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Thread: Skunked on a Charter?!?

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    Member Grizzly Man's Avatar
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    Default Skunked on a Charter?!?

    I know it's called fishing not catching, but is there a reasonable expectation to catch fish on charter? We booked a king charter out of Homer and trolled all day without a bite. I know it happens. I've been skunked on my boat more than once, but all the other boats in sight were hooking up. The Capt called another boat and matched the rigging, speed and depth but still nothing. He was getting frustrated along with the deckhand. My guess is we had bad bait.

    My question is, how many others have had a similar experience? Would you ever go out with them again, based off this one trip?

    Charters - I'm sure you've all had at least 1 bad day of fishing, how did you handle it? Did you offer the clients a discount on another trip or any other type of incentives to come back or just chalk it up to bad fishing?

    What's your opinions?
    "What is it about a beautiful sunny afternoon, with the birds singing and the wind rustling through the leaves, that makes you want to get drunk?” --Jack Handy

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    Member Frostbitten's Avatar
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    Been on quite a few charters over the years, and we've been skunked three times that I can remember. Once on a halibut charter out of Deep Creek, once on a halibut charter out of Seward, and once on a Silver charter out of Seward.

    It's a tough situation and we were crushed...especially our guests who were visiting from the L48. No way in hell I would fish with any of those three companies again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly Man View Post
    I know it's called fishing not catching, but is there a reasonable expectation to catch fish on charter? We booked a king charter out of Homer and trolled all day without a bite. I know it happens. I've been skunked on my boat more than once, but all the other boats in sight were hooking up. The Capt called another boat and matched the rigging, speed and depth but still nothing. He was getting frustrated along with the deckhand. My guess is we had bad bait.

    My question is, how many others have had a similar experience? Would you ever go out with them again, based off this one trip?

    Charters - I'm sure you've all had at least 1 bad day of fishing, how did you handle it? Did you offer the clients a discount on another trip or any other type of incentives to come back or just chalk it up to bad fishing?

    What's your opinions?
    This is why I don't pay for charter trips or guided trips (and the fact that I can't afford it).

    However If I was to pay for a charter trip and not catch anything the way the captain handled the situation would determine whether or not I went back out with their company. I understand that there is the chance of not catching anything, but if I am promised that I will catch/kill something and then I don't...I would hesitate.

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    Member Grizzly Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frostbitten View Post
    Been on quite a few charters over the years, and we've been skunked three times that I can remember. Once on a halibut charter out of Deep Creek, once on a halibut charter out of Seward, and once on a Silver charter out of Seward.

    It's a tough situation and we were crushed...especially our guests who were visiting from the L48. No way in hell I would fish with any of those three companies again.
    How was the Capt on your charters? Were other boats catching? That really sucks with visitors because you usually only get 1 shot. Not like you can try to book again in 2 weeks
    "What is it about a beautiful sunny afternoon, with the birds singing and the wind rustling through the leaves, that makes you want to get drunk?” --Jack Handy

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    Maybe you are just unlucky?

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    In all seriousness, I don't think I've ever been skunked on a charter. A winter king charter is a lot different than the charters I run though, in may/june/july/aug. A "bad" day for us is when we got 20 cohos, 2 kings, and 4 halibut instead of 24 cohos, four kings, and 4 halibut. And, we aren't back by 4pm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly Man View Post
    I know it's called fishing not catching, but is there a reasonable expectation to catch fish on charter? We booked a king charter out of Homer and trolled all day without a bite. I know it happens. I've been skunked on my boat more than once, but all the other boats in sight were hooking up. The Capt called another boat and matched the rigging, speed and depth but still nothing. He was getting frustrated along with the deckhand. My guess is we had bad bait.

    My question is, how many others have had a similar experience? Would you ever go out with them again, based off this one trip?

    Charters - I'm sure you've all had at least 1 bad day of fishing, how did you handle it? Did you offer the clients a discount on another trip or any other type of incentives to come back or just chalk it up to bad fishing?

    What's your opinions?
    There may be little or no expectation of catching a fish on a charter, or a 99.99% expectation; it depends on what, where, when,.... I have been on 5 or 6 charters where I have been skunked. I knew enough about how to fish for the target species to know who was skilled and trying hard, but just had a bad day, and the one charter where the guys just didn't put in a decent effort. Did you? What was "bad" about the bait? I went out again with all the guys in the first group. Never again with the last charter.

    I have fished with a couple of charters that offered a free trip if skunked, and twice ended up with a free trip. We hammered the fish on both trips.

