How To Choose A Fishing Charter

Dear Anglers, Readers, and Future customers, we know choosing a fishing charter can be a 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 certainly help the process and ease the burden on you, the charter customers. 

Fishing charters are a great way to enjoy the outdoors and create memorable experiences with your friends and family. Whether this charter trip is a regular event or a special occurrence, you want to make sure 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 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

Destination

Before you start browsing the internet for captain’s and charter boats, asking why choose us or them, 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 is made of private charters and shared trips, broken into three categories of charters. By knowing the differences, you can 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 deciding 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 anywhere 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 being less than a mile from shore, and nearshore consists of being 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 max unless you book a pontoon fishing trip. Bass fishing trips are excellent for 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, and you can narrow down the decision-making tremendously.

2.) Not All Online Websites Are Reliable

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

There are other types of online 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 ones from valid companies like TripAdvisor. But beware, not all reviews are real. 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 dates match what customers posted.

While browsing social, look how often they post pictures of customers during a charter. Also, are the customers tagged in the post. Count the days in-between each post to tell you how often the captain is on the water. If you have young ones coming along, make sure you 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 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 with lack of safety equipment.
  • They don’t have any work, why is that? What you find is desperation has them offering a fire sale weekly.

In general, all reputable and reliable charters will be about the same price. If a charter seems surprisingly low in cost, let’s 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. In the end, you’re losing $350, not saving $50. So why choose us? We help set the industry standard in that destination.

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 would be required and are there for your protection. Have they studied how 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, have 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 will be able to 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 downfall to discounting captains is they don’t replace their equipment every year. Check these facts to help determine your overall decision to be able to catch fish without frustration.

Techniques

Every fishing charter is unique, 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 rules pertaining to each species you can keep and what the state or federal limits are. 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 bad choice, but booking on the spot doesn’t give you time to research their reputation. Also, you can ask yourself why are they not out?

10.) Ask About Cancellation Policy

The world is unpredictable, and sometimes things come up that means you have to cancel. It’s not your fault, and it’s not necessarily your problem even. Depending on the guide or service, they all have different policies. Many have a non-refundable policy; others have 30 days or 7 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 clearly 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, anything to keep from giving you a refund. Will or they willing to provide a full refund? We will and we do, which is another reason to choose us.

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