Recreational activities are an essential part of human life. People going fishing represent the single largest group of leisure time seekers. It also has an added advantage over other recreational activities as it utilizes the essential elements of nature for recreation and food. Fishing is becoming a prevalent activity in many countries, including the United States. Over 50 million Americans engage in different types of fishing; these include freshwater, saltwater, and fly-fishing.
The different fishing methods, species, and the fun that people have while fishing is some of the many reasons it's a top recreational activity worldwide. Such is its craze that recreational anglers catch close to 47 billion fish per year. Astonishing, right? Many people spend their vacations doing fishing activities in lakes, streams, and the open ocean.
Folks who want to have a unique fishing experience often opt to hire a professional fishing guide. Thus, the fishing charters are rising on the popularity chart among recreational anglers for various reasons. But what is a fishing charter? Well, we will answer that in this article.
What is a Fishing Charter?
Fishing Charter is an expedition service offered by professional anglers, boat owners, and companies, allowing customers/visitors on a water body for a specific period to fish. These fishing charters are often rented or can even be customized based on the needs of an individual or group.
It is one of the best ways to enjoy fishing, even if a person does not have any fishing equipment or any means of fishing. The fishing charter service providers help people make the most of their time during the service. Fishing Charter companies operate the boat and equipment and assist in cleaning and packing your catch. Some fishing charter companies even help you to capture the fishing moments with photography or video services.
The services provided by charter fishing companies often vary; however, they all have one unique thing in common - the experience they provide.
How to Choose a Fishing Charter?
Going for charter fishing can be one of the memorable events, and hence you may want to choose the right charter and enjoy the valuable time you will spend on the day. These charters can be customized to suit a newbie or experienced anglers. The cost will vary depending on the location, time spent, requirements, among other features. Hence, the below tips will help you in choosing the right fishing guide.
#1. Picking a Fishing Experience
There is one most crucial thing that you must do before searching for boats and contacting owners or captains. You must consider the type of fishing you want to do before hiring a professional. Since every charter service features are unique and specialize in a particular style of fishing, you have to consider some critical aspects of your trip so that you can narrow down your charter search to a great extent.
i) Private or Shared
The first thing while choosing a charter is straightforward. Are you looking to hire the entire boat, or are you happy to share space with other anglers?
Choosing a private charter gives a fully customized experience. You can fish at your speed and aim at the fish species you want. If you are a novice and have limited knowledge about fishing, the crew will teach you the fundamentals. They will also help you to get the catch. Moreover, you will also get a personal guide who will advise you about the best areas to locate your catch. But, private charters are more expensive than shared charters. But rest assured that every penny you spend on a private charter can be worth it.
On the other hand, the shared charters are excellent for saving money and putting fish in the cooler. However, if you are a beginner, you can get confused and lost, as the charter crew has to move around helping all the customers on the boat aboard. And, you also do not get special tips on how or where and how to fish.
ii) Nearshore, Inshore, Offshore, Deep Sea
Your fishing experience can be unique depending on where you fish. It is particularly true if you are fishing in the ocean. Hence, it would help if you understood different fishing trips such as nearshore, inshore, offshore, and deep sea.
A trip taken around wrecks and local reefs and involving some traveling is known as a nearshore trip. As you travel away from the coast and go inside, you might get more extensive and tastier fish. The distance of travel from shore varies based on where you are fishing, but your focus will be on capturing the best catch.
In nearshore fishing, the water body can be a little wavy as you will usually move between a few miles from the shore and away from the shallow protected waters to open waters. Thus, it is ubiquitous to experience bottom fishing around reefs and wrecks on these trips, although the type of fishing can vary based on where you fish. Popular reef fish include snapper, grouper, amberjack, mackerel, and more.
These fishing trips stay in protected waters near land and are usually only a few miles from the shore. The sea is calmer, and the fish are typically smaller. Several inshore fishing trips occur in mangroves, shallow bays, or brackish rivers. On inshore fishing trips, you will be able to start fishing instantly within a few minutes of leaving the dock. As a reason, customers preferring half-day fishing trips can choose inshore fishing. Such short trips offer immense fun and are an excellent choice for first-time goers. In Florida, popular coastal species include Redfish, speckled trout, snook, and the tasty flounder.
If you are looking to fish in blue waters, then you have to go offshore fishing. You will lose view of the land while offshore fishing, as the captain, takes you at least 10 miles or more away from the shore, reaching depths from 50 feet to a few hundred feet. These types of fishing usually last for the entire day. It is a serious fishing sport- meaning the fish are typically big, and so can the seas be.
