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How to Choose the Perfect Charter Fishing Boat

You could spend the next ten years learning how to catch fish like a pro—or you could simply choose a great fishing charter company! Want to feel a bend in that rod immediately? Willing to pay your way to fishing success? Then make sure you charter the right boat for the job. Here’s how.

Cheapest is not always best

Like anything in life the cheapest is not always the best and this is certainly true of fishing charters. If you find a really good deal, take a few minutes to investigate. Ask the captain about his rates? Check into his licenses and ask to verify them. Ask to see the boat and take a look at the condition of the boat. If it looks fly-by-night it just might be too good to be true.

Fish online reviews before you go

Online review are a great resource and an easy way to see what actual customers say about a charter operation. Sure there is always an upset customer or two but if you see one out of five star reviews over and over, you might want to look elsewhere. Another good idea is to look at how the captain responded to negative reviews, this often will tell you a lot about the captain.

Know where you want to go

Often, people consider all fishing on a charter “offshore”. However, there are several different types of charter fishing and most of the difference involves where you want to fish. There are several choices and knowing ahead of time the type of experience you are looking for is a good idea. We found this simple chart to help understand a little bit about each type of experience.

**photo credit


Inshore trips are great for beginners and those who aren’t interested or a little nervous about heading far out to sea. Think within sight of the shore. Often this is in the salt marshes, shallow bays and even local rivers.


The further away from shore you get the bigger the fish and expense. Often nearshore trips as the picture above shows you will be somewhere within ten miles of shore. This is a great way to start experiencing some bigger game fish.


If you are looking for a truly challenging adventure where big fish are the name of the game than trying offshore fishing is perfect for you. This is usually a whole day adventure and can include rough seas. Think of battling Tuna and Marlin, but still being just a little closer to shore than deep sea fishing.

Deep Sea

This is the big kahuna of fishing. The depths of the water are usually in excess of a 100 feet and you are very far out to sea. This adventure will be costly as the size of the boats is much larger than the other types of fishing, but the battles with the fish can be epic. This is also perhaps the best for a larger group of friends who have some experience fishing off shore.

Beware of boats available on prime days

If a charter isn’t booked on a summer Saturday, there’s probably a reason why. It doesn’t mean the reason isn’t a good one (like a cancelled trip) but it is worth taking a closer look and asking a few questions.

Other Considerations

Catch or release?

This may or may not matter to you, but if it does, it is better to know ahead of time. Any reputable captain will be happy to explain their policy, discuss options and review any local, state or federal regulations regarding specific species. If you want to know whether you can keep that trophy tuna, it is best to know well before you get offshore.

Don’t over commit

If this is your first time going on a fishing charter, take it slow. Try something like an inshore or maybe a nearshore charter. Not only are they more reasonably priced but you are closer to shore in case you just can’t find your sea legs. Look on the bright side if you are hooked on fishing (pardon the pun) you can always book another charter for deeper and bigger fish.

Verify Licenses

Always choose a charter that has all the right paperwork. That way, you know you’re in safe hands, with somebody who’s properly trained. It also means that you won’t run into trouble if the Coast Guard or NC Fisheries shows up. The main things to look for are a captain’s license, a permit to run fishing trips, and insurance.

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How to Choose the Perfect Charter Fishing Boat
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