How To Choose A Fishing Charter

Dear Anglers, Readers, and Future customers asking, How To Choose A Fishing Charter,” we’re here to help with this daunting task. So this “Definitive Guide for Choosing the Right Fishing Charter Service” or guide service with the thousands of unbelievable choices out there will help ease the burden on you, the charter customers. 

Fishing charters are a great way to enjoy the outdoors and create memorable experiences with friends and family. Whether this charter trip is a regular event or a unique occurrence, you want to ensure you’re onboard the best fishing charter in the area.

So take a look at our 20+ years of experience and see we formulated the “Top 10 best ways to pick a fishing charter and not to leave it to chance.

10 Reasons Why You Should Choose Us 

An experienced captain runs a fishing charter for both experienced anglers and novices. Whether you are just learning to fish, want to enjoy a leisurely day on the water, or are an avid angler looking for that fish of a lifetime, it’s crucial to find the right charter to provide the best experience. The right charter can be tailored to suit all skill levels and interests.

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1.) Choose Destination and Fishing Experience First


Before you start browsing the internet for captains and charter boats, asking why you chose them or us, it’s essential to know the destination. Doing this provides all the options in that area. Then consider the type of charter you’re looking for. The industry comprises private charters and shared trips, broken into three categories of charters. Knowing the differences allows you to determine which best suits your needs and make the decision-making process more manageable.

Fishing Experience

The first part of deciding on your ideal fishing trip experience is whether you want a private charter or a shared trip. A private charter means only your party will be on the boat with your fishing guide. Private trips are more intimate to meet your group’s interests and are best for beginners who may want more one-on-one lessons or tips. Shared trips include numerous groups on one boat and are better for experienced, confident anglers.

  • Offshore, also known as deep-sea fishing, involves being over 9 miles out at sea. These trips would be considered the most expensive and are the most well-known for those after giant pelagic fish and comfortable being many miles out in the open sea. This is not the best choice if you get seasick.
  •  Inshore or nearshore fishing is very popular and less expensive than offshore fishing trips but still saltwater. Inshore generally involves less than a mile from shore, and nearshore consists of less than nine miles from the coast. Popular places are the Everglades, Lagoons, Intercoastal, and Bayous. This is an excellent fishing trip option for all skill levels to experience constant action with Florida’s top game fish.
  •  Freshwater the most popular of all three. It’s done on lakes, rivers, and canals and provides the best wildlife viewing. Freshwater trips are the cheapest charter option of the three. A freshwater charter boat can usually take three or four people unless you book a pontoon fishing trip. Bass fishing trips allow all skill levels to enjoy fishing Florida’s waters. This is also a very kid-friendly trip.

All three are entirely different and have significant pricing differences. Consider these aspects for your trip; you can narrow the decision-making tremendously.

2.) Not All Online Websites Are Reliable

There are plenty of online fishing platforms now available; buyer beware. Stick your search to reliable sources like Expedia, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, and others, which vet the captains and require more comprehensive insurance policies. The opposite has evolved in the fishing industry; no less than 25 online listing websites do not vet captains. They might have safety emblems posted and verified, but that’s not vetting a captain. These sites are only interested in the commission from your sale, which is why that’s the only part they collect during booking!

There are other sites like Bass Online, where all the captains are exclusive. Not just hired to fill trips, but each one is voted on by the other guides in the system, ensuring we keep a TEAM mentality and quality every time.

3.) Check Online Reviews And Activity

Great Online reviews are a game-changer, especially from good companies like TripAdvisor. But beware, not all reviews are genuine. Luckily, you can validate them here. Look carefully at the dates of the reviews and the reviewer. Then search the captain’s social media, like Facebook and Instagram, to see if the dates match what customers posted.

While browsing social, look at how often they post pictures of customers during a charter. Also, are the customers tagged in the post? Count the days between each post to tell you how often the captain is on the water. If you have young ones coming along, check that your fishing guide is a kid-friendly captain.

4.) The Lowest Price Is NOT Good In The Fishing Industry

  • Unfortunately, because of the low cost of entry, plenty of anglers operate as fishing guides without validation licenses, NO liability insurance, and a lack of training. This allows them to drop the price at the expense of your trip.
  • Most of the time, inexpensive (cheap) fishing guides have old equipment much cheaper, and older boats lack safety equipment.
  • They don’t have any work, why is that? What you find is desperation has them offering a fire sale weekly.

