While there are many excellent fishing charters in the Gulf Coast area, the occasional inexperienced or dishonest charter service can ruin a fishing trip. Follow this guide to find out the best steps in finding a fishing charter in Pensacola!
Decide which type of fishing you’d like to experience
Consider what type of fish you’d like to target. Many charter captains specialize in specific types of fishing or focus on particular areas of the Florida waters. Be sure to clarify the types of fishing you’d like to experience from your Pensacola fishing charter.
Determine your budget
When hiring a fishing charter, you pay for the use of the boat and the services and experience of the captain and crew for your entire fishing party. Boat capacity can range from 2-4 anglers, while bigger boats can hold six or more. In general, prices can start in the $200-$400 range for a 4 hour fishing trip on smaller flats fishing boats. Larger boats used for Pensacola deep sea fishing on the Gulf of Mexico can range from $1500-$2500 for an 8 hour day.
Begin your search for a good Pensacola fishing charter
If you live in the area, you can ask friends for recommendations. If you’re visiting Florida, you can check with local bait and tackle shops, marinas, or even hang out at the docks to observe charters in action. If you’re still planning your trip to Florida, the internet is your best resource for finding a reputable and experienced Pensacola fishing charter.
Interview charter captains
A critical step in finding a Pensacola fishing charter is knowing specific information before you commit your time and money to hiring a charter service. This gives you the opportunity to find captains who are truly passionate about what they do, compared to the ones who are obviously not committed to their paying clients. Below is a list of questions to ask your potential Pensacola fishing charter captain:
- Ask for a detailed and complete breakdown of costs, including gratuities.
- What is the deposit amount required to reserve your spot?
- Is the captain licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard? It is critical to verify proper licensing and credentials. Don’t be afraid to ask to have this information faxed or emailed to you.
- Ask for references and follow up with them. You may also wish to check with the Better Business Bureau
- Ask for an overview of your itinerary. What time will you depart, how much time will be spent actually fishing, what time will you return?
- Will the captain give short fishing lessons to novice anglers?
- What type of boat will you be fishing from?
- Will the crew clean, filet, and package your fish, and is this service included in your rate?
- What is the cancellation policy due to inclement weather?
- Will the crew and captain also be fishing? This may be a problem if they are not focusing their attention on you and your guests, especially if you are an inexperienced angler.
- Is it a private charter or social charter? Social charters can mean that other people may be sharing the boat. Private Pensacola fishing charters are naturally more expensive, but this means that you have the boat to yourself and the undivided attention of the captain and crew.
- Will you be able to keep trophy fish? Some captains prefer to photograph and release non-edible fish no matter what size. If you plan on keeping a trophy, inquire about the captain’s stance on this topic. Some Pensacola charter captains provide taxidermist service referrals as well.
What to bring
- Coolers large enough to take home your catch!
- Sun Block
- Beverages and food (some Pensacola fishing charters will provide whatever beverages and food you request for your trip. Just ask!)
- Light-soled footwear
- Seasickness medication