We pride ourself on providing the best possible fishing experience on the water, so here are some frequently asked questions about booking a private fishing charter.
Should we fish inshore or offshore?
Inshore fishing or offshore fishing is a choice that only you can decide. Inshore fishing generally costs less than offshore fishing. If you want to fish close to shore, you should consider an inshore trip. If you would like to go deep-sea fishing, you need to fish on an offshore trip.
Do we have to buy a saltwater fishing license?
No, you do not need to buy a saltwater fishing license to fish on a charter boat. The boat provides your fishing license for you while onboard. The boat purchases the license annually and it covers those who fish on the boat. If you fish from shore or from a dock, and are 16 years of age or older, you do need to purchase a saltwater fishing license from a local tackle shop or go to the State of Florida's Outdoor website and purchase a license.
Will I get sea-sick while fishing? Will you bring me back if I do?
Motion sickness/sea sickness is real and effects about 10 percent of all saltwater fishing participants. Sea sickness is an inner ear problem. If you have it bad, you might get your physician to write you a prescription for the patch that is placed like a bandaid behind your ear. Some poeple use Dramamine. Dramamine makes people sleepy or drowsy. I would suggest non-drowsy dramamine or Bonine over the counter medicine and take as directed.
You are on a private charter. That means you are in control of your charter. There are no refunds given for sea-sickness. If you want to return to port, your captain will do what you wish. The other people in your group may not be happy with you but they are your family or friends and if you decide you want to go back to port that is up to you and your party.
May we bring our own fishing tackle?
Sure you may bring your own fishing tackle. However, saltwater fish fight hard and your gear may not be suited to handle the fight. We will not be held responsible if your tackle fails.
Do you offer a catch and release program?
Yes, we do offer catch and release. While, we promote catch and release as part of our program, not all species are catch and release friendly. However, we do have a lot of species that are a lot of fun to fight, photograph and release.
Do I have to pay for a rod if it breaks or if I lose lures, hooks, or bait?
We use new tackle and well maintained fishing gear. If a rod and reel fails on it's own, you will not be charged. If you drop one overboard, you will be expected to replace it. If you damage the vessel or a rod or reel fom neglect or carelessness you will pay for the damage either through a repair or by replacemnt if unable to be repaired. We reserve your credit card on file to pay for any of these damages whether you notify us during the trip that you caused the damage or we locate the damage after your trip you consent to this by fishing with us. We lose lures, hooks and gear all of the time while fishing. You will not be charged for the loss of lures, hooks or bait.
May we bring alcoholic beverages on our trip? Can we smoke?
Yes you may bring your favorite beverage with you. However, we do not allow glass bottles, and ask that you drink in moderation. Excessive drinking and intoxication may lead to an accident or injury. We are safe operators and expect you to adhere to all safety rules and regulations. You may smoke outside, away from everyone else.
What do we need to bring on our fishing charter?
Depending on the length of your charter you need to bring the basics: non-slip shoes, food, drink, snacks, hand towels, protective clothing (hats, sunscreen, sunglasses, rain gear, etc) and a camera. Contrary to what some say, it is not customary to bring enough food to feed the captain and crew. You are paying enough for your charter and we do not want to put you out and feel like you have to feed any of our crew members or captain.
What are our chances of catching a fish?
As with any type of fishing, there is a chance that we may get skunked. We are professionals and we know how to catch fish. We normally do catch fish. There are some times when fishing is tough and they just do not bite. Fishing for certain species like Marlin, Tuna, Cobia, Redfish and Speckled Trout can be difficult at times. However, we know what we are doing and with a little luck, we can catch you the fish you desire. Reef fish like Red Snapper, Vermilion Snapper, and Triggerfish are commonly caught. Due to fishing seasons and size limits, you may not be able to keep them all.
Do you use live bait on fishing trips? Does live bait mean we catch bigger fish?
