If you’re in the process of hunting deep sea fishing charter rates, you’ve probably noticed the wide range in hourly pricing across the board. So, why not take the charter with the lowest cost? After all, each charter boat offers the same basic experience, right? Unfortunately, not all fishing charters were created equally. Here, we will discuss major considerations that reflect both the cost and the type of experience you can expect to encounter for the price that you pay to go deep sea fishing.
What is a Deep Sea Fishing Charter?
First, let’s define a deep sea fishing charter in its most basic form. Of course, there’s a great deal of saltwater fishing that goes on during a charter, but let’s face it. If it’s just about the fish, why charter a boat when you could fish off of a pier? A deep sea fishing charter is so much more than catching fish.
The ingredients that make up a deep sea fishing charter include a charter boat, a captain, and a first mate, or deckhand. The quality of these three ingredients determines both the price that you pay, and the experience that you’ll likely have during your deep sea fishing trip. Asking the right questions about the boat, the captain, and the deckhand can help you to determine which charter offers the best possible experience for your family or group.
The Charter Boat
Have you ever booked a room at what you thought was a fancy resort, only to find out that you booked your nonrefundable reservation at an overpriced motel? Not a fun time. Well, the same precaution should be considered when reserving a charter. The great thing about charter boats is that you can usually find a number of pictures and videos on the internet showing the interior and exterior features of any well-known charter.
The quality of a charter boat can be evaluated by its initial appearance. Though a charter boat that lacks proper housekeeping skills may be significantly cheaper per hour than their competitors, the cleaning habits of a charter boat’s crew can reveal an array of problems with the boat’s mechanics. If the first thing that you see on the back deck is dried fish blood, filled trash cans, and salt water residue on the windows and chrome, chances are that you’ll find a cluttered and messy cabin, along with a dirty head, or toilet room. These are some of the factors that contribute to sea sickness, so you want to make sure that you aren’t reserving a charter with these types of reviews.
A charter boat that invests the time and money in keeping a clean appearance is more likely to invest the same effort in keeping all mechanical parts working promptly. We’ve heard stories of customers going out on charters that advertised an air conditioned cabin, only to find out that the air conditioner was broken during the fishing trip. When we’re talking about a $20 per hour difference in deep sea fishing rates, a working air conditioner is worth the expense.
A charter boat that leaves much to be desired upon initial appearance is also more likely to have mechanical issues in the engine room. Now keep in mind that even the best charters will eventually have some mechanical issue that need to be addressed. The difference is whether the problem is corrected promptly, or whether the issues are prolonged to keep the charter boat running, despite the comfort of charter fishing customers.
In this respect, a charter boat that costs more per hour is more likely to invest the time and money needed to ensure top quality maintenance and upkeep. The charter boats that raise the bar on maintaining a clean exterior and interior tend to take the time for routine engine and mechanical maintenance, all of which makes a better charter experience for deep sea fishing customers.
New vs Experienced Charter Boats
Forget everything that you know about the American way for just a moment. In perhaps one of the only situations of our consumer market, newer is not always better when selecting a charter fishing boat. Just as you would want a seasoned captain who knows the waters you are fishing, you want your charter boat that has plenty of running time to and from the deep blue.
As captains make choices for improvements and enhancements of their charter boats, they gage their needs based on customer experiences while onboard. A brand new charter boat’s best feature is newness, where a seasoned charter boat’s owner will invest in top of the line fishing equipment and more comfortable accommodations for the customer.
Do you remember the first day that you purchased a smart phone? Even with all of the excitement that came with having the technology of a cell phone and a computer all in one little device that could fit in your pocket, it still took some time to learn how to navigate between calling a friend and searching the internet. Over the years, social media, shopping, and business apps have been added to our smart phones. With each upgrade, we all spend some time getting familiar with the new abilities of our smart phones. Well, captains require the same learning period with new deep sea fishing technology. New equipment is always great, but only if your captain is versed in using the new equipment. As you can imagine, a captain with more frequent trips will be better at navigating his new fishing equipment, and therefore the top of the line equipment aboard a seasoned captain’s boat is more likely to be reflected in the hourly rate.
In the same way that captains require experience with new fishing equipment, plenty of experience with a variety of customers will enhance the captain’s ability to better provide the customer comforts that fit an array of personality types. Depending on the kind of charter you’ve booked, whether a family trip, corporate charter, overnight, etc., you’ll want a captain who knows what your group needs to remain comfortable on the charter before you do. A captain who allows customizable charters for each group is more likely to have accommodations onboard that will keep your group content during your deep sea fishing trip. This wisdom can only come from a captain with a great deal of experience running a variety of customized charters on his boat. As upgrades are added to a charter boat that will enhance the level of customer comforts, you can expect the hourly rate to reflect those accommodations.
Ah, yes! The man driving the boat will play one of the biggest roles in both the cost of the charter, as well as the kind of experience that you’ll encounter during your deep sea fishing trip. Depending on his investment in the charter boat, you can expect a captain with a long-standing reputation within the area to have a higher rate per hour than his competitors.
Does the captain wear two hats?
One question that you should always ask is whether or not the captain is the owner of the charter boat. The answer could make a huge difference in your overall saltwater fishing experience. See, a captain who owns the charter will be more invested in all the working parts of your charter experience. He is there from the start of your adventure, to the end, and witnesses your personal satisfaction with the boat’s amenities, the deckhand’s willingness to go above and beyond your expectations, and your experience. In short, a captain who owns the charter boat works diligently to ensure that his customers are satisfied with the best deep sea fishing experience possible. After all, his livelihood depends on repeat customers who are impressed with his ability to run a top of the line charter boat, and hire the best crew.
