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Thread: Charter Fishing Ethics/Question - Need your advice

  1. #1
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    Default Charter Fishing Ethics/Question - Need your advice

    Last weekend my buddy and I made the trip from Fairbanks to Valdez to fish for halibut after booking a charter through a booking service (I don't want to say their name). When I initially contacted the business I asked if we would be fishing in the gulf as numerous individuals (including their staff) had informed me that the best fishing was in the gulf and the trip was scenic, and they assured me that we would be fishing in the gulf. We boarded the charter on Sunday morning and about an hour into the trip I started talking to the deckhand about where we would be fishing. He told me that we would not be fishing in the gulf, and that this captain never fishes in the gulf. We then went on to have an awful day of fishing (I didn't catch a single 'but over 5 lbs). Simply put, we did not get the trip we paid for, and we feel that we were deceived. I contacted the company several times since via email, but I have not received a response yet. I haven't called them as I can be much more calm via email, and I don't want to blow up on the phone.

    My question is this: Is it unreasonable to ask them to remedy the situation? We spent a lot of money on gas, hotel, the actual charter, and time off work. I didn't specify what I thought an appropriate remedy would be, but I'd be ok with a charter on a boat that actually goes into the gulf, or a refund for the charter. What does everyone think?

    Thanks in advance.

    Tights lines.

    -Justin

  2. #2
    Member DRIFTER_016's Avatar
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    I don't think asking for a refund or replacement charter is out of line at all.
    You booked and paid based on a promise of fishing in the gulf and got taken to a hole full of ping pong paddles no where near the area promised.

    Keep after them.

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    I'm sure you learned a good lesson to book directly with the boat/capt. Do your own homework next time.

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    They are either going to ignore you or tell you there was no written promise so tough luck. I got talked into going with a neighbor last year. It was booked as a combo salmon/halibut through a central office that booked for a number of independent operators. There was never an intention by the charter to do salmon. It was probably the worse halibut trip I've been on in 12 years. The only thing is word of mouth and recommendations to others not to use them, either the booking agent or the charter company. I would also call the booking service and lodge a complaint with them.

  5. #5

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    Do they have a web site and does it state on there where they fish? If it says that they fish in the gulf, then you may have one leg to stand on. But I think it will come down to your having proof that they said they will fish in the gulf and I don't think you really have any. Fishing in the gulf is no guarantee that you will catch more or bigger fish. Maybe they've never fished the gulf but have still had good catches. I've never fished in the gulf and have caught fish over 100 lbs. But that's out of the Seward/Whittier area and maybe in the Valdez area you have to be in the gulf to get anything?

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    To Valdez charters, fishing the 'gulf' means fishing in the gulf near the Hinchinbrook entrance. You didn't say anything about the weather the day you fished, but there are many days during every summer when the weather is too bad for any charters to go out there. I have fished that area many times, in both charters and my private boat, but there have been just as many days when nobody can fish there, due to weather. Most charters will tell anyone who asks that their long range trips and destinations are always dependent on weather. When they can't get out there, they will fish more protected waters, usually with less 'catching' and usually with smaller fish. I don't know any charter that guarantees a certain sized fish, but, as 270ti wrote, do your homework and you should at least end up having a captain that will do all he can to show you a great day of fishing. We all have some poor 'catching' days, whether charter or private, but that doesn't mean anybody owes us anything!

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    Member Frostbitten's Avatar
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    While deckhands can have useful information and usually have some entertaining stories, if you want specific info about your trip, talk to the captain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bottomfeeder69 View Post
    To Valdez charters, fishing the 'gulf' means fishing in the gulf near the Hinchinbrook entrance. You didn't say anything about the weather the day you fished, but there are many days during every summer when the weather is too bad for any charters to go out there. I have fished that area many times, in both charters and my private boat, but there have been just as many days when nobody can fish there, due to weather. Most charters will tell anyone who asks that their long range trips and destinations are always dependent on weather. When they can't get out there, they will fish more protected waters, usually with less 'catching' and usually with smaller fish. I don't know any charter that guarantees a certain sized fish, but, as 270ti wrote, do your homework and you should at least end up having a captain that will do all he can to show you a great day of fishing. We all have some poor 'catching' days, whether charter or private, but that doesn't mean anybody owes us anything!
    Thanks for the reply. I should have been more clear in my initial post.

    Re weather: We were lucky and had perfect weather that day. Other boats were fishing in the gulf.

    Re captain: This is not about the quality of the captain or lack of doing homework. For the record, the captain was a great guy.

    Re "poor catching days': This is not about the size or amount of fish we caught. This is about the booking service being deceitful and not giving us the gulf trip for which we paid.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frostbitten View Post
    While deckhands can have useful information and usually have some entertaining stories, if you want specific info about your trip, talk to the captain.
    Thanks for the reply. I did not have any contact with the captain prior to getting on the boat. The booking service contacted the captain and arranged the trip.

