Many anglers from around the globe visit Florida to fish and often seek the help of a professional fishing guide. Florida fishing is some of the best in the world, offering a wide range of opportunities, whether it’s backwater fishing for snook, deep sea fishing for grouper, or sport fishing offshore for tarpon, king mackerel, and barracuda. Hiring the right fishing guide will make or break your FL fishing experience. While you’ll find plenty of FL fishing charters and just as many captains to choose from, but please be aware,
All Fishing Charters are not created equal!
Planning your Fishing Trip: Important Decisions about your fishing charter
Length of your charter –Most fishing charters offer both full and half-day options, You’ll need to decide if you want to fish all day, or if a shorter fishing trip would be better for you and your party.
- What kind of fish do you want to target? Most captains and fishing charters catch several different species of fish, but they usually focus on one or more desired species. What fish are likely available depends on the area waters and the season.
- Where do you want to fish?– backwater, offshore, or deep-sea fishing? Are you interested in light tackle angling?
- Do you want to includesome sightseeing, shelling and eco-tour with the fishing experience?If this is something you’d enjoy, you’ll probably want to find a captain who offers this. In some cases, a captain will offer sort of a mini history lesson about the area, which is a definite plus.
- What is the fishing Experiencelevel of your group? If you are not an experienced fisherman or will have kids with you, try to find captains who work well with children and beginner level anglers.
Now that you know what you are looking for,
you’ll need to research the local fishing guides for the area.
The most important element in choosing the right fishing charter is the captain. In many cases, the captain is the owner/operator, and you want one with a lot of experience in the waters you’ll be fishing. Just because the captain has earned a captains license doesn’t mean he’s a good fishing guide. Practically anyone can get a license, call himself a captain, and hang out his shingle for guided fishing. You want someone who’s going to provide you with the very best opportunities for success. Read the bios of the captains and find out how long they’ve been fishing in the area and operating fishing tours. Make sure he’s extremely knowledgeable about the local waters and the fish species that live there. A fishing guide that has won some local fishing tournaments indicates that they know how to find & hook the big fish. When you’re searching for fishing trips and captains, one of the best ways to weed out the fluff is to read reviews from former customers. Trip Advisor is a great site for this! Narrow down the area you wish to fish and go from there. For example, if you’re planning a beach vacation to Southwest Florida and want to enjoy a day of guided fishing, you can go to the Trip Advisor site and type in “Charter Guides Naples Florida” or “Deep Sea Fishing Naples” and see hundreds of reviews and ratings. Read what customers have to say and check out the ratings of each Naples fishing guide. Pay close attention to what people have to say about the captain and about the overall experience. Does the captain or guide seem like a “good fit” for you?
Something else that’s important to consider is the boat from which you’ll be fishing. Fishing boats come in all different shapes and sizes, and some are much more adapted to local waters than others might be. If a captain uses a custom made boat, that’s probably a good sign. Such a vessel was created specifically for the waters in which it navigates. Is the boat comfortable? Will you have enough room for everyone in your party to fish? Is there enough seating, and is there a shady spot to escape the blazing Florida sun? Small details can make a big difference! Also, you want a boat that’s safe. Make sure it’s equipped with a GPS and other U.S. Coast Guard-approved safety equipment and electronics. Of course, you want a boat that’s efficient, too. If it’s fast, you’ll get to spend more time angling and less time getting from fishing hole to fishing hole. Furthermore, fish-finding equipment is a must!
Rates: Cost vs. Value
Cost will probably be a factor in making your choice, but don’t let it be the deciding factor. In other words, don’t confuse cost with value. It’s better to pay $500 for an amazing fishing charter than to pay $300 for a crappy experience. There might also be hidden costs that you’re unaware of. Be sure to understand what’s included and what you are responsible to provide. Safety In case of bad weather and emergency situations make sure your fishing charter boat is equipped with weather condition tracking and communications equipment, emergency signals and lifejackets for all anglers. Also ask the captain about their experiences, abilities and procedures for ensuringthe safety of the boat and passengers if a storm all of a sudden appears. (You Don’t want to end up like Gilligan, stranded on a small island off the Florida Coast)
What’s Included & What you need to provide? (Make sure you ask these questions)
Is the fishing license provided by the fishing guide?, or do you have to buy your own? Is all the needed fishing gear included, or do you have to take your own rod, reel, and tackle? Is all the bait you’ll need provided? Will your fish be cleaned and bagged for you at the dock? Okay, let’s say you’ve done your research and have decided on a specific Naples fishing guide, and you’ve chosen a specific trip. You’ve contacted the captain, booked your reservation, and paid your deposit. You’re not done yet! There are still a few details you’ll need to take care of: *Make sure you have clear directions to the marina. *Be perfectly clear about departure times and return times. Arrive at the marina on time! *If you have a favorite rod and reel, ask if it’s okay to bring it along. *Bring plenty of sunscreen. *Bring a hat or cap and dress appropriately. *If you tend to get motion sickness, begin taking an appropriate medication the day before and take more with you on the boat. *Bring your camera. *Take cold drinks and snacks.
Planning for a Perfect Trip
If you’ve followed all the above suggestions and guidelines, your chances for having an unforgettable Florida fishing experience are excellent. Yes, it takes a little time and effort on your part, but it pays off in the end. Of course, no captain can guarantee that you’ll catch the fish of your dreams, but by doing your homework, your expectations have a heck of a lot better chance of being realized.