I was recently asked by a friend who is new to sea  fishing “How do you afford to go charter boat fishing, it is going to cost me hundreds of pounds!” This is a light hearted intro into the basics of Charter Boat fishing, but wont cover getting a line in the water that’s all over here – Wreck Fishing Tips (come back up here once you have read this!)

Getting started in Charter Boat fishing can be difficult. If you haven’t got a group of friends, the thought of paying for a Charter boat can seem a bit daunting.  A days Charter Boat fishing could easily cost 450 to 500 pounds shared between 8 to 12 anglers. However, the cost is generally split amongst the anglers, making it an affordable, but if you are new to the sport it is hard to fill up a boat and share that cost.


Most good Charter boats will have a large data base of regular anglers and trips pre booked months in advance. When you contact a skipper and state your experience and lack of buddies you will be able to make up a place on pre booked days with other anglers, spreading the cost! The other great advantage with this is you get to fish with experienced anglers and learn a few tricks of the trade which money cannot buy. I have learnt most of my fishing tricks and tips by watching what others do and either copying, improving or generally by doing the opposite.

Charter Boat Fishing Personal Equipment & Ettiquete

You land lubbers are going to think that I am crazy now, but a very important rule to learn and so as not to get left on the quay or never be invited to fish again is do not ever say the word… I can’t even say it on this blog. They are the small brown mammals that live in burrows all around UK farms. You know; the ones with big ears! All jokes aside mentioning that animal and whistling is meant to bring real bad luck while charter boat fishing and some skippers will get really pissed with you.

Try your best to clear your bowels before you go fishing on a 12 hour charter boat fishing trip. The skipper, who has your life in his hands generally will reside inside the wheel house, connected to the cabin, containing the heads (boating talk for a toilet). What ever you leave behind, the skipper will be haunted with for the remaining trip, hence many Charter Boat skippers will ask you to go on the foredeck (front of the boat) with a bucket to take a dump. Be warned I have seen it happen in a moderate swell!!

If you are not good on the water or its your first time charter boat fishing take some anti-seasickness tablets and take them as per the instructions. If taken correctly they really do help. You can get bands that go on your wrists and work on a pressure point. I have heard people say they work. While Charter Boat fishing you will learn to do everything unpleasant on the downwind side of the boat. Do not chunder into the wind or you will be washing the boat down, everyone’s tackle and yourself!. Ginger biscuits actually work in my opinion as does a good few slices of bread to mop up that spare acid your stomach wants to produce. The basic rules are if you feel ill, get a view on the horizon with nothing obstructing your view like a part of the boat, stay in the fresh air away from exhaust fumes and try and chill out, eat ginger biscuits and face down wind.

NEVER ware your best wading Wellington boots with lovely sharp studs ready to chip the gel coat of the boat, the skipper will hate you and I have seen it done (the angler fished in socks!). Realistically some warm waterproof boots with a non marking / soft sole are required. Your feet will get wet so wear sensible foot wear.

Get to your Charter Boat on time. If the Skipper requests you meet at 0630 hours on the Quay, be there at 0615 hrs. He will have requested the time for a reason, a tidal sand bank you need to get over to get out to sea or some other sound reason. You being late will hold up others and could even scupper your entire boat fishing trip…

Talking of gel coat, the protective glossy covering keeping the boat looking pretty and keeping the water out of it – keep your leads under control with your hands, do not bounce it along the boats hull. Keep your tackle well secured, show the skipper of the charter boat lots of respect. The boat is his life!!

Check with the skipper at the time of booking your charter boat fishing if he provides tackle, weights, rigs, tea, coffee and food. The chance of getting the last three are remote, so prepare to take a sandwich and Thermos. Confirm the cost of tackle hire and when handed it check it for suitability. A bit of rust is expected, but if it wont wind or makes really bad noises then ask for something else. If you reel breaks do not be tempted to fiddle around with the loops of line using your bare hands. If a finger gets in a loop and a 100lb blue shark runs the line will act as a cheese wire!

Please consider your safety, if you cannot swim wear a life jacket or floatation suite….

Stay safe on the boat, you never know what is going to happen next while charter boat fishing. Keep an eye on the waves while fishing at all times. When you are tackling up beware of others around you and the motion of the sea. Even an average wave catching the boat at an odd angle can really knock you around. If your sinker is swinging around with a hook following it it’s likely to end up in your neighbours hand! You then have to push the point through, cut off the barb and remove in the direction it went in, not nice and no A&E for 20 miles!

Talking about keeping on your feet just keep your witts about you. If you have a hook over the side do not leave your rod unattended, a medium fish will pull your gear over the side. You also never know the size of the fish your are going to hook and if unprepared this could happen…

Okay, nearing the end of this introduction. Hope I have not put you off yet! Lets consider chopping our bait up better known as filleting. Always ask for the filleting board, usually the skippers wife’s kitchen chopping board. Please, please do not be tempted to use the gunwale (the lovely polished teak strip topping the side of the boat) The skipper is likely to fillet you if you do this, nor should you use his lovely flat deck or any other surface of the boat! After you have filleted your mackerel into a flapper and sent it to the seabed, wash down using the deck wash (hose) or the rag provided.

Terms in Charter Boat Fishing

A quick wash up.

  • Front – bow
  • Rear – stern
  • Moving along – Steaming
  • Speed – Knots
  • Left – Port
  • Right – Starboard
  • Going Backwards – Astern
  • Kitchen – Galley
  • Toilet – Heads

Most of all enjoy your charter boat fishing. The skipper is the boss and you are paying for his boat (always known as a she) as well as his knowledge. He is not there to argue with but if you think you are not getting value then let him know, carefully!

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