As a charter boat captain, your biggest passion is fishing. It can be hard to share that passion with your customers if circumstances interfere with the experience. But don’t fret: it’s easy to be prepared and create the best fishing trips for your customers.
A spick-and-span boat makes for a spotless day
It is essential that your boat is clean and tidy. You don’t have to have the newest of boats, or the fanciest. It’s so much more important that everything looks great and well taken care of. Make sure you clean your boat after every trip – just spraying her clean will already do wonders. Having blood from the fish your previous customers caught is unpleasant for the customers stepping aboard for your next trip.
Even more important is to remove all stray hooks and tackle from the deck. The last thing you want is an injured customer, or a customer who thinks they may get hurt. Checking all your equipment is in its rightful place only takes you a few minutes before every trip, and keeping that discipline will ensure that your boat looks and feels perfect to every customer. Especially customers that are not very experienced in fishing will feel much more secure if everything is in perfect order.
Don’t be tackled by your tackle
When it comes to your tackle, the same goes as for your boat. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive or the newest technology. What it does have to be is clean, reliable, and well-maintained.
Your rods, reels, hooks and lures should be appropriate for the type of customers you usually take out, and for most guides that’s recreational anglers and families. That type of client is looking for a fun-filled day out on the water, and most of them won’t care too much about the brand or age of your gear.
An added advantage of using this type of tackle is that it’s okay if something breaks now and again. That’s the reality of fishing, and you don’t want to have a nervous breakdown every time a reel drops on the dock. If you use affordable yet solid gear, the loss of a piece of equipment won’t cost you your livelihood. This means you’ll be able to relax on your own boat, which will allow your customers to do the same.
For the best fishing trips, safety comes first – and last
Having a spotless boat and well-maintained gear makes customers feel safe, but of course stronger safety measures are also unmissable. Most of those are common sense and required by the USCG, such as life jackets, flares, and whistles.
Especially for customers without boating experience, knowing where the safety equipment is can make them feel a lot better. You should tell them where you keep those items when they board your boat, but to go the extra mile it’s a good idea to put a sign above the box or compartment where your safety equipment is. It will take you almost no time, you have to do it only once, and everyone can instantly see where the safety equipment is, as soon as they step foot on the boat.
Even better is to make a ritual or performance out of presenting your safety features before leaving the dock. Customers love to see that the captain takes their safety seriously.
Bonus points for being the king of hospitality
To make customers even more comfortable, it’s a great practice to take some chilled drinks in a cooler full of ice on every trip. Have some snacks available as well. Even if people don’t want to drink or eat what you bought, it clearly shows that you care. Moreover, they’ll be able to keep the drinks they brought themselves cool in your cooler.
In the United States, you will need a license to serve snacks and soft drinks in many states. This can be prohibitive, as it’s unfortunately pretty expensive to get this license. If you’re not ready to get this license, at least have plenty of water available so your customers will stay hydrated.
If you really want to go all out, have some sunscreen and polarized sunglasses available for your customers. Some of them will definitely forget those items, and providing them with those things will dispel their chagrin. After an experience like that, they’ll just be so much more likely to leave satisfied and come back again – and to remember to leave a nice tip.