You found the perfect boat and Captain for a memorable day of fishing, but before you disembark on your trip, there are a few things you should do beforehand. Whether it’s your first fishing charter or it’s been a while since your last, here are some of the commonly asked questions that charter patrons have before on or on their big day.

Do You Need a Fishing License for a Fishing Charter?

Believe it or not, all 50 states have some form of a fishing license. This also means, that regardless if you’re fishing from the shore or fishing from a vessel, you need to have this documentation. Furthermore, some boat captains will not take you out until you have a physical or e-copy of your license. The point here is, yes, you need to purchase a fishing license for the state that you are fishing in before you go on a charter. There are some exceptions for seniors and children, so just double-check with local regulations. On an additional note, some states allow for the Captain to submit the license for your door party’s behalf. But it’s best to inquire in advance.

What Should You Bring?

man and muskie

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Assuming that you have your fishing license, you will want to bring some items to prepare for your trip. These include skin protection from the sun such as polarized sunglasses, sun skin, neck gaiter, a hat, and a UV-resistant rash guard. Of course, you will want to archive your day out, so a camera or cell phone camera should be charged and ready to go. Appropriate footwear should be worn on board or barefoot. On this topic, shoes, or shoes with grip bottoms, are best. Footwear such as flip-flops are a hazard, and you could slip and fall. A largely overlooked part of a charter is having a cooler for when the catch is cleaned for you. This doesn’t have to be a gigantic cooler, but you’ll appreciate something to carry your filets in while you head home.

What Shouldn’t You Bring on a Charter?

Smokes or cigars can be a bit of a touchy thing on board. Most captains will tell you that their worst nightmare is a fire while on the water, which means some may not allow you to have a cigarette. There are some ways to approach this matter, you can inquire with the Captain beforehand. However, this may not always be thought of. An alternative approach would be to ask the Captain while on the water. In most circumstances, you will be appointed to where you can have a drag, but if you’re told to hold off, it’s best to abide by the rules. Weapons, fireworks, and illicit drugs do not belong on a boat and if caught will end the charter service.

Should You Bring Your Kids?

man and kid fishing

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In most cases, children are welcome onboard. It is best to let the Captain know in advance that you intend to bring a child with you. Including their age and in some circumstances weight or height. This allows the Captain to plan accordingly with the appropriate amount and size of life jackets. Where this could be problematic, is when chartering in areas that have strict capacity laws. In this case, an additional person on board regardless of age over the allotted capacity will not be permitted. If you are unaware of the capacity of the charter and rules regarding children, it is best to inquire in advance and not show up assuming everyone can come onboard.

Should You Bring Food or Drinks?

When it comes to alcoholic beverages, there could be some rules in place that will vary with each individual charter. With advanced notice, captains can supply any food or beverage for your party, hassle-free. Alternatively, there could be a rule in place that does not allow for hard liquor. This is largely due to glass bottles and safety issues around intoxicated charter guests. What is common, is canned ciders or beer and boxed wine. Bringing snacks with you isn’t an issue, but use discernment. Don’t bring something that will be cumbersome and messy to clean up. Chips, a packed sandwich or baked goods, and trail mix are all good ideas.

Do You Need a Tip For the Captain?

boat captain

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It’s best to bring extra cash with you for a tip to the crew once the boat has docked. Especially if it’s a larger party that takes much more fore-planning. Tips are never expected, but they are appreciated among the crew. Most crew, typically go above and beyond to ensure that you have a good time, while onboard. On large party charters, it may be noted that a percentage will be charged as a gratuity. In general, a good tip is anywhere between 10% and 20% of your total charter amount.

The Last Word

Many don’t stop to contemplate what would be needed on the day of a charter. That being said, your trip prep starts when you book your boat, not ends. Just ask yourself, what do you need for the charter? What should I know?  But, on the day of, and the engine begins to sputter, all that planning will be beneficial for an enjoyable day out.