This month, it is my pleasure to introduce a new article series to UltimateBass.com. This series will focus on the small but dedicated group of lake guides which frequent our site. They provide phenomenal reports, stunning images, and provide a service to anglers fishing new waters. This series of articles will be called Guide Lines. The series will appear monthly, and I hope you enjoy it.
The lead-off hitter for this article series is Tom Redington. Tom was gracious enough to accept the challenge, and he was extremely professional and prompt with his answers. I want to thank Tom for taking this on. Let’s go to the interview.
1. In what year did you start your guide business?
I started guiding full time in 2003. I’ve been fishing Lake Fork regularly since 1994.
2. What lake(s) do you guide customers on?
I guide mainly on Lake Fork, which is about 80 miles east of Dallas, Texas. It’s a famous trophy bass lake, and with the 16″ to 24″ protective slot limit, fishing should stay good for years. I fish a couple of trips a year on Lake Monticello, a heated power plant discharge lake, in the winter after several cold snaps.
3. Can you tell us a little about your rates for guiding individuals and groups alike?
I charge $325 for 1 or 2 anglers for a full day (10 hour trip), $200 for a half day trip. For trips with 3 anglers, the cost is an additional $100.
4. Can you tell us about the best time of year to take a guided trip wit you?
Lake Fork has so many big fish in it that there is really not a bad time of year to fish it, you just have to change the way you fish. I personally prefer fishing spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits, and jigs for big bass in shallow wood and grass cover during the prespawn. Prespawn runs from late December through mid-March, with most of Fork’s 13+ pound bass coming in February and March each year, followed closely by April and January. Sight fishing and working shallow flats and cover with Texas rigs and soft plastic jerkbaits during the spawn is another great way to catch a trophy (March through mid-May). My other favorite time of the year is postspawn and summer patterns, May through August. Fishing is very consistent that time of year, with topwaters early, then it’s working over big schools of lunker bass on deep structure with crankbaits and Carolina rigs. June has historically been one of my best months for catching bass 7 pounds and bigger, with a number of 10 pounders. For pure numbers of bass, September through October is our best fishing. On windy and cloudy days, topwaters, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits catch lots of fish up shallow. On sunnier days, the deep bite on spoons, drop shots, and Carolina rigs produce lots of fish, as well as a few lunkers.
5. Is your guide business seasonal, or does it operate year round?
My guide business is open year round.
6. Can you provide some detail about a guided trip with you?
a) Can a person bring their own gear?
Most folks bring their own rods and reels, as they can cast them better.
b) What does the price of the trip include?
I provide the lures for my customers, plus life jackets, scales, and a digital camera. Customers can bring their own, if they prefer.
c) What items do you not provide, that a person should absolutely bring along?
I encourage my clients to bring polarized sunglasses, a fishing license, sunscreen and rain gear.
d) Are accommodations provided, or are some located nearby?
Lake Fork has a number of good hotels and lodges. I guide out of Lake Fork Marina(www.lakeforkmarina.com). It has a full service marina with a boat ramp and boat slips. Plus, there is a hotel, a few guest houses, and a restaurant on site.
7. Can you provide us with some details of your equipment (boat, rods, reels, lures)?
I fish out of a 2007 Ranger Z21 21’ bass boat, powered by a 250 hp Yamaha. My Ranger has a color Lowrance X25 graph/GPS on the console and the bow. You’ll find many of my Shimano reels spooled up with Lake Fork Trophy Tackle soft plastic baits.
8. Is there any “instructional” components to a guided trip?
That’s the emphasis of my guiding efforts. Of course, I want my customers to catch a bunch of big bass during their trip with me. Most of my customers are looking to learn more about bass fishing though, and my goal is to help them to be able to catch more bass on their future trip to Fork or their home lake. My most popular instructional trip is teaching how to deep water structure fish. I teach them how to read a topographical map, and then use their electronics to find schools of fish. Once we locate them, I show them how to use different techniques to catch bass that are suspended or on the bottom.
9. Do your clients range from beginners to advanced, as far as angling is concerned?
Most of my customers fall in the intermediate category, but I get anglers from seasoned tournament pros to those that have never gone fishing before.
10. What advantages does an angler get from taking a guide trip on unfamiliar water?
For someone that doesn’t fish Fork very often, it is full of stumps, laydowns, and grass. Everywhere looks good. Instead of spending their time looking for the fish, we go right to hot spots and fish productive areas all day.
11. Describe a typical day with clients:
a) What time do you get started, and what time do you finish?
We start at first light and fish for 10 hours.
b) Are there any weather-related issues taken into consideration?
Other than lightening, Fork has enough sheltered coves that we can safely fish in most any condition. Often, the best fishing days are the nasty rainy and windy ones, so packing good foul weather gear is a must.
12. How many days do you guide per year?
It varies, depending on my tournament and bass fishing schedule in Mexico. With or without customers, I fish Fork at least five days a week when I’m in town, usually averaging 200 to 225 days fishing on Lake Fork each year.
13. Other than a means of income, what do you get out of guiding?
My accountant might disagree that it produces a means of income. It’s truly more of a lifestyle than a job. Fishing is the one thing I love to do more than anything else, so I savor every day that I’m out there. Even though I’ve fished Fork for a long time, conditions are perpetually changing every day, so it’s always fresh and a new challenge. In addition, I get to fish with a lot of great people. Many of my clients have turned into close personal friends.
14. Do you fish competitively, and in which circuits?
I’m currently fishing the FLW Stren Series.
15. Can you tell us about you personally?
I’ve been married to my wife, Jennifer, for 7 years. We have a 1 year-old son, Nathan.
I have a German Shorthair Pointer that should be a great hunting dog. With my fishing schedule, I don’t hunt much anymore, so she points butterflies in the backyard and makes a great heated blanket on cold nights.
c) Interests other than fishing?
Chasing around my little son takes up most of my free time and is a fun new adventure each day. My wife and I go hiking in the national parks in the Rocky Mountains from Colorado to Canada and Alaska for a couple weeks each summer.
16. Can you tell us your favorite story from a day on the water as a guide?
I’ve knocked myself out of the boat a few times over the years and my customers that witnessed those episodes probably enjoyed that the most. My favorite memory though is a customer from Illinois that caught his biggest bass ever with me one morning. I netted her for him and he was so excited to get his hands on her, he threw his rod in the lake. He was so wound up that he was not even aware that he did it. Luckily, his partner saw him do it and we were in shallow water, so we were able to retrieve his rod and reel. Seeing the expression on my customers’ faces after catching his or her biggest bass ever is probably my favorite thing about guiding.
17. Can you tell our readers how they can get a hold of you for a guided trip?
a) phone number
Day (214) 683-9572, Evening: (972) 635-6027
Thanks for a quick peek into your life as a guide on historic Lake Fork, Tom. For all the members and guests of UltimateBass.com, please check out the Lake Fork fishing reports posted by Tom in the Texas Bass Fishing Reports forum. Many of these reports have images of Tom’s clients catching lunker bass from Lake Fork.
I hope you enjoyed this first installment of “Guide Lines”, a new article series here at UltimateBass.com. We will continue to bring you innovative articles to keep you informed of the world of bass fishing. Now, go ahead and give Tom a call and book a day on one of the United States’ top bass lakes.
Eric Huber is the Editorial Team Leader here at UltimateBass.com, and he can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.