Hiring a Fishing Charter Boat
Memories of a lifetime can be had when you hire a charter boat. Charter boat captains know where and how to catch whatever species of fish you are after. Charter boat trips are perfect for the beginner fisherman as well as the more experienced. If you know what to expect it will be hard to be disappointed. Some charter boats specialize on bottom fishing, some on trolling, and some have packages that combine both. You must also choose whether you would like to be on a party boat or do you want more individual service. Follow these tips to plan, hire and enjoy a chartered fishing boat.
Start planning your trip as far in advance as possible. A lot of the best boats are booked in advanced during the best seasons. When a popular fish, like salmon, are running, the charters will be booked weeks ahead. Some types of fish are available year-round. Sometimes a boat will be available due to a cancellation on short notice. When planning a charter with friends it is important that everyone agree on the type of fishing you will do. Bottom fishing involves each person dropping a line down at the same time while when trolling; often the clients must share rod time. Naturally, combination trips include the best of both.
When you start calling charter services some of the questions you should ask are:
1) What type of fishing do you offer? Bottom, trolling, combination. Find out if the trip is on a party boat. If so, how many others will share the boat with you? Some of these boats have 20 or more fishermen on them. Do not forget to ask if all the equipment and bait are included.
2) What are the species of fish I am likely to catch? Find out what types of fish are in season and what the bag limits are.
3) How long is the trip? Is it a half or full day? The thing to remember is, your trip may be cut short due to rough seas.
4) What time do we leave the dock? When and where do I show up? A few of the trips I have been on we met the captain in town at his office and used his company van to drive to the docks. On the day of the trip, arrive early at the meeting place. If you are late you might miss the boat and forfeit your deposit.
5) What is the cost per person? You can expect to pay between $50 for a spot on a party boat to several hundred dollars for a six person combination boat. You must find out how much the deposit is and also when it is due. Ask if the deposit if refundable. What services are included in this price? Sometimes the cleaning of your catch is included. If it is not, then often a member of the crew will fillet the fish for a small fee. Be prepared to bring your own lunch and drinks. You should always ask first about bringing alcohol.
6) What is the standard tip? The person on the phone might be hesitant to give you an amount. A good rule of thumb is 15 to 20%. Find out if it is customary to give the tip to the captain and let him divide it out to the crew. Most Captains do not own the boat, they are just a hired hand like the crew. Very little of the cost of the charter actually goes to the crew and they depend on a tip to feed their families.
The key to having a great trip is knowing what you are getting into before you go. It is never fun to hire a chartered fishing boat and not get what you were expecting. Most charter services depend on repeat customers. They will answer all of your questions to the best of their ability. Do not be afraid to call them after your trip and give them feedback. Perhaps the best advice is to bring a camera with you, for there will be plenty of opportunities for a photo of a lifetime.