Choosing a fishing charter company can be a daunting task. What should clients look for when deciding which company to hire? Here are a few tips for finding that perfect match for a dream fishing trip.
Recommendations and Professional Affiliations
One of the best ways to find a good service is to ask friends for their recommendations. Word of mouth remains the best form of advertising. Websites and glossy fliers aside, hearing about the first-hand experiences of a trusted friend will paint the truest picture of what it’s really like to fish with that company.
Check out the professional affiliations of companies under consideration. These should be listed prominently in promotional descriptions. Are captains and guides licensed to the U.S. Coast Guard? Does the charter company maintain a membership with state and local organizations?
Skill Levels and Expectations
Clients must be honest about their fishing experience and skill level. Guides and captains will be better able to provide enjoyable expeditions when they are able to gauge this ahead of time. Clients may exaggerate their skills before the trip, but once underway, everyone’s abilities and comfort levels become obvious. While some guides are comfortable with complete beginners, others may be frustrated by lack of casting skill or by clients who become seasick. The best charter companies will provide as much or as little service as the client requires and desires. Some clients want to do everything themselves. They only want the charter service to get them to the fish. Others want the guides to handle the bait, cast the lines, and take the fish off the hooks. The most successful trips are those that are appropriately planned for everyone aboard.
After narrowing the selection down to a few possibilities, the final decision can be made in light of the answers to some key questions.
- How much experience does the service have?
- Are they properly licensed?
- Will the clients need any special licenses to fish in that location?
- Are they up-to-date on all regulations and limits?
- What gear do they provide?
- What do clients need to bring?
- When do they cancel trips due to inclement weather?
- Do they give refunds for cancellations?
- What is included in the price?
Tips and Gratuities
Clients are often unsure how much to tip fishing guides and charter captains. A good rule of thumb is that superior service deserves a 20% tip, average service 15%, and nothing less than 10% is appropriate unless the service was intentionally poor. This rarely happens, since guides and captains are trying to make a living and so they usually do their best to make clients as happy as possible. Fifty dollars for a day trip is typical, but it is not inappropriate to simply ask about gratuities when the trip is booked. Some clients choose to be more generous when the fishing is exceptionally good.
Chartered fishing expeditions can be rather expensive, and so clients want to be sure to get the best experience for their money. Following these tips will increase the likelihood of selecting the best company to provide a successful fishing charter experience.