As a retired Charter Captain I'm amazed at the confusion, misinformation and general lack of knowledge of Charter Fishing. I could write a book on the "Ins and Outs" and "Dos and Donts" of Charter Fishing. The Outer Banks has so many "Boat" fishing Opportunities and Choices. I surely is not "One Size Fits All". Several basic Facts:
First and Foremost is there are four major types of fishing (without species specific) Offshore (Gulfstream), Wreck (Deep Water), Nearshore (Inshore Ocean) and Inshore (Sound).
We have two major Charter Fleets. You have the Oregon Inlet area and Hatteras. All types of fishing mentioned above are available at each "Port" There are major Marinas in each area and quite a number of "Trailered" boats. In the "North' you have Pirates Cove Marina, OIFC, Safe Harbor Marina and Wanchese Marina. The South fleet sails from Hatteras Harbor, Teaches Lair and Odens Dock.
Charter Boats come in all shapes and sizes and some only do a certain type of fishing. You have Ocean going Boats generally ranging from 60 Feet down to smaller Nearshore boats in the 30 Foot Class. Inshore or Sound Boats generally will be smaller Outboard Guide Boats (18 feet to mid 20's) because of the waters they fish. 99% of Outer Banks Charter Boats are licensed by the Coast Guard for a maximum of 6 Passengers. In some cases the smaller "Sound" boats can only fish 3 or 4 comfortably.
Cost is always an issue. Charters are not cheap. Rates can range from $2600 Plus for an Offshore trip down to $450 for a Half Day Sound Trip. However, it is customary to provide a Gratuity to the Mate at 20% of trip price PLUS dockside fish cleaning services at 35 cents to 60 cents a pound (On The Hoof) depending on fish species or marina.
It is always advisable to charter directly through a Captain and Specific Boat. Boats do loose money by commissions paid to On Line Booking Sites. In some cases commissions are also paid to local booking agents and tackle shops.
In conclusion First decide on the "Port" closest to your location. Determine type of fishing and your budget (may be based on trip type) and then choose a boat. In this connection choose a boat that will fit your party and be adequate for your type of fishing. For example, simply a Sound boat is not appropriate for Offshore Fishing. Talk to the Captain and make sure your needs and fishing expectations can be met.
ENJOY YOUR TRIP!