If you’re going to be booking a deep sea fishing charter, these seven questions are vital to remember.
The allure of a deep sea fishing trip can only be dealt with for so long before most people crack. If you’ve got any angling blood in your body, a saltwater charter is typically a goal set early on. Maybe you’re planning your first, or maybe you’ve been enjoying them for decades, but a deep sea fishing charter is the kind of trip that will stick with you.
That applies to both the good and the bad, and unfortunately the bad happens often enough to require some work to avoid.
How are you supposed to ensure a successful and enjoyable charter? By asking questions up front and early, before you spend a dime. Here are seven smart questions to bring up in the conversation, or at least verify through a website, pamphlet or other reputable resource.
1. What do you catch?
We’ll start with the obvious, but there’s a bit of a twist to this question. Most charters will clearly advertise the species they’ll target, but getting this important factor straight is vital. You don’t want to know what they fish for, you want to know what they catch. Stressing that will at least convey that you’re serious, and maybe even catch a little truth stretching. ‘Well, we caught that flounder by accident four years ago, so put that on the website!’
2. What do I need?
Many charters go all out when it comes to gear, but there are always exceptions, and it’s worth investigating any unforeseen surprises. This morphs into plenty of sub-questions, so wrack your brain for any that come up. Are food and drinks supplied, or allowed to be brought on board? Can I purchase a license the day of the trip? Do I need non-stick shoes, or are my beach sandals okay to wear? The list goes on, so think smart and ask ahead.
3. Are there any extra costs?
This is a big one, but is often forgotten, especially when really good rates are advertised. Make sure you know, from start to finish, what the trip will cost, and ask about cancellation or refund procedures.
Also keep in mind that tips are customary in the business, for both the captain and any boat mates who may be assisting. Count on 15-20% of the trip’s cost.
4. Where will we be going?
Sometimes a fishing charter’s publicized information can be lacking in this area, so ask specifically about the launch point, hot spots expected to visit, and specifics about depth and clarity of the water where you’ll be casting a line.
It’s worth asking about sea conditions as well, and finding out if sea sickness pills will be provided or if you need to pack your own.
5. What gear do you use?
Knowing ahead of time what rod and reel you’ll have in your hand can make a difference. Maybe you won’t run out and by one to try and master it beforehand, but you can check them out online and in video reviews to better understand their operation.
6. How many other charter trips have you booked for this time period?
It’s a nice idea to inquire about other trips on the dates surrounding those you wish to fish. If there are no bookings before or after, perhaps that could indicate flexibility if you encounter bad weather or another reschedule requirement.
7. Can I keep and/or cook my catch?
Some go into a charter trip with plans of seafood dinners, but not every operator works the same. Some will weigh, fillet, cook or package your catch, but others stop at the dock. Find out the protocol, especially if you’re eyeing a mountable trophy as a way to preserve the memory.