Summer fishing season is right around the corner, and charter availability is filling up! Anglers know that the west coast of Vancouver Island is one of the best place to go salmon fishing in all of Canada, and the sheer number of fishing outfitters reflects the fact that it is one of the top things to do in Tofino, BC. With so many fishing charter companies, it can be tough to choose which one you want to go with. Want a few tips to picking a fishing charter? Check out the list below and make sure you’re confident choosing the right salmon fishing charter for you!
Getting on a boat that doesn’t fit what you’re looking for can easily ruin a trip. Ask about the size and type of boat, as well as whether or not it has a heated cabin and a washroom on board. Those two features especially can be important!
Like a good boat, you need a good captain! If you have an inexperienced guide, or a guide who doesn’t know the area, you’re less likely to catch fish! Ask about the number of years your guide has fished, and how many of them were on the coast. Having a knowledgeable guide means you’ll be in the right places, at the right time, with the right bait – those are just some of the things you need to hook and land great salmon. The guide should also make you feel safe on board his ship, and be able to give you an enjoyable trip.
Prices for a fishing charter can differ dramatically, so if you see one that is way more expensive than another, you’ll want to check out what’s included. Things to look for include: Meals, Accommodation, Drinks, Vacuum Packing, Fishing Licenses, Gear, Gasoline, Gratuity.
If you’re just wanting to try out fishing for the first time, going with a charter that only does full days might not be your best bet. If you’re an avid angler and you choose a company that only does short excursions, you’re going to be disappointed. Check out the lengths of trip the charter offers and go from there.
Trip Departure Time
Most anglers believe in the old saying, the early bird gets the worm. In this case, the worm is the biggest fish, and they get out there at the crack of dawn. For those anti-morning people, being on a boat at 5am isn’t quite their cup of tea. If that’s the case for you, look for a company that does afternoon charters and save your crew mates the trouble of trying to get you out of bed.
Type of Fish
Know what kind of fish are available for when you’re going, and if you’ll continue to fish for other things after you’ve caught your limit of salmon. There are halibut and lingcod out this way as well, but some charters aren’t equipped to, or don’t like to fish for them. Be clear with what you want to catch and find a company that will do their best to do that for you. Be sure to ask about crab and prawn traps if you’re interested in that as well – not all charters put them out before you start your day.
Number and Age Limits
The size of the boat will affect how many people you can fit on it. If you’re a big group, be aware that you may need to pay for two boats, or find a fishing charter with a boat big enough to handle that number of people. Age limits are also important. While getting little ones out on the water is fun, sea sickness can be an issue, as can reeling in fish. You often have to pay full price for a child, even if they can’t do much more than sit and enjoy the ride.
Find out what your full total will be and if there’s a deposit that needs to be made. Some companies may want the payment in full immediately, while others require a certain amount up front, with the rest paid later. If you’re a group of multiple different parties, see if the company wants a single payment, or if they’re okay taking partial payments from each participant. Finally, check out the cancellation policy before booking. A fishing charter can be an expensive adventure, and having to cancel only to discover you won’t get any money back can be a hard pill to swallow.
Tips are often not included in your charter fee, but they are an important aspect of any fishing charter. Be sure to ask if they’re included or not, and what the standard gratuity is for your length of trip! Guides work incredibly hard to keep you happy and safe while trying to get you a freezer full of fish. You’ll want to make sure you don’t leave them wondering what they did wrong just because you weren’t confident in how tipping works for fishing charters.
While most companies these days include the fishing gear you’ll need, it’s always good to ask if you’re unsure. Traveling with fishing gear can be a big hassle, and showing up only to discover you needed to bring your own is even worse! It’s also good to ask what kind of gear is available. Safety gear and rain gear are both important as well. If your charter doesn’t have rain jackets on board, you’ll want to make sure you have one and dress in warm layers. Every vessel should be equipped with the proper safety equipment before heading out to sea.
The most confidence-building step you can take in choosing a charter is reading reviews and comparing ratings! People that have either really good, or really bad experiences will be eager to share, and it will help you decide whether or not you’ve found the right charter. With some bad reviews, keep in mind that sometimes the fish just aren’t biting, which is no one’s fault, but can lead to a grumpy customer. Remember, it’s called fishing, not catching, for a reason. Be sure to check out how managers and owners respond to these particular reviews, as it will give insight into the company.
Check out our listed fishing charters from Tofino and Ucluelet.
Contributed by: Laurissa Cebryk