Customary Etiquette When Invited to Fish 
on a Friend's Boat
 

 

"Definition of Etiquette" is a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group.

 

This overview of fishing guest/skipper etiquette is a thought of combining boat-less persons with boaters where a common interest may prove beneficial to both.  This article was put together in hopes that boat-less persons can get together with experienced boaters who share a common interest in fishing.   

 

Many times the boat-less person will be shy and not want to intrude, because he/she does not know the fisherman/boater well, or thinks that the boater already has his/her "fishing buddies".    At fishing club meetings or gatherings, not many boaters wear a sign on their backs advertising they would like to make a partnership.  Therefore if you meet someone at meetings, whom you find owns a boat and with whom you have seemingly started a friendship, mention that you don't have a boat and would appreciate an opportunity to join them, should they ever have a spot open.  Or if your boat is smaller and does not lend itself toward a open water fishing trip, this could be a opening to accompany them next time.   You being a newbie to gathering, there is however the possibility that this person could be professional guide, in this case you might have to reconsider save for an outing with him. 

 

On the other hand, many boat owners often welcome someone to go along at times AND to share expenses.  It can get to be a hardship at times for one person to launch, and to recover the boat by ones-self especially from a busy launch site or on a windy day.  Launching / recovering at a busy ramp by yourself can be intimidating, and personally I try to not use the popular ones at times like this IF AT ALL POSSIBLR.  However sometimes if you want to fish where and when the fish are there, I have to conceed.  And some retired fishermen may like company.  They also may have become partially physically handicapped, (we know most fishermen are mentally handicapped) and they can not perform some of the duties as efficiently as they once did, so they possibly could use the help.  They could also have become “gun shy” of having another possible slob aboard who thinks he is so important, brags about his feats all the time, and has his head up his lower anatomy so far that oxygen has to be piped to him to keep him alive.  In this case, many of us as we get older, get less tolerant and set in our ways, and would rather fish alone.

 

Then we come to modesty aboard.  Farts can be expected.  And nature calls are expected also.   With an all male crew, that should be no problem.  Most boats carry a quart jar or bucket that the Coast Guard inspectors also consider as an "Auxiliary Bailing Device".   If the crew is made up of mixed sexes, things could get a little complicated depending on the caliber of the lady.  At times my wife has used a 5 quart plastic painters bucket.  And at one time had a Port-A-Potty under one of my seats.  This is not a open boat, but a canvas topped convertible, which does give some protection from prying eyes if that is what it takes.   However no matter the sex, do not ask me to take you in to the dock so you can use the Sani-Can UNLESS IT IS A DIRE EMERGENCY.  If you have any idea that you may have involuntary premonition of a bowl movement, take care of that BEFORE we leave shore, or in an emergency, use my Port-A-Potty.  Recently I have removed the Port-A-Potty simply because it took up the whole area under the seat.  I now have a slightly modified 5 gallon plastic bucket, that can also serve numerous needs along with being a receptacle for storage when under the seat and not in the intended usage.

 

With the internet now, the possibility to advertise and accept open seats on fishing boats has opened up a new expanded opportunity for may fishermen, both with boats and without.  This can be a opportunity to find fishing buddy/friends.  It also opens the door for possible incompatibility, so be aware that just because you as a guest had a good time, possibly the skipper did not share your thoughts.

 

The first time I offered a fishing trip over the internet, it was for a week-end where I was to leave the boat and trailer at this new friend's girl friends parents place Saturday night.  On the water Saturday (1st day of salmon season on MA-2),  we were boarded by a WDFW officer, off a USCG skippered Zodiac boat, with a NOAA compliance officer onboard the Zodiac.  I had been watching this Zodiac working our way through the fleet and when I mentioned "here they come", my invitee sheepishly said, "I left my license at home".    I had him pull his line, stow his rod inside the cabin and had him sit at the helm as he had not landed a fish yet.  The Zodiac pulled along side, asked to board the vessel and as we were still trolling, the zodiac skipper pulled alongside my boat, just in front of the deployed downrigger and the officer boarded my boat.  The officer never said a word to the helmsman, but wanted to see both my and my son's license, plus our fish.  I had limited and was punched out, and while the officer was aboard, there was a fish hit the rod closest to me.  I grabbed it, set the hook, handed it to my son, "saying here is your rod".  The next morning when I picked up the boat that we left at the invitee's location, he bailed with an excuse.

