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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A month ago I asked for some suggestion about getting a charter in Key West Fla. and I thought I would let you know my results. I went down to Key West for my sons wedding and while down there I had the opportunity to go fishing on two different charters.

For all of you Charter Captains and or people who might want to charter a trip. Based on 2 different fishing trips by two different charter companies, I found out I should have asked a few questions before I booked the trip so there would not be any misunderstandings.

Last Thursday 4 of us went out for 6t hour fishing trip with Almost There Charters (located on Stock Island). Captain Andrew was around 30 and very passionate about putting us on some fish and catching them. We were on a 26' CC with twin 150's. When we went looking for live bait he had my son run the boat while he threw out the net. We headed out to fish reefs and wrecks and a little trolling. We told him about our fishing experience fishing in the Bay and told him we never have fished Florida and we were up to fish for anything. He put out chum, rigged the rods, put on some bait and gave us some pointers, gave each of us a rod and turned us loose. We caught, yellow tail snappers, gray snappers, cobia, half a mutton snapper and we hooked up with a couple sharks (not boated but got to the boat) same for a barracuda. He really was not happy with the bit off fish. We had a great time with this guy, his enthusiasm was outstanding. The only thing I did not think about was the taxi ride from our hotel, it cost us $36 each way. Even though we lost some fish, it was one of the best trip I ever had.

Our 2nd fishing trip was entirely different, we went out with Key West Fishing Charters. They had a new 33' Sea Vee docked right at our hotel so off we went for another 6 hour reef, wreck and off shore trip. Our Captain Derek had an entirely different way to fish. We picked up our live bait from one of his traps hidden among crab pots, (he had a 2' white float attached to his trap). We told him about our fishing experience fishing in the Bay and told him we never have fished Florida and we were up to fish for anything We headed 7-8 miles to a reef, he put out his chum, rigged the rods and let 1 rod drift bait, he hooked a fish and then handed the rod to my son to pull in yellow tail snapper. He re-baited, let the bait drift, gave the rod to a different person, then he baited another rod, threw it out and drifted the bait, handed the rod to another person. 3 of us just stood around taking turns. We all were looking at each other and asked why not fish off the bottom, he said this is the best way. We looked at each other and could tell we all thought WTF. After an hour he finally dropped a live bait to the bottom. We finally caught a few snappers, half a king fish that was bit off by a cuda (we saw it hit), the capt, took the rod and cast to it to catch (WTF my son thought, he could do the same thing). We finally trolled and caught a yellow jack cervalle and 25 lb Mahi. Every time we got blood or chum in the boat he washed it off. When we finally had to head in, he washed the boat down, he even used a rag. He did not want anyone to touch any gear unless told too and he only once asked my son to bump the motor in or out of gear. We never had everyone with a rod all at the same time and he never let anyone fish from the bottom, he kept the rod in his hand when we were fishing on the bottom. This was an OK trip with some fun times.

Now for my opinion about the two trips.

When the captain let us fish was when we had the most fun.
The Captain letting my son run the controls when needed was great.
Letting us handle the rods, baiting our own hooks, taking fish off was when we had the most fun. The excitement from the captain was fantastic (not boring) when we caught or got bit off.

When we had the least fun was when the captain did just about everything but bring in the fish. While anchored we kept fishing even when we did were not making fish. When we left to go to another spot, we starting marking tons of fish but he had a plan and would not change it. We saw birds diving for fish and even come up with fish, (granted it might not be fish we would want and may be he knew it), but he would not even try. We meet up with another charter boat and passed 3 blocks of chum, (took time away from our fishing).

From now on before I charter a trip I will be asking how much he will let me do. If he needed bait I would expect if he needed help he would let me drive the boat while casting a net should be OK. Not letting every one fish at the same time, not letting me fish would a red flag and I would be looking for someone else.

Now Captains, where am I or am I out of line in my thinking? I know there is insurance rules and people worry about their gear, and people do lie about their experience, but am I asking for to much or is it the way captain number 2 how it is done?
 

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Just different styles. Your were not wrong or right. Your style is to fish for whatever and share good times so the first guy fit you best. For some others the other captain May of been better at targeting individual species, so if you told him exactly what you wanted to catch he probably would of focused on that. There is a lot to learn fishing down there so don't judge off one trip. I appreciate the guy wanting to keep his gear nice so other anglers have top of the line stuff to fish with. In the end you learned what style you like most
 

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Agree communication on expectations is key. Not defending the Sea Vee guy but I've had guys tell me they are very experienced and when they get on the boat I find out they are not. I think most Captains when fishing with a new customer has to start out with the mindset the customer can't really do anything for themselves at least until they prove they can. I had one brag about how much experience he had but when we put an spinning rod in his hand he had no clue how to use it. He brushed it off saying he only fishes with conventionals. But once I see they can handle themselves I let them do things for themselves. But there are plenty who can't or won't do anything on a charter except reel in a fish once hooked. Every trip is different. Communications is key. I think Key West though probably very different from other places as they mostly get clueless tourists and they take advantage for sure.

