Clients and Charter Captains
The time has come to hammer out a uniform code of conduct for boat guides and their clients. I have fished with the best and the worst of both groups. I am now ready to resolve the most flagrant issues.
Cell Phones. Your boat guide has (and needs) a cell phone. Leave your RAZR, blackberry, and Bluetooth in your glove compartment. If you can’t escape from the real world to the reel world for six or eight hours you need to consider self-euthanasia. There is one possible exception- picture- taking cell phones. No I take that back, the temptation to talk is too great.
Bring what you’re supposed to bring. Guides are not babysitters, public health officials, or representatives of FEMA. They are generally equipped for minor first aid and other tiny crises. But it’s up to you to pack your little bag with sun screen, bug spray, chap stick, personal medication, beverages, handi-wipes, a jacket (yes even on warm days) and a hat.
Arrive on Time. Don’t dawdle. Your charter boat launches at a prescribed time for a reason. In some cases, it is just a matter of policy. Sometimes the launch time works around tidal flow, which means better fishing for you. But even if it’s just to give the guide some semblance of an organized life, don’t keep him waiting. It’s a nasty way to start the day.
Respect the captain. “Hey, I don’t have any bait up here.” The man at the helm is a professional. He is not your servant boy. Address your guide as “Captain.” He will usually try to make your journey as comfortable as possible and take care of your needs. Rude clients will always catch less fish- guaranteed.
Ask for what you want. Don’t hesitate on this point. If your daughter always wanted to see dolphins swimming, tell the captain. If you want to know why redfish hangout under mangroves, ask the captain. A line in the water is only part of your saltwater fishing experience. Catch the whole day- it’s a keeper.
No price bargaining. Most charter boat captains are small businessmen, not corporate conglomerates. Their overhead is high. Their pay scale is low. And they word hard for a living. Pay in advance. This will remove any temptation to short-change your charter captain because fish did not bite.
Let the guide handle the fish. This is a general rule and does not aply across the board. But if you are a relative beginner, your guide will be more than happy to unhook your catch or put on fresh bait. Remember some saltwater species are just as dangerous out of the water.
Hit the john. Easy to forget, hellish to deal with. Small boats (especially inshore craft) do not usually have equitable facilities. Take an Imodium. If the girls are coming with you, try to find a boat that has a potty area of some sort. It’s not sexist, it’s caring.
Practice patience. Believe it or not, the guide transports you to various locations because a: He has caught fish there before. And B: He wants you to catch fish there today. Unfortunately fish do not wear watches and some choose to wander. The point is that you are not playing a video game. So don’t expect instant gratification. Act like a grown-up.