Summer Fun

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Hiring a fishing charter

A vacation or a weekend getaway can be made even more enjoyable when it includes some time spent on the water. Hiring a private boat or joining an established fishing charter is one way to enjoy some fishing and sightseeing without much effort. But not all charters are the same, and it's important to find one that meets your needs.

While you certainly can wait until you are at your destination before finding a charter, it helps to do your homework before arriving to guarantee the best package and price. This way you will not be at the mercy of the hotels and resorts in the area and you can read unbiased reviews about charter organizations.

There are many fishing charters across the country. Starting your research as soon as you know to where you will be traveling can help you narrow down the options in that area. Write down what you want to ask potential charter captains to ensure your experience is one to remember for all the right reasons.

Travel package Web sites as well as local boards of commerce and tourism sites are a great resource to find fishing charters. Once you have a few names you can begin the investigative process. A service like TripAdvisor.com enables you to read reviews on attractions and services in particular areas across the world. You can type in your charter service name and read up on what others have to say about their experiences. Through the review forums you also may be able to garner names of other charter companies and attractions that may not be on the tourism sites.

Another good starting-off point is a service like Findafishingcharter.com. Here you can search for charters in the United States and Canada. Click on the map and get a listing of companies that advertise their services.

Once you have narrowed down your options, there are some considerations that should be made and questions that should be asked of the charter captain.

* Request a complete price breakdown, including if gratuities are expected.

* Ensure that the captain is knowledgeable in the type of fishing you desire and where to go to find these fish.

* Make sure the captain is licensed according to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Coast Guard or the Canadian Coast Guard. Ask how many years he or she has been a licensed charter captain.

* Ask for references and confirm the business with the Better Business Bureau.

* Know the equipment level of a charter boat and whether it is high-tech or basic. Ask to see photos of the boat or arrange a tour prior to booking.

* Find out where the charter boat actually fishes.

* Will the captain and the crew be assisting your party or doing their own fishing concurrently? Novice anglers often benefit from a crew that is paying attention to their customers rather than their own fishing needs.

* Are children and families welcome aboard? If so, what kind of bathroom and food facilities are available?

* Inquire as to whether you will need your own fishing license.

* What fishing gear is provided?

* Is this a catch-and-release trip or will trophies be taken home?

* Find out a contingency plan for the captain's absence in case of illness.

* Learn about what you have to bring on the trip. You may be required to bring hats, sunscreen, comfortable clothing, rubber-soled shoes, sunglasses, and seasickness medicine.

* Be sure to verify if you will be signing a contract and the cancellation policy.

Finding a fishing charter that will cater to your needs is easier than you may think. Hiring a reputable and experienced charter service can help ensure a good time is had by all on your next trip.

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