So you’ve decided that it would be fun to arrange a fishing charter and head out on the open water with a couple of your friends or your family.
Great choice — unless the fishing charter captain is boring, the boat is old and the rest of the boat is full of obnoxious people who make your time horrible.
You want to put plenty of research into choosing a fishing charter so you can find one that lines up with your expectations. You’re spending a lot of money on this experience, so make the most of it. Charters are incredibly fun if you choose wisely!
Research Charter Companies
When you choose a charter, you’re doing a lot more than picking a boat to ride on; you’re putting you and your guests’ lives in the hands of whoever is in charge. You want to make sure you have an experienced captain with a team who knows what they are doing as well.
You first want to make sure that the charter has insurance. Some will bypass this to try and save money but if you get hurt while on the boat, that’s the last thing you’ll want to hear.
Training of the Crew
Another thing worth asking about is the training of the crew. Are they trained in CPR and first aid if something happens?
All of these credentials are often telltale signs about the overall care of the charter company. If the captain is serious about this and they treat it like a real business, you won’t have to worry about any of these factors.
Where Do You Want To Go?
Next, you want to think about where you want the charter to take you. What type of water do you want to fish? Some charters handle mostly inshore fishing where you’ll run through bayous, sounds and small waterways. Some will take you 10 miles off the shore, and you’ll be fishing with 8000 model spinning reels with 130-pound braided line.
You want to have all of this figured out ahead of time, so you know what to expect when you get there. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- What type of fish do you want to catch?
- How serious are your guests about fishing?
- Does anyone get seasick?
These three factors will help you determine the ideal location for your fishing charter. Of course, the charters are only available within a short radius, and they generally fish the same waters all the time. You’ll have to locate a charter in the area that you want to fish.
Look Into the Captain’s Credentials
The most important person on the boat is the captain, and if he or she doesn’t know what they’re doing, it could cost you more than a boring trip. Ideally, you want to get on the boat with a full-time captain who does this as their primary source of income.
A lot of commercial anglers will use their boat on the weekend for charters as a way of making extra money. Granted, you could have a good time on any boat, but for safety reasons, you want to go with the captain with the best credentials.
Is the Captain Fun?
In addition to safety, you also want them to have a solid understanding of the fish you’ll be looking out for. They should know what type of rod you need, what lures, and how you need to present them.
Also, many fish are protected so you can’t catch and keep them. An amateur captain may not understand the rules which can get you into trouble.
Lastly, make sure they’re fun. You’re on a trip, and you most likely spent a lot of money to get there. You want to have a good time. The captain should tell stories of experiences out on the water; they should want to have a good time with you and entertain your group. Chartering is entertainment and if they don’t understand that, they obviously aren’t a good host.
What’s Your Vacation Style?
By style I mean, are you a serious angler who’s looking to bring home something serious; or are you looking to get on a boat and have a few beers with your friends? Make sure the charter lines up with what you’re looking to do on the boat.
Every boat is different. Some captains won’t care if you fish at all; they’ll have a good time just telling stories and hanging out with you. Others will want to take fishing seriously, and they may not even allow alcohol on the boat—many don’t due to liability concerns.
What’s Your Fishing Style?
Diving deeper into the fishing style. What type of angler are you? Do you like trolling? Maybe you prefer fly-fishing? You want to ask ahead of time what the fishing style is on the boat so you can maximize your time and enjoy yourself more.
You also want to make sure to let them know if you and your group have no fishing experience at all. The best captains will still ensure that you catch fish regardless of your experience. That is their job.
What Kind of Boat Do You Want?
Charters of around 33 feet are considered ideal for smooth sailing. These boats won’t rock too much, and if you have anyone who gets seasick, this is the best choice. Sometimes it may take a long time to reach your destination, so you also want to pay attention to the speed of the boat.
If you choose a larger boat, chances are you will have to share it with someone else unless you’re willing to put up some more cash. Some large boats can take as many as 50 people. The problem with group outings is, they don’t leave until they fill the boat. This might make things difficult if you’re on a tight schedule, but if you’re heading out on a fishing charter, hopefully a tight schedule is the furthest thing from your mind.
What’s Your Budget?
Saving up money for a fishing charter is important because you don’t want to choose the cheapest one on the list. You’ve heard of the phrase, “You get what you pay for,” right?
Well, that takes on a whole new meaning when you’re out at sea. Hiring a charter is expensive, but you have to think about all the costs associated with running a boat.
They need licensing, the cost of maintenance, insurance, docking fees, and all the gear they have to provide. It’s not a cheap business model.
The fuel for the trip might cost $400-$500 for a single offshore trip, so you have to understand that going cheap on a fishing charter is not the right choice. Save up enough money to upgrade yourself to a highly recommended one.
Finding the Best Charter
There are a few different ways to find the best fishing charters online. Here are some examples:
- Forums — Google fishing charter forums, and you’ll find recommendations from people who have already gone.
- Google — Hitting the good old Google is always the best way to find anything. Be careful if you are not also getting recommendations from people you know, though. Make sure you read plenty of reviews and ask questions.
- FishingBooker.com — Personally, I love fishingbooker.com, and I have used it many times to book fishing charters. This website vets everything, and you can read plenty of reviews. Almost all the charters on there are 4.5 stars or more so that tells me that they only list the best of the best.
Don’t let your fishing trip turn into a fishing nightmare. Do your research, read reviews and get recommendations from people who have already booked a charter. A bad fishing charter can turn a nice vacation into a boring or even dangerous one.
If you’ve ever used a fishing charter, drop us a comment and let us know where you found them and how your experience went!
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