 

Some of these trips could be for only a few hours or for a week-end.  Maybe we fishermen are a bit bashful and do not totally get an understanding before departure.  And reimbursing for a fishing trip's expenses should not hinge on whether you caught fish or not.  OK, maybe they were a little strapped for cash at the time, explain that to me and make it up later.   For me, I try not to hold a grudge more than 20 years BUT do remember quite well under the circumstances, ensuing that that person's name will be slid to the bottom of my fishing partner list and later may just fall off the bottom.

 

To Me... an offer of an open seat on a fishing boat means that someone is offering you to ride along for sharing costs (gas, bait, etc. which could also include a meal, motel, etc. depending on the circumstances).  It would seem (to me at least) to be totally out of line if the recipient of the offer would think it was for free.  However I have had one of my "friends" walk off the boat, leaving their trash and without even saying thanks, however leaving me what was left over from his lunch, a few cookies and a 1/2 bag of chips. 

 

Now if you feel that since YOU got an invite to go fishing, that the skipper is offering to take you out at HIS expense each time, because HE invited you and that he was going anyway.   WELL READ ON.   You may not receive too many re-invites, unless you happen to be a beautiful, curvaceous, vivacious, intelligent, rich widow, excellent cook and an extremely talented boater/fisher-lady all rolled into one. 

 

Fishing buddy Sammy with some nice bass

 

Another thing to consider, is that there is a big difference between an invitee on a private boat and booking with a guide, in that the guide is getting paid for his expertise and use of his boat/rods/reels/bait.  He will often bait your hook and may even let your line out.  He may even set your hook if you are preoccupied (bullshitting with other clients).

 

A private fisherman should not have to do all of this for an invitee.  The invitee may have his/her own tackle and hopefully knows how to use it and do their own baiting. 

 

Guiding without a license is illegal in most states, so when someone who is not a licensed guide, offers an open seat, he's not expecting to be paid the price of a guide for taking you fishing.  However if after being pushed, and skipper even sets a price, he can be nailed as at times IF the recipient may turn out to be a undercover law enforcement plant.   Just the same, it's common for fishing buddies who fish together to share some of the expenses.  If one drives his vehicle and brings the boat, his buddy brings lunches, ice, beverages, and bait and they split the fuel bill.  There are any number of ways to make the relationship one of mutual benefit.

 

I have recently placed a TIP JAR on my dash right in front of the passenger seat.  Have any of you tried this??  After a couple of seasons, the donations have improved considerably.

 

Here is one suggestion to have predominately displayed on your boat


Those of us who own boats know the expenses that unexpectedly pop up, like a bad tire on the boat trailer ($130), someone screwed up and did not hold the boat at the launch with the wind blowing, the transducer got hung on a rock or log and broke off ($120).  Your one year old bilge pump had a bad seal and seized up over the winter ($50).  Or you wound up with a broken or lost fishing rod because of the guest.

It seems that if I am going by myself, I often fish MUCH better, and usually catch more fish.  I usually have a good time too, as I don't have to worry about many things, like are the fish here today and I have to produce, or having to head in early because of bad weather or the wife of a guest needs to use the restroom, even though I have a port-a-potty onboard. 

 

I try to have all my gear ready and can get fishing within minutes of being at the on the water go to destination.  And I am pretty careful who I want to net any fish on my boat, even if I have to hand off my rod, or net my own.  However if it is obvious that the fish has to be released because of specie or not being clipped, now is the time to teach a newbie how to net, as if the netting is unsuccessful, at least it was a teaching tool.

 

If I have to buy the bait, supply all the gear and wipe somebody's nose, I want some help at least with gas, even just boat gas and/or launch fee helps.   Some people who couldn't wait to go fishing with you, suddenly get alligator arms at the fuel dock...they can't reach their wallets.

 

On the other hand, this is like life in general... if you don't ask and don't receive, that may be because you didn't make things clear in the first place.   Not all people know what is the right thing to do around a boat, and may be kind of shy about jumping in, grabbing a bow line or wouldn't know where to find the drain plug if you did ask them to check it.   A few skippers say, if you don't ask for assistance, you are just as responsible to the guy who didn't give.   Well, many of us flunked mind-reading school, which can lead to misunderstandings on both sides at times.

