A great way to learn more about fishing is of course to pay for the services of a guide. In UK saltwater fishing we have plenty of professional charter skippers, but there are not very many shore guides that I am aware of. While it is perfectly normal in say fly fishing to hire a guide (or a ghillie) and work with their knowledge to better your fishing, our UK sea fishing culture is not really ingrained with using the services of a guide.
My post from the other day about lure fishing confusion got me thinking about this, as did an email from Tim Griffin alerting me to a bass guide I had never heard of (thank you). Yes, of course we all like to go out and do things ourselves, and I know that the idea of actually paying somebody to take you out shore fishing is anathema to many anglers, but I know of few more shortcuts to success than working with a decent guide. I have worked with loads of different guides and operations all over the world, but what about in the UK and Ireland ?
And also bear in mind that there are loads of professional bass fishing guides over in France, where their bass fishing "culture" tends to revolve around fast open boats and wildly exciting waters. As I learn more about this, so will you. Isn't it strange how working with guides and the attitudes surrounding it is so different from country to country, and also between the various fishing disciplines ?
The guide I can most wholeheartedly recommend for bass and also general shore fishing over in north Cornwall is of course Ed Schliffke (aka "Ed the Bass"). Ed used to take me and my brother out shore fishing some years ago now when we were down on family holidays near Padstow, and he is still one of the best there is. I will never forget those trips, and I lay some of the blame for my fishing addiction firmly at his door !! Ed knows his bass fishing big time. You can contact him here. Take on board what he advises you go for and you will have an awesome time. Take the kids out as well and spend time on one of the most beautiful coastlines there is.
I have worked a couple of times with an excellent bass and shore fishing guide over on the outrageously stunning Ring of Kerry in south west Ireland (in Waterville to be precise). Kevin Brain has a bad bass fishing addiction, and he puts lots of clients into plenty of fish. He emailed me the other day to say they have been having a spectacular winter on the bass. Why on earth do more bass freaks not spend more time over there in winter ? They also have a B&B where you can stay. Contact Kevin here and see a feature on him right here.
Bill Ryan works further up the coast from Kevin, on the equally pretty, wild, and rugged Clare coastline. He's one of the nicest guys you could ever hope to meet, and I very much look forward to working with Bill again. See a feature on Bill here, and contact him here. There is a huge amount of good fishing around here.
Tim Griffin told me of a professional bass fishing guide on the west coast of Wales, see here for all the details. I have not fished with these guys, but the operation they run comes highly recommended. I am also in contact with another angler setting up as a bass guide in Wales, so as and when I have more info, I will post it here.
There is of course my mate Nick Hart who is one of the best fly fishing guides and instructors I have ever worked with, anywhere. Nick also guides a fair bit of bass fishing on the fly, so do make sure to contact him here if you are coming to the westcountry. If you are from the saltwater or coarse fishing worlds, why not have a go at fly fishing ? It's a blast.
This is by no means the definitive list of bass and shore fishing guides, but I hope it helps for the moment. As I come across and fish/photograph with more, I will get the details up here and in the various fishing magazines I work for. Think about the time and money that can be spent on going to different places for fishing, and then work in the costs of a decent guide - suddenly it all makes sense when you are into fish that you might never have caught on your own. Local knowledge is key.