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some fishing Tips...
In our quest to deal with all things pertaining to angling travel, we’re going to take on a tough one in this article, although we may offend some people in the process. Lately, however, we’ve been getting an increasing number of phone calls concerning the issue of tipping. Based on these conversations (and trip experiences of our own), we can tell you that there are many anglers who are not very happy with some guides and lodge owners. We think it’s time to take the lid off this nasty little issue.
We repeatedly hear two things: First, anglers feel that many guides now simply expect big tips. These anglers do not appreciate this attitude, as they see tipping as a reward, not an entitlement. Secondly, these anglers feel that many lodge owners have made tips something close to mandatory and because of this, many anglers feel used and misled by published prices. We feel it’s time to address some of these concerns and at least put the problem “on the table”, in hopes that both guides and lodges will see the other side. Destination angling can be an expensive proposition. The airline tickets, guide and lodge fees, not to mention the tackle, all add up. It just seems like bad business policy on the part of the lodges to have anglers depart with a bad taste in their mouth because of some short-sighted tipping policy.
So with the hope of giving voice to these concerns... here goes our rant:
The last time we checked, “tips” were given to a guide or lodge as a gesture for exceptional service or as a reward for a job well done.  It seems, however, that the definition of tipping has changed.  For example, we recently had occasion to visit a lodge in the Bahamas.  To our great surprise, when given our final bill, our invoice had a 15% gratuity added on.  Here’s a news flash... this is not a tip.  There is nothing optional about it.  It is a required payment, and as such, it is absurd.  If this is what you are going to charge, tell us upfront, before we choose your lodge.  We even had one lodge owner tells us that customers were expected to tip a certain amount or they would not be allowed to come back!  The question is, do we even want to go in the first place given this attitude?  We know that lodge employees work hard, but we don’t like the idea of mandatory tips.  Are lodge owners underpaying their staff and getting by via a “promise” of big tips?  If so, this is a very underhanded way of supplementing the “payroll” to bring employee wages up to reasonable level.  In this situation, your gratuity ceases to be a gratuity and becomes part of the price of the trip.  This practice is deceptive and the lodges that use this tactic need to change their ways!  If you are advertising price X to be competitive, but really requiring price Y at the end, you are practicing to deceive. We suggest you STOP IT!
And while we’re on a good old fashioned rant, here’s a salvo leveled at some guides: We have often seen, as a destination becomes popular, guides who were once happy to have a good job doing something they liked, become jaded and lazy, yet still expecting the big tip at the end of the day.  Here’s another news flash: You are not entitled to a tip.  It is an OPTIONAL reward for a job well done!  Theoretically, clients have already paid for your services upfront.  Don’t expect to automatically receive more.  You must earn a tip.  If you are not getting paid enough, take it up with management. It is a gift over and above payment due for services.  It is NOT an automatic payment at the end of uninspired day. 
Our clients frequently ask us how much to tip. Our response is that you should tip a guide based on how hard he works to find fish and what he does to help you.  Tipping is not necessarily a function of numbers of fish caught, but more so of the effort put forth in the process.  Some of the biggest tips we have ever given have been on those tough fishing days when our guide has had to work exceptionally hard to give us every possible shot.  We appreciate hard work and think tips are usually warranted.  But the amount should be our CHOICE.
Let us repeat, we are not against tips.  We are just sick and tired of the assumption that a tip is going to be given or that it should automatically be added to your invoice. It is so refreshing to be with guides who do not expect a tip, but instead work hard to help their guests get the most out of what the tide, wind, and weather offer up on any given day. Like most things in life, attitude is everything.  The good guides (and the ones we recommend) understand this, and realize that a tip is something that they have to work to earn. We encourage you to talk with guides and lodge owners about this and let them know what you think.  If you say nothing, things will continue to head south