First Time Fishing On A Charter | The Full Guide with Charter Fishing Tips

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So you’re deciding whether taking a fishing charter is right for you? If it’s a good gift for someone else, or you’ve already booked your trip. But now you’re struggling with planning and expectations. Release any of your worries, as taking a fishing charter with a local expert is one of the most fun and educational outdoor experiences someone can have.

Our industry experts have put together a comprehensive guide of what to consider beforehand. How to prepare, and what to expect, along with charter fishing tips to ensure you have the best time on the water. So now you can only focus on the excitement of your upcoming fishing trip!

Charter Fishing Tips From The Pros

practice casting live bait

Before The Trip

Every professional fishing charter company wants you to have a unique fishing experience that meets your wants and needs. So, the best thing to do before your charter is to have a general idea of what you and your group are hoping to accomplish while on the water. These tips will help ensure you know what to consider and communicate with your guide.

So everyone on board is on the same page to create a memorable fishing adventure. The best thing you can do is communicate with your guide if you have expectations or preferences in mind.

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Some Examples Of Fishing Charter Preferences To Mention To Your Captain

  • If someone is hoping to target a specific fish species
  • If someone is hoping to catch more fish numbers rather than focusing on size
  • If someone is hoping to land their PB (personal best) trophy fish
  • Do you plan to release fish or keep your catches?

And if everyone is simply looking for a fun day on the water, without any specific goals, it’s wonderful to enter with an open mind and leave it up to your guide to provide the best local experience for you!

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Other Things To Consider For Your Trip

Your guide is here to do as much or as little as you want. This means that experienced anglers can cast out and do the whole process independently with the guide there to take you to the best spots, provide tips, and answer questions or assist when needed.

On the other hand, first-time anglers may need more hands-on work, and your interests will matter here. For example, if you are someone interested in learning more about fishing and the techniques. Your guide can teach you how to cast and other basics. But if you are someone who simply wants a fun day on the water catching fish and relaxing. Your guide can set up the bait and lure, cast out the rod, then let you reel in the fish.

How Involved Do You Want To Be

So even if you’ve never been on a charter trip before, you may have a general idea of what you would like to learn or try. Which would be excellent to communicate with your guide. A few things to consider could be a species you hope to catch. A technique you want to learn, or even a spot you want to visit.

Even letting your captain know this is your first fishing trip. If you’re a group of experienced anglers will help give your guide an idea of your skill levels. This way, he can prepare for teaching a beginner or work with other anglers who are experienced and looking for something specific.

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How Far Do You Want To Travel

This question is essentially answered when you book your trip and choose a length. The shorter the trip, generally the less far you are going to travel. Of course, the type of boat and situation will vary depending on whether you are on a freshwater or saltwater fishing trip, whether inshore or out in deeper water offshore.

But, if your reason for staying near shore is for restrooms, or staying in calmer water because of seasickness, be sure to let your guide know if there are any concerns about where you are heading.

Of course, the length of the trip booked will ultimately play a role here on how far you go out, whether freshwater, coastal, or deep-sea fishing, but you should still let your guide know of any concerns.

shore fishing
Understand The Length of Trip For Your Expectations

It’s essential to match your goals and expectations with the length of the trip booked. The length of your trip will play a role in how far out you travel in any body of water, which in turn may affect the type of fish you catch. This applies more to deep sea fishing trips than freshwater or inshore fishing, but it’s worth mentioning. If you only booked a half-day fishing trip, you won’t be traveling further out at sea into the deeper water where potentially, the bigger fish are.

So if your goal is to catch pelagic trophies, you may want to consider booking a longer trip or at least mention it to your guide to see if it’s possible in a short journey depending on where you are fishing.

You will always be provided with the direct contact information of your captain for you to text or call anytime with any questions, concerns, or information you want them to know. Also, your captain will always contact you the night before to confirm any trip details with you prior, which is another excellent time to share your thoughts!

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Know The Details

Communication is always key, and understanding your goals and expectations will help you know what to expect on the day of your first charter and how to prepare for your first guided fishing trip. Other things to be aware of are policies, what’s included, departure time, and meeting location.

