April 7, 2011

Secrets of Choosing a Charter Without Getting Burned


Enter your text here...It's well known that chartering a professional fishing guide is less expensive than owning a boat and fishing on your own, but at the end of the day you still want to get the most value for your dollar.


This is an article I wrote in 2011 to educate people on the how to pick a great fishing charter.

I don't charter anymore, but I still think this is a great article to help people.

Do you know what to look for in a charter?

What can you value and how do you avoid paying more than what you have to?

Read on, and learn insider knowledge from a charter boat captain that will help you save hundreds of dollars.

 Are there hidden costs?

“This is something that has been a reoccurring sneak attack many people have experienced after booking with other charters before mine” he recounts. “Yes, they had a good time with other captains, catching a lot of fish, but when they got back to the dock they were told it would be an additional fifty cents per fish to have their catch cleaned.”

When you can catch up to a hundred fish, that is  $50 tacked on to a trip that is already costing hundreds of dollars.

Shouldn’t that service be inclusive? “It’s important to me to mention that not only is that service already provided, but that the fish are cleaned expertly and with care."


captain devin swamp stallion

The best charter captains go the extra mile for their customers.

But there are other hidden costs that could also be unexpectedly sprung.

Some businesses charge for fuel on top of the normal rate.

It should be important to you that this is not the case and that fuel expenses, regardless of how much fuel is used on the fishing charter, is already included or negotiated.

All good charter captains don’t mind going the extra mile for their customers.

Do kids fish for free?

Good morals and values are the fabric of fishermen and hunters alike.

That’s why today a lot of parents turn to the outdoors to expose their children to these things.

What a better way to spark a child’s interest in conservation and understanding of her environment than by going on a fishing trip?

Our children are the generation of tomorrow, and our heritage rests in their hands.

kid children boy catching fish drum family

Captain Devin offers a deal to let kids fish for free when fishing aboard Swamp Stallion Fishing Adventures

Most charter captains offer special deals for children, because they also realize the importance of tomorrow’s generation. Look for these deals and inquire about them.

Is there a time limit?

While most charters don’t last all day, it is still crucial to the value of your dollar that you get to spend the time on the water you want to spend.

The best of fishing charters will make your fishing experience their number one priority, rather than letting the trip expire after a set time period.

Sometimes you don’t catch all your fish until later in the day and it is important that you know if you will be able to remain out for an extended period of time if you wished to do so.

After all, it’s your fishing trip!

Are they properly licensed and insured?

“Owning and operating a fishing charter is more than having a big boat and knowing where the fish are biting. It is imperative that the captain be properly licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard and carry insurance.”

But not just any insurance, Captain Devin says.

“They must carry charter boat insurance.” Look for great name brands like Charter Lakes and United Marine.

“These are the carriers that will cover you, your family and your friends in the remote possibility disaster strikes. We all want to have peace of mind.”

Anybody would want to go fishing knowing that they are taken care of. It’s your time to relax, why leave anything to chance and worry about it?

breton sound scenery calm water

When booking with an insured guide, you have peace of mind that you and your loved ones will be taken care of.

But there are more licensing issues that should be inquired upon.

“Where I see people really get gouged is fishing licenses.

If you are from outside the state of Louisiana, then you can pay a hefty fee for an out-of-state license.”

For example, residents of Mississippi would pay $85 for a fishing license. However, if you do your homework and book with a properly licensed charter captain, you can buy a 3-day fishing license for $5! It’s hard to beat that kind of value!

It’s imperative that you have a Louisiana fishing license.

“Often, there are Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agents that patrol our waters. They are very professional and friendly towards fishermen, but they will check your catch and fishing licenses.”

If you are not licensed, you can face hefty fines that will cost a lot more than your fishing trip! Now you see the enormous benefit of fishing with a fully licensed and insured guide.

It is also imperative that the captain has a good radio and a backup radio to call for help.

Ask him what his plan is should danger arise. He should also have an arrangement to get towed in, so the buck doesn’t get passed to you.

These are all earmarks of a properly licensed captain.

Good charter captains that are concerned for their customer’s peace of mind will not hesitate to show you their credentials.

Do they offer a program to fish for a discounted price?

Especially when you fish on your own or prefer to fish with other like-minded individuals, it’s hard to afford the full cost of a charter.

If you don’t have the cash to pay up front, some charter captains will turn you away in favor of those who can.

But in the free market there are always alternatives and it is important to ask about those alternatives.

Some guides offer a “fill trip” program that puts you in touch with other fishermen in your area.

This allows you to make fishing friends and book fishing trips for far less. This is because you are splitting the cost of the trip with other people.

swamp stallion special

“If a customer can refer to me three fishing trips, I will take them out on a free fishing trip. I call it the Swamp Stallion Special.”

In the end, it is key to ask questions about what you are buying.

Try asking the charter captain to provide feedback from customers that have fished with him previously.

Does he have a TripAdvisor page or Facebook page with reviews?

If he deliberately avoids answering this question then chances are he has something to hide!

His personality and charisma should be a perfect match for the fishing trip you want.

If his customers liked him enough, they will be more than happy to recommend him!

He should be good natured and place your satisfaction as his number one priority, not his fishing photos or overhead expenses.

great fishing trip for reds and trout

Take the time ask the right questions to get you the best charter!


Captain Devin

About the Author

Devin is a veteran of the Iraq War and former fishing guide. He founded Louisiana Fishing Blog in 2012 to share his ideas as a charter captain and still writes in it today. Since then he's created a fishing university — LAFB Elite — where he teaches inshore anglers how to safely navigate Louisiana's coast and catch more fish.

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