5 things to look for when booking a Tampa fishing charter
In my 15 years of guiding I have talked and communicated through email with hundreds of people. During this time, I have also had just about every question imagined about fishing and everything else you could possibly think of. I have also been doing this long enough to know what to ask and what to and NOT to expect on a fishing charter in Tampa Bay. As a guide and as a customer it is good to know what you are looking for and I need to know what to accomplish to make the charter what YOU want it to be. After all its YOUR trip and this is about you….
#1 Never make pricing your main objective when looking for a Tampa fishing charter.
Pricing is always going to be an issue, but I can tell you that most guys are within $50 of each other but not all fishing charters are the same. As stated above, I have been around a while and seen a lot, not all guides are the same and ALL have a different outlook on a fishing charter. Cheapest is almost always not your guy and neither is the most expensive. Again, we are talking about $25 to $50 difference and that is not worth a bad experience on the water. Guys that are selling fishing charters in Tampa Bay that cheap are probably cutting corners. This could range from old fishing tackle, or boat not seaworthy to not being U.S. Coast Guard licensed and insured. I can promise you that booking a trip with an unlicensed or uninsured fishing charter is not the route to go.
#2 Stay away from 3rd party fishing charter booking referral websites
Fishing on a private charter is a personal experience. It is something that you want to be a good experience. There are some 3rd party booking sites that have more interest than taking a cut of the charter expense which will mean that the guy running the charter is getting a bit less than you paid. IN some cases, the booking site can take up to 30%. Some of the companies are not even in the United States nor do they have a clue about fishing in Tampa Bay. I cannot see them having any idea as to what is best for your next Tampa fishing charter. They are simply taking a piece of the pie. I’ve herd so many horror stories from these sites. From a bad experience on the water to the captain taking a deposit and no show at the ramp.
#3 Have realistic goals for a fishing charter
Fishing charters are one day events for the most part and some people seem to forget that the you tube video you watched of Tarpon, Snook, Redfish, permit and sharks caught all in a 10 minute clip might have taken a week to film. MY point is trying to keep it realistic and go with the hot bite that week. I have had some people want to go catch Tarpon in December. Tarpon is kind of seasonal and targeting them in December is not something I would suggest, but the Snook fishing in December around Tampa Bay is some of the best of the year. I would highly recommend that. Keep is simple and ask for recommendations. A full-time fishing guide in Tampa Bay will be able to tell you a good recommendation. Afterall they are typically fishing every day.
#4 Look at reviews but also read into the reviews
Reviews these days on google and TripAdvisor are very handy, but you cannot be sucked into the number of reviews that a company has. Look at the quality of the reviews and see if there was a reply to some by the captain himself. Unfortunately, people sometimes find ways to get reviews that may not be actual customers that have fished. If you read into the reviews a little bit you will be able to get a feel for the guide and know if the review was written by a customer. Here are a couple of great reviews left by customers recently.
#5 Share your fishing charter experience with others
We are small one man operations and while the internet is a great source to get Tampa fishing charters it has become very competitive and the big time booking agencies are making it harder for the little guy to survive, If you have a good experience with a captain when fishing in Tampa bay make sure and share that experience with your friends. Spread the word both with friends and online through social media and reviews. I will tell you this will be greatly appreciated by any captain on the bay. I personally love to read a review from a satisfied customer. It makes the job all worth it. Tight lines and hope to see you soon.