Getting out on the water to fish may be easier than you imagine, thanks to the great number of charter boat options available across Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket. If you've never taken a fishing charter, and aren't sure how it works, or how to find the right charter, here's a rundown for you.
Fishing charters come in many configurations. There are 2-person charters on small boats, 6-pack charters (six people or less), and party boats on which fishermen pay per head (sometimes called head boats).
How do you want to fish? If you're going for striped bass, there are charters for fly fishing, trolling, or casting lures. There are also charters for bottom fishing, if you're after sea bass, fluke, or scup. And of course there are charters for going after tuna, or going overnight out to The Canyons.
So begin by asking yourself a few simple questions. What is your skill level like? What do you want? If you want a trip with plenty of action, and you're not worried about getting a trophy fish, it's good to be clear about that at the beginning.
The Charter Captain
The charter captain is probably the single biggest factor in the success of your trip. Once you're clear about your own expectations, make sure the Captain knows what you're looking for. Kevin Blinkoff of On The Water magazine recommends taking time to talk to your Captain in advance. Whether you find a charter through the internet or a tackle shop or a friend's recommendation, call the Captain and explain what you want from the experience, the size of your group, and what your skill level is. Listen to what he has to say, and decide if it's right for you.
Do Your Part to Make the Trip Success
- Show up on time - the Captain picks his departure time for a reason.
- Bring the appropriate clothes, sunscreen, snacks and drinks, and don't forget your camera.
- Don't treat the Captain and his crew as your servants - they're professionals, and this is their job.
- Be prepared with a tip at the end. Captains can't control the fish, so it's good practice to tip according to how hard the Captain works to make it a good trip, regardless of the catch.
Asking at your local tackle shop is usually a good way to begin finding a charter that's right for you.
Of particular note, the striper fishing is great around Provincetown, thanks in part to the abundance of sea herring. Stripers continue to be taken through Vineyard Sound and along the Elizabeth Islands and off Gay Head. Scup are strong right now. And east of Nantucket on the shoals plentiful squid are bringing good bluefish action.