Larry's Fishing Hole

Guide or no Guide ? – Part 2 "A day as a Guide"

  For anglers who have never hired a guide, we hope part 1 last month helped point out the benefits of a guide and answer some questions. For those that have hired a guide, you know about the only thing you need to do is make it to the pick-up site on time, enjoy the day fishing, learn some new techniques and go home with a bag of cleaned fish ready for freezer or a fish fry. As mentioned we went to Norfork Lake in Arkansas a couple days in mid-April for the opportunity to do some spring Striper fishing with Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters who has been fishing and guiding on Norfork for over 25 years.
  We hope to show how it is beneficial to hire a guide and that a guide is not at all too costly. As boat owners when we decide on a fishing trip or just a day of fishing, there is several hours of preparing the boat, checking motor, charging batteries, gassing up, lining up the correct rods and reels, sorting out the right lures or getting bait and taking care of launch fees, etc. Therefore, when we set this spring for our Striper trip with Tom, we told him we wanted the full experience of not only the fishing but what a guide has to go through for every fishing trip. He smiled and said, so you want the Extreme Fishing Trip?
  With that, here is Part 2, A day as a Guide: Since he had already done some prep, got bait and gas the evening before all we had to do was get up at 4:30am in morning for some coffee and toast, then help Tom put together cooler with waters, help him load rods and gear than headed to the lake. Next was loading the boat, arrange gear, checking bait & batteries then lowering the boat in the water. As it was not light yet, Tom had a small flashlight he held in his mouth to sort and position rods in the boat as we got underway for a 20 minute boat ride. Stopping in a bay like area Tom immediately started baiting lines while giving us some instructions on not only how to be sure a fish is hooked, but how to grab the rod and proper reeling technique for these 9-10 foot rods along with what to do if a side rod has a fish on and how to pickup other rods as the fish will run. He blew up small balloons and ties one on the two rods out the back of the boat and we let out line till he says “That is far enough”. I got to tell you, this is the first time we have ever fished the balloon technique and it was exciting to learn. Next he baited and set out a line on each side of the boat for us with planer boards which we used before but could not wait to see it in action with these stripers. These could be adjusted to run out away from the boat into shallower water nearer shore or along bluff. Lastly he baited and set out one or sometimes two down rigs deeper alongside the boat as we start our slow troll.
  In just a matter of minutes Linda’s rod went down, Tom says Grab it and the fight was on till Tom nets the fish and says it is a small fish. Wow, seems like a real nice fish to us as Linda says “what a fight it put up”, now our instructions on picking up other rods made sense. After a couple more of those, we pick up and moved to another spot where the next hit came quick but a much bigger fight and a much better fish. Now I am pumped as we sat watching rods when shortly the shad on my side planer board surfaces and a striper busted it. Man was that an exciting fight with a shorter line. After landing a couple of these Big fish we were HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY.!
  Seeing we needed to unwind, Tom says the bait is getting low and as us wanting to experience getting bait, he flushed and refilled bait tank and headed up a creek arm till seeing shad busting the surface where Tom suited up for this messy task. As he gets the casting net out he tells me to sort out the medium to large shad and keep count till 75. This took a little time and an exhausting task. Lunch was next with a short rest and back on the water for an Awesome evening bite up till dark. Once back in the marina Tom cleaned and bagged our fish, put boat on lift, checked bait, plug-in batteries, gather up rods and reels to check and re-rig.
  Next morning we got a little earlier start with the same routine and within a few seconds the first line went off with the biggest fish of the trip landed. We just took the photo when another rod went down with another real nice fish. By late afternoon sitting quietly having a snack Tom asked if were enjoying this and if we had questions. Enjoying this would be putting it mild but we do have a question when is dinner. He could take us in but he had to run up the lake to get bait for next two days, wait a minute, we want to go through the whole experience and a boat ride might be fun. So we picked up and headed up the lake quite a ways where the shad were harder to find this time taking many many more casts for him to net shad needed and after 2 ½-3 hours I was wet, tired and hungry but truly enjoyed it but was still amazed at the time and work involved. Returning to marina he washed out and fueled up the boat that took $100, is a guide too costly -YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING!
  We wish to thank Tom Reynolds for maybe the best experience we have had on the water. Hopefully you got to see some of our photos we and Tom posted, if not go to and go to Photo Gallery 2013.
  With us being used to doing it all ourselves, sometimes the hardest part is letting someone else help but as we get older we really appreciate enjoying fishing with less work. Hopefully we have helped you to realize that hiring a guide is beneficial and a real time-saving investment that is not at all too costly.
  This was not only one of the most memorable fishing trips but we learned so much along with taking in all the Beautiful sites in the Mountain Home area, the fantastic meals at Sean’s Restaurant ( There are many nice places to stay, one of which looked interesting near the lake was the Cabin by the Creek ( and while talking with Greg of Hand Cove Resort, we discovered that Baxter County has 2-lakes, 5-rivers. Including the White River and is the Bass boat manufacturing capital of U.S with 5 major brands. Therefore, we highly recommend you look into spending time in this area and let STR Outfitters provide you with professional guide services for fishing if you visit Norfork Lake by calling (877) 246-4896, or on web at
  Visit us at if you have questions or for current fishing reports, fishing events and fishing photos & more.

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