All right, you really enjoy fishing, but you wish you were better at it. Catch more fish. Catch bigger fish. Catch fish more consistently.

There is a fairly simple route to improving your fishing ability.

Hire a guide.

Consider a day with a professional guide, even a half day, as an investment. You pay good money for that reel that works so smoothly and efficiently. You lay down big bucks for a box full of lures. You don’t hesitate to spend quite a bit for a couple of rods like the professionals use.

So think about paying a hundred and a half, two hundred dollars, maybe a bit more, for an outing with a guide. Usually this is for two people, so include your spouse, a child, perhaps a grandchild. It should be an educational experience for all of you, and it will if you let it be.

In Arkansas, fishing guides usually work with resorts, boat docks or marinas. They may be employees, but often they work on their own with the boat dock receiving a portion of the fee you pay.

In Arkansas, we have professional guides on several trout waters. We have largemouth bass guides on a number of lakes. We have striped bass guides on several lakes, we have walleye guides in a few places and we have crappie guides in a few places.

A guide is a teacher, although his or her stated duty is to give you, the client, an enjoyable fishing experience on a particular body of water.

In most cases, you schedule a trip with a guide through the boat dock that guide is associated with. You make a reservation, and this can be well in advance or the day before your trip. It’s not a good idea to just show up at the boat dock and say, "I want to fish with a guide today." The answer may be, "Sorry, all our guides are already booked for the day."

The dock will give you prices — half day or full day. You pay with cash, check or plastic. The money you spend takes care of equipment and bait or the use of lures, although you’re free to bring your own. Suggestion: Use the guide’s gear. It will be part of the day’s learning experience.

Drinks like colas and water are usually included in the fee. Sometimes snacks are included. Lunch may or may not be included. If it is a trout fishing guided trip, the shore lunch is a tradition that most anglers find enjoyable as well as tasty.

Most of all, listen and listen well to the guide. Watch what is going on, how the guide handles everything associated with that particular type of fishing.

If you are talking outside of asking questions, you ain’t listening.

Most Arkansas fishing guides are storytellers, and this doesn’t mean fibs. They help entertain you with an assortment of vignettes of past fishing and even opinions on a variety of topics. Listen to these, and some useful information may come forth.

Usually, the guide will rig up your rods and let you do the fishing. Sometimes if catches are paltry, the guide will fish to make sure there is a limit brought in for the outing. With a youngster not skilled in fishing, a guide may even hook a fish and hand the rod to the kid to bring the fish to the boat.

When the day’s fishing is finished, seriously consider giving the guide a cash tip, especially if your fish are cleaned for you to take home.