How to book a Charter Boat

The Following information was taken from Boat Fishing Monthly article about booking a boat. Dave Godwin who runs "Predator" out of the Thames Estuary answered the most frequent questions in the magazine.

What sort of tide do I need?

The right tide varies according to the sort of fishing you wish to do. If you want to fish over wrecks for conger, you need a small tide so you get longer periods of slack water, when it is easier to get the bait down to the bottom. If you want to fish the gullies in the sandbanks, you will want big tides so the sands dry right out at low water and all the fish move off onto the gullies.

Can i go on my own or with a friend?

Most skippers will take individuals on certain weekdays only, but shop around the adverts in magazine (or on this site) and ring some skippers in the area you wish to fish. Quite often a party will be short of anglers and the skipper may be able to fit you in albeit at short notice. Don't forget that boat fishing is fun and it's the people you fish with that can make a day special.

I don't know if my tackle will be suitable.

When booki9ng the boat, confirm with the skipoer that hire tackle is available on the boat, if so take what you have and the skipper will advice you on it's suitability and may hire you some if necessary. If for example you have some pollacking gear, you want to make sure that is the type of fishing you will be doing, as the target species changes from one area to another.

What should i wear?

In an ideal world, you would wear a flotation suit with a pair of waterproof boots. If this is not an option at the moment, then aim for plenty of layers to keep you warm, with a waterproof top layer which will also keep out the wind. It is important to wear a hat as most of the bodies heat is lost through the head, they also keep the sun off you. (Make sure the hat you wear will stay on as baseball caps can blow away). Do not cut back on warm clothing, even in the summer, it is always cooler at sea you can always take it off if you want.

Skipper knows best.

Remember that no matter how much you fish it will still be a fraction of the hours a skipper spends at sea and he does it all in the same area. As the skipper, but more importantly, listen to him or the crewman because this is their area of expertise. It could well be the different fifty miles down the coast, but they will know what works here. And remember to watch what others do on the boat and how they a faring. Never stop learning.

Can i keep my fish?

You can keep any fish as long as they are sizeable, but ask yourself how many fish you want to kill each month; if you fish to fill the freezer, then go to the supermarket, it will save you money. Angling is for sport, there is nothing wrong with taking a fish home every now and then, but please be sensible about it.

I'm a novice boat angler.

Angling is gradually becoming more like other sports and there are now plenty of qualified angling coaches around the country. Many skippers are happy to help you in the right direction on how to catch fish and what methods / tackle & bait to use.

When should i phone the skipper?

Don't phone him at closing time, after you've had a skin full, he will not be impressed. Likewise, do not phone him at six in the morning if he is up and gone, his partner may not be impressed. Be sensible about the timing. The skipper may inform you that you must call the evening before the trip, after they have had time to see the weather reports. Usually about 7.30pm is acceptable, but ask the skipper beforehand when you have booked the trip.

What happens if the trip is cancelled?

Trips usually only get cancelled due to bad weather, breakdown or illness and only by the skipper! Remember what is a days fun to you is the skippers livelihood. If the skipper has to cancel due to bad weather, don't have a go at him, he does not want to cancel, he is losing money. If the trip is cancelled the skipper will do his best to book another date for you as he does not want to lose your custom, but if a suitable date is not available, then any good skipper will refund your deposit. If you are the one canceling the trip, ask the skipper when you book the boat, how much notice he needs if you wish to cancel the trip, this should give him time to take another booking.

How much will it cost?

The cost of booking a boat varies according to the type of fishing you do. Sixty miles out to sea takes a lot of time and diesel and will obviously cost more for the day. It may also depend on the hours you book, if the skipper supplies bait & tackle, this may well be an added expense. This will be ordered on your behalf and have to be paid for even if the trip is cancelled. On some trips you can catch your bait (usually mackerel) on the way out, but remember this takes up some of your fishing time. Generally a day's ground fishing will cost less, depending on which part of the country you want to fish from. Midweek trips may also be slightly cheaper.

(Used with permission - Copyright © Boat Fishing Monthly)