Live bait is commonly used on inshore fishing trips and on full day or longer, offshore fishing trips. Live shrimp is best used for inshore species such as Speckled Trout, Red Drum, and Flouder, while Croakers, Pin Fish, and Poagies are best used for offshore species like Amberjack and Grouper. Our fishing charters do not waste your time catching live bait if it is not necessary. If we need it, we will tell you, and catch it the morning of the trip.
How does booking a boat direct with the captain or owner save me money?
Did you know that when you book your trip through a marina, Groupon, or other social media advertising sources the captain or boat owner has to pay upwards of 15% to 50% commission to the marina or booking agent. The marina or agent may even deduct an additional 3% of the price of the charter when they handle the credit card payment for the captains' charter. Being a charter fishing business like we are, we are here to tell you that 15% commission can be the profit for the whole trip. If you book with anyone who takes a fee from the captain you are fishing with, it will not always save you money. It can actually cost you money in the form of the type of results you will see during your trip.
Captains must to try to make a profit to stay in business, maintain their boats, and pay expenses, etc. Those charters who have to pay a commission plus a credit card handling fee find themselves not having enough revenue to remain profitable. They only thing they can cut expenses with is trying to save money on fuel and bait. Over a period of a year, that can add up to thousands of dollars a year in extra expenses that could have been used to maintain their boats, engines, generators, and fishing tackle. It is important for you to know as a consumer that in order to get a better trip, you need to call the charter boat directly and book your trip.
Are saltwater fishing charters safe?
As you could probably guess, fishing is not an exact sport. However, accidents and incidents rarely happen with professional fishing guides with a safety program. There are hooks that can stick you and we catch fish that have sharp teeth that can bite you. We educate you and demonstrate how to be safe while on our boats and while holding fish for your picture. We do fish in waters where waves may cause you to hold on while the boat is moving. We care about your safety. We do not want you to get hurt in any way.
What do we need to know about choosing boats that offer low prices, best prices and cheap rates?
To the average consumer, getting the best price or a low rate, sounds like your about to get a good deal and save some money on your private fishing charter. What you need to know, is there is a direct correlation in the price of the charter and the quality of the trip you are going to receive. When we talk about a private fishing charter, we are not talking about buying a product where everyone is buying the same thing. When you invest in a fishing charter,
There are charter boats that sell low prices and there are boats that sell good service. There is no such thing as getting a low price and good service. For example, the people who shop at the nations largest grocery store chain, they know they are there to get the lowest price on a consumer product and are willingly accept poor service. You will notice that these stores are usually grossly understaffed, they offer self check out and may only have two or three registers open while there are 50 people in line. When you have a question about trying to find a product, there is nobody around to serve you. This leaves customers upset, because they expect good service when really, selling low prices does not leave them enough margin to provide good service. On the other hand, there are those people who shop at high end grocery stores, knowing their food costs upwards of 15% to 20% more than those low price stores. But unlike the stores that sell low prices, in the high end stores, there is always someone nearby asking if they can help you find what you are looking for, help bag your groceries or even walk you to the other end of the store to show you where a product is located. These stores sell excellent customer service and make shopping pleasant for the consumer. That is what our charter boat does for you. We put a good captain on the back deck who is there to personally serve you.
As a consumer of charter fishing you need to know that you are paying for service, not a product. If you have done your research and have found a couple of charters that you are comparing that are similar in length for the same number of hours, but the two have a $100, $200, or more difference in price, you need to be asking yourself why is that person cheaper than the other. You might be asking why is one higher than the other. The reason is one who charges more, knows the value of good service and lives up to the what they charge. Knowing how all of these fishing charters operate from an inside perspective, do you really want to take a chance with your hard earned money that you have saved for a once in a lifetime fishing trip and end up choosing a charter that pulls back on the throttle to make up their profit? It makes sense to pay a little more for your trip and expect to get more for your family fishing experience.
How do deposits work and what do I need to know about paying one upfront?
