For most clients, the success of the charter depends on the guide. For most charters, this is true.

However, there are a few things you can do to ensure your trip is a success. By no means is this a comprehensive list, but I can guarantee that following these simple rules will make your day on the water (or in the blind) more pleasurable for everyone.

Think Water

Rowdy clients isn’t the real reason I encourage people to stick with water. Dehydration is.

I’m noted for getting dehydrated on the water. I literally don’t want to sit down and have a sandwich or grab a drink, for fear that I may miss the strike, or that I may not see something I should. It’s taken me a long time to learn this, but you must stay hydrated. It’s good for you. It keeps the guide from freaking out when you pass out. It’s just better for everyone.

If fishing ain’t fishing without beer, make sure to have a few. Just mix some H20 in.

Tarpon Charter for 2 in Boca Grande Pass |

Tarpon Charter for 2 in Boca Grande Pass |

Check the Negativity at the Dock

If I were a scientist, I could draw a Venn diagram for you of people with a positive attitude who caught fish vs. people with a negative attitude who didn’t catch fish. I’m not, so I won’t, but I can say it’s uncanny how much having an upbeat, positive attitude can make the whole day.

Many of my clients want to fish for tarpon. If you weren’t aware already, tarpon can be the most frustrating fish on the water. During the season, they tend to disappear for a few days at a time. They’ll loll around within perfect casting range, unspooked, for long periods of time, refusing to eat anything you throw in their path. Even when hooked, getting the fish boatside is a whole different story. That’s why so many guides count the number you jump vs. the number landed.

A positive attitude lets you enjoy the day no matter what Mother Nature and a tarpon may throw at you. Relax, see the manatees and dolphins and birds. Relish the pounding in your heart as yet another pod of fish refuses a perfectly place fly. It’s all part of the journey.

The Sun is Really, Really Hot. Really.

Know how many times I’ve had clients turn to me and say, “Man, that sun really does a number on you, huh?”

I won’t tell you what expression goes through my head, since this is a family-friendly site – suffice it to say, yes, the sun does in fact beat down on you while you stand on a waxed white boat on top of a mirrored glass surface (aka the water). Some folks have even been known to sunburn, believe it or not.

So, when your guide checks in and says “has everyone got sunblock on? Sir, the back of your legs are really red . . . “ take two minutes and go ahead and reapply. Hydration and sunblock. Not earth-shattering stuff, but you’ll be shocked how many otherwise brilliant people can’t think straight while in pursuit of fish.

Bonefishing Adventure for 2 in the Bahamas |

Bonefishing Adventure for 2 in the Bahamas |

It’s Called “Fishing” – not “Catching”

I’ve been up since 3:30 a.m. I’ve thrown my cast net in a gale force wind until my back is begging for mercy. I skipped eating because I didn’t have time because bait was so hard to come by. I offered to reschedule because of the rain, or because the bite has been so off, but you really only have that one day.

Rest assured, I don’t know any guides who aren’t busting their tail to put you on the best fish they can. They’re actually out there killing themselves to figure it out. And crazy stuff is going to happen. You’re going to hook a trophy snook on a cast that landed on the other side of a dock. A shark is going to eat an overslot redfish right next to the boat. Every tarpon is going to throw the hook.

Roll with it. Believe me, the guide is feeling the stress. He can’t physically make the fish bite.

Costa del Mar eyewear |

Costa del Mar eyewear |

Made in the Shade

Please bring sunglasses. You don’t need to have the latest technology from Smith, or Costa, or Maui Jim (although it helps). Even the $12 pair from Wal-Mart or the gas station will suffice.

I switched to Smith a couple of years ago, and keep a spare pair or two in the boat; but not having sunglasses can ruin a day on the water. It’s like watching the day unfold on a tube TV, while the rest of us are watching HD.  Invariably, however, I’ll have a foursome show up with only one pair between them.  During tarpon season, we’ll sometimes start charters in the AM before shades are necessary.  Check your pockets before getting out of the truck.

It’s Simple, Really

Remember these five things, pay attention to your guide, and hang on to the rod – those are the perfect ingredients for a great day on the water!

Feel like you’ve got these things sewn up? Click on over to browse some of our most popular destinations for crossing those fish off your list!

Travis Thompson
About the Author

A 5th generation, Floridian, Travis has been hunting and fishing his home turf for as long as he can remember. When he's not in the woods or on the water, he's spending time with his kids, Olivia and Will, the lovely Mrs. Thompson, or futilely attempting to train two French Brittany Spaniels . . .