 

Here is examples of fishing trips that can be shared with others, with smiling results
   

 

If you have had the opportunity and enjoyed fishing with boat owners, but yet you continue to remain boat-less for numerous years, and still let it be known that you want to be an invited guest, your name may not move high up on the guest list.   Unless you provide food, your own gear and reimburse fuel expenses.  Remember, you may not be the only one who may be boat-less.   And the boat owners after a while, may like for YOU to share the same joys, responsibilities and expenses that they have of being a boat owner.

 

OK, there may be extenuating circumstances that make boat ownership a hardship, like living in a covenanted complex that forbids outside storage at your place of abode, or an apartment with no off-street parking but on street parking of a boat, motor and trailer in some areas is just an invitation for thieves.   But there are rental storage lots or buildings available if you are really motivated.

A fisherman/boat owner may at times find that his boat is not of a size for a particular outing.  Take for instance, a 24' ocean fishing machine is not the boat to ask to do the job of a 16' river jet sled or drift boat and the other way around.   In instances like this, it may be common for two boater/fishermen to exchange being guests with each other when the need arises.

 

Do not be misled into thinking a $5 or even $10 bill at the end of the day is sufficient (especially when the price of gasoline is in or near the $4.00 a gallon range) because the skipper was going fishing by himself anyway.  It also makes a difference in the costs incurred if the trip is a river trip where the launch is usually only minutes from the actual fishing area as compared to a open ocean trip where a 20 mile trip ONE WAY is not uncommon, and the boat is powered by twin 200hp motors.  It would also make a difference if you met the skipper a central location close to home and rode with him the distance to the boat launch.

 

Also many of us dedicated fisherpersons find it hard to even financially support our own fishing addiction and have a second job to support it.

 

Some fishermen will pay $170 + for a guided fishing trip and not have any qualms of shelling out another $20 or $40 for a tip, but think that you as a recreational boat owner/fisherman are doing it just for the fun of it and since you are running a nice boat that you have lots of money.  Most of us that do own any boat have scrimped and saved for many years, or could still making payments on it.

 

With a 6-gallon can of boat gas running at pushing $25, vehicle gas near or even over $4/gallon, driving distances frequently measured in hundreds of miles, and herring bait $7 a pack, a solid boat invite should always be accompanied by offers to chip in on expenses.   If in doubt as to fuel usage, ask the skipper how much he burns a day on the average trip and then do some basic math on your own.

 

It is not just the cost of fuel used for a days of fishing, but the oil mix for the motor if it is a 2 stroke, or oil changes and scheduled maintenance at $85 + an hour if a 4 stroke, fuel for the towing vehicle also has to be added into the equation.   And the newer outboard motors now are pretty much computerized, meaning to do anything, (even adjusting the idle. it has to go to a shop at $85 an hour).  Of course the towing vehicle will have to be large enough and with enough power to tow said boat.  And usually unless it is a relatively small boat that means no great fuel economy for the towing rig.  Then the boat owner really needs to carry boater insurance.  And do yearly maintenance, which would be another added expense. 

 

Trailer maintenance is also a ongoing thing, especially if it is used in saltwater, as for a yearly tear down, replacing wheel bearings and lights.    Even cleaning it up sandblasting and repainting occasionally is needed.

 

This trailer was used right up to the minute it broke when the boat & trailer skidded to a stop in a farmers fence.  The tongue was only replaced 10 years before. Obviously not much maintenance care was extended here, & this trailer was used only in upper tidewater far above a lot of salt influence.  Luckily no one was hurt & no damage to the boat or motor.

 

Then there is also a launch fee, not to mention the actual cost of the boat and maintaining it.  So you can see that the boat owner may have considerable expenses.   And the thought if he is going fishing anyway, well a $10 tip is sufficient, may not get you any re-invites.   After looking at many of my previous trip records and doing some calculating, a reimbursement of $40 for a day of fishing is not out of line for a normal day on the water if on a average sized boat/motor.  Offer more in $10 & $20 bills, and let the skipper select what he is comfortable with for any given trip.  However do this discretely, otherwise if you do it in public view, at a busy dock or launch, (especially as you walk off with a bag of fish) it may well give the idea that the skipper is chartering and he may be later contacted by WDFW enforcement.

 

Some guests offer to fill your fuel tanks on both the vehicle and boat.  At times this could get excessive, so the skipper needs to be aware and be able to negotiate if need be.  And since the advent of 10% Ethanol fuel, the skipper may also decline refueling the boat at a automotive fuel station, as modern outboards really need Ethanol free fuel OR suffer a high repair bill later.

