The majority of our guide trips are either for largemouth bass or catfish. On a seasonal basis we also guide for crappie, smallmouth bass, bluegill and occasional other species. Capt. Ben Hayes is dedicated solely to traditional largemouth bass fishing (with artificial lures). Other guides also occasionally fish for bass (largemouth and smallmouth) using live bait, however these trips are on a seasonal basis. We guide for catfish 365 days a year. Return to Questions
When do you guide for crappie?
Crappie can be caught on Chickamauga Lake 365 days a year. But most of that time requires advanced techniques and skill levels. Therefore we ONLY book guide trips for crappie in the late winter and early spring. We prefer long-line trolling where ANYONE - even novice anglers and young children - can catch fish. We usually begin these trips in February and go until the first week of April. Our favorite time is usually the last two or three weeks of March and the first week of April. These trips are extremely popular and our available dates typically book up FAR in advance. Return to Questions
How many people can you take fishing?
All of our boats can carry two anglers most comfortably. It can be a little crowded but we regularly do trips with three anglers. Two of our boats are large enough to carry four people, however depending upon the style of fishing, usually only three people can fish at a time. The fourth person has to take turns. There is a small surcharge above our posted Rates for the 4th person ($25 for a Half-Day, $50 for a Full-Day). Return to Questions
What time do your trips go out?
Usually (but not always) our preference is to begin trips at first light. However, we are totally flexible and if your preference (or schedule) is to start fishing later in the day, we will be happy to adjust accordingly. Return to Questions
Are we guaranteed to catch fish?
No, our guides are excellent but Mother Nature always has the last word. However it is EXTREMELY unusual to not catch fish. Specifically, Capt. Richard Simms has been guiding for catfish since 2006. In all those years he has only been out on two trips when clients failed to catch catfish (and both of those were winter trips). Return to Questions
What is the best time of year to catch big (trophy) fish?
Whenever anyone asks this we always ask, "What is your definition of "big?" You might want to review our Wall of Fame. Fishing for trophy bass or catfish is like playing the lottery. You never really know when a big one will hit. It can potentially happen 365 days a year.
That said, the majority of the biggest bass (10 lbs. and up) on Chickamauga Lake are probably caught in February and March. Fishing for big bass that time of year, you will NOT catch a lot of fish. But it is the best time to catch trophy bass. Gabe Keen's Tennessee State Record bass (15 lbs. 3 ounces) was caught on Chickamauga Lake Feb. 13, 2015.
The AVERAGE size catfish we catch weighs between five and ten pounds. For many (or most) anglers, that's big and we catch those year-round (especially April thru October). However our guides usually consider a trophy cat as anything 30 lbs. and up. It varies year-to-year based on weather conditions, but the best time of year for those is usually late March through early May, with April normally being the prime month. Fall months, as the weather and water cools, can often be good months as well.
Our smallmouth fishery is best in the tailwaters downstream from Chickamauga Dam. Catching trophy smallmouth (4 lbs. and up) is a moving target and some years are better than others. However again, April thru early June is our favorite time. If we're catching smallmouth (or largemouth) in the tailwaters we often do "Combo Trips," spending part of our fishing day pursuing bass using live bait, and part of our fishing day catfishing. Those combo trips are seasonal, depending upon the bite. The hot weather months are definitely the worst time to try and catch smallmouth. Return to Questions
How far in advance do we need to contact you to book a fishing trip?
This is EXTREMELY variable and difficult to predict. Our high-demand dates, especially spring weekends, regularly book up a month or two in advance (sometimes much more). If you can come on a weekday you stand a better chance of booking a date with less notice. And during the summer tourist season, we are often able to accommodate trips on less notice. But as a rule, you should always try and book as far out as you possibly can... but never hesitate to contact us about a potential trip even if it is one short notice. Return to Questions
Where is the best place to stay if we come from out-of-town for a fishing trip?
Our guide trips do NOT include a fishing license. Please see the "Fishing Licenses" section of our Rates page for information on purchasing a Tennessee fishing license (if you don't already have one). We provide all fishing equipment, all bait, water and good attitudes. YOU provide - Sunscreen, sunglasses, food, snacks, soft drinks, alcoholic beverage (in moderation), cooler/ice if you want to keep fish (We do NOT clean fish), weather-appropriate clothing. MOST IMPORTANT! BRING YOUR DESIRE TO HAVE FUN! Return to Questions
What is your cancellation policy?
If we have to cancel a trip due to severe weather or water conditions, we will either reschedule your trip as possible or provide a full refund of your deposit - your choice. If you cancel a trip with more than three weeks notice, we will refund your deposit. If you cancel with less than three weeks notice, we hold the deposit but will reschedule your trip at the earliest mutually convenient date during the same calendar year. Return to Questions
Can we keep the fish we catch?
Yes, you are more than welcome to keep any legal fish you catch (there are size limits on largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and crappie). However, we do NOT clean fish. Any fish you keep, you are responsible for caring for. We ask folks who want to keep fish to bring an ice chest (or two) with ice. We keep fish in a livewell while we are fishing and then will put them in your cooler for transport home. Return to Questions