You must know that the water can be rough in this type of charter, making it an excellent choice for experienced and confident anglers who love challenges. Finally, offshore fishing will give you access to pelagic species and will generally involve a full-day trip, as it involves more travel time compared to inshore or nearshore fishing charters. As we know, fuel is expensive and can increase the cost of offshore trips.
d) Deep Sea
Lastly, the biggest game in fishing is known as deep-sea fishing. In deep-sea fishing, the charters usually take you to more than 100 feet of water. Since the fishing takes place in deep waters, you will be fishing on a much larger boat with heavier tackle. On these types of charters, it is common for the trip to last for at least a full day. However, overnight trips are the best way to make more of these trips, but it depends on where you decide to fish. Hence, these trips are best for more experienced anglers.
#2. Selecting a Charter
Some of the factors while choosing the best charter service include:
i) The Boat or Vessel
It is one of the most crucial factors that most people think of while choosing a charter. The type of vessel you are on decides the kind of trip you will take. You have to select the right charter boat for the specific fishing and journey you are planning. As some boats/vessels can travel only for a certain distance from the shore, deep-sea fishing may not be possible if you opt for a charter service that uses only small boats.
ii) The Captain
As with other factors of a chartered trip, you also have to do some research to learn about the fishing charter entity and the boat's captain. You can use online sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, among others, and read reviews about the boat, crew, how the captains operate, and much more. Like any other trip, the time you spent researching about the captain may make the difference between a memorable trip and a nightmarish one. Always make sure that the captain is licensed and insured.
iii) Length of Trip
Depending on the time you are planning to be on the water, you can plan the length of your trip. Generally, half-day trips are 4-5 hours, while full-day charters will last for eight hours. If you plan for an overnight charter, you may either sleep on the vessel at night or fish all night. If you spend more time on the boat, you increase your likelihood of catching that fish of a lifetime.
iv) Permits & Licenses
Always be careful of choosing a charter that has all the legal documents. It includes things like a permit to run charter services, captain's license, and insurance. By doing this, you can ensure that you and your family are in safe hands and have had the proper training necessary.
Cost is perhaps the most significant factor for folks when it comes to choosing a charter. After all, the fishing charter can prove to be costly. As charter service providers may not keep an upper limit on the cost, you have to get the best deal before booking. Set a budget and keep in mind the services you are getting for the amount you pay. Also, be diligent and ensure the charter company is reputable, even if you get great offers at the best market price. Often cheaper isn't better, be sure to weigh all variables.
vi) Other features
Some boat crew members may not care much about basic amenities like restrooms, but other customers might. As a reason, knowing which facilities are required onboard may help you narrow the options. Therefore, it's worth checking if the vessel has the proper safety equipment and basic amenities before booking the fishing charter.
How do I Book a Fishing Charter?
The best way to seal your deal is through Salty Scales or an instant booking facility. Visit the website of the service provider or any website providing charter booking services. Then, fill in all the required details and follow the instructions. Once that is done, you are ready to go.
Can I cancel my booking?
Since life is unpredictable, a situation may arise when you may have to cancel your booking. So depending on the charter you choose, you may have the option of withdrawing your trip up to a specific time before the trip and get your money refunded. For this reason, you have to note the cancellation policies set by the charter company before you book.
What to Bring on a Fishing Charter?
Before your trip, you must be aware of the things your fishing charter will include at the base rate. For example, the fishing charter company may provide some equipment like fishing rods, reels, and specific bait. Some charters may also include a license, insurance to cover everyone on the boat. However, you may need to carry some items before boarding.
You may not need to carry much equipment, as most of the charters will provide all the equipment and rods you need for fishing. However, be sure to check what the charter offers before you book so that you are ready with the equipment you need for the day.
It's always a good idea to dress in layers, even if the temperature is hotter. If you don't own a quality performance fishing shirt, we highly recommend you check out Salty Scales Performance Shirts. You may need to carry footwear with a good grip or boat shoes if you own them.
iii) Food and Drink
As you go away from the shore and leave your charter far in the water body, you will not get an opportunity to go back to get extra snacks. Many fishing charters may have catering options available with them; hence, you can check the details at the time of booking. On some fishing charters, you are more than welcome to carry your food and drinks.
However, each charter may have different rules around what food and drinks can carry on the vessel. As such, it is necessary to check for these details beforehand so that you arrange all the stuff you need for the trip day.
How to prepare for Deep-Sea Charter Fishing?