All reputable and reliable charters will be about the same price. If a charter seems surprisingly low in cost, say $350, and everyone else is $400, don’t do it—lack of licensing, quality gear, and more lead to discounting or being the least expensive option. Ultimately, you’re losing $350, not saving $50. So this is how to choose a fishing charter and end up with good results. We help set the industry standard in all destinations by supporting the local fishing license laws.

Don’t assume they are all the same, in states like FL, CA, AR, TX, GA, AL, PA, and others the pricing is completely different from each other. But know, there is no case in the United States where you do not need a local fishing license in freshwater even with a captain!

5.) Ask or Search Online For Certifications

A captain’s license is a sign of commitment to the craft of fishing. Without a captain’s license, which is the permit to run fishing trips, the person or service is not committed to your overall experience. Would you use a surgeon or visit a doctor without a certification or license? Many U.S. states also require a state license; both are required and are there for your protection. Have they studied to become a fishing guide, or are they just winging it?

All official, quality guides will have a captain’s license, U.S. Coast Guard verified, clean, high-quality fishing boats, top-notch fishing gear, and all necessary safety equipment, including child-size life vests.

6.) Ask About Seasons, Tackle & Techniques

Many people overlook fish species having seasons because the fish migrate in both saltwater and freshwater. A good captain can explain the species’ patterns and seasons. Beware of the captain that says yes to everything. Once you verify he or she can fish for your specific species, check their tackle, types of rods, and reels. A drawback to discounting captains is that they don’t replace their equipment yearly. Check these facts to help determine your overall decision to be able to catch fish without frustration.


Another reason to learn how to choose a fishing charter as every fishing charter is unique. Some, and most, specialize in a particular style of fishing. Styles or techniques are considered the way you fish; artificial lures, Live-bait, and Fly-fishing are the most common. Be sure to check with your captain that they do your preferred style before booking. 

7.) Ask About Catch & Release and Conservation Techniques

Ensure your captain is familiar with the rules about each species you can keep and the state or federal limits. Also, it’s your choice to keep or release a legal fish. If you want to practice catch and release, the captain shouldn’t put the fish in their cooler. This often happens while offshore charter fishing, where it’s a battle over who gets to keep the catches on board.

It is customary for the captain to keep all catches that occur on his boat in some areas. This is not right or fair, but you should know ahead of time. Some charters pack your catch in an ice chest and clean it back at the dock, some for free, some charge additional. It’s best to read up on your charter to avoid disappointment, it’s your choice, and conservation is crucial to sustaining our local fisheries.

8.) Don’t Use a Concierge or Valet

While a concierge and valet can be very helpful when picking a local restaurant, they are getting a commission in most all cases. Fishing charters that are provided are not vetted and typically go to the highest bidder willing to pay the largest commission. A quick review on your phone will reveal the most qualified local charters. If you do get a concierge suggestion read up on that charter to avoid disappointment, it’s your choice, safety, and vacation that’s on the line.

9.) Never Book On Dock or Walk-Up Marina

Some captains will sit at the dock, engage passers-by in conversation, and then sell them a trip. This typically occurs with deep-sea fishing charters across the country because their boats are docked in the water. This doesn’t necessarily make these captains a lousy choice, but booking on the spot doesn’t give you time to research their reputation. Also, ask How To Choose A Fishing Charter, which will make you wonder why they are not currently booked. Remember your best charters are always going to book well in advance!

10.) Ask About Cancellation Policy

The world is unpredictable, and sometimes things come up, meaning you have to cancel. It’s not your fault, and it’s not necessarily your problem. Depending on the guide or service, they all have different policies. Many have a non-refundable policy; others have 30 days or seven days from the booked date.

The better, more reliable companies have a 24 or 12-cancellation policy. Some offer a full refund, while others only provide a partial refund. Every captain or service should have their cancellation policy visible for you to read.

There are other reasons for cancellation that are out of your control; the captain had to cancel. This could be boat problems, sickness, or weather. Again, if this happens, they’ll want to move you to another date, pass you off to a friend, or do anything to keep from giving you a refund. Will they be willing to provide a full refund? We will and we do, which is another reason to choose us.

Questions Answered on How To Choose A Fishing Charter?

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