Many times I will post info in these “reports” about my fishing methods or upcoming calendar in the hopes of educating prospective and regular clients of other ways of fishing and to consider how variables such as tide, moon phase, water temperature, tackle and bait supply may effect your fishing charter or personal outing. I offer that not only as a way to have my regulars pick a choice day as opposed to a less optimum one, but also as a way to pass some knowledge or ideas that may help the any guy, regardless of whether he fishes with me or not.
At the risk of sounding like sour grapes, (not the case) I will tell you on some occasions I can get frustrated when returning a prospective clients inquiry about a charter, to find that he has already booked a trip with another service. It may have been only a couple hours or less since he had called, but since I wasn’t there to immediately answer the phone at the time of his call, he moved on to the next prospect and booked the trip with the first guy to answer the phone. I guess it is the nature of today's fast paced society and smart phones etc, but i wonder how much effort goes into deciding which charter service to use. It seems to matter not where or how the charter fishes, or the type of tackle used, but merely how fast the Captain returned the original inquiry. So I'm offering the following hopefully helpful suggestions as possibly some things to consider before you commit to sending a deposit to a charter Captain and boat.
The following items need to be considered before you book your trip.
WHEN : Its important to know when you wish to plan your trip. Some fishing areas are the most productive at differing times of the year. One example might be Cape Cod Bay in May when the striped bass are moving into the area and feeding heavily compared to mid August when the Bay water is too hot for decent bass fishing and the boats need to travel to the Race Point area for decent fishing. More locally, there is the time of departure. Is 4 am too early for you? Most fish feeding and successful fishing trips operate around the timing of tide events. Considering that, if you then specify to the Captain that you want to go from 10 am to 2 pm, you may not have the best fishing (catching) experience.
WHERE : Again, location is key for good fishing. The best location is where the fish are NOT close to the motel or lodging. Why pay for an extra 2-4 hours of travel time by booking a boat near where you are staying. Stay closer to where the fishing is best. Pay attention to water temperature and bait supply and talk to you skipper before you book. Ask about travel time to the “spot”, water temps etc.
HOW : Are you a fly fisherman? Perhaps you prefer to fish with bait? Is trolling too boring for you? You would rather cast to fish? Perhaps you have a novice or two in your group that will need extra care? Children and females might need some extra attention or comforts provided. Is jigging wire and lead jigs something you are tired of or perhaps you would prefer that method? Are you taking one friend or a half dozen? Its possible your method may require a small fast rig to get to fast moving surface feeders, and a bigger boat might put the fish down. How is the tackle - in good shape and top of the line stuff?
WHY : What is the purpose of your trip? Is it a business outing, possibly to reward your employees for a job well done or to entice a prospective client? Maybe it is to relax, share and enjoy some fun family time? Do you want to catch as much fish legally possible as fast as you can to get as many fillets as you can legally take home? It could be a “bucket list” item such as anding a giant tuna, but you should know what it is you are looking for before you start asking your prospective skipper for rates and open dates.
WHO : Now, considering the above criteria, you are closer to deciding with whom you want to entrust your outing to. Consider the size of the boat and the comforts it (or lack of) provides. You are going on the water and size does matter! Will the $200 you saved on a small boat be worth the soaking and pounding you took coming home into the wind ? Will the vessel have a head or bathroom for your wife or daughter or will they be required to pee in a bucket or “hold it”? Perhaps it is just you and a “pal” and you don’t need all that “big boat stuff”? How about the skipper, is he experienced? If so, for a lifetime or just a few years? Does he trailer his boat from the city to the latest hotspot for some summer supplemental income or is permanently located at a pier or marine on the Cape? Is he insured?
COST: Charter trips are expensive, due to insurance and fuel costs, boat payments, gear etc. That said, I believe you get what you pay for and a smart shopper will do their homework before the deposit check is sent, to make sure the best values can be had. Don’t cut corners on what you need, ask lots of questions and make sure that your boat and captain choice is what you want for your party.
Good Luck & Good Fishing,
Capt. Bruce & “Marilyn S”