Booking a charter for the first time?
Brian Kirby / Sportsmens Compass Contributing Member
For those looking to book a charter, especially for the first time, keep in mind a few things. I’ve fished far too many charters to count, from Mexico to Mass and everywhere in between. Most have been excellent, some OK, and one or two downright diabolical. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions and check them out.
First and foremost your captain should be a licensed captain, not just a guy who calls himself that, and he/she should be running a licensed charter service in the state or waters you are fishing. I get asked all the time if I’ll take folks out for a cash “charter,” and the answer is no. I don’t want to lose my boat, house and everything else I own if something should go wrong. Licensed captains pay a lot of expenses to run their businesses, and under the table operations screw them. Your captain/guide should have liability insurance. ASK these things. They are simple questions and the answers should be the same. THEY SHOULD HAVE THE DOCUMENTATION ON THEIR BOATS.
CHEAPEST ISN’T NECESSARILY THE BEST. Avoid the weekend warrior captains. Ask for references or research online. Nothing equals time on the water.
You captain should be knowledgeable and listen to what you are interested in and work to put together a plan. I look to learn from these guys every time I go out. There are some out there who could care less about tides, whats biting when, etc. They want to leave at x, drift the Race, and get back at y regardless. I can go on a party boat for that.
He should like being out there and get pumped when clients catch big fish. Some of the best guys I’ve gone out with share knowledge, tell great stories, and will tell you that the biggest rush for them is hooking people up with the target species. I went out for ten hours in the Keys with a guy who did nothing but bitch about the weather. 4-10 hours on a boat with a guy that acts like he’s having about as much fun as working a production line makes for a long trip.
Thinks “out of the box” and will change up the game plan on a slow day. Sometimes the fish don’t seem to bite but a good captain will at least try a bit of everything. There are days when everyone gets skunked, but you know when a guy has busted his ass trying to get you on the fish, and that’s a guy I will fish with again.
Big for me – wants to preserve the sport. Is ethical in methods and works to preserve the stocks. Believe it or not, I hate to eat fish, so I catch and release unless I want a few fillets for friends. Perhaps my coolest fishing moment was at the end of landing my one and only marlin, brought it to the side of the boat to snap a few pics, revived it and then cut it loose. The fish and I were spent, and that thing just glided back down into deep water.
Hope this helps someone looking to charter. Feel free to ask for suggestions or recommendations.
If you would like to read more from Brian Kirby, visit his site: http://www.redneckangler.com