 

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Listed below is a excerpt from one of the popular fishing forums on offering an open seat on his boat.

"Typical open seat day in my life:

Fishing Friend calls night before the drift to say wife needs his car and he can't meet at the river.
Says he'll ride with me and help with gas.  "Plus, it'll be fun and it's really not THAT far out of the way for you anyway", he says.
But will he cover the turnaround too, I ask.
"Maybe we can find someone there to haul us back", he interjects.
"Think I'd rather call Frank, it's a long drift and a even longer ride back, since you live in the other direction I normally take", I coolly remind him.
"I suppose", he drones.

Next morning at the put-in. "$35.00 for a turnaround?  That's outrageous!!!!  Highway robbery.  Who does this guy think he is anyway?  A senator?", he loudly proclaims for all present to hear, hoping someone will come to "our" aid and offer a free ride back up.  "It was worth a try and I was just trying to save YOU a few bucks', he later explains (over and over for the next 6 hours).

Before leaving the launch though, I whisper to Frank that dude's drunk, even though he's not.  Frank smiles and nods serenely.  Things are not starting out well, but I'm comforted knowing Frank's got my back covered when we get at the end of the drift.

As we shove off, dude say, "Hope your eggs are better than mine.  Mine were so freezer burned I just tossed 'em in the trash."

While proceeding to mow through 6 of MY Blue Fox spinners, 10 jigs and assorted bobbers, dude attempts to flatter me with comments like, "your sizes, weights, and colors are soooo much better for conditions today".  Finally noticing my concern every time his meat hooks reach down into MY tackle box, he says preemptively, "Maybe we should pull some plugs?"  "Got any pre-wrapped?", he cluelessly inquires.

Later, as we are splitting MY lunch, he barks into the cooler, "is there anything else besides water in here?".  Knowingly full well my boat does not smoke or drink, he lamely adds, "I figured you'd at least have some juice, soda or something besides water, homes."

Finally at the take out, as I'm cleaning the boat AND loading the truck on my own, dude is saddling up to the in-coming guides who are also trying to take care of gear, boats, fish, customers and wives calling to find out if Daddy's going to make it home in time for Johnny's birthday party.   In an effort to win their attention and approval, he says loud enough for me to hear, "I would have done a lot better, if I'd just gone with a guide today.  So?  How'd you guys do?"

When dude finally gets around to jumping in the rig with his mud caked boots, he quickly says, "Don't mind that bit about going with a guide.  It was all BS.  I was just trying to get some good information for you.  Thought maybe it might help US out for NEXT time."   Then with smirk he adds, "Sides, who in their right mind would ever pay for a guide when you can go just as easily for free."

As I'm quietly contemplating the long ride home, dude says sheepishly, "maybe we should stop at the A'deen Jack n' the Crack on the way back. Their 2 fer .99 cents tacos aren't bad.  Plus that turnaround ate most of the $40 bucks I brought for the TA and gas.  I know it doesn't leave much for gas, but you've been so good to me today I sure don't want you to have to buy my dinner too", he says with a grin.

After filling back up with his remaining $5 bucks and my credit card, I opt instead for some decent food at my usual spot.  Dude says, as he wipes super nacho cheese from his beard, "Wow, man you really didn't have to do this.  I'd been fine with J'n'B, really."

Within minutes of getting back on the road, dude is sacked out and snoring with a vengeance.  In spite of his spasmodic anorectic breathing, his final words before going down for the count still ring in my ears;  "Now you let me know if you get tired and want Me to drive, y'hear?  I'm there for ya, man".


So, consoled by the notion that It's the thought that counts and that I would have made the trip anyway, I chalk up another O'fer and push resolutely into the night like Alex, the Ice Road Trucker, dreaming about the next trip.

Fishin' Friends, what would fishing be without 'em?"


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The following suggestions are not absolute, but represent a set of fairly reasonable "guidelines" that should make you more comfortable with your first few invitational boat trips.  The boat owner also has some responsibilities as explained later.

When accepting an invitation to fish on someone's boat: 

 

 (1)    Be at the appointed meeting place on time, or better yet, ten to fifteen minutes early.  If you are late and get left because of you being late, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT.  The boat leaves the ramp at 6:00 AM.

 (2)    Be sure you have a valid fishing license and have it on your person.  Also read the regulations so you have some idea of the current laws.