    Big_E

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    Charterboat Operator kodiakcombo's Avatar
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    Winter kings is feast or famine. Sounds like the guide did everything he could to get you some kings. If I was the guide I would comp the day and try again the next day or stay out till we got bit. I feel for both you and the captain and crew.
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    Member Grizzly Man's Avatar
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    Thanks Vaaler, that's the information I was looking for. I know the basics for trolling rigs, but I know there are variables. The only reason that I said bad bait, was that we mirrored the setups, speed and depth that the other boats were doing and that was the only thing I could think of. And the deckhand kept smelling the herring, so that added to what I was thinking.

    270ti-----I'm not unlucky, but the guys I was with must be!!
    "What is it about a beautiful sunny afternoon, with the birds singing and the wind rustling through the leaves, that makes you want to get drunk?” --Jack Handy

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    To me whether or not I'm a repeat customer on a charter comes down to whether or not I enjoyed the time on the water with the captain and deckhand. If they know what they are doing, put in the effort and are enjoyable to fish with then I'll be a loyal repeat customer and tell all my friends. If however they just seemed to think a fishing charter is a boat trip where they allow you the honor to wet a line, then I'd be highly unlikely to be a repeat customer and would advise friends to avoid them as well. Catching fish is never guaranteed, especially with king salmon.

    I've been on charters where everyone limited but I had no desire for a return trip on that boat.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

    If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    I've never been skunked on a charter but I've had some miserable experiences on one. If a guy is busting his hump to put me on the fish and we don't do well I'd probably go back. If he's sorta clueless or I otherwise had a bad trip- I won't return…even if I limit.

    My best catch was caught on my worst day of fishing…boat was bad filthy with a busted head, skipper had an attitude a mile wide and the deckhand spent half the day sleeping off a drunk…I don't think you could pay me to go back.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Been plenty of times I have been outfished when I am doing exactly the same thing as my buddies that are killin' em. And there have been days when I shared everything that was working for me but my pals couldn't catch a cold. Winter kings are funny fish....
    Some days you're the windshield, some days you're the bug.
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    Quote Originally Posted by homerdave View Post
    Been plenty of times I have been outfished when I am doing exactly the same thing as my buddies that are killin' em. And there have been days when I shared everything that was working for me but my pals couldn't catch a cold. Winter kings are funny fish....
    Some days you're the windshield, some days you're the bug.
    True Statement.

    Thanks to all that responded
    "What is it about a beautiful sunny afternoon, with the birds singing and the wind rustling through the leaves, that makes you want to get drunk?” --Jack Handy

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    There's just different calibers of charters.

    There's captains that work crazy hard but the fish just aren't biting. The weather turned or something, or you get blown off where you should be at that particular time. Even the most professional guys are going to get skunked now and then. But you can tell when that's happening. And those are probably the guys who comp you or just tell you to pay for gas, or whatever. It's their rep and pride and dignity and it shows.

    Then there's the other guys. You know it when it happens. They might not have put you on fish no matter what the conditions, and they're going to take your money because you got the trip you paid for. But even those guys catch fish now and then, and of course they're going to have all of the pictures on their website.

    Maybe it's the difference between being a business man and a captain, I don't know.

    FYI most of my charter experiences have been good and I'm not too bitter about the bad ones, but I have definitely learned the difference between good and bad.

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    Member AKCAPT's Avatar
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    The problem with Winter King fishing is there are very limited species to make up for a slow day on the Kings. At least on halibut charter (where the fish are too small to keep ( by our standards) or the weather makes it tough or a few on the boat just have bad luck) We can load folks up with bass, lings and or salmon in the unlikely event of not being able to get the halibut to bite. I have had four or five days when we returned back to the dock well short of a limit in the last ten years - usually for some external reason - weather, sea sickness, zero water movement or I west West of out Seward…..
    If the fishermen wanted big halibut and we sat and caught well short of a limit, its on them. If the fishermen wanted to catch fish, period and as a professional fishing guide, I just couldn't make it happen or a gambled and lost, then its on me and I will make it right. I am not likely to refund money, but I am likely to offer another trip at no or a reduced cost. The actual trip taken has expenses built in that I can't recover and once we clear the bay, it is a fishing trip one way or the other.

    Thats me though and I wouldn't think that every guide feels that way, so just smile and say "well thats fish in". It is fishing and especially now, sometimes the fish don't bite, even in Alaska. I am sure your Captain was feeling worse about it than you did.

    Winter Kings are the one fish that are like a real game fish, sometimes you catch them and sometimes you don't.

