When you are looking for any new dog that you have a desired/required purpose for beyond just being a foot warmer, it is VERY important to look for at least three generations of pedigree for both of the parents. In a retriever the things to look for are performance titles before the name Field Champion(FC) Amateur Field Champion(AFC) or after the name Master Hunter(MH) or ***, which denote Qualified All Age(field trial equivalent to hunt test Master Hunter). The more titles, the more proven the line will be and the greater potential to have a pup with your desired hunting traits.
Before I started campaigning tests and trials, I felt dogs with Senior Hunter(SH) titles were enough, until I found out just how easy that title is to obtain. Bench Champions(Ch) are bred for appearance and in many/most cases the hunting instincts have been minimized or removed by breeding in exchange for looks. Yes, some still retrieve "OK" and a few have done some great things but the usual is never to the joy or excitement of a truly field bred lab.
I know this sounds difficult to understand but do some research and the breeder should be able to adequately explain these levels and the difficulty to obtain. Personally, I also think that the breeder should either have a hunt training program or connection to a program with a demonstrated ability of reaching the above achievements. This is necessary in order to help you meet your and your dog's training needs and reach your full potential.
If you want an excellent hunting dog, don't be concerned with reaching out of your local area. A reputable breeder will be better able to judge and pick one of their pups for you than you will be at this stage. There are MANY great breeders and one that I trained with for three years when I was living in Washington, is Ryan Fortier of Long Hollow Retrievers. http://longhollowretrievers.com/
This is a lot of information but I hope it helps. A well-bred and well trained retriever is worth their weight in gold.