A lot of first-time Hatteras visitors think that
choosing a fishing charter is as simple as
stopping by a marina, going down the charter
price lists and then choosing the least
expensive boat that has an open date for the day
that they have available to fish. This method
has been used often and unfortunately this
practice also tends to diminish the quality of
the charters that are going to be available. If
our chartering customers don’t have certain
guidelines, how can they expect a fair
competition among the boats for their business?
Next time that you are looking or a charter why
not take the time to do a little research? Here
are a few things to consider.
The Marina: Remember, not all marinas are the
same. Here is a list of questions that you
should ask yourself before choosing where you
want to charter a fishing trip.
Does the marina look well kept and clean
with plenty of secure parking?
Is the marina convenient for you?
Is the marina’s atmosphere a place that you
would be proud to take your family or is
their a lot of loud music, horseplay and
drinking going on?
Does the marina have a convenient ship’s
store with fairly priced extras like coffee,
lunches and non-alcoholic drinks available
for your trip?
Does the marina have professional fish
cleaning facilities at a fair price?
Does the marina have an organized and
professional booking desk to handle your
Just look at it this way, the more relaxed you
are with the professionalism and atmosphere of
the marina the more relaxed you can also be with
the captain and crew that would choose to fish
out of a well run marina.
The Charter Boat (and tackle): Too much emphasis
is often put on the size of the boat and not
nearly enough consideration is given to the
boat’s actual condition. I have been offshore on
various boats of all sizes and have learned from
personal experience that when it is rough
offshore it doesn’t much matter how big the boat
you are on is, it’s still going to be rough. As
an example, an expensive charter on a massive
65’ charter boat in 6 foot seas with a poorly
maintained diesel engine bellowing black smoke
in your face all day long can be a very
If possible, take the time to walk up and down
the docks and look at the boats before you
charter. Try to look past the glamour of your
offshore fishing charter and try to see the not
so obvious things that will determine your level
of enjoyment. Soon, you will be going on an
unforgettable experience that will take you many
miles into the Atlantic Ocean so try to answer
these questions about their equipment first.
Is this boat well maintained or is it
treated like just a means to make money?
Is there plenty of room in the cockpit (area
near the transom) so that moving around
during the confusion and excitement of a
fish strike can be enjoyed by everyone
Are there lots of places aboard where
customers can relax during the long trips to
and from the fishing grounds and during slow
How about their tackle and gear? Do they
have well maintained rods and reels with
plenty of new line on each of the reels? Do
they have clean new looking lures with sharp
(non-corroded) hooks? Is everything onboard
neat and in its place?
You may be asking, “How am I supposed to know
the answers to these questions? I’m not
experienced in all this.” You don’t have to be
an expert to compare. Just stroll the dock and
compare what you see.
The Captain and Mate: If you think that you can
take “pot luck” by simply signing up for a
charter and then hoping you will get a good
captain and mate you may be very disappointed.
Believe it or not, even some relatively
unsuccessful fishing trips can be a fun
experience with the right captain and mate and
the best “fishing” trip imaginable can be a
miserable experience with the wrong captain and
mate. To get the very best charter possible try
to meet a few of the captains during your
evening stroll on the docks while asking
yourself these questions.
Is the captain professional and personable?
Will he be congenial enough to talk with and
entertain his customers or will he simply
sit on the bridge and bark orders at his
Is the mate clean, congenial and personable?
Is this a professional crew that is
committed to providing you with the fishing
experience of a lifetime that you have every
right to expect or are these just a couple
guys that are here to take your money and
then try to catch a fish or two?
An offshore charter is NOT about catching the
most fish! It should be an experience that
should be enjoyed to the maximum (fish or not).
Try to choose the crew that you feel will make
every effort to make your day unforgettable and
then also catch a few fish to make it even
The Price: I wasn’t going to even put this on my
list but let’s face it these fishing charters
are expensive and it is an important
consideration. At most marinas the price is set
by the captain and is determined by the boat’s
length. That’s a shame because some of the best
charter businesses are not the biggest boats.
The larger boats have to charge more for their
charters because they use more fuel and have
larger maintenance expenses.
In the case of a charter don’t perceive that if
it is more expensive it has to be better. If you
do your research by asking the questions above
you will be more likely to find the right
charter for you.
You are about to go on the experience of a
lifetime. Don’t short yourself by choosing the
wrong charter. I know one man that actually
pulled aside a customer getting off the boat
that he was about to charter and asked the man
to be honest about their day’s charter. When he
found out that a large fish was lost because one
of the reels didn’t have enough line on it and
the captain spent all day screaming at the mate,
the man decided that wasn’t where he wanted to
spend his money. He ended up chartering at
another marina with a captain and crew with a
reputation for going “overboard” to make the
guests feel comfortable and was very happy with