Back in the day, everyone had to pay a 50% up front deposit before the captain would book your trip. By paying a deposit, meant that captain could take that date and time slot off the books to reserve it for you (actually if the truth be known, many captains used early year deposits to live on during the winter months). When you show up on the day of your trip, you only have to pay the remainder plus the tip for the captain and the fish cleaning. If for some reason you did not show up for your trip, the captain was not stuck with losing a full day's worth of revenue.
What you need to know that some charters still have a deposit policy and you still have to pay it up front. Some of them also have a policy not to give your money back if you cannot go because of bad weather. They force you to rebook with them in the future and they will apply that deposit to a future trip. Now, this is not how the best charters do things any longer. Just to be sure, I would ask about their deposit policy when booking your trip.
The best charters only take a credit card number and a small deposit on trips of 12 hours or less. These charters operate like a hotel. They only need a credit card number on file to hold your trip. On the day of the trip, you must pay the entire fare before the charter departs. The only thing extra is you must have enough money to tip the mate and that should be paid in cash if the captain is your mate you should pay him %20 which is customary.
Do all fishing charters charge fish cleaning fees?
Some boats charge to clean fish and charge around .30 cents per pound. We do not charge and will bag your fish fillets as part of your trip.
The best fishing charters offer free or complimentary fish cleaning to be included with their 20% minimum tip. You need to search them out, because these guys are the ones who really care about giving you the best service and do not mind giving back with complimentary fish cleaning.
Do your boats fish in unsafe conditions, bad weather or high seas?
We do fish in light rain or near showers. We try to avoid fishing in rough seas or high winds. We try to stay away from lightening storms at all times, but sometimes they pop up and we have to go through them. We just try to avoid the darkest cells or heaviest rain. Just remember that the Sea Reaper can also fish inshore on days when we cannot get offshore.
What does the term "full pull" mean?
This is a term that some old school captains say when they know the seas are marginal or too rough to go, but they get you on the boat and take you out (because they know how bad you really want to go) to the sea buoy and then they ask you, if you want to continue? When a captain asks you that, you need to ask yourself, is this in his best interest or yours? The seabuoy sits 3-4 miles offshore and it is usually very rough crossing the bar to get to deeper waters. The only thing we can think of is, if they beat you up enough getting you that far offshore and you do not get hurt or get seasick, then you are good to go. If you say yes that you want to continue, it means you are going to have to pay the full amount agreed upon when you get seasick and beg the captain to turn around.
What is the difference between an inspected and an uninspected vessel?
An inspected vessel is inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard on an annual basis. They are held to strict guidelines and safety requirements. Uninspected vessels or six packs (six passengers maximum) make up about 90% of the entire charter fishing fleet. They are not inspected by anyone and you have to rely on the captain to maintain his vessel to safe standards. Inspected vessels have limitations on where or how far from land they can operate due to being equipped with different safety devices. For instance, most inspected vessels have 100 mile restrictions while there are many more who are limited to 20 miles from land. It is important for you to know the difference because if you are wanting a 12 hour trip, the best fishing is 40 to 60 miles offshore and a 20 mile boat cant take you legally. You have to have a 100 mile boat for that or a six pack.
Does being an inspected vessel mean they are safer than an uninspected vessel?
To some degree yes, but some six passenger vessels have the same safety equipment and are maintained to US Coast Guard standards. Uninspected vessels should be maintained like an inspected vessel. If you get to your boat and everything looks sloppy or the engine room looks dirty, nasty and the fishing tackle is poorly maintained, you might need to look eslewhere. There is no shortcut when it comes to your safety.
How far do you go out?
The number one question we are asked is "how far do you go out?" A 4 hour charter is trolling only. These trips stay within sight of land where migratory fish like King and Spanish Mackerel or Tarpon and Bonito can be caught. The 6 hour charter goes anywhere from 8 miles to 20 miles, depending on the fish bite. 8 hour trips can get you as far as 25 miles offshore and a 10 or 12 hour trip can get you as far as 35 to 40 miles offshore.
How soon do we need to book a fishing charter?