Since deep-sea charters will give you the most adventurous and thrilling experience, you need to be well-prepared for the trip. Some best ways to get prepared before you start on your deep-sea charter fishing include:
1. Clothing- Wear Layers
No matter the temperature on land, it can get cold when you are going deep into the sea—as such, wearing warm and waterproof layers will keep you comfortable for the entire day. Most charters also advise bringing towels to dry off. Also, carry sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun reflecting off the waves, and make sure to carry your head protection in case of rain.
2. Get Ample Sleep
Since deep-sea fishing expeditions will start early in the day, you need to get plenty of sleep the previous day. Most anglers will begin early in the day, and if you wake up late, you will miss out on the best catches for the day.
3. Be Physically Prepared
Although you are not doing deep-sea fishing as a full-time job, it can still be physically challenging. As such, you can do some workouts so that you can physically prepare before you go. Getting well-hydrated, taking proper food and vitamins is a few tips suggested before your trip.
What to Expect on a Fishing Charter?
If you have never been out on a fishing charter before, you may wonder about what to expect? The first and foremost thing to keep in mind is that you should always try to establish consistent communication with the charter crew members or captain before the trip. You should communicate your expectations, ask queries, and understand all the terms of the trip.
After the vessel gets underway, the crew or captain may either come out on the vessel deck or announce over the intercom. You have to pay attention to what they are saying. They may be instructed about wearing safety equipment, such as life vests, where it is kept, how and when to wear it, etc. Additionally, they may also give you an idea of what to expect for the day when on the boat. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask.
One of the critical elements of a fishing charter that many first-time goers may be unfamiliar with is that the entire experience is not all fishing. Expect a conveyance of an hour or more to get to the best fishing grounds. Hence, you have to be patient to ensure that you get the most pleasing experience possible. During this time, the crew will give you fishing tips and tell you about the norms you have to follow during the trip.
The crew and captain will take you to the specific locations where they believe you will increase your odds of getting the best catch. In some cases, the captain will take you to additional spots to maximize your catchment opportunities.
After reaching the fishing grounds, remain calm, and wait for the crew or captain to tell you to drop lines. If you drop early when the vessel is still setting, you may get tangled and need to reel in and set again. So be patient, and wait for the signal.
As soon as you hook a fish, you will be assisted by the crew members or captain standing by to help you with whatever you need. In some situations, you may need extra strength to reel in big fish. That being said, you won't be left alone to fend it yourself. Moreover, there may be situations when you may have to let the fish go. Don't worry! If this happens, the crew will help you get your fishing rod ready for the following catch.
Even though the fishing charter focuses on fishing, the overall experience is what you'll remember for a lifetime. Lay back and enjoy the beauty and serenity of the sea, breeze, and warm sun.
Do I Always Get to Catch a Fish on a Charter?
One of the most common questions a customer will have regarding a fishing charter is "Do I Always Catch a Fish on a Charter?"
The answer to this question depends on the company and fishing area you choose for your fishing charter. With some charter fishing businesses, there is assurance that you will get a catch. At times, the best anglers on the vessel may have bad days where they arrive back from the deck empty-handed. Overall, fishing requires skill, knowledge, and a little luck. It's also essential to keep in mind that no one has control over nature.
In most fishing charters, the captain and crew will try their best to get you to fishing grounds where the fish are biting. Fortunately, their experience and knowledge of the local water bodies, including fishes' behavior, will increase the odds of getting the best catch.
After the Trip
When the fishing day is complete, the journey to land will begin. Sometimes the crew will weigh your catch and clean it. At this time, it's always good to see what others on the vessel have caught and click pictures for memories.
As you leave the boat, tired from all the day-long open-air activity in the vessel, make sure to carry your belongings. Based on the fishing area, the crew members will help clean and fillet your catch by the time you are ready to get off the vessel. However, some company crews may charge you for this service, or some may ask for a part of the catch, while others won't. Hence, check the terms beforehand to avoid last-minute deal surprises. Always be sure to tip the captain and crew.
A Memorable Adventure
Fishing charters are always memorable and adventurous experiences for first-time and experienced anglers. This ideal day-long or half-day activity will allow you to get a fun-loving experience during your holidays or vacation period.
During the trip, you might end up getting the best fish of your life, or at times might return empty-handed to the deck. But remember that the overall fishing experience you get on the trip is all about the things you will learn, and the stories shared on the journey will surely be a memorable one.
These are some of the basic things to know about charter fishing. Hopefully, this guide has provided you with enough knowledge on choosing a fishing charter, what to expect on a fishing charter, and much more.