How to choose a Charter!

Tips on choosing a St Simons Island Fishing Charter Trip

St_Simons_Island_Fishing_Charter_Guide_Capt_Scott_GriffinNot all St Simons Island Fishing Charter operations are created equal.  There are some key areas you need to address when talking to a Charter outfit about a fishing trip.  I hope this will help narrow down your choice and make it easier for you to have a great fishing experience in the Golden Isles.

There is a lot of information below and a lot to digest.  But if you think about it, you are putting your life in the hands of a stranger.  Make sure you feel comfortable with them and their equipment.

Questions to ask:

1.  Are you a full time St Simons Island Fishing Charter guide?  If the answer is no be careful.  Full time guides spend a lot more time on the waters than the weekend warrior and are dialed into the fishing because of it.  Their equipment is top shelf and they are professionals.

2.  Does your boat have Charter Insurance?  Many fly by night and weekend warriors will run trips to pay for their boats and do not carry the required insurance.  Avoid these at all cost!!  Ask to see the documents!

3. Do you have all the required Federal permits and licenses on board and can I see them?  Make sure the operation you are dealing with has taken the time to apply for and maintain the Federal permits for offshore fishing and are legal. If they wont answer or say they don’t need them do not hire them.  Every for hire vessel that fishes in the ocean is required to have these.

Ask about these permits:

a. South Atlantic Charter/Head Boat Permit for Snapper-Grouper

b. Atlantic Dolphin/Wahoo Charter Head Boat permit and Operator Card

c. South Atlantic Charter/Head Boat for Coastal Migratory Pelagics permit

d. Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Charter/Head Boat permit.

4. Do I have to have a fishing License to fish on your boat?  If the answer is yes..run.  Chances are they are not a Licensed Charter Boat operation.  Most reputable Charter outfits will purchase a Saltwater Guide Customer Fishing License that will cover 6 or less anglers on a for hire vessel.

5.  Do you have a Saltwater Guide License?  If the answer is no..again..run!  You have to have a US Coast Guard License to get this..if they don’t then you don’t want to get on their boat.

6. What kind of boat will we be on?  Make sure the boat you will be on is suitable for the kind of fishing trip you want to book.  If you plan on fishing offshore make sure the boat is capable of handling rough seas should conditions turn bad. Likewise, if fishing the flats or back country you would want a boat capable of getting into the areas you want to fish.


7. Does your boat have Radar?  This is essential when fishing offshore to track weather.

8.  Does your boat have a bathroom?  Just a creature comfort but for the ladies it is sometimes a deciding factor on booking a trip.

9.   Ask if the person you are talking to is the one who will be taking you fishing.  Some operations will book a trip and then farm your trip out to another Charter Operation and take a cut of the fee without your knowledge.  This isn’t a good practice.  If we have no openings we will refer you to another reputable operation and let them handle the billing and talk to you about your trip and expectations.

10. Ask for a fishing report.  See what information is offered.  Listen for things like tides, moon phases, Water conditions, seasonality of the fish, whats biting now etc.  The time he takes with you on the phone will be indicative of the time he will take with you on the water.

11.  Are you a licensed US Coast Guard Captain? If the answer is no then they are not legally allowed to carry paying customers on the boat.

12. How long have you been a Guide?  Honesty is the best policy..there are good Guides out there that have only been doing this a few years but have a lot of experience fishing the local waters.  Most Guides started out as a Mate under an experienced Captain and learned the ropes from them. 

13. Watch out for the low cost trips!  You get what you pay for.  Most St Simons Island Fishing Charter operations in the Golden Isles are fairly close in price.  There will be some variation due to the different boats used but most are within $50 of each other.  If you get a quote that is way lower than the going rate be careful.


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Goin’ Coastal Charters

Capt. Scott Griffin

Phone : (912)-230-2811

Email : FishingInGa@gmail.com