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Thread: What do you look for in a charter captain?

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Default What do you look for in a charter captain?

    With all the threads asking about recomendations for charters out of various ports, I thought it would be good to broaden the discussion of what you do and don't like in a captain.

    What to look for, I want somebody that makes an honest effort. Making a run, dropping the hook and fishing one spot when the fishing never picks up just doesn't cut it for me. Having a love for being out on the water. When the captain points out wild life, maybe makes a detour to get you closer to an item of interest. Having an upbeat attitude works wonders. The fishing may be so-so, but having a good time is what the trip is really about. Good gear in good condition, both the boat and the rods/tackle. I don't expect monster fish, but good respectable fish with an effort to take them. In general, you can usually buy fish cheaper than the you can drive down to Homer and take a charter for a day, so it's having a good time on the water that atracts people to a charter.

    Things that'll keep me from returning to a boat: A know it all arogant attitude. Yup, it may be your boat, but if you want paying passengers you just might want tone down the my way or the highway spiel. Youre not in the Navy barking at enlisted folks. Telling people a ping pong paddle is a nice fish. Just because a 5# cod sinker makes a 10# halibut feel like you've got something big on the other end, don't make it so.

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    Member Phish Finder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul H View Post

    Things that'll keep me from returning to a boat: A know it all arogant attitude. Yup, it may be your boat, but if you want paying passengers you just might want tone down the my way or the highway spiel.

    This will drive me away from ANY BUSINESS. It's called customer service, not customer disservice.

    Catching fish isn't the only thing I look for. I enjoy frequenting charter operators that can keep things upbeat and positive when the fish aren't biting anywhere. This is especially important when king fishing or on really slow rainbow days.
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    I want decades on the local waters, an honest interest in fishing and people, common sense, and NO talk of politics or religion. None.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul H View Post
    I want somebody that makes an honest effort. Making a run, dropping the hook and fishing one spot when the fishing never picks up just doesn't cut it for me. Having a love for being out on the water. When the captain points out wild life, maybe makes a detour to get you closer to an item of interest. Having an upbeat attitude works wonders. The fishing may be so-so, but having a good time is what the trip is really about. Good gear in good condition, both the boat and the rods/tackle......

    .....Things that'll keep me from returning to a boat: A know it all arogant attitude.
    These pretty much do it for me. Most importantly is the good, caring attitude.

  5. #5

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    Personally I agree that attitude of the captain plays a HUGE role.

    Different strokes for different folks applies too... some guides focus on experienced "HARDCORE FISHING" trips, while others are more about getting tourists or first timers on the water.

    The "10 pound halibut is a nice fish" line may be patronizing and annoy you or me, but my mom or grandma coming up on a cruise would like the compliment (they don't fish and even a measly 10 pound butt would be fun for them).

    Don't discount the importance of the right boat... You can eat up a lot of fishing time running out or between spots in a "slow-boat" and if the equipment does not match the task, you will suffer in production, comfort, or both.

    I wrote a short article on "how to select a charter boat" aimed a BEGINNERS and NOVICES... I would really appreciate if some of you guys would check it out and recommend changes, or additions, or just tell me what you think.

    The article is at http://www.alaskafishingak.com/fishi...des/guides.htm

    Thanks a bunch.
    Alaska Fishing Forums : They are my addiction!

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    Default I may be a little different!

    I look for a guy who will force feed me information because I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed and need a lot of feeding. I also want one in a tiny boat so we can fly across the waves and beat everyone else to that secret spot. Being quite lazy, those ping pong paddles are just fine because anything else would be too much work. A captian with a poor attitude is the kind I'm after, then I can stew the whole trip and probably cut the trip short and get back to work and bit-h about the service. Of course I want there to be a full compliment of other anglers just like me on the boat and then if the captian can't keep us entertained, we can entertain each other Oh yea, once I get back to work I'll tell all my buddies about my great trip due to my socially predacious nature and really enjoy it if they go out with the jerk too!

