The Average Salary of a Fishing Guide

by Marlene Affeld ; Updated October 17, 2017

Fishing guides should have the experience and expertise to maintain, repair and operate fishing gear and equipment.

Stephen Schauer/Photodisc/Getty Images

Fishing is an outdoor recreational activity enjoyed by millions of people around the world. For most people, fishing is a hobby. A select few have turned their passion into a profession. Working as a fishing guide is an ideal way to have an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors while earning a substantial income.


Experience is the biggest factor in progressing from avid enthusiast to expert. Talented anglers improve their skills and catch record trophy fish with patience, persistence and practice. Guides must be proficient in fishing techniques, fishing rules and regulations, fish species, fish habitat, boating safety and wilderness and water survival. Fishing guides should be in good physical condition. Fishing requires mechanical aptitude, physical strength and excellent coordination. Fishing guides may work in difficult or dangerous conditions and should have the experience and expertise to maintain, repair and operate fishing gear and equipment.

Job Description

A fishing guide is responsible for organizing and conducting fishing trip for groups and individuals. The guide plans the destination and itinerary for fishing trips, applying personal experience and local knowledge of streams, rivers, lakes and oceans. A guide may arrange transport of fishermen, gear and supplies requiring land vehicles, boats or air transport. Fishing guides may pilot airplanes or operate land and water vehicles. State and/or federal operating licenses are required.

Training, Certification & Licensing

Fishing guides require many skills beyond knowing how and where to catch fish. A fishing guide must master essential outdoor skills such as orienteering with a map, compass and GPS, wilderness survival, camp cooking, photography, CPR and outdoor first aid. Fishing guides should be prepared for every outdoor emergency. Anglers are exposed to life-threatening hazards including falling overboard and injuries from fish hooks or equipment.

Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) Certification is a highly desired certification available to fishing guides. Administered by the National Recreation and Park Association, certification is offered to candidates with qualifying education and experience requirements. Candidates for the national exam must hold bachelor’s degrees from recognized programs accredited by the Council on Accreditation in leisure services, recreation or park resources and have a minimum one year of field experience. Candidates with bachelor's degrees in other fields are required to have three years of field experience. Applicants with high school degrees are required to have at least five years of field experience.

All states require that fishing guides obtain a state license. A guide's license allows and authorizes the licensed person to aid, direct, instruct or assist another person in taking fish and to charge a fee for services rendered. Rules and regulations vary by state. Each state sets its own guidelines for experience, training classes and examination requirements. Fishing guide licenses are renewed annually.


Fishing guides set their own fee schedules. Fees are normally negotiable, rather than fixed. Fees vary dependent on the services provided and the number of people in a group. A fishing guide’s reputation is the benchmark for establishing fees. Fees for overnight trips are higher than rates for day trips. Fishing guides charge from $75 to $200 per day, per person. Work as a fishing guide is often seasonal. Annual income is dependent on the number of trips booked each year. The United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the annual average income for individuals working in the fishing industry as of May 2010 is $27,880 or $13.75 per hour. Fishing guides employed by resorts or outdoor adventure travel planners normally work for daily, weekly or monthly salaries. Dependent on the location, meals and lodging may be provided. Guides normally receive a gratuity (tip) from each customer or group. Tips are often quite generous, an added bonus for a job well done. Many fishing guides supplement their income and reputation by entering fishing tournaments.

Photo Credits

  • Stephen Schauer/Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

A passionate writer for more than 30 years, Marlene Affeld writes of her love of all things natural. Affeld's passion for the environment inspires her to write informative articles to assist others in living a green lifestyle. She writes for a prominent website as a nature travel writer and contributes articles to other online outlets covering wildlife, travel destinations and the beauty of nature.