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Ask questions when taking a charter

Posted: Saturday, May 26, 2001

If you're shopping for a fishing charter on the Kenai Peninsula, it's a buyer's market. The charter industry has boomed in recent years. The competition has kept rates low and the quality of service high. Boats are safer, faster and more comfortable. Never have the choices been so varied and numerous. With so many, it pays to shop and ask questions.

Ask what size boat you'll be going on. A 50-footer offers more creature comforts than a 25-footer. On long trips in rough seas, you may wish you were on the bigger boat. But the larger boat may have 15 or more anglers aboard, while the smaller boat will probably have no more than six. The smaller boat may be faster, too.

Other questions might include:

Does your boat have a heated cabin and toilet?

How many years of experience does the captain have in these waters?

What kind of fishing will we be doing?

What are your departure and return times, and how long a run is it to the fishing grounds?

What are your rates? Do they include meals? Drinks? Cleaning and filleting of fish?

Customarily, charter operators furnish tackle and bait. They bait your hook, unhook your fish and show you how to fish. Tips for captain and mate are customary.

Don't let a charter brochure raise your expectations too high. Most brochures show anglers standing beside 300-pound halibut and 75-pound king salmon, but those fish aren't caught every day.

If you go, take rain gear and plenty of warm clothes. Dress in layers, with a windbreaker on top. If it rains, or if you're standing in the wrong place when the mate hoses down the deck, you'll be glad you wore boots.

Don't let a charter brochure raise your expectations too high. Most brochures show anglers standing beside 300-pound halibut and 75-pound king salmon, but those fish aren't caught every day.

The halibut you're more likely to take home will weigh closer to 20 pounds, and the king, closer to 25. Not that big fish aren't out there, but the smaller ones greatly outnumber the lunkers. Ask charter operators what size and species of fish you're likely to catch.

Asking all these questions may seem like a lot of trouble, but the payoff is an enjoyable fishing trip.



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