With spring approaching many people are looking for fishing charters to get out an enjoy the nice Florida weather and bend the rod on some cooperative fish. Whether you hire me or any other captain in the bay, do your due diligence before hiring someone. Google their name or business name and look for reviews, be sure they have a website, and ask if they are licensed and insured, if not, move on. A website is expensive and shows an investment. Ask what kind of boat they have, and how many it will fish comfortably. Ask how long they have had their license and been in business, if the captain is young its not a bad sign, but do some research and ask how much experience they have, ask about tournament experience and if they have worked as a mate for an established captain in the past. Be sure you are spending your hard earned money with the right fit for you. Reading reviews will help you with that, if you can’t find them ask the possible captain where reviews can be found. This industry is full of ego’s and in many instances service has taken a backseat, reviews speak volumes!
If you google “Tampa Fishing Charters” you will see the ads first then the maps page below that, then the organic rankings. The Ads are a quick way to the top and many good captains spend money to advertise there. The maps page will show you where the captain is located or does pickups. Many captains use the Gandy ramp as an address but do not pick up there, they will try and redirect you to their home port in Ruskin, Apollo Beach and St Petersburg or even Clearwater, and that is fine but When you are looking in Tampa do you really want to drive to St. Pete? Be sure they can pick you up somewhere that is convenient for you.
Another thing to keep in mind is price. Fishing charters are not cheap, the average 4 hour trip on Tampa Bay for 2 anglers is around $400 for 2 angler for 4 hours, additional anglers are usually $50 extra per. If you find a captain running for less than the going rate for your area it’s buyer beware. Said captain may not carry insurance or possibly not even have a license. Don’t be afraid to ask to see credentials, if they can’t be produced, move on. Keep this in mind, for the Captain this is a business, he or she is not stuffing 500 bucks in their pocket to blow, they are paying for that nice boat you are fishing on, most cost well over 30K, or those rod and reel combos at $200 each. They also have maintenance and repairs that run well into the thousands each year to keep the boat in operating order for your safety and pleasure. For all the comments about how this is the life , its an expensive one man operation that does not allow for sick days or personal days and if you want a professional charter captain to fish with an extra 100 bucks should not be a deciding factor, you get what you pay for. There are too many expensies to list, many will drop 50 bucks to secure a trip but more will let one go rather than slash $100 bucks to get your business. With spring making an entrance there is plenty of business and prices tend to stay firm.
Keep in mind, no matter who you hire, this is your fishing trip, your day, and your hard earned cash. Settling for a cheap price to save a few bucks is not worth it… That said , STAY OFF GROUPON!