Some do-s and don't-s of charter boat fishing
Charter boats provide a service that every angler loves to experience at least on an occasional basis. Whether it's the beginner fisho who uses the local red-eye early morning day trip charter fishing their local waters or who has travelled up the coast for a holiday and is looking to catch a big one to the more seasonsed angler who chooses the deluxe live-aboard charters or who has the resources available to get to some of the more exquisite locations around the country or around the world.
While the experience of the author are limited to the more down-to-earth charters that fish local or country waters, and therefore shape the overall approach of this article accordingly, there are a number of things any first time charter user should consider before heading out on one of these piscatorial pleasure crafts.
SPENDING THE $$
The first and foremost consideration that must be accounted for is this - charter boat websites and brochures are loaded with pictures of fish that leave your keyboard short-circuiting from the pool of drool that comes with wading through these galleries, but this isn't a representation of every day they have been out. Many people who jump on a charter for have a simple equation they apply to the experience: charter boat + me = lots of fish.
Skippers these boats do what they can to put their customers on to fish, this is what pays their expenses and keeps people coming back to use their services, but the reality is that there are days when fish just don't want to play the game and there is nothing that can be done about it.
Before booking a charter it can be valuable to develop the mindset that says - after spending this $XXX I could come home without a fish - do that, and you'll be in a position where you can't lose. If you come home with nothing, then at least you were prepared for the chance that it might happen. If you bag out - well there definitely won't be any disappointment because from the beginning you were prepared for the worst.
The second consideration is something that can destroy your charter experience and it's a bout of sea-sickness. Often charter boats cover a large number of kilometres to get to their spots and if you haven't got your sea-legs then this extended period of motion can eventually get to you, especially if the swell is up.
There are a number of ways around sea sickness which this article isn't going into (but stay tuned to future articles for more information!), but the easiest choices to assist here are: a visit to your chemist for some Travacalm or Kwell tablets, the chemist or health store for some ginger tablets or drinking ginger beer onboard. Even if there is a slight chance you might get hit by the sickness, take something for it, because if it gets you it is one sure-fire way to destroy an otherwise fun day.
TAKING YOUR OWN GEAR
Point three. Most charter boats allow you to bring your own tackle and even your own bait onboard which is a fantastic thing if you have your own gear you are familiar with or prefer to use. It can create some headaches for the skipper and deckies at times though, especially if you're using braid. Many charter boats fishing for demersal species use monofilament lines on the reels they provide. Mono is cheaper, hardier and A LOT easier to untangle. If you take your own gear, and you are using braid, be prepared to lose some line in the event of the tangle from hell. Deckies will do their best to untangle a birds nest of multiple lines but if you're fishing in deep water and someone captures a samsonfish or a similar rampaging species that takes you all around the boat tangling seven other lines in the process, in the end sometimes it's simply easier to cut all the lines and start again.
Another consideration when using your own gear is not to discount advice the deckhands or skipper might give you. These guys fish the waters you're in day in and day out. They know what works. They know what doesn't work. They've fished with magazine and television personalities with all the latest in tackle and ideas. They've fished with John Johnson on his first ever boat trip yesterday who bagged out yesterday using the vanilla flavoured fishing tackle they provided while the BYO guys caught nothing. If you silently (or not so silently) ask them to take their ideas and squeeze them into a dark and safe place, you're the only person who is missing out on excellent 'local' knowledge.
If you are looking at doing a charter in a location where a number of boats are vying for your business doing a bit of research on the different boats can be worth your while.
Often you'll find that these charters are all charging more-or-less the same price so have a look on their website or give them a call and see if they offer anything different that might grab your attention. Small things like do you get a hot lunch or a cold lunch on board? Also some provide non-alcoholic drinks all day and others don't. Find out what sort of fishing gear they provide - does one offer tackle with a bit more bling than another?
The other way of finding information is to jump onto a few of the local fishing forums and see what sort of experiences people can pass on about a charter. One thing to keep in mind with this though - remember that people generally are more likely to recite their bad experiences than their good ones, so what you read may be indicative of what you'll get, but it could also just be a couple of squeaky wheels having a vent. Use commonsense and you can't go wrong.
This article brought to Seabreeze by the Ajiking Pro Jigger
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