Every charter company should clearly state their policies and what gear is included on their website, so it’s clear before you book. The meeting location and departure times should also be visible and shown in the booking confirmation.


Eat and Drink:

Most charter companies want you to have a comfortable fishing day and will let you bring what you want to ensure that. You are allowed to bring any food or drink on any Bassonline fishing charter and can store it in the cooler on board that comes with ice and water. You are allowed alcohol, but it is preferred to avoid glass, and you can even bring bananas despite some other guides believing it’s bad luck.

Smoking: You are allowed to smoke, but out of courtesy, it’s best to ask your specific guide beforehand or let us know at the time of booking to ensure we put you with a guide that is ok with it.

Cleaning and Filleting:

When it comes to cleaning and filleting your fish, please check with your guide when booking. The laws vary depending on location; for example, it is illegal at most freshwater lakes in Florida to fillet fish on the scene because of alligators. However, some freshwater areas in most states allow it, and essentially all saltwater fishing trips, both coastal and deep-sea fishing charters, allow it and include it in the service.


Many guides will happily pick you up and drop you back off for your fishing trip, but this depends greatly on location. Some areas, such as fishing spots near busy cities, are not feasible for the guide to travel through with his boat trailer. It is always worth asking if transportation is a concern for you; many guides will do it included in the charter fee, some will do it for an extra charge if it’s out of the way, and others will prefer not to do it or can’t because of logistics.

Either way, most areas offer alternative solutions, such as Uber. Also, Bassonline works with a transfer service that can be arranged and added to your fishing price in most locations.


The cancellation policy should be clearly stated on all charter websites. BassOnline has free cancellation up to 72 hours before the trip. There will never be a cancellation charge when it comes to weather, even though this is usually determined at the last minute. In the case of bad weather on your fishing day, we will do our best to reschedule you for another day based on your schedule, and if it doesn’t work out, you will receive a full refund. If anglers cancel the trip at the last minute or no-shows, the deposit will be kept.

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What’s Included

Every Bassonline fishing charter comes with everything needed for a successful day on the water. Including all necessary gear for every angler like a fishing rod, fishing line, fishing tackle, or lures. A cooler with ice and water, fuel, boat, and professional captain or crew. 

The only two additional costs on all freshwater fishing charters are live bait if using and a fishing license. Live bait on all bass fishing charters is an additional cost and will be added to the balance due after fishing at the end of the trip. Your guide will pick up the bait from the local tackle shop before the trip. Details for getting a freshwater fishing license can be found here.

Inshore and deep-sea fishing trips vary a little more as far as bait and will be confirmed by your guide. However, fishing licenses are not needed for anglers on a saltwater fishing charter as the captain and his license will cover them.

hook in fish's mouth

Departure Time

You choose your departure time at the time of booking, and it is clearly shown on your booking confirmation. There are predetermined time slots for most charters for the morning, usually 7 AM, and the afternoon, usually 1 or 2 PM. If you would like a custom start time, please let us know, and we will do our best to accommodate.

The departure time will also be confirmed the night before your trip when your captain calls you to discuss the trip. In most cases, the time won’t be changed, especially for freshwater bass trips, but there are times of the year when the bite may be much better earlier or even later, and your guide will let you know to see if you can adjust the time.

Saltwater trips, especially deep sea fishing, depend more on tides, so the start times are more likely to change.

catching fish on first charter

Meeting Location

The meeting location is shown on the website of your charter company and should also be confirmed in the booking confirmation. Bassonline provides a Google Maps version of this on every destination page and a clickable link on every booking confirmation to click and take you straight to the maps on your phone.

The meeting location will typically not change, but it is possible it may be adjusted for reasons such as a marina being under renovation, general construction along the way, or your guide thinks a location nearby will provide you with a better fishing experience. The changed meeting location will be close to your original one and will always be confirmed with you before your charter date.

If you have any questions about an area, don’t hesitate to ask your guide. Your captain is a local expert who spends a lot of time at this boat ramp and the nearby area. Always feel free to ask for directions or parking instructions if needed. It’s a good idea to check the map to see how far you are and plan your departure time ahead of time.

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Packing For Your Trip

Now that you are aware of the details of your charter and communicating with your guide, it’s time to prepare for your fishing adventure.

