Avoid The Hype When Hiring Charters
With the expansion of the internet, information – both good and bad – is more readily available than ever. But as a veteran outdoor writer, author, radio and television host and lecturer, I encourage you to use common sense and some of your own filters when you to tap into the online fishing-info network.
To begin with, let's face it, there are many men, and a sprinkling of women, who simply are never satisfied. For them, it's typically all about how many fish they killed and not the experience of getting outdoors. They'll often say, "I am about the catchin', not the fishin'." Much of their angling happiness is thus predicated on the kill. Frequently, you'll encounter this type of fisherman posting his self-proclaimed "expert opinion" on the website chat rooms or bulletin boards, exercising his precious first-amendment right to free speech, to relate to you what a lousy trip he had at a lake with a guide, a deckhand or boat captain.
Do bad encounters happen? Absolutely. But is the unlucky fisherman a "victim" of some malicious behavior on the part of a lake or charter-boat crew? Certainly not always. Take for example a large, heavily stocked metropolitan trout lake I worked for years ago. We'd run weekend tournaments and invariably the same small group of local experts won all the cash and prizes. They were "dialed in" on the bite. They had the right tackle, a killer attitude that they'd always get bit and put in a lot of prefish time on the lake.
In contrast, the recurrent complainers were typically using the wrong gear, put in little prefish time on the water and had a pretty negative attitude. At one point, some went online to claim the lake management was lying about the total pounds of trout stocked. This created such an uproar on the Internet that the lake marketing directors went out of their way to actually post the delivery invoices from the trout hatchery each week – not only outside their little tackle shop, but online as well.
Another angler once went "viral" and claimed that a San Diego charter boat captain "short hauled" him and his group because the skipper brought the boat back to the dock hours earlier than usual. What the irate angler failed to mention was that the captain took them out to an area whereby they limited out on tuna in a matter of hours. He had the boat in a location where only tuna could be found, as the rest of the San Diego fleet later discovered. He was too far out off the tuna banks to turn the boat toward the Mexican mainland to round out the day with inshore species like calico bass or even rockfish.
So not wanting to violate international fish treaties with Mexico by fishing in Mexican territorial waters, the skipper made the wise choice once he filled his passengers with their Mexican limits of tuna and turned the boat back to the dock.
My point is: Be careful in taking at face value all the "dope" you read or the fishing sites that so often feature contributions made by disappointed anglers. Frequently there's a "story" behind much of their gripes and complaints that simply isn't being shared.
If you prefer to rely upon the web for fishing info, there are sites that are both reputable and accurate, such as Fishhound and its California fishing reports. You can also visit lakes or go down to the saltwater landings and talk to anglers yourself who just got off the water and have them relate how good their experiences were. Local tackle shops also can provide pretty good info at times, since their business is predicated on having repeat customers come in to purchase more gear after a successful fishing trip.
Fishing and outdoor radio shows like my own Radio Outdoor Expeditions also recurrently allow listeners to share their experiences with others – mostly good – in a fairly safe and respectable way. Fishing clubs also have talented guest fishermen who exchange anecdotes of their successful expeditions, along with speakers at retailer seminars and fishing workshops. Again, be prudent and use your own personal filters to decide the reliability of the fishing information you solicit.
about the author
Ronnie Kovach is one of the foremost outdoor personalities in the nation – a self-made entrepreneur and independent businessman who's also a best-selling author of five books, a longtime radio host on Angels Baseball Radio Network and TV host on FOX Sports West.