 (3)    DO NOT bring your whole tackle box, but assemble a mini tackle bag if you must.  A small backpack will hold all your gear, rain clothes and food for a day.   Ask what type of fishing you will be doing and the gear you will need.  And do not bring an extra rod.  Most small fishing boats
(under 20') DO NOT have any excess amount of storage space available.

 

 (4)    Do not bring enough clothes to stay a whole week.  Look at the weather forecast and plan for a day accordingly.  Do however bring warm clothes, rain-gear or a big brimmed hat and sunglasses if the weather may suggest that.

 

 

( 5)   Bring your own Personal Floatation Device, (life preserver, to you land-lubbers).   You must understand that if you don't have one, the skipper  MUST provide one or he gets the citation.   Oh yes, if the skipper is wearing a PDF, doesn't it make sense that you should wear one also. 
 


 
(6)    If bringing a child, (approve it with the skipper beforehand) ask and make certain a child size PFD is available, if not then bring one that fits the child with you. 
The law says children under 12 MUST be wearing a PFD while aboard a vessel.  

            

If you do bring children on your trip, also be aware that boat ramps are extremely dangerous places, during the day or in the wee hours.   Do not let kids walk around unattended on ramps or the docks.  If you do bring a child with you, be sure they are wearing a properly fitted PFD from the moment before they step on the dock, to the time they return to dry land. 

  

 (7)    Do not bring uninvited guests, which could even extended to include your dog.  Most personal fishing boats encountered will be 20' or less where fishing space can be a concern.  If the skipper had planned on only you and you drag along your brother-in-law and his 12 year old son, possibly the boat could be overloaded, or not enough room even for the skipper to fish himself.   Been there, had that happen to me, and was totally surprised when the invitee showed up with his father-in-law for a week's vacation on my boat and I had also invited my son.

 
(8)    If you bring food/coffee/snacks for yourself, consider bringing enough to offer to the others on the trip also.  If you drop part of your doughnut on the deck, pick it up, uneaten food on the deck gets squashed kicked, and usually washed into the bilge.   DO NOT bring peanuts or sunflower seeds in the shells, they raise havoc with bilge pumps.   Also potato chips always seem to find parts of themselves on the deck, or worse could be Cheatos, which when associated with moisture leave an orange stain.  I even had one old guy eat his hard boiled eggs and left many of the egg shells on the deck.  Were was he born, or lives in a barn? 

 

 (9)   Ask if you need to bring your own tackle, lures, bait, etc.  Bring only what the skipper agrees to, as cluttered boats can very well lead to a safety problem.  Most fishing boats of the size we will be using here have LIMITED storage space.  Do not bring extra rods, the skipper will probably have an extra anyway.  If you do bring some of your own gear, DOWNSIZE to a very small gear bag and be minimal.   CLICK HERE for an article on what it takes to create a small "Go To" bag.
 

Does this look familiar ??
 

(10)   If bait is going to be used, offer to bring it for the whole boat, but inquire as to exactly what size and whether it should be fresh or frozen.  Ask the best place to purchase the freshest bait in that area.

(11)    Ask before lighting up a cigarette.   Do you usually smoke while sitting on a 40 gallon gasoline tank.   Ask first -- dummy.

(12)   One gripe most skippers have is invitees who jump in the boat with dirty shoes.   If on a river boat or sled, that launches off a gravel beach, or muddy launch this doesn't mean the skipper really wants a boat full of mud, sand or both, so sitting on the gunwale before actually climbing into the boat, just do a little dip the shoes in the water or scrape, it's all it takes to clean most fresh mud off.

(13)   If the meeting place happens to be at a launch, and you approach the boat ramp in your vehicle before daylight, turn off your headlights.  Your parking lights will be more than adequate for the slower driving at the top of the ramp.  This is to prevent those at the bottom of the ramp from being blinded by your lights and letting you know through hand gestures that you're #1 with them.

(14)  Don't show up for a days fishing, then explain how you need to be home at 2:00 PM for your wife's birthday party or the "big game". 

(15)  Don't complain if the skipper decides to make a change in plans due to weather conditions, or apparent lack of fish in a particular area.  Even if the skipper calls it quits for the day a little early.  He may have knowledge that you do not, and if a skipper simply puts in a day for a boat ride just to appease you with little hope of catching fish, that is not the way the game is played.  Or maybe he became fed up with your BULLSHIT.

