When you examine all the aspects of it, you may change your mind

Is charter fishing a good idea or not? First thought, costs; it is expensive but when you examine all the aspects of it, you may change your mind.

Let’s tally up the investment made to pull up to a dock and begin chartering. The average cost of the boat is well over $50,000. Electronics usually exceed $5,000. Fishing equipment; rods, reels, downriggers, lures, lures, more lures, nets, outriggers and the list goes on and all this easily totals over $5,000.

Next there is required safety equipment, Type I PFD’s, $50 each and there must be one for each person aboard including special sizes for youngsters. On the list are fire extinguishers, radios, first aid kits, visual distress signals, EPIRB (a signaling device to aid in rescue) and man overboard lights. You will note the plurals because most items require more than one or most captains always want a backup. This list would total over $2,500.

After tallying the cost of the boat and equipment we move on to add up the yearly cost of insurance, dockage and fuel, which can equal another $5,000.

Plus incidental fees like shrink-wrap or canvas cover, storage, maintenance and the cost of maintaining a Coast Guard license. Many charter captains belong to National (NACO), State (MCBA) and local (TAC) organizations. They all work together to provide a quality fishing experience. This too is part of the cost; none let you join free.

It is not unusual to board an outfitted charter vessel that has $100,000 invested to provide you a day’s fishing. If you are on a legal charter boat, you can be assured your safety is provided for and your captain is capable of handling his vessel in any conditions that may occur.

Simple math will tell you if you invest even a moderate amount of $50,000 and divide by $500 per charter, you can take 100 charters. A $500 charter fee usually covers four people so if you only pay for yourself, you could take 400 charters. Just think you won’t have to clean the boat, fill the fuel tank, replace the lost lures, make repairs or in most cases, even clean the fish.

Even if you are capable of handling a boat during poor conditions and willing to invest up to $100,000 in a boat and equipment, you still won’t be able to equal the value of a charter. Charter captains that run a full-time business share information about baits, what depths to run and where fish are located which results in better catches.

In the Thumb area several charter captains belong to the Thumb Area Charter Association. The captains work together to make sure all of them are up to date on new laws and advances in boating safety and equipment. They are mindful of abiding by laws that govern their business by carefully screening each new captain that joins their association. The latest fishing news is gathered and passed on to the public via media and Internet reports. All of their efforts are to ensure each captain has a successful trip and this means if you are fishing on one of their boats, you are fishing with a fleet!

If you happen along a boat dockside that looks like it is well equipped and the person on board offers to take you fishing, stop and consider something – you may be risking your life. If the person is soliciting charters, ask to see their license and look for a Coast Guard or state sticker in plain view stating the vessel is inspected.

If you’re lucky enough to have a friend that has a fully equipped boat and they are able to take you out for a quality trip that results in a good catch, go with them. Don’t forget to help with the clean up, offer to buy lunch and perhaps clean the catch.

If you already have a fishing boat all rigged out or if you plan to bite the bullet and purchase one, a charter may still be a good idea. Go on a charter trip and observe the activity of both the captain and mate if one is aboard. Just one charter trip can teach you a lot.

Not sure about what charter to take? Of course check out the Charter Directory in Woods-N-Water News and ask around – most anglers in the area you wish to fish know the successful captains and will be happy to recommend them.

Now, what do you think, is charter fishing a good idea or not?