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John Merwin lives in Vermont, where, when he's not tying flies, building lures, or digging up worms with his backhoe, he writes the monthly Fishing Column for Field & Stream magazine.

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December 11, 2008

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Cermele: Good Guide, Bad Guide

For the last few weeks I've been working on a story that has me chatting with fishing guides from across the country. And I mean lots of them. It's funny how some are so energetic, an interview that should take 10 minutes turns into an hour. Then there are those guys who require tooth extractors to get any info out of them. The wide range of enthusiasm levels I'm getting got me reminiscing about all the guides and charter captains I've fished with over the years.

The best by far was Captain Mark Marose out of Montauk, NY. We've fished together several times for cod and striped bass. The reason I like him so much is that he's an old salt who knows the fishery better than lots of captains out there, but even though he has spent decades on the water, he still has fun and gets rowdy when you hook up even a small fish. He knows what will work every day, but if you want to try something whacky, he's all for it. And if he thinks the big fish will show an hour after your charter is supposed to be over, Mark will often stay out. Try to book him less than a year ahead and you're out of luck.

On the other hand, the worst charter I've ever been on was a mako shark trip out of Cape May, NJ. I won't name names, but this tweezer of a captain did nothing but talk about how good the tuna bite was in the canyon. All day he's on the radio with the tuna boats, basically implying that we were idiots for wanting to go shark fishing. Of course, a tuna trip would have cost about $600 more. He also complained about cigarette ashes on deck, and insisted the rods remain tethered to the boat so was not to lose them. Fighting a mako with a tethered rod isn't easy, and as for the ashes, c'mon...if we deck a shark the boat will get dirty. He put no effort into the day, and we only hooked and lost one fish.

Lets hear about your best and worst. What makes a good guide in your mind?



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Buddy Pinder in Abaco, Bahamas is the best I have fished with. He is an entertaining guy to spend some time in a boat with and taught my buddy and me a lot about the habits of bonefish, all while putting us on a lot of fish.


Steve Rodger in Key West has impressed me time and time again. He was on the mad fin shark tourney on TV and placed second the prior 2 years. We netted up a bunch of live pilchards, literally over 1000 and anchored up over a reef out about 10 miles and proceeded to create a feeding frenzy of kingfish, bonito, blackfin tuna, mahi, red snapper, sailfish and wahoo. They were blowing up around the boat all day both times. IT WAS AWESOME.
Worst, a couple of boats in St. Lucia that took me for full day boat rides.