5 Things to Know When Booking a Charter Fishing Trip

By Debbie Hanson

Aug 24, 2022

When booking a charter fishing trip with a professional guide, consider these five tips to maximize your time on the water, ensure you have a good experience

Whether you are planning a family vacation or want to learn a few new fishing techniques, booking a charter fishing trip with a professional guide is a great way to maximize your time on the water. Professional captains who run charter fishing trips have the local knowledge that will increase your chances of catching fish and having an overall good experience.

If you haven’t gone on many fishing charter trips, these tips and guidelines will outline a few important things you should know before you go.

1. Licensing and Insurance

Check to make sure the captain or guide is licensed and insured. When you charter a fishing trip, be sure to ask if the captain or guide has the proper licensing and insurance coverage. Most charter captains will provide this information on their website or business card. Reputable guides and charter captains always operate in accordance with the law.

2. Experience With Target Species

Find a guide or captain who specializes in the target species you want to catch. When a captain or guide has several years of experience with a certain fish species, he or she is more likely to have in-depth knowledge regarding migration patterns, feeding habits, and preferred habitat.

3. Ask Other Anglers for Recommendations

Ask other anglers for the name of a good guide or captain they have fished with in the past. Most anglers are happy to provide the names and contact information for guides or captains that they have had positive experiences with. You may also want to ask about whether the guide does an effective job of catering to new anglers or families and is mindful of boating safety when on the water.

4. Standard Gratuity Guidelines

If it’s your first time booking a charter fishing trip with a professional guide or captain, you may be wondering, “how much do you tip on a charter trip?” A general rule of thumb is to tip between 15% and 25% of the booked rate. You should base your tip on your guide’s diligence, skill, positive demeanor, and instructional ability. Since your guide can’t guarantee how many fish you catch, this should not be a primary tipping factor.

5. What the Rate Includes

How much does a charter fishing trip cost? What is included? These are two common questions you are likely to have. Rates for charter fishing trips will vary quite a bit (from a couple of hundred dollars up to around thousand dollars) depending on the length of trip, number of anglers, fishing destination, and the type of trip (freshwater, inshore, offshore). Find out what is included in the quoted rate before your trip. This way, you can plan what to bring on a fishing charter trip and budget for anything that isn’t covered in the rate. Knowing exactly what is included in the rate will also help you determine if the trip will be worth the cost.

Now that you have five key tips to help you find the best fishing guide or charter captain, start planning a fishing adventure with your family on a new waterway.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit shefishes2.com or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.