In contrast, a charter boat captain who is working as a private contractor for a boat owner tends to be less invested in the charter customer’s relationship with the boat. He may be on one boat this year, and then another next year. That is not to say that you’ll always encounter an unprofessional captain when he doesn’t share the title of boat owner. There are some great captains who run boats without owning them. However, a private contractor captain has less final say about your trip than the captain who owns the boat.
We’ve heard stories about charter trips that involve the owner’s input of adding more people to a private charter or overbooking due to a lack of communication between the owner and the captain. It’s best to have one boss running the boat. When the captain and the owner are one in the same, the blame for something going wrong isn’t shared, and there tends to be a smoother running operation than when multiple people share the responsibility of setting up custom charters.
Is the captain seasoned in these waters?
When you make your agreement with the captain of a charter boat, you are paying for a guided fishing excursion into a body of water that the captain knows how to navigate through his firsthand experience. The more experience the captain has on the local waters, the more likely he is to know where the best fishing spots are. As with any other professional occupation, you can expect a captain who is more experienced to have a slightly higher hourly rate in comparison to other novice captains who are struggling to find those honey hole fishing locations in the gulf.
Remember to ask about experience with the specific area that you will be fishing. A captain with 30 years of experience fishing off the coast of California would still be considered a novice in the Gulf of Mexico. You see, each captain has their own secret spots in addition to public reefs. It takes many years to learn the waters well enough to know where the fish will be under a variety of conditions like the time of year, temperature, weather, fishing season, etc. These conditions change daily, and only a captain who has fished the area for years will know what to expect on any given day of fishing. Though the seasoned captain is more likely to charge a little more for his services, you can rest assured that his experience in the deep waters is worth every penny.
In addition to the captain, you are also paying for the services of the first mate, or deckhand. The deckhand plays an important role in your deep sea fishing experience. He is there to teach you the basic skills and techniques of saltwater fishing, all while keeping your group entertained during your charter. Since the deckhand works for tips, you should see a great deal of customer service in his role as he attempts to keep guests comfortable and engaged during the trip.
How to Determine the Quality of a Deckhand
As we’ve already mentioned, the captain who owns the boat is more likely to have an excellent deckhand working alongside him. As the captain witnesses the deckhand’s interactions with deep sea fishing guests, the captain can determine whether or not the deckhand is a good fit for the reputation of the charter boat. A boat that has gone through several deckhands does not necessarily mean that there is a problem with the operation. This just shows that the captain will not tolerate a deckhand who is not committed to working well with deep sea fishing parties. It can take several years to find the right deckhand. They seem to always be auditioning for the part. A captain who is not afraid to let go of a deckhand who has become too comfortable in his job is more likely to never settle until he finds the best of the best.
Fortunately, pictures found on the internet of fishing experiences from past trips on a given charter boat can often tell the story of how the deckhand interacts with charter customers. In addition, you can get the feel of what the owner/captain expects out of his deckhand. For example, if action shots taken on the boat during the charter show the deckhand working to help customers with their fishing experience, including support during reeling, gaffing, cutting bait, and helping families get a photo of children who may be scared to touch the fish, etc., then you know that the captain expects a top of the line service out of the deckhand for his clients. Check out this video to see what to expect out of a great deckhand during your charter.
In contrast, if you often see the deckhand jumping in the group photo at the end of the trip with a beer in his hand, then you may want to reconsider your options. Unfortunately, there are some captains who have hired on friends to work as their deckhands. This is not to say that friends can’t work well together. What we are saying is that there tends to be a level of comfort in the deckhand where he will eventually do the bare minimum during a charter without the fear of being fired.
Not too long ago, we heard a story about a deckhand who forgot about his upcoming trip, stayed out all night partying the night before, slept on the boat, and was too hung over during the trip to work. When he wasn’t sleeping during the charter, he was complaining about how hung over he was. Because the captain and deckhand were friends, the captain allowed this behavior in front of his clients. Needless to say, the trip turned into a bad experience for this group, and charters are nonrefundable. Take our advice. A little time investigating pictures from prior fishing trips is always a great way to determine the quality of a deckhand, which is also often reflected in the price of the charter.
The Take Away
So, are we saying that the charter boat with the highest rate per hour is always the best? No. Are we saying that the charter boat with the lowest rate per hour is always the worst? Again, no. What we are saying is that given the experience of past private charter fishing customers, the cost of a deep sea fishing charter is often reflected in the quality of the three major working parts of any give charter. A little internet research goes a long way in determining which charter is the best option for your group. Depending on the fishing rate per hour on a private charter, you can expect a higher or lower reputation in the quality of the charter boat, the captain, and the deckhand.
The hourly rate for private charters in Destin, Florida can range anywhere from $195 to $240 per hour. Our recommendation is to first research the quality of the charter boat, the captain, and the deckhand before choosing the charter company that works best for you. Though the cost of a private charter may fluctuate throughout the years and fishing seasons, these are pretty standard as of the year 2017. Finding a great charter company is essential in securing the best charter fishing experience possible. Once you’ve considered the hourly rates and compared a few options, we feel that you will come to the conclusion that a top quality fishing charter in Destin will run you about $225 per hour for the first six people, plus 10 percent off of the total per person after the first six. See the breakdown of hourly rates for deep sea fishing charters HERE.
Now that you know what to look for during your comparison of fishing charter rates in association with the three major working parts, including the charter boat, captain, and deckhand, it’s time to start planning the greatest deep sea fishing charter of your life.
If you’d like our recommendation on the perfect charter, we’ve got you covered. CLICK HERE to learn more about the Finest Kind.
Once you’ve done your research on the working parts, BOOK YOUR CHARTER HERE.