    Not really, but after some of what we're getting it seemed appropriate!
    I whole heartedly agree with every one of your positives and would only add that a Captian with a good story to tell is always fun to be around too. Heck, I'd make a good Captian. One of these day's I'll tell you about the time I got my nutt sac stuck in a rifle barrel!
    Mike

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    Member Cap'n Ron's Avatar
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    Default Alasgun had me wondering for awhile...

    but after finishing his post, I can say I agree completely with all of you esp the beinning post by Paul H. Only thing I can add is being on time, I hate it when told to be at the dock at 5pm or 7 am or whatever, then waiting for 1, then 2, then sometimes 3 or more hours because the charter found a last minute group that wanted him to haul out some kayakers or something, so did that and made us wait...or even cancel our trip because he found a higher paying charter opportunity at the same time.

    Unfortunately, this happened more than once for me, one of the reasons i got my own boat, and glad of it!! I don't think many of the fine charter captains I have met in my time would do this, but it's the old rotten apple in the barrel story that can make it tough for all the good guys out there!

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    I'm pretty much in line with everyone else. I also try to evalute them before I go if I can. I like to check out charters the day or two before I go. I look for production. (not if they are big or lots, but how they compare with the other boats for the same day). I also look at the boat as far as if it's clean, well kept, and looks comfortable. I try to see his gear if it's out as if it's well kept at the end of the day most likely the captain is good. Also what they do as far as cleaning the boat.........how thourough are they? That let's me know how much the captain pays attention to detail.
    I also like to chat with the customers when they are hanging fish. Everyone likes to talk at the end of the day. You can ask about the trip and the boat all sorts of stuff and they'll tell you. Usually the captain will be around and you could meet him too.

    I've learned over the years that it pays to check. I've now been around long enough that I know who some of the better charters are.........but I didn't always. So I thought the above stuff might help somone out. I wish I would have done it a couple of times. I've had good charters and bad ones, but it's actually easy to spot a good one for the most part if you have an extra day or two before your trip.

  9. #9

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    Everyone makes some really valid points. The guy I took out yesterday wanted to go out solo. A lot of charter operations will fill up a "six pac" boat to get their full compliment of people on board and maximize their monetary intake. When I go out on a charter I want to be the only person, or just with the people I choose to go out with, and that's what I strive to do. Make sure you ask them if they're going to fill the boat, or if it's all yours.

    As "Haines" says, don't discount a smaller boat just because it might be more comfortable. I can get to distant areas about a half an hour before the bigger boats get there. That translates to an extra hour of fishing for clients. Sure, if it's rough out there you might be more comfortable in a bigger boat, but that's something you need to think about. I personally don't mind a little more "pounding" to get there if I can fish an hour longer. Some people I'm sure would prefer a much bigger boat and as much comfort as possible. Ask the captain about it when you are searching.

    Cap'n Ron is right on, too. I am at my boat a good half hour or more ahead of my clients. It's totally unprofessional for someone to keep their clients waiting. If it's cold out I've got my cabin heater running for that half hour so everyone can sit down and stay warm for the trip out.

    One of the things that you should be sure to ask about is whether or not the charter operator is going to get you your limit as quickly as possible and then head for home once you've gotten that limit. I advised my client yesterday to throw back a smaller halibut and keep trying for a bigger one. And then when he finally got that bigger one we went in and trolled for kings and kept at it until he got his 2 king limit. Sure it meant spending 13 hours out on the water, but his 21.5 lb. king was his reward. We sat there and watched the other charter boats head home around 4 hours earlier. Definitely look for a captain that will go that "extra mile" to get you into fish.

    And check out their webpages. A lot of charter operations will have a "fishing reports" page associated with their website. See what kind of fish they're catching at a particular time. That can be a true telltale. And a website will tell a lot about the captain as well. I've noticed that a lot of the "bigger" operations have pretty static webpages with a lot of pictures with a lot of BIG fish. Of course they're going to post pictures of their biggest catches and not post pics of the smaller ones. That's very impressive, but did those pictures come from the few trips they made where they just happened to get into good fish, or is it consistent?

    Don't hesitate to call the captain and just ask him information. Talking to a person is probably the best way to find out more about that captain. If he cares about you he'll be happy to give you any and all the information you're after.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alasgun View Post
    I look for a guy who will force feed me information because I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed and need a lot of feeding. I also want one in a tiny boat so we can fly across the waves and beat everyone else to that secret spot. Being quite lazy, those ping pong paddles are just fine because anything else would be too much work. A captian with a poor attitude is the kind I'm after, then I can stew the whole trip and probably cut the trip short and get back to work and bit-h about the service. Of course I want there to be a full compliment of other anglers just like me on the boat and then if the captian can't keep us entertained, we can entertain each other Oh yea, once I get back to work I'll tell all my buddies about my great trip due to my socially predacious nature and really enjoy it if they go out with the jerk too!