Clothes and Shoes:

Always remember that nothing special is required. Most people show up in their casual, comfortable wear, which can vary from person to person. For example, some people only wear bathing suits while others are fully geared up in sun shirts, buffs, and pants. Sandals and sneakers are both appropriate and up to personal preference.

It’s best to layer up in any season. During the cooler months, anglers should layer up with jackets in the morning; then, they can take some layers off as the weather warms up. For a summer fishing adventure, many people will start with a bathing suit or tank tops but may have to cover up more if they are prone to burn. It all depends on your tolerance to the sun and the weather. It is a good idea to have a rain jacket on hand just in case.

Sunscreen, Hats, and Sunglasses:

It’s a good idea to bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect you from the sun. Any sunglasses are fine, but most people prefer polarized for fishing as they help see through the water in some locations that may allow for sight fishing. This most often applies to saltwater, especially inshore fishing, but it could also apply to some shallower freshwater spots.

Seasickness Meds:

Seasickness isn’t usually a concern for bass fishing charters, but if going deep sea fishing, motion sickness medication such as Dramamine is a good idea to take beforehand and bring with you.


You can bring a backpack with any food or drinks and other items mentioned above that you may be bringing. If you are planning on keeping fish, be sure to bring a cooler large enough to hold them in. You can bring your own small cooler for food and drinks if you prefer, but it is unnecessary for Bassonline charters as your guide will have a cooler onboard filled with ice for you.

Food and Drinks:

As mentioned, you can bring any food or drinks you want. It’s most important you stay hydrated. Your Bassonline guide will have water for you in the ice cooler provided on board but feel free to bring more or any other drinks you may want.

Your favorite gear (optional):

Your captain will have everything you need for a successful fishing day, including all fishing gear, fishing tackle, and bait, so there is no need to bring anything. However, some anglers have their favorite fishing rod, fishing line, reel, lures, etc., and they are more than welcome to bring them along.

Fishing License:

Be sure to take care of your fishing license before your charter. No one wants to waste valuable time, especially when it’s your first time fishing, getting a license. Also, it’s not available at most locations to get on-site. Anglers have to purchase fishing licenses in advance, most states like FL, GA, AL, TX, MO, CA, PA, and others make it easy online or at a sporting goods store. Every state is different; for example, in Florida, you do not need a hard copy, but in Pennsylvania, you do. See all license details again here.

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Trip Day

The day has finally come for your first fishing adventure! To ensure everything goes smoothly, have a checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything (you can use the above section as a starter if you want). The second thing is to make sure you map out where you are going and plan necessary travel time ahead of time to avoid scrambling or being late. The best thing to do is to allow extra time regardless, just in case any unexpected traffic or construction is happening on your route.

Aim to be at the meeting spot about 15 minutes before your start time to allow time to get things situated without cutting into your fishing time.

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Meet Your Captain

When you arrive, you will finally get to meet your captain and any crew members if you are taking a deep-sea fishing trip. This is a great time to get comfortable with everyone and start the day off to have a good relationship for a successful day.

Most fishing guides are full of amazing stories that they love to share; other guides are quieter but still experts on the water. Our guides love to share their craft and teach others, so don’t hold back any questions you may think of throughout the day! This is especially important for a beginner fishing for the first time.

fishing tips for new anglers

Getting On The Boat

For anybody who doesn’t spend much time on boats, it may take a moment to get comfortable. Bass fishing charters are the best way to get accustomed to being on a boat as lake waters are much calmer than the open ocean. But either way, be sure to walk carefully when moving around and hold on to something went the boat is in motion. Your captain can help you board if needed or look for something to grab and help you comfortably get on the boat.

Once you are on the boat, get your belongings situated. Your captain will show you where the cooler is for you to put any food or drink in. They will then show you where the dry storage is to keep your things secure; this usually is under a seat or in a storage compartment near the bow or stern. Many first-time anglers underestimate the importance of dry storage, especially on a lower boat like a bass boat.

Getting To The Spot

It’s important to understand that the fishing slot you booked covers both fishing and traveling time. So if you booked a six-hour trip, you wouldn’t be fishing the entire six hours as you need travel time to get to the spot and back. The extent of this varies depending on the type of charter and location.

