Introducing Others to Fishing with Josh Bertrand

Bucks Falcon Mercury

by Rob Lever

Josh Bertrand with a Happy Young Guide Client

Josh Bertrand with a Happy Young Guide Client

Right now in the fishing world there is a huge push to take the time and introduce the sport of fishing to others in the community who have not been able to get out and wet a line. Many in the industry have been doing this for years and a good number of professional anglers got their start by guiding on their local waters. This is how Bassmaster Elite Series Angler and Gilbert, Ariz. native Josh Bertrand started his career in fishing.

Bertrand got his start by guiding during the day and taking community college classes in the evening to get prepared for his future as a professional. “I was looking for any way to make a living fishing, and guiding was my first way in”, said Bertrand about his start. He said the he used guiding as a way to supplement his income while fishing local tournaments.   When asked what the most interesting part of guiding he said, “not only is the fishing side important but also getting along with the clients, putting their needs first, and making sure they are having the day they wanted to have.” He credits some of his friends for helping him learn what his clients’ hopes and expectations are for the day.

Boat Set Up
Bertrand stresses the importance of having a spacious, organized boat to work out of. “If you have your boat rigged and ready to go before a trip, you get instant credibility from your client.” This was important for Bertrand early on because he started at age 19 and many of his clients were much older than him. “When I first started I had to gain credibility every time I went out there, because people would think what can this young guy could know about fishing.”

He guided in and still fishes the tour out of a Nitro Z9. “The Z9 to me is the perfect guide boat because they are so wide and stable,” he explained. As for his set up he mentioned that he prefers to have one console for the extra room when there are multiple clients on the boat. His boat is equipped with Lowrance electronics and Power Poles and each serve a purpose that is invaluable to his day.

The Berkley Havoc Bottom Hopper is his Most Versatile Tool

The Berkley Havoc Bottom Hopper is his Most Versatile Tool

On the day of a trip Bertrand always has three set ups that he can use for almost any situation he comes across. The first is a spinning set up. “I always have a 7’ medium action Abu Garcia Veracity spinning rod paired up with a Abu Garcia SX size 30 spinning reel,” he said. “The reel has 8-pound-test Berkley NanoFil with an 8-pound-test Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon leader tied on it.” He said that this is a perfect all around combo that can be used for everything from skipping docks to dropshotting. Another great reason to have this rigged with NanoFil is because of the no stretch properties of the line. “Without the stretch it is easier for the non-experienced anglers to set the hook”. This is a great combo for beginners as well as guests who fish on a regular basis.

For those who are not novice fisherman, Bertrand carries a similar set up to the spinning but in a bait casting rig. He uses a 7’ medium action Abu Garcia Veracity casting rod paired with an Abu Garcia Revo SX 6:4:1 Bait Caster. “I put twelve pound Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon on it and this can be used for smaller crank baits, jerk baits, and other finesse style bait casting set ups.”

The last set up that the Rigid Industries Pro has on his deck is for an experienced client. He has a 7’6” medium-heavy action Abu Garcia Veracity casting rod paired with a Revo SX 6:4:1 bait caster. “For this I want to use fifteen to seventeen pound Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon line,” he said. “Clients can throw baits like a chatter bait, big spinner baits, jigs, and other big power fishing baits on this setup.”

When asked what his favorite technique to target fish on trips he said, “The drop shot is king because it is very easy to fish and is effective in many spots,” he said. “It doesn’t have to have an accurate cast and most of the time can be fished vertically.” Another effective way is to wacky rig a worm in shallow water when the fish are shallow like the early spring.

Bertrand and his Z9 Has Room for Clients

Bertrand’s Nitro Z9 Has Room for Clients

Bertrand’s bait of choice on his trips is a 6.25 inch Berkley bottom hopper in green pumpkin. He said that this color is effective in almost any situation and can be used for both dropshottting and wacky rigging. While this is a great way to catch fish, there are also times when using live bait is important.

While artificial bait is the first choice, Bertrand points out two cases where he will use live bait. “If fishing is going to be ultra-tough, or if I have little kids pan fishing I will throw a can of meal worms in the boat,” he said. “It’s all about the client having a good time so I will switch to live bait when needed.”

Customer Service
Before he qualified for the Elite Series Bertrand would do 150-200 trips a year with his company, The Arizona Fishing Guides. Over the years he learned many ways to help his clients enjoy their day. “It’s all about confidence,” he said. “If they haven’t caught anything in the first couple hours I’ll bring them to a spot and have them catch twenty to thirty bluegill and fire them back up.”

Bertrand stresses the importance of being honest with your guest and never set expectations too high for the day you are on the water. “Don’t go out on a post front day and talk about all the seven pounders someone caught on another trip,” he said. “On those tough days it is important to still have your clients laughing and joking.” It is important to understand that you are in control of the day and you will have to whatever you can do to make sure they have a good day.

Getting out and sharing your passion for the water can be rewarding in many ways. You don’t have to be a professional guide like Bertrand to make a difference in someone’s life. We can take these few tips from a professional guide and Elite Series pro and introduce our friends and others to this amazing sport.