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You’re looking forward to some magnificent deep-sea fishing, and finding the charter boat to take you out is an important part of the trip. The captain, crew, and boat can make or break the entire experience, so you want to get it right. Here are five tips for finding the best charter boat.

1. Go for a Full-Day Charter

If you are on a budget or making plans for other parts of your trip, a half-day excursion may be tempting, but not wise. Finding marlin and other billfish takes time, and the last thing you want is to turn back just before the perfect moment. Even if your friends were able to catch a monster fish within a few hours, these animals are unpredictable. Give yourself as much time as possible. Maybe even splurge for a multi-day outing.

2. Weigh Cost with Benefits

Another budget consideration that can ruin your fishing trip is going for the cheapest charter boat. As the saying goes, “You get what you pay for,” and cheaper typically means that there are sacrifices. It may be the captain’s ability to find good spots, quality of the boat, support of the crew, and so many other areas that are critical to a successful trip to catch billfish.

3. Be Realistic

As much as you may want to catch a billfish, and no matter how much you prepare, the unexpected always happens. The weather may not cooperate, or the fish may be nowhere to be found. Have realistic expectations so that you enjoy the trip regardless of the outcome.

4. Do Research

So many anglers look back on their deep-sea fishing trips and regret not doing a bit more research beforehand. Go beyond where to find the monsters to finding out about the boat and crew. For charter boats, make some calls to local marinas and shops to find out who is on top. Check into the safety gear on the boat. A good captain is more than happy to share this type of information with charter guests. Read reviews from guests about interactions with the crew and the level of support during the trips.

5. Be Prepared

Be sure to bring along anything that you need for the trip, including food, water, anti-nausea medication, jackets, sunglasses, camera, sunscreen, and hat. Don’t leave anything to chance or assume that everything you need will be on the boat.