If you’re considering a charter for your next inshore or offshore fishing trip, there are a few things you need to know about when looking for a guide and scheduling your trip. While some larger boats will allow walk-ins on the day of, most fishing charters require you to reserve their time and boat way in advance.
In fact, if it’s a busy time of year and a particular charter is available at a moment’s notice, you should be suspicious that something isn’t right with the captain or their boat.
Each charter fishing outfit has their own policies in regards to reservation and payment for your trip. Some have a flat deposit of $100 or $200 for example, while others will want 15% to 20% upfront to reserve the day.
Regardless of some of these subtle differences, there are a few policies that are pretty much standard across the board. Continue reading for a quick summary of important things to know about scheduling and paying for your charter.
For a reputable fishing charter, you should make your reservations at least 6-8 weeks before you want to go, and maybe even longer if it’s a busy/holiday weekend…
During the summer months around Savannah, GA and Beaufort, South Carolina, fishing charters can be busy every day of the week. Making a reservation ensures you’re able to get you and your family out on the water for some good fishing action when you plan on visiting the area.
In order to reserve your date though, most charters are going to require a deposit be paid by check or credit card.
Charter captains collect this deposit since it solidifies the commitment on your part. Without the deposit, there is nothing to ensure you won’t change your mind at the last minute and cancel or not show up. If you don’t show up or cancel too late, the captain will at least have something for the time they’ll be losing.
Again, each fishing charter is different, but they will either charge a flat fee of $100 to $200 or they will charge a percentage of the entire cost, which typically averages 15% to 20%.
It’s important to remember that the deposit is NOT an extra charge for most charters. The amount you pay up front will be applied to your final bill you will pay at the end of your trip.
If you must cancel, doing so at least 2 weeks before your trip (on average) will ensure you get your deposit back…
It’s understandable – things come up and you have to change your plans.
However, fishing charters just can’t take a cancellation the day before without getting some compensation. After all, if they can’t find another group to take your spot, they will be losing income for that day.
Most fishing charters require you to cancel a minimum of 2 weeks out in order for you to receive a refund of your deposit. Inside two weeks, they’ll try and reschedule your trip but keep the deposit. If you cancel a day or two before the trip or just don’t show up, they may charge your credit card for the full day.
Again, each outfit is different, but that’s the approach most of them take. While a late cancellation is regrettable, the captain has to consider his livelihood and plan accordingly.
Now there are situations like inclement weather or mechanical troubles that will require the captain to cancel the trip. While these situations are relatively rare, the fishing charter will make every effort to reschedule your trip, and if that isn’t possible, they will fully refund your deposit. Many of these circumstances are unforeseen, but they do happen from time to time.
Once the big day arrives and you go out on the water for a good day of fishing, you will need to pay for the remainder of your charter, which you can do by cash, check or even credit card.
As far as gratuity, that depends.
While it is entirely up to you and based on your level of satisfaction, many deckhands on fishing charters rely on tips for the bulk of their income. If you’re unsure, ask the captain, but more often than not, it’s a good idea to throw a few extra bucks to the deckhands if they have exceeded your expectations.
To recap, each fishing charter is different, but they typically require a deposit to reserve the boat and full payment at the end of your trip. You can cancel if you have to, but keep in mind that you may lose your deposit if you cancel sooner than 24-48 hours before your trip.
Carolina Fishing Adventures provides expert charters around Hilton Head and Beaufort, South Carolina. They offer ½- and full-day charters for anglers of all levels. To learn more or to schedule your trip, visit CarolinaFishingAdventures.com or contact us today!