The urgency of booking a charter depends on you and the boats availability. Summer months, holidays, weekends, and fishing tournaments create our biggest rush of fishing charters. A lot of you plan months ahead for your vacation or weekend escape to ensure you get a room. Fishing is the same way. You need to plan early so you get the date of your choice. During the fall, winter and spring, fishing slows a bit but we still experience high volumes of bookings during weekends.
What length of fishing charter do we need to book?
There are a lot of factors involved in this process. An inshore fishing charter is usually 4 to 6 hours in length and we catch inshore fish like Speckled Trout, Flounder and Redfish. Our offshore trips range from a 4 hour trolling trip to a 6 hour bottom fishing trips for Red Snapper, Triggerfish, etc. 8 hour trips or shorter are mostly for those who want to have fun and catch a few fish to release or catch a few for supper. 10 and 12 hour bottom fishing trips are for those who want to be on the water all day and or, keep a few fish for dinner. If you have kids or you have never done it before, you might consider a 4 to 6 hour trip. If you have been deep sea fishing before, I would suggest an 8 to 12 hour trip.
How much fishing time is there in a typical bottom fishing charter?
As a rule of thumb, bottom fishing consists of a ride from the port to the fishing reefs and back. This ride can be as short as an hour or as long as two to three depending on the length of the trip and how far we have to run. Most charters are usually divided into 50% ride (trolling fishing heading out and back) and 50% fishing. There is also time spent driving between reefs that counts as riding. We try to troll between spots that are further than 3 miles apart. However, most charter boats high speed troll while heading out to the reefs. High speed trolling produces fish frequently during the late Spring, Summer and Fall months.
Will we catch Grouper and Amberjack on our fishing charter?
The reality of catching legal sized Grouper and Amberjack is dependent upon the length of the fishing charter taken. In recent years, these species have been over fished and seasonal closures and increased size limits have been put in place to stop over harvesting of these species. With that being said, you can catch them on trips as short as 6 hours. The truth is that you need to take at least a 10 or 12 hour charter or longer to be able to have a chance to catch them. But there is no guarantee. Fishing for Grouper and Amberjack is usually better during the Fall, Winter and Spring seasons. This is a time when these larger fish move closer to shore and there is less fishing pressure on them. In the Summer, plan on a full day charter to increase your odds. The truth is, Grouper and Amberjack have been severely overfished close to shore and you need to have a 8-12 hour trip to have time to go the 35 to 50 miles offshore to have a reasonable chance get them. The reality of catching Grouper and Amberjack within 30 miles of shore is minimal but from time to time, it happens. If you want to catch Grouper or Amberjack, you need to choose a faster boat and a 8 to 12 hour trip to have a chance. This is because you need to get about 30 to 50 miles offshore where the fishing pressure is less and the water is deeper.
How young or old should children be to go on a charter fishing trip?
Most of our summer business is family fishing with kids. We love to see kids catch their first fish. The age of the child that wants to go fishing depends on the maturity and experience of the child. Children that are 4 to 8 years of age are common on 4 and 6 hour charters. I would suggest children be 9 or older to try and take on a trip longer than 6 hours. Again, it all depends on your kids. Remember, our boats are there to help you catch fish and operate very safely. It is up to the parent to watch their children at all times. There are fishing hooks and flopping fish that can cause injury to small ones if left unattended.
Are all fishing charters family or kid friendly?
It is important to do your homework about the charter you are considering putting your family on. I would say use your best judgement when choosing a charter that advertises "family fishing". I would suggest you look at the boats respective websites to see if they have a lot of recent pictures of kids and families onboard. I would also look for testimonials or customer reviews to see if they live up to what they offer. However, our fishing charters always act professionally and you can be rest assured that you and your family will be treated with respect at all times.
Do you have life vests for children onboard? What ages must wear one?
All boats must have life saving equipment onboard. All of our charter boats carry childrens' life jackets that are USCG approved for children. If you have your own life jacket that is more comfortable for your child, you may bring it as long as it is USCG approved.