Finding the right fishing guide takes more than luck. Narrow your search by asking questions like these:
Are you insured and do you have a valid Coast Guard license?
What size is your boat?
Is the cabin big enough for all passengers? Is it heated? Does it have a toilet?
How many years of experience does the captain have?
How many people will be aboard and fishing?
What type of fishing will we be doing?
How much running time and how much fishing time?
Do you have any local references?
How much deposit do you require?
How much of my deposit do I get back if I cancel?
Is my entire deposit refunded if the trip is canceled due to bad weather?
What is included in your rate?
A glossy brochure with pictures of happy anglers and their huge fish won't guarantee that you'll catch either fish or a good time. Some charter operators may even lead you to believe they can guarantee you'll catch fish. Experienced skippers usually can put you on fish in almost any tide or weather condition, but even these skippers come back to the harbor with an empty fish hold once in a while. Ask questions.
If you're talking to a charter outfit on the same day or the day before your intended trip, ask if they have photos of the past few days' catches.
One of the advantages of chartering is that someone else does the work and preparation -- everything from furnishing you with the right tackle to baiting your hook and cleaning up the boat.
If you find yourself with a fishing guide who not only knows how to find and catch fish, but who also knows how to make you feel as if you've had the time of your life, you've found the right guide. And if you find the right guide, the next time around you won't have to ask so many questions.
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