These top ten charter fishing tips help you make the most of your trip and can help set you up for success. They cover what you need to know and why you need to know it.
1. Book a boat with a restroom
Being on a boat for 8 hours ha’s its limitations. You can make your fishing charter a better experience if you ensure that there is a restroom available. You never know when nature will call, and it’s best to be prepared because the alternative is quite uncomfortable. Nobody wants to be “exposed” to that truth.
2. Focus on learning not catching
One mistake that charter boat anglers make is they come with a long list of expectations that are unreasonable. Instead of focusing on fishing, focus on learning how to fish and remember that old adage that “once you teach a man to fish.” That logic is very true on a charter boat. It is okay to say you want to catch this kind of fish or that, but a long list of fish you want to target is likely not going to happen. Instead, come prepared to learn and make that your focus. What you catch or if you catch anything will really depend upon skill level and that is what you’re here to build.
3. Be clear about what you want to experience
If you have specific requests for fish or fish species that you want to target it’s important that you reiterate that to your captain while you’re booking your charter. Captains are very wise, and they know the lay of the land and the water. They will be able to pair you with like-minded fishermen who want the same thing that you do. In the mixed charter boat, you often have to accommodate everybody who’s on board and when you are very clear about what you want and the expectations are realistic there’s no reason that everybody can get in on that action. Keep your list simple and give the captain a few options for fish. Some fish may not be in season or may not be available because they migrate.
4. Pack Smart
Most charter boats have a list of equipment that you should bring with you. One of the first things on your list should always be water and food. Pay attention to that list because it is designed to help you have the most comfortable experience while fishing for long hours. Clothing, food, medication, sunscreen, your camera, and polarized sunglasses are going to top that list each time. When you go fishing the weather is always unpredictable. It may look beautiful and sunny but in an hour it can be raining. You want to pack clothing that allows you to be comfortable and wind and rain and in the sun. Dressing in layers is an excellent idea.
5. Mutual Respect
The captain of your charter boat is a highly skilled professional. He or she may not dress in a suit and they may not wear a tie but their skill and education are top-notch. A good Captain will be able to help you fulfill your bucket list of fishing for each trip that you take with him. Treating him with respect helps make that happen. A good tip is always to ask permission to come on board his boat. It is his office, so allow him to welcome you.
6. Know When to Go Fishing
If you have a very specific fish that you want to target you need to know when they’re available in the local waters where you’re going to fish. The captain will help you determine when the best time is to fish for those special fish and help you understand when you should book your charter. Not only does that include the time of year, but also the time of day. Some fish are more active in the morning and some are more active in the evening. Knowing when to go fishing will enable you to focus 100% on the species of fish you want to catch.
7. Prepare for Sea Sickness
If this is your first time on a charter boat or if you have experienced seasickness in the past you want to be prepared to deal with that before it occurs. If you’re taking over-the-counter medication for seasickness be sure to follow the instructions and take it on time – at least an hour before you head to the boat. You want the medication to be in your system and working before you get on the boat and be sure to take enough medication with you to take a second dose if you are fishing for more than four hours. It is always a good idea to bring more than you need and be willing to help if someone else forgot theirs.
8. Understand Tipping
Most charter boats have a tipping section on their website since tipping makes up a very large portion of their income. You want to know whether or not tips are shared among all the crew or just specific members of the crew and what an acceptable amount for tipping should be. If you had a good time and the crew has been good to you be sure to tip well and explain to them your gratitude for their service. They are imparting to you life lessons and the skills you need to master fishing if you should decide to fish on your own. That service is valuable and should be appreciated.
9. Be a Friend
Charter boats often have mixed populations of people who don’t know each other and you want to be accommodating while you’re on a charter boat. Remember that the boat itself is the captain’s office and you would behave accordingly as if you were in the top office of the company’s CEO. It’s a good idea to start off making friends with people on the boat. Those relationships even if they’re only hours long can be very beneficial throughout your fishing adventure. It’s not uncommon that people who meet on charter boats to become lifelong friends and meet up in different locations to enjoy the sport that brings them together. Take the opportunity to make connections and Network.
10. Hone up on Fishing Techniques
Many charter boats welcome people who have never fished before. Even if you’re an old fisherman and you’ve experienced much over your fishing lifetime, it’s always good to hone your fishing skills. You can do that by watching videos about how to handle big fish. Videos about knot tying and rigging are always good sources of information. General videos about charter boat fishing are also excellent because they allow you to experience the feel of charter boat fishing without actually being there. That knowledge will help you acclimate to the boat quickly and to the style of fishing that a boat offers. Knowledge is king and you are 100% in control of gaining knowledge before you arrive.
These fishing charter tips help you to succeed even if you have never fished before or if you have experience fishing but are new to charter boats.
Image source: Sam Carlson