Thinking of doing some fishing during your Marathon Florida Keys vacation?
We invite you to review these points and choose the charter Captain and charter boat that best suit your needs and desires for the fishing adventure of your lifetime …
Due to the current economic conditions, we are seeing an influx of people getting into the charter business without bothering to go through all the legal channels or investing in the proper gear. Establishing and maintaining a profitable charter business requires substantial investments - monetary, physical, even emotional.
If you are planning a Florida Keys vacation and are interested in chartering a fishing boat, first of all I say that’s a great idea! Secondly, I urge you to ask these questions of the Captains and choose the one you feel most comfortable with.
About the Captain…
- Does the Captain have a valid US Coast Guard issued US Merchant Marine Officer license?
- Does the Captain have a valid TSA issued TWIC card (Transportation Worker Identification Credential)?
Does the Captain have a valid APCA card, proving he is enrolled in the US Coast Guard mandated random drug testing program?
Does the Captain have a valid driver’s license?
Does the Captain have a valid Vessel Operator Permit Card as mandated by the US Department of Commerce?
Does the Captain have a valid Florida Recreational Fishing License? If so, how many anglers does it cover? (Note: some charter Captains choose to have this license in the vessel’s name, which is acceptable.)
Is the Captain certified in First Aid and CPR?
About the vessel…
- What is the make, model and year of the vessel?
- How is the vessel powered?
- What is the general running condition of the vessel?
- What electronics are used on the vessel?
- Does the vessel contain all safety equipment as mandated by the US Coast Guard?
- Does the vessel have a valid Florida Vessel Registration?
- Does the vessel have valid insurance coverage? If so, how much Protection and Indemnity (P&I) coverage does it contain and how many anglers does it cover?
- Does the vessel have all of the various Federal Fisheries Permits as mandated by the US Department of Commerce and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)?
- Is the vessel docked at a public marina where dockage is charged? If not, where is the boat located and why?
About the business…
- Does the business have a valid Monroe County Business License?
- Does the business maintain a physical location and business telephone service (vs. operating on-the-run via cell phone or residential phone service).
- Does the business maintain up-to-date website(s)?
- Will the business provide you with written confirmation of your charter, outlining all terms and conditions?
- Does the business accept credit cards? If so, do they charge an extra fee?
- What are the business’ charter rates and what do they cover? Is there a fuel surcharge or any hidden charges?
- What is the business’ cancellation policy?
Additional points you should consider when choosing a charter business…
- How much experience does the Captain have, both in the Keys and elsewhere?
- Will you be fishing with the Captain, or does he plan to fill in with someone else? If so, why and what are that person’s credentials?
- Is charter fishing the Captain’s full-time job? Or, does he do it only part-time apart from some other job or as a hobby or retirement/snow bird activity?
- Can the Captain provide testimonials from satisfied customers?
- Does the Captain plan to take a Mate on your charter?
- What is the condition of the tackle, rods and reels? This is an area many businesses skimp on. Is the equipment, if not new, in well-maintained condition? Will the Captain have sufficient gear on hand for your group?
- Does the Captain use live bait or artificials or both? Again, will he have sufficient on hand?
- What should you bring along on your charter? Does the Captain provide a cooler and ice for your food and beverages?
- What should you wear on your charter? For instance, does the Captain require white-soled footwear?
- Does the Captain clean your fish and are you allowed to keep all of it?
- What happens if someone in your group gets seasick and the trip has to be cut short? Or, if the trip is shortened due to weather conditions?
- What is the Captain’s policy regarding gratuities?