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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I need a license?
All persons aboard a "Reel Men" vessel who are 16 years of age and older that are planning on fishing must have a New York state fishing license. These are available for 1 day, 7 days, or full season for both residents and non-residents. Click here for a more detailed description of fishing license requirements.

You can purchase a NYS fishing license on line or at any Walmart store.

To get a NYS fishing license on-line right now, go to the following website:

To purchase a fishing license locally please stop by Sam Smith’s Boat yard.

Sam Smith’s Boat yard is located on Route 80 just 2 miles north of Cooperstown and is open 7 days from 8:30 AM until 5:00 PM (Call 607-547-2543). Please make sure to get your license no later than the day BEFORE we go fishing.

2. Where can I stay?
There is plenty of lodging around both lakes. Please visit our Links & Resources to find a variety of places to stay all within 20 minutes of "Reel Men" Guide Service and Cooperstown.

3. Can I bring my own fishing equipment or can I use yours?
If you prefer to bring your own equipment you may do so, however, "Reel Men" strongly suggest that if you can use a spinning rod and reel, you should use the rods that we provide for you. We understand that many anglers do not have enough experience to know how to use some of the equipment. Please be sure to be honest with your guide about your fishing ability so that we can best suit you with the proper rod and reel. Younger anglers are more than welcome and we will work specially with them to make sure they have a good experience.

4. Why should I choose Reel Men?
"Reel Men" guides have years of experience angling these two specific lakes. People have had their best fishing outings ever with "Reel Men" guides. Rates are affordable and Reel Men will work with you to best accommodate yours and your family’s fishing needs. Reel Men guides go after “big” fish and will teach you exactly how to effectively catch more fish more often. Reel Men guides are looking forward to getting to know you and helping you catch bigger fish more often and having a great time in the process.

5. Am I guaranteed to catch fish?
Of course there is a reason why it’s called fishing and not catching. Your best chances of catching fish on these lakes will be with Reel Men guides. Sometimes the weather does not cooperate and it is very difficult for anyone to catch fish.

If this happens, we would be glad to take you out again for a discounted price later in the same week.

6. What should I bring?
Bring food and drinks for yourselves, sunscreen, polarized sunglasses, hat, rain suit if the forecast is for rain ("Reel Men" have limited rain suits onboard just in case), a new lure that you would like to try out ("Reel Men" probably already have it), a camera.

7. Can I keep the fish I catch?
"Reel Men" like to practice catch and release. If you catch a perch, rock bass, or sunfish and wish to keep it for dinner, your guide will filet it for you after a picture is taken of you and your fish. (Rock bass, perch, & sunfish are delicious to eat and abundant in both lakes.) To preserve the great bass fisheries in both lakes, we will strongly urge you to release all bass caught in both lakes after your picture is taken with your fish.  If you catch a trophy bass you may want to kill it to have it mounted, however, we urge you to release the fish after measuring it carefully and taking pictures of it and you can have a replica mount done of your trophy fish without killing it. These mounts are beautiful and last much longer and are usually less expensive than skin mounts.

8. What does a Reel Men Guide do?
Your guide will pick you up by boat or meet you at the lake. Take you to the best fishing spots; Provide and rig your poles and lines; Cast for you if needed; Bait your hooks and remove fish that are caught; Net fish; Take pictures; Clean fish if necessary; Educate anglers; Bring you back to your pick-up point; Make sure you have a great time fishing.