    I think I've found the perfect charter operation for you!

    ^^
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    Default uncontrollable

    There are some things that charter captains can control - Clean boat, being courtious and polite, good gear, decent bait, good safety gear, effort.....Then there is the uncontrolable...Weather, unrealistic expectations, one drunk guy, sea sickness, etc....I have found that if you take care of the controlable then that is really what people are looking for. Even on the rare day when the fishing is tough, people understand that the crew tried hard, and did their best. It does help to consistantly produce good catches too.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Muttley Crew Fishing View Post

    One of the things that you should be sure to ask about is whether or not the charter operator is going to get you your limit as quickly as possible and then head for home once you've gotten that limit. I advised my client yesterday to throw back a smaller halibut and keep trying for a bigger one. And then when we went in and trolled for kings we kept at it until he got his 2 king limit. Sure it meant spending 13 hours out on the water, but his 21.5 lb. king was his reward. We sat there and watched the other charter boats head home around 4 hours earlier. Definitely look for a captain that will go that "extra mile" to get you into fish.
    Thats why I think I'm gonna go to Kodiak and try to get on Kodiakcombos list from the looks of his catch I'll be bellied up to the bar w/ my derby winner on ice w/ plenty of day light to spare

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    Quote Originally Posted by fullbush View Post
    Thats why I think I'm gonna go to Kodiak and try to get on Kodiakcombos list from the looks of his catch I'll be bellied up to the bar w/ my derby winner on ice w/ plenty of day light to spare
    Hey, if you can afford to get over there, it looks like there would be some decent fishing. I'd love to go over there and give it a try sometime.

    I'd ask him about his bad days, too, though. When I have a bad day out there I'm not afraid to tell people about it. And I'd certainly want my clients to know that as well. I sure wouldn't want someone to misrepresent themselves to me. And please don't get me wrong. I'm not saying "kodiakcombo" is doing that. He's got some very impressive fish in his pics.

    But if the fishing sucks I won't hesitate to tell people that and advise them to come at a different time. I canceled a 4 person charter last week because the weather was less than desirable---not dangerous, but I knew it would be rough out there.

    I went on a charter out of Seward once and the captain took us out around Cape Resurrection in about 10 ft. seas. We never should have been out there. He tried setting the anchor for about half an hour while 12 out of the 16 people on his boat puked their guts out all over the deck and the other 4 people tried fishing unsuccessfully. When he couldn't get the anchor to stick he told us we had to go back in and since we had "fished" he wouldn't return any of our money.

    Like I said before, integrity can be a very important aspect of your fishing experience.

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    i agree with most but would add one thing which is pretty important to me but may not be to some people

    i think they should always follow the rules set by adfg, that means not catching more then your limits and not doing stuff like gaffing the sharks in the head cause we wanted halibut not sharks

    and i wholely agree about the limiting and heading back early i hate that expecially if there is salmon out and about just cause it was a halibut charter doesnt mean we wouldnt want any salmon i feel if i paid for a time slot i should get that time

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    Quote Originally Posted by anticipation View Post
    and i wholely agree about the limiting and heading back early i hate that expecially if there is salmon out and about just cause it was a halibut charter doesnt mean we wouldnt want any salmon i feel if i paid for a time slot i should get that time
    So you paid for a halibut charter, got a limit of halibut quickly and think the charter company now owes it to you to take you salmon fishing??? Did you offer to compensate the crew for their time, fuel and bait? or do you expect them to go above and beyond at their expense?
    Your not paying for a time slot your paying to go fishing for halibut, unless of course the company has something in writing (I would sure like to see that) that says you are guaranteed ___ hours a day of fishing, it sounds to me like you got what you paid for.

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    Member alaskachuck's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    I just met a charter boat captain last weekend. He is a good friend of a fellow member here. We were supposed to go out sunday. Weather was crap. Local guy out of seward with one of the best attitudes I have ever seen in a guy on any boat. We were all dissapointed as he does not get to fish friends very often. So instead we took a nice 2 hour or so cruise around the inside of the bay. He was full of jokes, laughs, fishing stories. Clean boat, very stable and very fast. Great fishing gear. I and my wife just felt right at east and totally comfy with him. When we tried to pay him for fuel he would not take it. Just said take me out to lunch. Chatted about everything for the time we were out. I got home and talked with my wife.

