Charter Boat Starter Notes: Tips for Fishing First Timers

Big game boat wooden fishing chair
Book a charter boat for your fishing excursion. Photo credit: Antonio Balaguer soler/ Hemera/Thinkstock

The shoreline is just the beginning. While the sand and sunshine and sounds of lapping waves may seem like plenty of marine exposure to many visitors to the East End, others view sticking to the beaches as tantamount to driving all the way to a concert hall only to feel the music’s pulse from the street. For those without a boat of their own who wish to explore the awesome deep blue, the best approach is to sign up for a charter.

Here are some tips on how to go about booking a charter boat excursion:

Pick your game and your crew. Set your course. 

Do you and five friends aim to see who can pull the largest striped bass or bluefish? Set a course for Montauk. Thirty-foot and larger boats should suit most parties of six or less. Thinking of nabbing some fluke with one other person or by yourself? You’ll want to set out from Shinnecock Bay. Consider a party boat if you’d like to offset your expenses by sharing with other patrons. If you’re looking to head further offshore, you’ll to need a bigger boat.

Research the companies available to you. 

Captain Michael Potts, owner and operator of the Blue Fin IV out of Montauk, says, “One should ask a captain if he’s a full-time fisherman, how long he’s been in business, and what his own set of rules are.” Different captains have different policies regarding occupancy limits, alcohol consumption or the number of fish they’ll take in one day. Most captains post their rates and contact information online. It’s important to research the company that best suits your needs instead of blindly accepting the lowest price, or your day on the water could be a total wash.

Book as soon as you’re ready. 

Summer dates—particularly weekends—fill quickly.

Respect the fish, respect the crew. 

There are regulations in place to maintain marine life populations. Ask your captain about specific policies regarding game size limits and what will happen to your catch when you return to shore. Toss back what you don’t plan to eat. A gratuity should be considered for additional deckhands during your trip.

Prepare yourself physically. 

You probably won’t be put to the test, but it’s always wisest to have a basic understanding of water safety. Make it your business to have your captain explain the locations of onboard life vests. Get a good night’s sleep and show up with a solid meal in your stomach. Wear sunscreen and wait until after you’ve returned to shore to begin celebrating. The last thing you want is to be reeling from discomfort while another member reels in the catch of the day.

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