(16)   Offer to pay for the launch or sling fee, which can run from zero for a DFW owned site, to usually $5.00 to $7.00 or even $15.00 where it may include parking for a privately owned facility.

(17)   Offer to help launch the boat.  More often than not, the tasks assigned will be menial, like possible standing at the top side of the ramp, guiding the vehicle/trailer back-down process, and or holding a bow /stern line after the boat is in the water and pulling the boat to the dock, holding it from rubbing or scraping the dock or shore while the driver is parking the towing vehicle and trailer.

(18)   Once aboard, ask the best place to stow your gear, clothes, tackle box if approved, etc.  Ask where the skipper wants you to sit to balance the boat, as in many small boats this is a critical issue.   If you move around while the boat is underway, you very well could be changing the balance and the skipper may be having problems controlling the listing of the boat side to side.  It could even be dangerous if the skipper had the boat trimmed and you moved from one side to the other at a bad moment like while crossing the bar or approaching large waves.

(19)   Ask what area of the boat that you should stake out as your fishing location for the day, and which rod holder you should use, if any.  Many times the skipper, if he is to fish also, will have one location that is better suited for him to fish from, so that he can see your rod, his rod and yet operate the boat effectively.   Remember it is a pretty good chance he likes to fish also, otherwise why the boat?

(20)   Many different styles of fishing will catch fish, e.g. mooching, jigging, trolling, back-trolling, hover fishing, etc., but let the skipper decide where and how the boat will be fishing that day.  Go with the flow.  Use only the type lures, techniques, etc., that he suggests or approves. 

      However if after using his methods, and later in the day you would like to try something that has worked for you in the past AND is compatible with his methods, ask if he minds if you try it if it will not interfere with everyone else.  Most times the lures, weights and line weight need to match closely to the position they are positioned on the boat, otherwise the lines will have a very good chance of tangling.  When this happens it will usually be the skippers job to untangle the mess, while still trying to keep the boat on course while trying to control his blood pressure at the same time.

 

(21)   Ask the skipper to let you know what tasks that you can help with throughout the day, e.g., steering, possibly while he is rigging his rod, untangling your backlash or cleaning a fish.  Do not grab the net and try to net a nice fish UNLESS YOU ARE VERY PROFICIENT with it and ASK FIRST, as most skippers usually being more experienced want to do this themselves. 

(22)  Offer to wet wash the deck to remove blood or scales, etc. as soon as the action is over and before things dry out.  If the boat has a wash-down pump, this is an easy chore, otherwise, you may have to use a bucket and a long handled scrub brush.  If you do, be sure to pick up any debris on the deck before you wash it into the bilge or the overboard scuppers.

(23)  While onboard and running or fishing, be on the look-out for floating debris or crab pot floats, warn the skipper ahead of time so he can be sure to maneuver away from them.  If you need to call his attention to something or another boat ahead in the water if he is busy untangling gear or re-baiting, use the numbers of the clock method of designating the location in front of the boat, with 12 o'clock being straight ahead,  3 o'clock being 90 degrees to the right (or starboard).  Port would be 9 o'clock and is to the left.

(24)  If you are prone to get sea-sick, let the skipper know before departure, as he possibly can help with proven sea-sick remedies.  If the time comes that you have to puke, be sure to do it over the leeward side (away from the wind).  And afterwards, wash off any that gets in or on the side of the boat.

(25)  Bring an ice chest,  but leave it in your vehicle, so you will have a container to take fish home in if you are successful.  Purchase some ice bags to cool the fish for the trip home if the day us warm.

(26)  If you intend to bring alcoholic beverages, ask first, and IF given the OK, make certain your consumption is MODEST.  Remember you are a invited guest and the outcome of this trip may have a bearing on possible re-invites.

(27)  Don’t talk constantly all day long, it not only gets boring, if you shut up and listen you just may learn something new, like different methods of fishing.


 
At the Conclusion of Your Trip: 

(28)   If you break or loose any of the skipper's gear, replace it with exactly the same equipment.   Most skippers/fishermen are very particular with the equipment they use.  However it may be best to then simply reimburse them for it.   Don't argue over the price if you think you can get it cheaper at Wal-Mart.  Rods are not all the same, a Zebco $29.95 rod surely will not replace a broken  G. Loomis $250 rod.

(29)  Offer to help in the trailer loading process.  And if the ramp has a wash-down hose at the pull out area, help wash post-wash the boat/trailer.

