Do a little research before chartering a boat

May 29, 2011 

One of the most common questions I hear is how to pick the right guide for a charter.

My answer is simple -- do your homework. A charter is a big investment in time and money for both captain and client.

There are numerous guides in this area, some good ... some not so good.

The good ones work hard for their money and rely on repeat business. The only way to do this is to be open and honest. They spend hours on the water to ensure their clients are satisfied and well-informed of reasonable expectations, but a bad day of fishing isn't always the guide's fault. Fish don't always behave accordingly.

One of the biggest problems between anglers and guides has less to do with fishing and more to do with communication. You need to be exact in what your expectations are -- never assume anything -- and the charter captain needs to let you know if he can fulfill those expectations.

Know what is provided before you leave the dock, as far as bait, tackle and cleaning services. Know how much you should tip and what is considered fair and equitable. Voice your safety concerns, if any, know if the boat is Coast Guard certified and make sure the captain and crew know proper safety procedures. This is all part of your homework.

Finally, you may not be the best fisherman around, but you think you know what to do, when to do it and how it should be done. If you are open for advice, let captain and crew know. If not, there may be some confusion.

A fishing charter can seem like an eternity if you are with someone whose personality clashes with yours. You want to make sure that you're compatible with the captain and crew.

The best captains will know how far to go and just how far is enough, both in travel distance and tolerance between the crew and client.

FISHING TRENDS

Things are picking up offshore. Recent reports from Captain Wally show cobia are beginning to thin out from offshore structures. But Spanish mackerel and wahoo are hitting very good, dolphin are hitting regularly, some tuna are showing and anglers are finding great bottom fishing.

COURTESY BOAT INSPECTIONS

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources will offer courtesy boat inspections from 10 a.m. to noon today at Lemon Island Landing on the Chechessee River.

DNR boating safety and enforcement officers will perform a quick, thorough inspection for items such as required safety equipment and proper boat and motor registration. Boaters who are not in compliance with safety regulations or registration requirements will not be ticketed during the complimentary inspections, but will instead be given an opportunity to correct the problem before launching their boat.

SHRIMP WATERS TO REOPEN

The NOAA Fisheries Service has announced that federal waters within 25 nautical miles of the federal-state water boundary off South Carolina will reopen to fishing for brown, pink, and white shrimp at 12:01 a.m. on June 7. South Carolina state waters remain closed and will reopen with the opening of its brown shrimp season.

MARINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETING

The DNR's Marine Advisory Committee will meet at 10 a.m. on June 3 at the Marine Center auditorium at Fort Johnson in James Island.

The meeting will include a public hearing on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Omnibus Amendment for spot, spotted sea trout, and Spanish mackerel.

For information, call Maia Ingle at 953-9393.

WATER FESTIVAL FISHING TOURNEY

The 56th annual Beaufort Water Festival Fishing Tournament will be held June 4, with a captains meeting on June 3. New features this year include a kayak division and special youth awards.

For an application, go to www.bftwaterfestival.com or call Dan Thompson at 575-2770.

TACKLE TIP

Top-water plugs can't be beat when it comes to action and excitement.

The problem is most top-water plugs are designed for clear waters. Saltwater contains obstacles that make top-water fishing a bit more tricky. Floating grass is perhaps the biggest.

To beat the odds, replace the treble hooks with a single circle hook at the last hanger on your lure. You may have to manipulate your retrieve a bit to impart the desired action, but the effort is worth it. The majority of hook-ups will be set by the fish and releasing fish is quick and easy.

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