How to Choose The Best Fishing Charter For You

What is the goal for your fishing charter?

This article is intended to help individuals who are not familiar with the coastal fishing charter. There are many different aspects of each to consider. Before deciding on a fishing charter, ask yourself these questions to better determine what you’re overall goal of the trip is.

  1. Are you on vacation and looking for a family fun trip?
  2. Are you simply looking for a day away from work?
  3. Do you want to fish alone?
  4. Do you have a target species for your fishing charter?
  5. Do you want to work hard and fill your freezer with good hook sets?

My fishing buddies on a fishing charter

The 3 most popular types of fishing charters available

There are 3 most popular types of coastal fishing charters available that can be broken into separate subgroups as well. For this article, we will be focused on the main types of coastal fishing charters. These types of charters are consistently available along the east coast from Maine to the Florida Keys, the Gulf Coast states, and Washington to the Baja peninsula.

  1. Inshore fishing charters
  2. 6-Pack Nearshore/Offshore Charters
  3. Party Boat or Head Boat Charters

It’s important to note that most fishing charters have boat licenses that will allow you to fish without visiting the local bait shop or sporting goods store to purchase an out-of-state license. However, I will not discourage any individual from purchasing a fishing or hunting license. The proceeds from all fishing and hunting license sales fund our wildlife agencies that allow us to enjoy outdoor recreation and support those who rely on them for their livelihoods. For a more indepth analysis of these type of charters, please visit my article, 3 Most Popular Types of Fishing Charters Explained….

Are you on vacation for and looking for a family fun trip?

Most more populated areas will have a few short range or near shore options available to you and your family that will be easy going and relatively inexpensive. Unless you’re a serious fisherman who knows how to take care of his catch and loves the grind, I would recommend finding a near short charter and rent the boat gear. Many of these options include the gear with the price and some even feed you. These are amazing trips for grown-ups and children alike to cut their teeth on ocean angling.

Are you simply looking for a day away from work?

For this question, I would offer a couple of solutions. This opens up more possibilities depending on the answer to the other 3 questions asked above. It’s not difficult to get wrapped up in the moment and feel the pressure on an all day bluewater journey with your buddies during the week. It’s also pretty easy to get with a local inshore guide and have a successful day pushing through the backwater enjoying the beautiful scenery. Heck, you even have the option of catching a 4 or 8 hour trip on a near shore head boat. Again, you will need to understand the difference in these fishing charters before chosing as well. The goal here is to have the most memorable experience that makes you come back to the rail thinking about that last big you caught or the one that broke you off.

Do you want to fish alone?

Are you looking for a minimal pressure trip to be in your own head but have the best chance of catching dinner? The number one solution would be an inshore backwater trip with a local guide. Just mono et mono with a professional who can put you on fish. Whether it’s sight casting for reds or bone fish, dragging the bottom for flounder, or in some cases even fishing the jetties for sheepshead, I would recommend finding a local guide that has a strong history of knowing where the fish live.

I recommend this over an offshore charter because depending on the weather, they can be a grind. They are also more fun with buddies or a group of fishy folks. And if you head out on a more expensive offshore charter and you’re sick the whole time, no one else is there to make fun of you except the captain and mate.

You can’t fish alone on a head boat. The business end of these boats is to pack as many people on them as possible. If you truly want to be alone, this is not for you.

Do you have a target species for your fishing charter?

Now here’s where the research comes in. Keep in mind, this is called “FISHING” not “CATCHING”. If you want to target a particular species. Amberjack, red fish, bone fish, swordfish, etc. You are going to want to research the captains in the area you want to fish and see who has the most experience themselves. Many offshore charters are going to specialize in bottom fishing because it’s very diverse and gives people the best value for their money. But, there are captains such as Nick Stanczyk, in Islamorada, who specialize in swordfishing. Some people spend a lifetime chasing that one species. The best advice is, DO YOUR HOMEWORK. And if it’s a popular species, be ready to join a waiting list.

Do you want to work hard and fill your freezer with good hook sets?

You’re talking my language here. So you’re a grinder? You’re looking to put meat on the deck? Does the lack of sleep but smell of fish excite you? Or is it the drive to catch your next PB of a particular species? You can answer this one with a ton of other questions. If someone asks me, “Why haven’t you taken me fishing yet?” or they say “Man, that looks like a ton of fun”, don’t think for a second that I won’t pack up that person in my truck and take them with me as a little brother. I LOVE those questions. They may be sorry they asked. For this, I will offer 2 solutions. Again, these are covered more in depth in my article linked above outlining the 3 most popular types of fishing charters. My 2 solutions, simply put:

  1. An all day blue water fishing charter. Bottom fishing in deep water where you have to win your battles before the tax man takes it. My recommendation for blue water success if you’re in my area (St Augustine, Florida), Captain Adam Jeffrey of Reel Dreams Fishing LLC. To visit his website, click here. For his Facebook page, click here, For his Instagram, click here.
  2. A long range trip such as a 39 hour fishing trip to the middle grounds in the gulf or longer. You get multiple day limits and the most fishy crews you can find. You can take your own gear, but you don’t need it to be successful. This is a camping trip on the water, but it gives you the best value and opportunity to fill your freezer. If you’re willing to grind and stick it out, you will be happy. Without giving too many secrets away, I’ll recommend the Hubbard’s Marina 39 hour charter. While Hubbards provides ALL different charter services in beautiful Madeira Beach, FL., this trip is one that you can’t miss. To visit Captain Dylan Hubbard and his crews website, click here. They can also be found on Youtube if you click here.

Before heading out on a charter, click below to order your Yeti Cooler. Don’t let your catch get away.

In conclusion

The world of fishing charters is wide open with a variety of options for you to have an enjoyable experience if you really want to give it a shot. You don’t have to be The Rodmaster to have fun. You will also have the opportunity to meet some of the most strange characters on the planet. Some are unforgettable and those you would want to forget. But, they are those folks you won’t meet anywhere else on the water. So do it, don’t be afraid. Everyone started somewhere. Most of the crazy fishing freaks will be excited to help you learn as long as you’re willing to listen. And even if you think you’re experienced, you haven’t seen shit yet…. Book a trip. Crush the fish. Be happy.

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