(30)  Offer to help clean the boat and trailer at the conclusion of the trip, even if it is late at night.   If the trip was on saltwater, all the salt spray needs to be washed off before it dries or is there for any length of time.

(31)  If you caught more than the skipper, (which may well have been because of his efforts), offer to share part of your catch to him. 

(32)  Offer to share expenses for launch fee, moorage, gas, oil, bait (if you did not buy it).   Keep in mind that fuel expenses alone, depending on the boat and trip taken, can be expensive.   For example, many typical high performance fishing boats may well burn from 10 to even up to 20 gallons of fuel PER HOUR when traveling with a full load.   It is not impossible for a trip to the saltwater fishing area and back if there is a run time of a couple of hours, along with a day of trolling can easily add up to $100 OR MORE for boat fuel alone.  

 

          I was invited on one halibut trip a few years ago out of LaPush where the fuel costs alone were $160 per day for a 26' boat.   Ask the skipper his fuel consumption per hour then try to make a reasonable estimate yourself of costs then divide by the number of people on the boat, and offer your fair share or more.   Also be aware that fuel cost at marine locations are usually more than at the freeway self-service pumps.

        No one expects a quest to shoulder the entire cost of a trip, but custom and common sense call for all participants to chip in and share the trip expenses.  However if you were the one who asked for certain fishing dates so you could take your father-in-law on a vacation, then in my book, the skipper should not have to share ANY expenses.  Boat owners expenses are not for fuel alone, as the boat and motors need to be maintained.  There are also expenses of maintaining the towing vehicle and fuel for it to get to the launch and back home as most fishing locations are not in most of our back yards.  Also boat insurance seems mandatory these days and that does not come cheap.

         The skipper can not, by law set a fee to take you out, (he would be legally defined as running a guide or charter service).  If you ask, he can however tell you what he estimates his expenses are and if you make a appropriate contribution, that is different.  Also if you do reimburse the skipper when you arrive back at the launch or dock, do it discretely as IF one of our finest law enforcement officers happened to be nearby, it may be difficult for the skipper to explain he is not guiding or chartering.
  
  There is always maintenance to do on boats and more so on the ones that are used on saltwater.  Trailer lights, wheel bearings and brakes that are submerged in saltwater need to be continually looked at, maintained or replaced.

  After reading these guidelines it is hoped that you now better understand both sides of the issue.  If you follow these general guidelines you probably will enjoy yourself a lot more, and you can convey a clear message that you appreciate the opportunity to have fished on someone else's boat.   This will greatly increase your chances of getting another invitation with this boater and possibly others also as in the fishing world, word gets out.

  On the other hand, some people's personalities may just not be compatible no matter how much you contribute, therefore it is the skipper who is calling the shots.


The Boat Owner / Skipper Also Has Some Responsibilities: 

(1)   Brief your guest on where you will be fishing beforehand so he can inform someone as to where to look for you if you do not come home on time.  At this time also inform the guest as to your boat make, size and color, boat name, boat call name, VHF or CB frequency you can normally be reached on.


(2)   If you are trading the trip with one person at no cost to him and there are say 3 of you aboard, where the order of the day from the skipper is "just cover my fuel",  make sure that the odd man does not get hung for a large fuel bill if the trip happens to be longer than normal where the fuel bill turns out to be enormous.


(3  Be on time at the meeting / launch location. 


(4)   Have your gear and the boat ready the night before so that no time is wasted on the water.

 

(5)   Have ice in the ice chest or fish box.


(6)   Check weather conditions before departure time. 


(7)   Verify the guests have proper licenses and punch cards.


(8)   Brief the guests on YOUR boating rules, operation of the Head or Port-A-Potty (if so equipped), and your plans for the day.  Advise them on how long you plan on remaining on the water under normal conditions. 


(9)   Brief the guest on emergency procedures, life vest location and installation, starting procedure for the motors, bilge pump switch location, basic functioning of some of the electronics, and some navigation instructions in case YOU have emergency health problems.

 

(10)  Ask the guest beforehand if he/she has any health or physical handicaps that might create a problem in a small sometimes cramped boat. 


(11)  If guest gets seasick, be considerate, consider carrying some form of seasick medication on the boat.  But it is not your responsibility to take them in early.



Copyright © 2004 - 2016 LeeRoy Wisner  All Rights Reserved

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Originated 4-22-2004   Last updated 11-24-2016
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