    So now we are butt fishing with him in June and bought the boat for a day of derby fishing. The guy is a life long alaskan, born and raised in seward, wife kids and as good as they come. Im pretty sure were gonna load up on fish with him but the 2 hours out there with him on sunday was a blast. The guy is a roit and totally entertaining. I like that in a person
    Grandkids, Making big tough guys hearts melt at first sight

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    Safety first, positive attitude, and clean boat w/good gear.
    When taking a mixed group of clients out on a 6 pack it can be difficult to keep everybody happy. Especially if you have a few tourists from Minnesota and a few Anchorage folks. Yes, a 10# ping pong paddle is a trophy to them especially if it is the largest fish they have ever caught. Not to many Alaskans are happy with ping pong paddles unless you worked your hardest for 8 hours and that was ALL you could get. There are days like that. It is all about having a positive attitude and giving a 110%.
    Some of my worst days of catching were some of my best days fishing.

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    If I was looking for a charter captain I would start right here - Some of the operators on this site offer great information and share the knowledge they have while others are willing to toss insults at folks simply because they have a difference of opinion. No need to leave the computer to quickly develop a list of who not to call - I can read and it is all here

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    Comfortable Clean boat is just as important as a well rounded captain with a people person personality. One that can assess his clients level of expertise and help when needed and step back when not. One who is great with kids and makes their trip memorable. I don't expect the largest fish, but I do expect him/her to find fish and when things are not working to break out his/her bag of tricks. If the weather is gonna be bad, let the client in on the decision and re-book. Now if its bad and the client insisted to go, stand by your guns, stay in port and re-book. Also don't take them out and enjoy watching them turn green. If the big ones are not in, I don't mind going to a paddle farm, just don't expect me to reel in two and quit. I'm gonna pick and choose until I am done.

    One thing that peeves me more than anything is when a Captain goes to one place, drops the hook and your on your own. Also, if I see a fish basket on the back of the boat where the fish sit and bake, I don't even want to go on board. I get annoyed when the ignorant tourist reels in a pink while on a silver charter, its thrown in a pile of baking fish and the person whom doesn't know any better spends allot of money to vacuum pack, freeze and ship spoiled fish home. They can't even tell the difference between a pink and silver and Captain just lets it happen without informing the client. Put yourselves in their shoes, Do you want a pink in your freezer instead of a silver. IMO, each fish needs to be properly bled and iced down.

    I don't mind giving a good tip to the Deckhand or Captain, but he/she needs to earn it and not just expect it. If you don't get a tip, time to re-evaluate why and not get mad at the client.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by rambling raven View Post
    If I was looking for a charter captain I would start right here - Some of the operators on this site offer great information and share the knowledge they have while others are willing to toss insults at folks simply because they have a difference of opinion. No need to leave the computer to quickly develop a list of who not to call - I can read and it is all here
    I couldn't agree more. I love to fish and I am more than happy to share whatever knowledge I've learned over the years with anyone that wants to learn. There are a lot of guides out there that won't do that. There is a "fishing reports" page on another website that I regularly report on when I go out on my own. I share knowledge there that some people have told me is beyond expectations and I do it because I want people to enjoy themselves even MORE than I enjoy myself when I'm out there. As I said before, integrity is a very important thing to look for in your charter captain.

    In reply to what "anticipation" and "AKkings" were saying below about a particular "time slot" of fishing. Some charter operators will certainly limit the time you have out there, but make sure that is spelled out for you before you go out so there's no misunderstanding. I tell people they're out there until THEY want to go back in unless the weather turns and gets dangerous or it's starting to get dark. But if you have a "1/2 day" charter where you only have 4 hours to fish then I can see a guide getting you your fish and heading in. Or some charter operators have different priciing for "just halibut" or "just salmon" or a "combo" trip. If you're only paying for halibut then I wouldn't expect a charter operator to get you your halibut and then troll for salmon. Around here trolling for salmon might be done in a spot miles away from where you go for salmon, so it means extra gas, extra gear and bait and more effort on the guide's part. So don't "expect" a guide to do it, but discuss the option with your guide before you book with that guide.

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