Hook, Line and Sinker: 8 Tips on Choosing the Best Fishing Charter Boats - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Hook, Line and Sinker: 8 Tips on Choosing the Best Fishing Charter Boats

Do you have a hankering for getting out into the wild blue yonder and catching some fish?

No need to run out and buy a boat just yet.

Fishing charter boats are the ideal way to get a taste for this way of life without making a huge investment.

But not all charters are created equal. And just like with any business, you’ll want to know what you’re getting into before you climb aboard.

Fishing Charter Boats Address Many Needs

Whether you’re taking the kids on an adventure, looking for some time away on the sea, or just interested in giving fishing a try, a charter boat can fulfill your desire.

But be careful not to settle for the first charter company you encounter. In fact, shop around a bit. And be sure to ask the following questions:

1. What Do You Charge?

This isn’t a quandary to find the cheapest price.

In fact, you’re well-advised to avoid the cheapest charters because they could be sham operations. It’s not unusual to find fishing guides who are not trained, licensed or bonded.

But if you’re on an exceedingly tight budget that makes more expensive charters unattainable, be sure to ask the captain about his or her credentials. They should also be able to provide license numbers that you can check against the local guide’s association.

2. Are You Open to Beginners?

There are plenty of specialty charters who are happy to make some extra cash by serving specific fishing niches. And expert anglers will seek them out.

But what about those who are brand new to fishing?

If you don’t have little to no experience fishing, then you want a charter company who’s open to this situation. They might recommend a half-day charter in this case.

And if you’ve got others in your party who aren’t at all interested in fishing, be sure to ask about additional activities that are offered during the trip.

3. What Safety Measures Are Employed?

You’ve heard enough stories to know that sailing the seas isn’t always a piece of cake. Things can change quickly out on the water.

So here are five safety questions you’ll want to address before choosing a charter boat:

  • Is your captain licensed by the US Coast Guard?
  • Are there life jackets for everyone onboard?
  • What does your charter’s insurance cover?
  • Is your captain and/or crew trained in CPR and First Aid?
  • Does your boat have twin engines, in case one of them fails?

Another thing to be cautious of is the overeager captain who’s willing to sail in any weather. They might have a tolerance for much rougher waters than you. And they could be putting you into the line of danger.

4. How Dedicated Is the Captain?

Dedication is more than the ability to rattle off endless knowledge of the local waters. A captain who is dedicated to his or her line of work knows the importance of good social skills. It’s a big part of the job.

Also, if the captain has an agenda to fulfill (i.e. he or she is on their own fishing mission), that shows a lack of dedication to giving you the best experience.

And finally, just because captaining a fishing boat is traditionally regarded as “men’s work”, don’t give a second thought to booking a trip with a female captain.

In fact, since female fishing guides usually have to work harder and longer to prove themselves in the field, those who have been at it awhile have demonstrated true dedication to get there.

5. Are You Knowledgeable about Fish?

Again, you don’t need the captain to be carrying on about everything he or she knows.

But an experienced captain will be able to share with you a wealth of Fishing Tips and Techniques. They know the best kinds of lures and bait for each species, as well as the optimal way to present it to the fish.

They should also know which fish are protected by the law. This knowledge can spare you any legal issue once you’re back onshore.

6. Is Your Charter a Party Boat or a Private Boat?

A party boat is not like it sounds.

It simply means that you’ll be sharing a boat with other people you probably won’t know. And it could be up to 100 people.

A party boat is considerably cheaper than a private one. But because they charge a per-person fee, it means that they don’t leave the dock on a specific day unless a certain number of passengers decides to go.

So if you don’t have that sort of flexibility with your schedule, you’ll want to stick with a private charter.

7. What Is Your Catch and Release Policy?

Those who are brand new to fishing may not think to ask about this.

But different charters have different policies. Some kill everything that is caught and then sell all or some of the catch. Others consider any fish you catch to be your property.

Then some have a catch and release policy only.

So whether you’re all about hauling your keep, or you’d rather let the fish go back into the sea, be sure to clarify this with the captain before you book your charter.

8. What Can Be Brought on the Boat? 

It’s crucial that you understand what is allowed and what isn’t allowed on the boat.

While in most cases you can bring your own tackle on the boat, many charters offer gear. This can be a big benefit if you’re concerned that your cheaper rods and reels won’t hold up to bigger game fish.

Then there’s the question of what food and/or drink are included in the price.

Some fishers insist that fishing isn’t the same without a beer. If you’re one of those anglers, you’ll want to ensure that your chosen charter allows alcohol because some do not.

You’ll also want to clear with the captain any food you plan on bringing. Especially if you’re bringing bananas. While some captains laugh off the notion that they’re bad luck to fishermen, there are others who swear by it.

Go figure.

Bottom Line

Fishing charter boats are a great way to get out onto the water and enjoy the sport of angling.

Just be sure to cover all your bases before taking the plunge and reserving a charter. Once you do, you’ll be able to fully experience the true joy of fishing in the wild.

About the author

I'm a single mother of 2 living in Utah writing about startups, business, marketing, entrepreneurship, and health. I also write for Inc, Score, Manta, and Newsblaze Contact the author.

One Comment

  1. Fishmadpro says:

    I always encounter this problem of getting the best boat out there when fishing. I think it is the right time I try these fishing charter boats, they seem great!

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