For years I’ve heard stories about the epic adventures my friends had on fishing charters. The stories intrigued me and I wanted to spend a few hours on the water without having to worry about the details. I learned this the hard way, but it turns out that picking a charter can be tricky. Read on, so you don’t learn lessons the same way I did.
Figure out what you’re fishing for
Not knowing much about fishing or charters in general, I booked the first one I stumbled across on the dock. As a novice, I didn’t care about the type of fish we were chasing. A more experienced fisher would have known that certain fish only come around at certain times, much like hunting season determines allowable prey.
If you’re committed to deep sea fishing in Miami, make sure you choose the kind of fishing you want. You wouldn’t go hunting without knowing what animals were in season. Likewise, if you have a goal for how many fish you intend to catch, let the captain know your intent so they can recommend the best outing. As an experienced fisherman, you wouldn’t want to be stuck in a large group charter with people like me.
Know what type of trip you’re booking
The style and equipment on the boat determines the kind of trip you take, so choose carefully. Some charter boats are restricted to a certain distance from shore, while others can’t accommodate overnight passengers.
Most private charters hold up to six people, but there are also party boats that hold about 60 passengers. Check on the group size, so you’ll know whether it’s a private charter or if you are joining a much larger group on a shared charter.
A half-day charter should give you four hours on the boat, but not necessarily four hours of fishing. A full-day charter is eight hours on the water, and an overnight means you’re sleeping on the boat. The longer you fish, the greater your chances are of a good catch.
Consult the captain or read some reviews
I met the captain on the dock before I booked the outing, so I knew he was a nice guy who was committed to making us happy with a laid-back attitude.
If you don’t have an opportunity to meet the captain before booking, go onto Yelp or TripAdvisor and read reviews. While experiences vary, you’ll get a pretty good picture of how the captain interacts with passengers, what the crew is like, and an overall impression of whether people generally have a good experience.
Prices aren’t apples to apples
Like any service, it’s hard to judge what type of experience you’ll have until you’re in the thick of it. Miami fishing charter prices are inconsistent because you don’t know if you’ll be charged for additional services. I got drawn in by a reasonable sounding fee but found out later that some charters lure you aboard with a low price, but then charge for purchasing snacks, a fish cleaning fee, or renting upgraded equipment.
Investigate what is included on your fishing charter before signing an agreement. It may be pricey, but if the additional costs cover all of the fishing equipment, license, hotel pickup and drop-off, instruction for beginners, bottled water, and lunch on board, then it’s worth the investment.
It turns out that not all charters are alike. Substandard equipment, bad fellow passengers, or paying double for basic services can turn your epic adventure into a nightmare. Don’t learn this the hard way like I did, do your research beforehand and know what you’re getting.