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Charter etiquette question

By: Callie99
7/9/2019 10:59 PM

We have a full day charter scheduled out of Hatteras in the near future. Only our second on, last was over 15 yrs. ago. I know I should tip the mate 15-20 % but what about the captain ? Does he expect a tip also ? Assuming the best, and we have a productive day, do we take all the fish or give some to the captain to sell for himself ?
Last trip we limited out on Mahi and ended up taking them plus the Wahoo also; always wondered if that was right.


By: Mikec
7/10/2019 1:26 AM

The way I was told was if the boat is running as a charter then the boat can’t use a commercial license, so selling the fish is not possible. One captain told me “you paid your charter fee, the catch is yours”. We have used the same boat for several inshore trips, out of Hatteras Harbor Marina, over the last five or so years and I will offer that captain some fish if we catch a decent number.

On inshore charters I have given the captain a tip, since they are alone but not on my offshore charters.

Waiting for Capt Paul to chime in.


By: SwampDuck
7/10/2019 6:05 AM

On offshore trips I have never tipped the Captain. I ALWAYS make sure the mate gets 20%. Mates earn every tip they ever make and a good mate will improve your offshore experience dramatically. They are typically the first person at the boat in the morning and the last to leave at night. As for the fish, they are yours to do with as you please. If we catch a bunch I personally always offer some to the Captain and the mate for their own dining pleasure.

Tight Lines!


By: Pickle
7/10/2019 7:00 AM

Good Morning Folks. The two answers above are basically right. A little clarification is necessary. Tips (more commonly called gratuity) are a very personal thing. You have to look at the Mates service as similar to a Restaurant Server X 2. As mentioned a good Mate will Make your Day. On Offshore Trips a Mates day is 12 Hours Plus. Try having a mate who is not experienced rigging Ballyhoo, or doesn't know the technique for Billfish, or slow with multiple hook ups and on and on. 15 to 20% is recommended. Captain, basically no except in winning Tournaments or as said a small Inshore "Mateless" boat where the Captain does everything. Now I know some people from the Northeast will say why tip a Mate generously, they don't clean my fish! Charter Boat mates in many Northern ports clean your catch. Please understand that Mates do not clean fish HERE because of several reasons. Governmental Size regulations (you have to have evidence of size at the dock), most boats do not have suitable cleaning tables and on a rocky, fast moving boat no way. Also some Marina Contracts prohibit Boats cleaning fish, especially in the Marina. There is a lot to say about this but that is another discussion. Occasionally Captains will get tips from generous "Regulars" or for exceptional catches, but as a rule a big No. Keeping/Selling your catch. In this area all fish belong to the charter. Yes, Charter Boats can not LEGALLY sell your catch, neither can you. Can you offer fish to the crew, sure you can. Dockside Fish cleaning can get quite expensive with a large catch. Just so you know, there are very few fish cleaners who clean a fish ready for the pan. Trimming of some sort is always necessary, especially on Tiles, Triggers, Sea Bass and Tuna. However you may want to consider Catch and Release if you know you don't want a lot of fish. Unfortunately, many fish do not lend themselves to Catch and Release, especially Deepwater Bottom Fish. Discuss this with your Captain. You may find out the Captain (well some) have real big "Egos" and want to throw up huge catches on the dock for publicity. Oh well.

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By: Alexy
7/12/2019 7:02 PM

Tip the mate.


By: John Bull
7/17/2019 11:47 AM

Great thread. I've only chartered one boat (it was out of Hatteras), and the mate was fantastic so he earned every penny of the roughly 20% we tipped him. This boat did offer fish cleaning for a fee. We had them clean the larger fish (tuna) which I was unfamiliar with cleaning, while we cleaned the dolphin. Had not thought about offering some of it to the captain or mate, but will do so next time.