During my first year of chartering, I received some excellent advice from a good friend and season chartered operator. He told me the three most important things about chartering are people, the boat, and lastly, to my surprise, fish. To this day, I believe he is right. I’ve added a few more to round out the list.
People: Fishing guides are there to serve their guests, not the other way around. I learned this from close friends who have fished or chartered with me and brave enough to inform me that not everyone is as crazy about fishing as I am. This advice has helped me focus as much on my guest as I do on fish. It has helped me to be more resourceful with anyone getting sea-sick. And it has helped me understand that not everyone is as intent at filling up a cooler as I am. For example, there have been a number of times when, after 4-5 hours and a number of fish in the box, my guests have asked: are there any whales or cools sights to see around here? Wondering if the captain is good with people? Check the testimonials on a charters website or tripadvisor.
Boats: Qualities that make a true “fishing machine” are safety, stability, savings, and a great platform to fight fish. Waters can get bouncy out there so you definitely want a larger, safe and stable boat. With fuel prices the way they are during summer months, you want a boat that doesn’t discourage a guide from getting to those distant places. Finally, a lot of deck space to fight and land fish as well as good cabin space that allows for guest to take cover from bad weather. If you are looking to book a west coast trip this summer, be sure to find out about the boat. Sometimes a five hundred dollar trip is a five hundred trip out of an 18-20 ft pleasure craft rather than true 23-30 ft fishing machine.
Fish: Let me begin by saying that most west coast guides who operate out of Vancouver Island or BC’s west coast love the hunt and the catch and are good at it. It’s one of the reasons we do this. However, to increase your chances of a good fishing adventure, fish with experienced guides who have good people skills, good equipment and who know the area well. And, when fishing with a chartered guide, please remember we call the sport “fishing” and not “catching”. There are always going to be days when the fishing is slow.
Prices: Most people understand that chartering is an expensive occupation. The cost of a good charter boat, fuel, insurances, licensing, gear, moorage, advertising, taxes etc. is the reason why almost every private guide I know has another job or secondary income (in other words, even though it seems like they are making a lot, this is not always the case). Having said that, most charter operators are close to the $90.00–$125.00 an hour mark depending on the area they fish, how many people are onboard, and what kind of experience they offer. Check charter websites to find out more about their costs and what is included.
Packages: In today’s market, a number of charter operators offer a variety of packages (gold, silver, platinum etc.). These packages may range from a single day of fishing to multiple all-inclusive trips (lodging meals, dinners, fish packaging etc.). The opportunity to choose from a variety of options gives the client more choice. However, make sure you fully understand what you are booking and paying for. I have heard from too many unsatisfied anglers who thought they were paying for one thing when in fact they were getting something else.
For all of you who are booking or considering a 2015 fishing charter off the west coast of British Columbia, I wish you all the best. For those interested in what Reel Time Fishing Charters has to offer, let me conclude by saying this: people come first (before heading out, we ask “what are your expectations, hopes, and dreams for this trip”?), our fishing machine is a 23 ft Hourston Glascraft (a safe, strong, proven big water boat that has plenty of deck and cabin space), we have satisfied customers that come back (check our website under “testimonials”), and our prices are among the best in the business (check our website under “prices”). For our Ucluelet fishing charters, we also offer accommodations at the Barkley Sound Lodge for $140.00 per person per night. This price includes food, beverages, vacuum sealing and freezing of catch as well as many other fun things to see and do. Also, if you are planning to fish Vancouver Island this summer, “like” this page as we will be giving weekly updates on the conditions of fishing in Nanaimo (April—June) and Ucluelet (June—August). Until then, keep dreaming of the bright day, the big fish, and an awesome time with family and friends.
Owner & Operator of Reel Time Fishing Charters