I had a poor experience with a young Captain in Key West 2 years ago. He spent the first hour of a 4 hour trip finding live bait. We did not fish during that hour. 3 hours later he said the trip is done and I said but we only got 3 hours of fishing and he said that first hour counted. His gear was **** and didn't catch much and didn't even target the fish I asked for.
 

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You are correct, best thing to do is ask! If it upsets the Capt, you do not want to spend much time in a boat with him!
I have been lucky on the charters I have been on all have been like your first trip.
Thinking back, one Capt in Pensacola, Fla did have his mate hover over, handle all rods at first but quickly let the ones that had clearly used equipment before
Do their thing. Allowing more time to help those that needed it. BTW, it was kinda funny/strange, he was a Psychiatrist, and at first he didn't even talk to the guest, had the mate do all the talking and interactions with Capt. I think he only talked to me and my bother-in -law-- He and I were ragging on each others states fisheries.

I don't Charter but I hear from friends that run charters about some pretty stupid things people do! While I don't have the most expensive equipment I watch new people closely in my boat using my gear. Over the yrs had a few incidents in my boat, and even though they say they will pay for lost gear- they never do!
 

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I just received a replacement Shimano Trevala thru their immediate, no questions asked, replacement service due to a guest reading up the 3-way into the tip guide and then jamming it into my shoulder as I hand bailed the leader in with a fish. This broke the top 4" off the rod... If I was chartering and had unknown skilled peeps on the boat each day year after year, I would probably get "tight" too!!! Definitely ask, and make sure you are clear as to your experience.

I had two different people last weekend each day and I definitely let Saturday's guest do more than Sunday's.

My 2 cents

R
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks guys or your insightful comments.

On the first trip the captain let us use his penn rod and reels, good rods and reels but he kept his best rod in the holder and it was not until later in the trip did he let me use it. When he handed it to me he said please be careful it cost close to $2000. It was a Van Staal, it was best feeling set up I ever had in my hands. I thought he was a little crazy to let someone use it but I guess I proved to him I would not break it or lose it over the side.
 

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I fished Florida for the first time this past summer. Wanted to do a bottom trip for some snapper and grouper. Went on the only boat that had any days available while I was there. After the trip, I know why he had open days. Nobody would ever fish with this guy a second time. Advertise a 6 pack, I'm bringing 5 friends. We get out to the first area and we drop down. He then starts complaining, only three people can fish at one time. Ok buddy, I guess you only want half your asking price. First four stops were dry, no fish. We hit the fifth and my friend hooks up on something with a moderate pull and the so called new (very old) senator's handle breaks off. Funny seeing how he wouldn't let me take any of my own deep drop gear because he didn't want other people's sh*t gear on his boat. We were having less that a stellar day and he is at the wheel saying what is wrong with you guys?! Can't you fish. I put the rod down so then he grabs it and claims he's going to show us how it's done. No fish are biting him either. Now he's pissed and pretty sure we must have wrapped some line on his prop shaft creating a vibration keeping the fish from biting on the bottom. We moved in shore to try some shearling to end the day. First shark and the damn Capt grabs the rod and cranks it. Morale of the story, I'm never chartering a boat in Florida again. And it felt good to finally vent a little about that trip.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I fished Florida for the first time this past summer. Wanted to do a bottom trip for some snapper and grouper. Went on the only boat that had any days available while I was there. After the trip, I know why he had open days. Nobody would ever fish with this guy a second time. Advertise a 6 pack, I'm bringing 5 friends. We get out to the first area and we drop down. He then starts complaining, only three people can fish at one time. Ok buddy, I guess you only want half your asking price. First four stops were dry, no fish. We hit the fifth and my friend hooks up on something with a moderate pull and the so called new (very old) senator's handle breaks off. Funny seeing how he wouldn't let me take any of my own deep drop gear because he didn't want other people's sh*t gear on his boat. We were having less that a stellar day and he is at the wheel saying what is wrong with you guys?! Can't you fish. I put the rod down so then he grabs it and claims he's going to show us how it's done. No fish are biting him either. Now he's pissed and pretty sure we must have wrapped some line on his prop shaft creating a vibration keeping the fish from biting on the bottom. We moved in shore to try some shearling to end the day. First shark and the damn Capt grabs the rod and cranks it. Morale of the story, I'm never chartering a boat in Florida again. And it felt good to finally vent a little about that trip.
what a crappy time you had. After reading your post, my trip does not sound so bad after all. It does sound like a captain who needs to find a new field or maybe he just had a bad day (probably not SINCE YOU MENTIONED HIS WORE OUT GEAR). always good to share experiences so other people can decide if they had a bad trip or not.
 

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I'm just glad to know I'm not the only one who had a bad trip in Florida. Wish I would have had another trip to balance out the one. Every trip I take a customer on, I try to engage them as much as possible. If they want to learn what I do, I do my best to share my knowledge. I've never been on a trip where the captain damn near criticized his crew. I've heard some jabs if someone won't level the line or they hit the lever drag and dump the line. But to accuse them of making the fish not bite was a new one on me.
 
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