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10 Tips for Choosing a Fishing Charter

    With so many fishing charters all over British Columbia, it can be hard to know if you’re going with a good one or not, especially if you’ve never gone fishing before! So, how do you choose? Learn some tips for choosing a fishing charter the next time you head out to British Columbia.

    1. Ask About the Boats

    The boat can make or break a trip. You’ll want to know if there’s a washroom on board, what safety equipment it’s set up with, whether or not there’s extra rain gear on board, and if there’s a heated cabin. When you’re out on the water all day in sometimes chilly conditions, those amenities will make a difference. It’s also good to know the size of the boat and its safety standards. Finally, ask how many people can be on board – if you have six people, but there’s a five-person max, you’ll either need to add a boat, or find a charter with a bigger capacity.

    2. Ask About the Gear

    Do you need to lug your own gear out to B.C. with you? What about supplying bait or tackle? It’s important to know if all of your gear is already set up on board, or if you are expected to supply what you want to fish with. If all the gear is included it’s also good to know how many rods and downriggers will be on board so that you can set your expectations.

    3. Learn About the Guides

    If you don’t have a good guide, you aren’t going to find, hook and catch fish. Ask about their years of guiding experience and where they’ve guided. If you’re fishing on the west coast of Vancouver Island, you’ll want a guide that knows how to fish there. Safety is also very important, a guide that knows the water and his vessel should be well-versed in ocean and boating safety.

    4. Find out What’s Included

    Whether you’re booking a day trip, or an overnight, you’ll want to know what’s included in the price. Here are some things to look for:

    Accommodation – if so, how many nights and when do you depart
    Meals – also check if there is food onboard the boat for you
    Vacuum Packing – this is important for anyone traveling to come fish
    Fishing Licenses – Everyone onboard fishing/planning to keep fish will need one
    Gratuity – Find out if your guide’s tip is included in the cost. If not, expect to have extra cash with you to give them after the trip.
    Gear – is everything you need for your trip on board?
    Seasickness Gear – Most charters will suggest taking something for seasickness beforehand, like scopolamine patches.

    5. Find out the Distances for Your Trip

    Knowing how far offshore you’re able to go with each type of trip is important. If the fish aren’t biting in the area you’re fishing, but you’ve booked a trip that doesn’t let you go to the spots where they are biting, it’s going to be a pretty slow excursion.

    6. Choose a Trip Time and Length

    If mornings aren’t your thing, don’t book with a charter whose 5:30am departure times are firm. Perhaps look for one that offers shorter afternoon trips, or has flexible departure times. Same for length of trip. If you only want a dash of fishing with time for all the other adventures on your list, find a place that does half days instead of full – just be aware that you won’t be able to catch as many fish as you would with a longer trip. Find out if you’ll be able to stay on the water catching other types of fish once you’ve caught your limit in salmon, or halibut.

    7. Ask About Payment and Tipping

    Fishing trips aren’t exactly a cheap affair. If you’re worried about paying for all of it upfront, find out if they do the payment in stages. If you were planning on saving up to pay for the trip when it arrives, ask if they require a deposit and how much it is. It’s typical for a charter to as for 50% right away.

    8. Find out About Where and How you Fish

    Seasickness is typical in about 1/4 guests when fishing in the open ocean. If you’re headed out there, find out what the conditions are like, and if there are some sheltered options nearby. It’s also important to know how you fish – downriggers and trolling is typical for open ocean salmon fishing, although you may also jig. Find out whether or not you’ll be able to catch all the kinds of fish you want to in one trip. Guides will often set the hook, leaving the reeling and battling up to you. More experienced fishermen may want to do it all themselves, and will need to find a charter, or guide, that allows this.

    9. Look at Reviews and Ratings

    Previous experiences are a dead giveaway to whether or not a charter is worthwhile. Be sure to read both good and bad reviews. If on TripAdvisor, see if and how the owner responds. Compare the numbers of each type of review between charters. Keep in mind that sometimes bad fishing days mean bad reviews, even if the guide and charter are great.

    10. Fly-In, or Drive-in?

    Different types of lodges fit different people and mean a different type of experience. If you want to fly in to a remote lodge and spend time surrounded by other fishermen in a private area, that’s great! If you want to be able to have all the amenities of a town at your hands, there’s options for that too. Of course, there are pros and cons to each and whether or not the charter you’re looking at offers it will determine you booking with them.

    For Fishing on Vancouver Island, check out:

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