Once you’ve found a captain and a boat that seem right for
you, you’ll also need to inquire about exactly what services the
booking includes. Virtually all guides offer bait and tackle, for
example. But some add a surcharge for one, the other, or both. In
some cases, the exact opposite is true — the captain will want you
to use his supplied gear only, and won’t want extra rods and reels
brought aboard the boat. Charters at resorts commonly include
boxed lunch and drinks, but those working from areas that see few
tourists generally expect you to bring your own food and drink.
Licensing, fuel surcharges, and tips for the mate — 15 to 20 percent is the norm, and remember to tip on the high side if the mate
cleans your fish for you — all can vary from charter to charter, and
need to be ironed out ahead of time.
Another situation that calls for special consideration is chartering for a group that includes a disabled member. This could be difficult in the past, but in recent years, many charter operations have
made special accommodations, and wheelchair-accessible boats are
now commonplace. Groups with women and children will want to
verify that the boat has an enclosed head onboard.
Whether you’re just after a day of fun and relaxation or you
want to learn the ropes from an old salt, charter fishing is a great
way to expand your horizons. But make sure you choose your
charter wisely — trusting your experience to trial and error is just
one big error.
Lenny Rudow has been a writer and editor in the marine field for two
decades and has authored five how-to fishing books including Rudow’s
Guide To Rockfish and Rudow’s Guide To Modern Jigging, available at www.GETGUP.com. He’s won 18 awards from Boating Writers
International and two from the Outdoor Writers Association of America.
Charter Question Checklist
Getting ready to choose a charter? Make sure to ask the
captain all the applicable questions, before you book!
Are you fully licensed on a state and federal level?
Do you cover my fishing license, or do I need to get my
own in advance?
Does the boat have an enclosed head?
Is there wheelchair accessibility?
What’s the method of fishing and what type of gear
will we use?
Do you like having children on board?
Does the boat have a full electronics suite,
including radar and satellite weather? (If offshore, add:
Is there a life raft and EPIRB aboard?)
What’s the policy on limit catches? If we catch our limit
will we fish for other species, or does the boat go in?
Do you encourage catch and keep, or catch and release?
What is the cancellation policy?
Do you supply all the gear? If so, is there a surcharge?
Can I bring my own gear?
BoatU.S. Members can get a discount with over 100
fishing guides and charters. For more information,
Not Your Ordinary Trawler...Attitude Included!