- How much is the charter and what is expected for a crew tip? (15 to 20 percent is customary)
- What are the policies for deposits and cancellations?
- What is included in the charter rate? (food, beverages, fishing licenses, bait, etc.)
- How has the fishing been recently or what's biting during the time of year when you want to go?
- What time should you arrive for the charter? What time do you return to the dock? How long does it take to get to the fishing grounds?
- What kind of tackle is provided? Do you need to bring your own?
- What type of safety gear do they carry? Is there an EPIRB? What type of electronics and communication equipment is on board?
- Who keeps the fish that are caught during your trip. Can you hook your own fish?
If a half day is all the time you have or if you are limited by budget than it's got to be a half day. Because every day of fishing is a new adventure, the more time you are out there fishing will generally produce a more desirable catch.
Picking the cheapest boat:
Everyone wants a good deal, but choosing a charter boat based on price is almost always a bad idea. A low price could mean several things: The boat isn't properly maintained; the tackle isn't properly maintained; the boat is small; the crew is working for less money; the captain doesn't do this full time; or a host of other things and few of them good. Remember, 'sometimes you get what you pay for'!
Picking the right boat:
The best thing you can do is go to the charter dock, speak to several captains and take a good look at the boat and the tackle they have to offer. If you can't see the boat in person then ask a lot of questions. You should at least feel comfortable speaking to the captain on the phone.
Setting unrealistic expectations:
Be realistic with your expectations, this is fishing! Be open to suggestions from an experienced pro at the helm and you can avoid a lot of disappointment at the end of the trip.
Prepare for a day offshore:
You may be fishing with people who swear they never get seasick but all of a sudden they are over the side. If there's any doubt, always ask your charter companions to use a seasick prevention pill at least an hour before departure, or for breakfast they should have doughnuts or bananas because they taste pretty much the same coming up!
Don't forget a hat, sunscreen, polarized sunglasses and a camera. If the charter doesn't include food or drinks be sure to bring your own.