For instance, a bass fishing charter will be spending the majority of its booked time fishing as the travel time is much less to get to the fishing spot on a lake as opposed to getting to the spot on a saltwater charter. Long travel times mostly come into play for offshore or deep sea fishing charters.

Travel time is an excellent time to either relax and enjoy the beautiful lake or ocean or ask all your questions to prepare for your fishing time. Use this time to learn all you can!

what to expect on fishing charter

The Fishing

It’s called fishing and not catching, and most companies can’t guarantee a catch. Bassonline, on the other hand, does guarantee a no-fish no pay policy on most freshwater charters! 

But overall, many factors can affect how the fish bite each day, such as weather, tides, and seasons, so maintaining realistic expectations is critical. However, your guide will always be transparent ahead of time if he thinks there will be any significant issues trying to catch fish on your charter day.

Remember to make the most of your adventure. Use this time to enjoy learning a new skill, spending time with your friends and family, and spending time in the great outdoors.

Your guide will let you know any fishing tips and tricks along the way to ensure you have as much success as possible. Your captain will work with you along the way (doing as much or as little as you want) to help you catch more fish numbers, your targeted species, or your trophy depending on what you are after.

Follow what your guide says, and you have a good chance of catching a fish for the first time! When you hook your first fish, that feeling will create a lifelong memory and leave you hooked for life on the sport. Enjoy this moment, get a picture with your fish, then you can either release the fish or keep it depending on the situation.

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After The Charter

You just completed your first fishing adventure and are now returning to the dock. Make sure you collect all your belongings from the dry storage and the cooler before leaving the boat.

If you are on a charter that involves your captain cleaning and filleting your catch, that will be done once everyone is off the boat.

charter fishing tips

After the trip is also when you pay the balance of your trip to your guide, bass online guides can accept both cash and credit cards. They will add any additional charges like live bait to your balance.


It is customary and appreciated to give a tip to your fishing guide. This can be done by adding gratuity to your credit card payment or with cash. A standard gratuity in the fishing industry is 15-20% of the trip rate and is not included in the original rate. However, any tip amount that you feel is appropriate is appreciated.

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Say Goodbye and Tell Us Your Thoughts

All great angling adventures must come to an end eventually, but luckily you are always welcome to come fish with us again! The final thing anglers should do is to write a review for their guide. This can be done directly after your trip or a day or so after, whatever works for you. If you have any thoughts about what stood out the most to you and made your first time fishing amazing, or anything that can be improved or tips for another beginner, we want to hear about it!

charter basics

Top fishing Charter Tips

The number one thing is to decide any goals and expectations then communicate with your guide. 

Communicating ahead of time ensures your guide can prepare accordingly and avoids any disappointment. For example, if you had a goal to catch a specific fish species, but that species is out of season, your guide will be able to let you know ahead of time. Then you can agree to either target a different species or reschedule your fishing trip for another date when it is in season.

Remember, this is your fishing adventure of a lifetime, and we are just here to make a fishing dream a reality!

Have everything packed or laid out the night before, so you aren’t scrambling, especially for those early morning trips. Then get a good night’s sleep and be ready for a fishing adventure of a lifetime!

Overall, there is nothing for new anglers to worry about when it comes to their first fishing adventure. Your professional guide is here to help you the entire way. If you have a question at any time from the time of booking until the end of your fishing trip, do not hesitate to ask your guide. He will help you prepare as well as help you learn and catch fish while on the water.

Most importantly, remember to have fun, and welcome to the club of becoming hooked on the sport of fishing!

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Every Bassonline Fishing Charter Will:

  • Have the start time, length of trip, meeting address, and captain’s direct phone number on every booking confirmation.
  • Have your guide call you before the trip to confirm the details and answer any questions.
  • Have all gear you will need along with a cooler with ice and water. So you don’t have to bring anything, only if you want to!
  • Accept cash or card.
  • Provide charter fishing trips for your success.

Choosing Your Next Adventure

Explore Freshwater Bass Fishing Trips

Explore Saltwater Fishing Trips

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