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    Not trying to be argumentative, but say you didn't go to the gulf but still caught plenty of decent size fish. Would you still be upset at the booking service?
    I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 270ti View Post
    I'm sure you learned a good lesson to book directly with the boat/capt. Do your own homework next time.
    A lesson learned. This is not about doing homework though. It is about whether the booking service should remedy the situation because they did not deliver on the service they promised and were deceitful in doing so.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKBoater View Post
    Not trying to be argumentative, but say you didn't go to the gulf but still caught plenty of decent size fish. Would you still be upset at the booking service?
    Honestly, yes. This trip was about viewing scenery too. I've been on guided trips where the results were less than spectacular, and although I was disappointed, I never complained or asked for a refund. I understand its fishing and not catching

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    I get what you're saying. you're not upset at the charter operator itself. But the booking service. The thread title leads a person to believe you want a refund from the captain. Let us know if you hear back from the booking service.
    I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

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    I've read some good replies/advice on here. And I'm sure you will be doing it differently next time. But I think you'll be wasting your time and effort trying to get anything from this booking agency........or any other central booking agency. Homer has one, and Seward also. Their response is that they didn't promise you anything, and they serve as a reservation agent only, with no guarantees, and that You need to speak to the charter to get any specifics about their operation. Bottom line......you are out of luck! Time to start looking forward to your next trip, with the lessons you learned from this one. Central booking operations are a good thing for charters for filling open seats........but sure makes you wonder why the seats were open to start with during peak season?? Sometimes valid reasons, but maybe sometimes not. I would never book through one of them, because they are looking out for the charter(and their commission), and not looking out for you. I would have far more trust in getting charter names from people using this site, or blogger reviews, etc. than with any booking agency. And don't be afraid to pin the skipper down ahead of time, or at least before you get aboard, about exactly you can expect and where he plans to take you! Good luck, and good fishing on your next trip!

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    Quote Originally Posted by jjkoestler View Post
    This is not about doing homework though.
    I think his point is that instead of going through a booking service, you should do your own research and contact charter operators individually. So, in a sense it is about doing homework. This isn't a jab at you as I read it, just a suggestion to go straight to the source. It's more likely that you'll get what you're promised, and if not, it is also more likely that your concerns will be remedied after the fact.

  16. #16

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    After readying the initial complaint and the responses, I can see the poster's point as well as the point of those telling him that he should have checked with the charter operator. Here's a scenario that maybe people can relate to ...
    You want to go on a halibut charter out of Seward and you call the Fish House to book one. You've heard that the best place to catch halibut is in the Gulf (i.e. outside Resurrection Bay). You even ask if the boat will be fishing in the Gulf and you're told yes. So you book it and they end up fishing for halibut inside Resurrection Bay and everyone else is going out to Montague or somewhere in the Gulf.
    I've booked through the Fish House and never thought twice about them not going into the Gulf for halibut. If they hadn't (weather permitting), then I'd be PO'd. But I don't know that I'd get any satisfaction from either the place that booked the charter or from the charter business itself. One thing I'd probably do is make a call to the charter business after getting back and ask where they fish for halibut. If they include the Gulf, then I'd be asking them why they didn't go there on the day I went on their boat.

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    I am from Seward so not comletely familiar with Valdez operations. Isn't Valdez a long way from the Gulf of Alaska. I would think that there is a lot of good fishing in Price William Sound. The Gulf of Alaska is beyond Hitchenbrook & Montague Islands ike bottomfeeder69 mentioned. That sounds like a lot of time transiting to the fish which means less time with lines in the water.

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    The Gulf of Alaska out of Valdez begins at the demarcation line that runs from Port Etchs to Schooner Rocks. The Light House (70 Miles) and Seal Rocks (75 Miles) out of Valdez are part of the Gulf of Alaska. Going to the Gulf does not mean you are going to catch fish. The running time is between 3 and 4 hours depending on where you go. Most Gulf boats run at speeds of 28 Knots and above.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    I think his point is that instead of going through a booking service, you should do your own research and contact charter operators individually. So, in a sense it is about doing homework. This isn't a jab at you as I read it, just a suggestion to go straight to the source. It's more likely that you'll get what you're promised, and if not, it is also more likely that your concerns will be remedied after the fact.
    BIG ditto. I'm not sure why you'd want to use a central booking agency unless you have absolutely no choice in the matter. Here in Homer there are PLENTY of "independent" operators that will do exactly what you ask of them. Do a little internet/email/phone work and it will pay off for you.
    Year round saltwater fishing adventures in Homer, AK.
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  20. #20
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    My thoughts on booking agencies are thus:

    Good charters don't need a booking agency, because their boats are booked well in advance. That leaves boats that have trouble filling their slots, and there is generally a reason for that. And the booking agencies will fill those slots.

    Kinda like the difference between steak and hamburger. If you're ordering from a place that puts together the scraps, don't expect it to make a steak.

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