it on the way home. Matt Reilly is a freelance writer, outdoor columnist and fly fishing guide specializing in flotation trips for predatory game fish based in southwestern Virginia.
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