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Charter Prices, Tipping and Fish Cleaning

Charter Prices, Tipping and Fish Cleaning

Summer is here and the busiest time of Charter Fishing is upon us. I have answered quite a few questions on Charter Fishing, but I thought I would try to give answers to frequently asked questions in one Post.
Charter Prices: The Outer Banks has two main "Ports" or you may say Charter Fleets. Those in the Oregon Inlet Area and those in Hatteras. I won't go into boats, fish caught but just what you can expect to pay for a trip. You should understand that 99% of the boats are Coast Guard licensed for 6 people and some of the smaller Outboard powered boats can only take 3 or 4 (Comfortably). 2017 prices can range from a low of $300 for a few hours on a small guide boat or no frills charter to over $2000 for an Offshore Charter. Without mentioning specific Boats, Marinas, Tackle Shops, Booking Services etc. here are some price ranges.
Half Day Inshore and Sound Fishing - $300 to $650.
6 Hour Inshore Trips - $400 to $900.
8 Hour (can be any number of trip types) $650 to $1500
Offshore (Gulfstream) $1200 to over $2000
Why the wide "Range", many factors, Boat Size, Amenities, Species sought, even price fixed Marinas
Tipping: It is customary to give a gratuity to the Mate. Some of the smaller "Guideboats" do not have a Mate. Tipping is similar to a Restaurant and 15 to 20 % of trip price is the norm. The Mate is there to serve and help you. It is He or She that is responsible for Bait and Lure selection, Presentation, Tackle used and naturally instructing the passengers on fishing, Tips are a personal thing and not everybody vies them in a similar way. Please do not hold a slow fishing Day or Bad Weather against the Mate. It generally will make them work even harder to make your trip great.
Fish Cleaning: Locally almost 100% of catches are cleaned at the dock for an extra fee. Prices can range from $.30 to $.50 a pound (on the hoof). There can be custom cleaning for certain fish or customers wishes. Why at the Dock. Several Reasons, many of the species have State and Federal Size requirements, a catch cleaned on the water can easily be suspect for undersized fish to a Wildlife, Marine Patrol or Coast Guard Officer. Most boats are not set up for fish cleaning, either facilities(Table) and most importantly it is not safe on a rocking boat to work with sharp knives.
I hope this helps some of you in your Charter Bookings. I would be pleased to embellish on any of these Topics either here or by PM. Get out there and have fun. Leave one for me.

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RE: Charter Prices, Tipping and Fish Cleaning

Good Morning All. I had two PM's regarding my post. Both are related. One about Tipping the Captain on a small "Guideboat" with no Mate and the other was the lack of any fish cleaning services for or on a Trailered/Outboard charterboat. As I said, there are quite a few smaller boats that charter for fishing and some that do Shrimping, Crabbing or even Clamming. Most of these are one man operated services, using boats that range from 18 feet on up to 26 feet. They can take up to 6, most would be uncomfortable for a full party of 6 and can not be compared to full sized charter boats. However they do serve a great group of customers looking for Sound fishing. Most of these Captains work very hard, not only in operating the boat but have to provide fishing instruction, baiting etc. They really do the job of two people. Surely they are deserving of a Tip, just as a Mate on a big boat, but you get into the "Mental" argument they are the owner/operator and not some "Hired " hand that depends on tips. Fish Cleaning ??????????? I ask the question, where are they going to clean your fish? Most of the launching ramps don't have fish cleaning facilities. If you're at the Pirates Cove launching ramp bring them to the marina fish cleaners around the other side, Although Charters are technically not allowed to launch from the Oregon Inlet Ramp you can do like wise there. Good Luck.

RE: Charter Prices, Tipping and Fish Cleaning

We took a sound charter from Wanchese a long time ago and they had fish cleaning service. Wonder if they still do?

RE: Charter Prices, Tipping and Fish Cleaning

All the Wanchese Marinas have fish cleaning services, but the Mates or Captains don't do it. They have professional fish cleaners who charge by the pound (on the hoof). For example, if you caught 20 Bluefish at 2 lbs each on an Inshore Half Day Inshore Charter that would be 40 pounds and cost you between $15 and $20 to clean. OBX Marina (Formerly Broad Creek Marina) has the best facility with several Full Time fish cleaners. It is at the Southern end of the property. At Wanchese Marina (The Landing) you have to tell your Captain that you need Fish Cleaning and they notify the Dock to have someone there. They generally are not staffed unless there is a call. Thicket Lump ( name may have changed) is the smallest operation so you have to check with your boat.

RE: Charter Prices, Tipping and Fish Cleaning

Nice thread Cap. People should consider cleaning their own fish. It really isn't that hard, and you can find multiple full instruction videos online for every fish that swims. This will result in the best product possible because you handled the fish yourself.

That said I have used cleaning services over the years. Mostly because cleaning 60 mahi is an epic chore regardless of your skill. Any smaller result we've always cleaned ourselves. Though we did have one charter out of OI clean our tuna for us since we only got 3 or 4 of them. The mate just prepped them on the back of the boat. THIS IS VERY UNUSUAL FOR OBX! Take Pickle's word for that. OBX charters typically won't be cleaning your fish.

I think the problem is that in some areas mates cleaning the fish is normal. Definitely ask your captain before you book if cleaning is included. He'll let you know what your local options are if he doesn't and in some cases they call ahead to warn the cutters to be ready.

Tight lines!

RE: Charter Prices, Tipping and Fish Cleaning

Several years ago, I went on a sound fishing trip on the headboat Crystal Dawn. I was a good trip but no fish. The Captain and Mate did their part to find fish but none. On the way back in, I went around with the tip bucket for the mate. This group of about six, who knew absolutely nothing about fishing, became very vocal about asking for a tip when they had caught nothing. The mate had spent a lot of time helping them, untangling their lines and fixing their numerous backlashes. They continued on and on with their ranting and raving. Finally, a couple of country boys had heard enough and went on to explain fishing etiquette, respect, and good manners to them in no uncertain terms. They couldn't get off of the boat and back to their car fast enough.