2004-10-08 / Columnists

On The Bayfront

By Elisa Hinken

Did you ever want to take up a sport, such as fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, whitewater rafting and canoeing, or rock and ice climbing? Did you ever want to have specialized, one-to-one instruction and guidance? Well, there are lots of licensed guides in New York State that can give you that personalized instruction and service. They are licensed by the New York State De-partment of Environmental Conservation.

Individuals engaging in the business of guiding on all lands and waters of the state must possess a license issued by the D.E.C., except for persons operating or assisting upon a public vessel for hire (passenger carrying vessels), licensed by the United States Coast Guard or New York State while on the following waters: the Atlantic Ocean, the Hudson River up to the Troy Barrier Dam, the St. Lawrence River and the navigable portion of its tributaries, the Great Lakes and the navigable portion of their tributaries, Lake Champlain and the navigable portion of its tributaries, Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake and the navigable portion of their tributaries.

Guides must make an application and submit it to the DEC, along with a physician’s statement of physical ability to guide. There are rules and regulations the guide must have knowledge of. There is a written test the guide must pass.

At the time of licensing and throughout the term of the license, applicants for a guides license must hold current certification in Community First Aid, CPR, and Community Water Safety through the American Red Cross or an acceptable equivalent. These certifications are not needed when applying to take the exam, but are required before a license will be issued.

Other requirements include the submission of the Physician’s Statement of Physical Ability, which must be completed on the department form and must also have the physician’s original signature. The physician’s statement is not needed to take the exam, but must be received prior to a license being issued and cannot be more than 30 days old when it is submitted to this office. In addition, hunting and fishing guide applicants must submit a copy of a current hunting and/or fishing sporting license. Whitewater rafting/canoeing applicants must submit documentation of having completed five trips on each river they wish to be licensed. Whitewater canoe/kayak applicants must hold current instructor status for whitewater canoeing and/or kayaking.

Rock and ice climbing applicants must submit a notarized climbing resume. This resume will be reviewed and must meet a minimum level of climbing experience as listed on the Rock and Ice Climbing Information Sheet.

As you can see, guides must be well educated at what they do. They also must be ready to handle any emergency that comes up. Guides are surely the best way to safely learn a new sport. As a birthday, anniversary or even a holiday gift, why not hire a guide for your loved one or a friend – or even a couple. Guides are educators too. You will learn so much, and learn the sport the right way the first time, rather than picking up bad habits from friends who bring you along.

We are very lucky to having lots of fishing guides here on Long Island. Now that the fall run of Striped Bass is upon us, many people hook up with a guide to make the best of their fishing expedition – whether on a boat or in the “suds” of the Atlantic Ocean. Rich Johnson from East Atlantic Beach is probably the best known guide around – since he has his own radio and television show to add publicity to his forte. You can visit his website at www. thefishingline.com. If you are thinking of cashing in on the great bluefish action in Jamaica Bay, see Capt. Tony and Capt. Ken at www.theangler.com. A great boat and a great place for a beginner to start! Tell them Elisa sent you.

My husband and I have always had the dream of flying to Canada in the summer and salmon fish at a fishing camp – which are very remote and only accessible by propeller planes that land on the water. Of course there is a guide available at the site – I wouldn’t want to have it any other way!

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