August 2008

A Talk With ‘Tatter’ -
Arizona Guide Extraordinaire Jerry Tate Tells His Story

GUIDING GURU -- Call him "Jerry," or "J.T." or "Tatter" or "The Professor," it's all the same: Jerry Tate is one of Arizona's most experienced, skilled, and successful guides for hunting or fishing. He also has extensive saltwater and Northwest experience. Tate started J.T.'s Guide Service ( (623-547-7265) in 1996.


Jerry Tate

My father and mother lived off the land when they began their family, and this is where I obtained the roots of my knowledge of hunting, fishing, and basic survival in the outdoors. 

Dad was a cowboy, farmer, and equipment operator. The Tate family came from Oklahoma in 1951, and I have lived in Arizona since. The rest of my family is now scattered all over the United States.

Enter MWD

In 1992, I started working for Maricopa Water District (MWD), and then in 1994, I began at Lake Pleasant for MWD as a building inspector for Pleasant Harbor RV Resort and the Pleasant Harbor Marina buildings.

 Also, I was involved in the operation and maintenance for Lake Pleasant River Outlet Works (ROW).  ROW is the distribution of water through the dam into the MWD canal.

Meanwhile, I was planning.


A Dream Come True

J T’s Guide Service has always been a dream of mine, a dream that has now come true. J T’s Arizona Hunting and Fishing Guide service was started in 1996.

 My saltwater experiences include over 300 days fishing in the Gulf of Mexico from various vessels. I have taken numerous trips off the Oregon Coast in a 50-foot vessel.

 With my background of tournament fishing, pleasure fishing, and hunting in Arizona since 1961 and spending many days watching wildlife habits, needs, and wants, I was prepared to be a guide.

There are four things animals need: food, water, shelter and space. My job as a guide is being aware of these needs and paying close attention to the seasonal migration and habits of each species.

 Taking the above knowledge and applying it to fishing with 1,400 photos of Lake Pleasant at its lowest elevation and applying it to bass and other aquatic species, I have gained the knowledge to locate fish during various seasons and conditions, which also has aided in my winning two bass boats and several thousand dollars.


Hunting As Well As Fishing

J T’ s Guide service is mainly about fishing, though, I assist hunters in particular hunting units by putting them in the proper location to successfully harvest wildlife. I am proud to say that because of my guidance (and her own natural skill, of course), my wife Stephanie has herself harvested six elk, numerous deer and javelina during archery season

 My busiest time as a guide is November through April. During this season, we have hunting — the initial opening of the season for various species begins the last part of August and goes through March. 

Also, during this period, the winter visitors are arriving, seeking knowledge and guide trips for Arizona waterways. Therefore, the demand for seminars and guide trips are at their peak. 

I give seminars throughout the Valley as well as at Pleasant Harbor RV Resort from November through April each year.

 From May through September, the Arizona heat discourages many fishermen but does not affect the catching of fish. It is not uncommon for 50 to 100 fish to be caught daily during these extreme temperatures. 

 Also, I am co-host (better known as “The Tatter“ or “The Professor”) of a radio show “Shake Rattle and Troll” with host Don McDowell each Sunday morning from 7 to 9 a.m. on KKNT 960 AM.

More About ‘The Professor’

Tate not only locates the fish for his clients, but also he gives them what they require to actually catch the fish. He provides — without charge — fishing equipment; rods, reels, line, tackle and sometimes live bait, depending on what species clients are wanting to harvest.

He baits the hook, nets the fish, takes the fish off the hook once the fish is in the boat, and he cleans the fish for the clients. The client does nothing but catch the fish.

 Tate also provides a one-half-day teaching trip. He starts at the dock teaching; this is where you begin to locate the fish every fishing trip because every day is a new day for you and the fish. The fish will not necessarily be in the same pattern or location they were yesterday.

At what point a client actually starts a lesson depends on his or her level of experience. Tate teaches on subjects such as electronics and how to set them up as well as how to read them.

His lessons include how to match the rod, reel, line, weight, and bait. He also teaches about the bass as a species and their seasonal patterns. Again, this depends on the client’s fishing experience. He tries not to overwhelm the client with all the information he provides in such a short period of time. The lesson is usually four hours long.

 For seminars on hunting or fishing as well as guide trips and on-the-water lessons, please contact me at (623) 547-7265 between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Arizona time.

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