Booking a charter for the first time?
For those looking to book a charter, especially for the first time, keep in mind a few things. I've fished far too many charters to count, from Mexico to Mass and everywhere in between. Most have been excellent, some OK, and one or two downright diabolical. Don't be afraid to ask lots of questions and check them out.
1) First and foremost your captain should be a licensed captain, not just a guy who calls himself that, and he/she should be running a licensed charter service in the state or waters you are fishing. I get asked all the time if I'll take folks out for a cash "charter," and the answer is no. I don't want to lose my boat, house and everything else I own if something should go wrong. Licensed captains pay a lot of expenses to run their businesses, and under the table operations screw them. Your captain/guide should have liability insurance. ASK these things. They are simple questions and the answers should be the same. THEY SHOULD HAVE THE DOCUMENTATION ON THEIR BOATS.
2) CHEAPEST ISN'T NECESSARILY THE BEST. Avoid the weekend warrior captains. Ask for references or research online. Nothing equals time on the water.
3) You captain should be knowledgeable and listen to what you are interested in and work to put together a plan. I look to learn from these guys every time I go out. There are some out there who could care less about tides, whats biting when, etc. They want to leave at x, drift the Race, and get back at y regardless. I can go on a party boat for that.
4) He should like being out there and get pumped when clients catch big fish. Some of the best guys I've gone out with share knowledge, tell great stories, and will tell you that the biggest rush for them is hooking people up with the target species. I went out for ten hours in the Keys with a guy who did nothing but bitch about the weather. 4-10 hours on a boat with a guy that acts like he's having about as much fun as working a production line makes for a long trip.
5) Thinks "out of the box" and will change up the game plan on a slow day. Sometimes the fish don't seem to bite but a good captain will at least try a bit of everything. There are days when everyone gets skunked, but you know when a guy has busted his ass trying to get you on the fish, and that's a guy I will fish with again.
6) Big for me - wants to preserve the sport. Is ethical in methods and works to preserve the stocks. Believe it or not, I hate to eat fish, so I catch and release unless I want a few fillets for friends. Perhaps my coolest fishing moment was at the end of landing my one and only marlin, brought it to the side of the boat to snap a few pics, revived it and then cut it loose. The fish and I were spent, and that thing just glided back down into deep water.
Hope this helps someone looking to charter. Feel free to ask for suggestions or recommendations.
Great Captains and Guides I've Fished With
Capt. Jack Balint - Stonington, CT
Capt. Jack Balint is my friend and go-to charter captain when fishing in the Long Island Sound, Montauk or Block Island. He specializes in light tackle and fly fishing, is on the water all season, and will put you on fish. See The Fish Connection below for contact information.
Scott Glazier - Altmar, NY
If you've followed my blog, then you know Scott is one of the best guides on the upper Salmon River. A full time resident of Altmar, he will put you on the fish. Whether or not you land them is up to you! Scott's cabins make a weekend or a week of fishing comfortable. Click the image to check out TTL.
Don Kingsley - Altmar, NY
Don's been fishing the Salmon River since the end of the last ice age!
Capt. Jim Garrett - Hopewell, VA
If you want to catch citation blue catfish on the James River, get ahold of Capt. Jim. I try to get out with him every time I head back home. Check out the video of a past trip on the video page.
Take your fishing back to it's roots with the origina OBX charter fleet. My family has connections going back to the 50s with the First Family of charter fishing in Hatteras, NC.
The Black Hawk is run by Capt. Greg Dubrule, who has more than 30 years of experience in the fishing business. Capt. Greg will harder than anyone in the party boat business to put you on the fish, and particularly loves getting kids out on the boat.
A great place to look for the charter captain that is right for you!
Located an hour and a half south of Miami, on the southern tip of beautiful Islamorada in the Florida Keys, you will find Bud N’ Mary’s Fishing Marina. Established in 1944 and home to over 40 legendary fishing captains and guides, it is the oldest and largest fishing fleet in the Florida Keys Fishing industry.
Capt. Ted Wilson - Islamorada, FL
One of the best captains and a completely laid back guy, Ted is just a great guy to fish with. We had a blast out on the patch reefs. Check out the video.
Captain Jeff Beeler - Islamorada, FL
Born and raised in the Florida Keys, Jeff grew up in the fishing industry and by the age of 18 owned his own boat. He understands the area like the back of his hand, inshore and offshore. Check out my video of some back country fishing with Jeff during the infamous Winter of '10.
Captain Camp Walker - Islamorada, FL
A former student of mine, Camp now makes a living fishing in the Florida Keys. I didn't really teach him any of this.
Capt. Chuck DiStefano - Boston, MA
I ended up fishing with Capt. Chuck to fill in on a trip with a buddy who swears by him. Chuck didn't disappoint, putting me on my first AND second bluefin (we actually landed a triple that day). He's a great guy who knows the Mass fishery inside out.
Pelagic Beast Charters
I'm hoping to get out with Capt. Jason this summer to chase some sharks, and you can be sure I'll have a report on my blog and Facebook. Located down in Norwalk, CT.
Lain Goodwin - Key Largo FL
I needed to get out of the cold New England winter and do a little fishing. Met up with my brother in Key Largo, where I'd booked a couple of days with Lain from DWC. The weather was beautiful and the wind stayed down, so we were able to do a little bit of everything from wreck fishing to back country in the Everglades. Lain was a great guide and runs a first class operation. I'd highly recommend him if you're in the Key Largo area and looking to do some light tackle or fly fishing.
Capt. Bill Whipple - St. Cloud, FL
“Book Capt. Bill and Get Away from the Crowded Theme Parks!”
After a day at Universal, it was sure nice to get out on the water, wet a line, take in the scenery and watch Danny enjoy catching some bass. Capt. Bill Whipple is a great guy who made sure our day was everything we wanted. He's great with kids, regardless of experience. My son and I loved our day out on Toho. We weren't even out of the parking lot before he asked if we could fish again with Bill next trip down. I won't hesitate to re-book with Bill next time we're in the Orlando area.
Capt. George Clark Jr. - Key Largo, FL
My brother and I fished a day Capt. George and his young son (whom we were happy to have along) this past February. We lucked out with weather for this time of year, and so we did a combination of patch reef fishing and a little live bait trolling for sails and tuna. While the sails just didn't want to cooperate, the reefs gave up a nice variety of fish ensuring a good dinner. George was a pleasure to spend the day with. I only wish my son had been down with me, as the two boys would have gotten along great. Next time!
I know there are loads of great guys I've fished with not yet up here. Give me a shout, as this is a work in progress!! Scroll down to find quite a few more, many I've spent time on the water with.
Red arrows denote folks I've personally fished or done business with. Feel free to contact me with questions.