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    Charterboat Operator Abel's Avatar
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    I've been on both sides of the coin. Run 50+ miles on a tuna/marlin charter and not pull a fish as a client, also been the capt/deckhand that comes back humbled and looking like Rocky in the first movie. It happens, especailly for winter Kings. This time of year i tell them up front, winter kings are winter kings, it's a good day catching or a good day fishing. This time of year I'll wheel and deal the price as it's mostly local buddies who know the game. Like AKCAPT said, we have costs that need covered, if it's meathunting time of year, I will wheel and deal, usually fuel plus a "tip" on seriously bad days. Hopefully they have another day to come in and we can give it another shot.

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    Member Frostbitten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly Man View Post
    How was the Capt on your charters? Were other boats catching? That really sucks with visitors because you usually only get 1 shot. Not like you can try to book again in 2 weeks
    The operation in Deep Creek is still there...the skipper at least tried I suppose. The halibut skipper in Seward fell asleep on the flybridge while we were "fishing". He didn't have a deckhand, so I did what I could to keep lines untangled and such. The silver charter in Seward was two years ago, which was a year that the silvers just didn't show up. We took our entire Boy Scout troop out on that charter. The skipper hit all the normal spots east of Cape Res...the fish just weren't there. While it wasn't the skippers fault that the silvers weren't there, we asked him if we could move to a rock pile so the boys could at least catch some rockfish. He wouldn't do it because we booked a "silver charter". Most of those boys spent their own hard earned money to go out on that charter and teh skipper refused to let them catch a fish.

    Nope, I'll never go out with them again.

  18. #18
    Member Grizzly Man's Avatar
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    That was definitely not the experience we had on our charter. I don't blame you for not going out with them again. Our Capt put in the work and the deckhand stayed busy checking bait and adjusting depths on the downriggers. We just didn't connect like the other boats out there.

    From all the PMs and people that responded on this post, I'm starting to feel a little better about the trip. If the owner would have asked us back and cut us a deal on the next booking, I would have signed up. Instead we just shook hands and parted ways


    Quote Originally Posted by Frostbitten View Post
    The operation in Deep Creek is still there...the skipper at least tried I suppose. The halibut skipper in Seward fell asleep on the flybridge while we were "fishing". He didn't have a deckhand, so I did what I could to keep lines untangled and such. The silver charter in Seward was two years ago, which was a year that the silvers just didn't show up. We took our entire Boy Scout troop out on that charter. The skipper hit all the normal spots east of Cape Res...the fish just weren't there. While it wasn't the skippers fault that the silvers weren't there, we asked him if we could move to a rock pile so the boys could at least catch some rockfish. He wouldn't do it because we booked a "silver charter". Most of those boys spent their own hard earned money to go out on that charter and teh skipper refused to let them catch a fish.

    Nope, I'll never go out with them again.
    "What is it about a beautiful sunny afternoon, with the birds singing and the wind rustling through the leaves, that makes you want to get drunk?” --Jack Handy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frostbitten View Post
    The operation in Deep Creek is still there...the skipper at least tried I suppose. The halibut skipper in Seward fell asleep on the flybridge while we were "fishing". He didn't have a deckhand, so I did what I could to keep lines untangled and such. The silver charter in Seward was two years ago, which was a year that the silvers just didn't show up. We took our entire Boy Scout troop out on that charter. The skipper hit all the normal spots east of Cape Res...the fish just weren't there. While it wasn't the skippers fault that the silvers weren't there, we asked him if we could move to a rock pile so the boys could at least catch some rockfish. He wouldn't do it because we booked a "silver charter". Most of those boys spent their own hard earned money to go out on that charter and teh skipper refused to let them catch a fish.

    Nope, I'll never go out with them again.
    that guy was a dick. I would have been really pizzzed off. Who wouldn't take a group of kids to a rock pile to at least get something?? If the salmon are not there then the salmon are not there. nothing you can do about that. I can certainly understand getting skunked on a trip like that. If the capt busted his hump to do his best that's all you can ask for.

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    Member Frostbitten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kgpcr View Post
    that guy was a dick. I would have been really pizzzed off. Who wouldn't take a group of kids to a rock pile to at least get something?? If the salmon are not there then the salmon are not there. nothing you can do about that. I can certainly understand getting skunked on a trip like that. If the capt busted his hump to do his best that's all you can ask for.
    Roger that, I felt pretty bad for the boys, but we had to chalk it up to a life lesson...stuff happens.

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