Woody Gore

When deciding on a charter captain you are about to make a serious investment in not only money but in your safety and the safety of your family, friends, and possible business associates. So before you pull the trigger and make that decision, be sure to investigate your prospective captain choices. There are literally thousands of full-time professionals and part-time charter captains operating everywhere though out Florida and many without the proper credentials. And for this reason, the United States Coast Guard is making a concerted effort to identify and stop them.

So, do not be anxious or embarrassed when asking about your prospective captain’s charter credentials and information, they should be proud to show any prospective client they are  legal.

 Here is what you want to know and see, so ask:

Current United States Coast Guard Captains License, current licenses look like a passport and must be originals not a copy)

Copy of their current liability and personal injury insurance. I would suggest they carry at least $500 thousand.

Copy of their Drug Consortium Certificate showing they participate in the Drug and Alcohol Testing Program.

Possess State fishing license to cover up to four (4) or up to ten (10) anglers

Possess First Aid Certificate valid within the last (3) years

Possess United States Coast Guard approved Type I Life Jackets w/reflective tape on board. One for each passenger including children sizes

Here are other questions you might consider when interviewing prospective captains. How long have they been a captain and are they a full-time business supporting their families or a part-time hobby with another job paying their bills? In recent years, part-time captains have flooded the market and while a few may be nearly as competent as their full-time counterparts. Still, the fact remains captains operating a daily fishing business are considerably more experienced and profusely better informed than those running part-time and weekends.

It is also important to remember what a full-time professional offers to the wonderful world of fishing and boating. The number one being safety, captains are excellent seamen, with years of experience. They have the knowledge and experience to provide safe passage in all weather conditions. It is fairly safe to consider a full-timer has probably seen and handled most situations.

Another value experienced full-time captains bring to the table is an affirmative social approach to their fishing business. So if you need a little fishing refresher or want to introduce the family to the great world of fishing why not extend an invitation to your spouse and children. On the other hand, if it is just teaching the kids to fish; it is vital you select a patient and child-friendly captain.

Making the right choice in a captain can make or break the experience. The children will come away feeling satisfied and successful or never wanting to go fishing again. Referrals are a good source for child-friendly captains, so be sure to ask around and interview each captain until you find the right fit. After talking to the captain and explaining what you are interested in and before the conversation has ended, you should feel comfortable with the captain. If the captain is not willing to spend time talking with you that should sound an alarm, so find another captain.

Overall, finding a reputable captain is not difficult just pull up the inter-web and you will find plenty of charter captains specializing in all facets and species of fishing from freshwater to saltwater offshore and inshore, all waiting to share their fishing world with you.

BUT WAIT! A WORD OF CAUTION WHEN PRICE SHOPPING! With all the available Captains; I would be remiss without a word of caution when hiring a discount charter captain! Some of those discount captains offer cut-rates because they are improperly licensed or credentialed, thereby allowing them to charter at price-cutting rates. So when price shopping, remember there are reasons a competitive captain is willing to negotiate and devalue their charter business. Although it may seem that a $50 to $100 cheaper rate may be to your advantage. You must remember, cut-rate captains must still recover their business operating expenses, which always results in substandard and poor service some where in the charter. Does the old adage come to mind, you always get what you pay for!

Over forty-five the years in the business world and it has been my experience that customers remember quality customer service long after they remember the price. I have always spoken and lived by “Customer Service” because it is my thought that nothing should be written in concrete and everything is negotiable to a common agreement.

Woody Gore

About The Author: Captain Woody Gore

Company: Captain Woody Gore Charters

Area Reporting: Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg, Clearwater

Bio: Born and raised in Tampa, Capt. Woody developed a passion for fishing as a child and years later, he is still expanding his fishing knowledge base and skill levels. Now with over 50 years of worldwide fishing experience he does everything possible to create an unforgettable and world class fishing adventure.

Click Here For Past Fishing Reports by Captain Woody Gore