Some thoughts about leaving reviews for Top End fishing charters

I’ve been a professional fishing guide running Top End fishing charters for around 20 years and I’ve started seeing a few disappointing reviews on TripAdvisor and Google written about some Darwin operators, including myself, so I thought I’d write this guide on how to leave reviews that are honest and accurate so that they’re fair for everybody.

Some of the key points I will touch on include:

  • Important points to remember about fishing
  • How to understand what your fishing guide is doing
  • A humble reminder about the Dunning Kruger effect
  • The best mindset for making the most of a fishing trip

Important points to remember about fishing

We live in a time where we can rightfully expect everything we want to be available at the flick of a switch, from the latest movie or TV show to a tasty meal delivered to our door with the swipe of an app.

Fishing, however, is one of those aspects of life that hasn’t been tamed. It is still a wild, primeval activity in which we need to use our wits and experience to hunt.

Even the word itself, fishing, means to search or investigate with the hope of snaring a prize.

Those of us who have done this for a living for a long time, know and respect the fact that the outcome of any given day can be different from our expectation.

In short, this sport or pastime is called Fishing not Catching, for a reason.

To fish means to hunt, and hunting demands sharp skills, patience, and knowledge of the creature being hunted and its habitat.

And this is what makes fishing such a popular pastime, something that 98% of all men, women, and children have done at least once in their lives.

It’s also what has kept me “hooked” on it for most of my life.

How to understand what your fishing guide is doing

There’s something I noticed in common between the handfuls of negative reviews for Top End fishing charter operators.

By and large, the writers seem to be frustrated by not understanding what their fishing guide was doing.

For example, I saw one reviewer comment that their fishing guide didn’t listen to them and just kept trying to do the same things that weren’t working. This was about a guide who had a lot of experience in how to fish and catch Barramundi.

The fact of the matter is that there are a lot of methods involved and experience required to carry out this sport professionally, and some of the techniques professionals use might seem counterintuitive to novice anglers.

Even more so, some of the methods we use might seem frustratingly stubborn and repetitive to the untrained eye.

However, because I’ve been a professional for 20-odd years you can rest assured I’ve had my share of bad and good days in my guiding career so I can tell you that whether it’s me or a different operator in Darwin, nobody in the boat will be feeling more desperate, disappointed, frustrated and right down and out than your own fishing guide if the day is slow.

So, in times like this, while out on the water, instead of telling the guide what you’d do, it is a rare opportunity to learn from them by asking your guide to explain what they’re thinking and what they’re doing.

Most guides I know will appreciate your interest and give you a deeper experience on the day.

I’d also bet that a few conversations like that through the day will completely lift your experience, even if you come back empty handed.

A humble reminder about the Dunning Kruger effect

If you’re an expert in your field, you’ll appreciate this.

Imagine someone coming to your work or your farm and telling you how to do things better when they’ve had no experience or very little.

Two researchers, Dunning and Kruger, noticed this some years ago and developed this theory to explain why many humans fall for this.

In short, the theory says that when someone is a novice at something, they think they know a lot more than they do. On the other hand, when someone is deeply experienced, they really appreciate how much more there is to learn about their field or their subject.

This is why it’s not uncommon to see first-time anglers complain in reviews that their guide didn’t try something they told them to. Among all the Top End fishing charters guides I know, I can bet there’d be a million reasons why they might have respectfully not taken directions from a novice.

For example, when it comes to fishing, especially barramundi fishing, it can be the most frustrating day if you don’t follow the bite time, bait, lures, water temperature, depth, location, etc. At the same time, we need to understand that there are very few beings on this planet that eat 24 hours a day, and that goes for fish. If they’re not “hungry”, the best bait or lure in the world is not going to attract them. Think about you after a huge feast – are you really attracted by someone coming to offer you more food?

My tip for review writers at this point is to ponder the Dunning Kruger effect and consider how it might be impacting what you’re about to write.

Better still, if you’re still to head out on your first fishing charter, you’ll get the best out of your trip by understanding this effect first. Which brings me to my last part of this article.

The best mindset for making the most from a fishing trip

With everything I’ve witnessed over the years and all the happy groups who have become repeat customers, I can see one thing that binds them all together.

The people who love every fishing trip they’ve been on have adopted a mindset of curiosity and adventure.

When you head out to “hunt”, the experienced hunter or fisher will be one who respects their prey and gets completely absorbed in the process rather than the outcome.

People who love their fishing trips will be at one with their guide. They’ll be able to see that there are fish right there on the sounder, side scan, and sonar, they’ll know they are right under the boat, and they’ll be totally focused on the “game” and ready to work with their guide rather than get frustrated.

Thankfully, fishing is one of those sports where nothing is for sure, it’s the unknown factor and that is what excites us.

So, to get the most from your fishing experience with me or any of my counterparts here in Darwin, my advice is to keep your “catch expectations” low and focus on the challenge. After all, the excitement in many things, even in buying a lotto ticket, is that you don’t know if you’ll win but you’ll still be on tenterhooks until the prize draw.

I will play a role in helping you get the most from your fishing trip by some gentle reminders about how first time or novice fishers probably shouldn’t expect to land a trophy, 100cm Barramundi this early in their fishing career. Just as a first time or novice footy player shouldn’t expect to win the Grand Final for their team on their first day.

So, it seems it’s not just fish. Us humans are pretty mysterious as well.

Tight lines I will chase em for ya … and it all starts by browing our Top End fishing charters and tours.

Micky Qaiser

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