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A Guide to Saltwater Fishing Charters for First Timers

Updated: Jul 25

Fishing charter boats at dock.

Planning your next fishing trip and want to try out a saltwater fishing charter? A fishing charter is, in simple terms, a fishing trip run by an experienced captain or guide on a private vessel. Fishing charters are perfect for anglers of any skill level, as the charters will bring you to locations where your desired fish typically bite. But charters are especially great if you’re a beginner – you could end up fishing like the pros!

Tips for Choosing the Best Fishing Charter

1. Experience

There are many different factors that go into choosing the perfect fishing charter. Deciding which type of experience you want, such as adventure, relaxation, skill level, or location can help narrow your choices. Another factor to consider is if you want a shared or private charter. Also, many charter boats fish in certain areas, such as the inshore, nearshore, offshore, or deep sea. The experience you want, versus the experience you get, is often not in line with expectations if you do not do your research. So, it is important to communicate with your captain or guide. Discuss your expectations, ask questions, and understand all policies for the trip, including what is and is not included.

2. Boat, Captain, & Permits

Look into the size and specs of the fishing charter boat. If you prefer comfort over speed, look for a larger and slower charter boat. Research the captain or guide(s) before booking a charter. Most charters or captains release fishing reports, which are a great way to learn about them and see what fish are in season. Another important thing to know is if licenses or permits are provided. Many charters include a fishing license to ensure that everyone on board is safe and covered. But this varies by state or by charter. So, it is vital to know before booking. Always read up on the charter and captain reviews before booking!

3. Length

Fishing charter trips can be a few hours, an all-day event, or multiple days. To see if you enjoy a chartered fishing trip, we recommend a 3-5 hour charter for your first time. A full-day trip might sound great, until you get hours from shore and find out you get seasick. If you enjoyed the shorter experience and think you want to go bigger, then you can try a longer charter.

4. Price

Fishing charters can get pricey depending on the location, captain’s experience, size of the boat, size of the group, length of the charter, and other factors. Sometimes the cheapest charter isn’t the best charter. Charter boats are usually rented at a set rate, but sometimes are customizable to suit the needs of an individual or group. It is important to recognize that you are paying for the service and knowledge of captains and guides in addition to the boat taking you out on the water.

5. Ask Around

Asking other anglers about fishing charters they recommend is the best way to find out which charter is best for you. If you are visiting a new area, ask friends or locals which fishing charters they recommend. Word-of-mouth is often the best way to hear about charters.

What to Expect on Your First Fishing Charter

A fisherman holding a fish.

A fishing charter is a unique experience. A (theoretically) experienced captain will take you out to prime locations and share their knowledge of the area and local fish. But the natural world is uncontrollable, so there is no guarantee you will catch anything on your charter. So set out with the mindset that you are going for the overall experience.

Many fishing charters include everything you need to fish, including all tackle – fishing rods and reels, hooks, lines, bait, and a freezer for your catch. Make sure you understand what is and is not included in your charter.

Even on gloomy, cloudy days, it is important to protect yourself from the sun. Wear sunscreen and a UPF long sleeve, such as a Big Daddy Long Sleeve, to help protect you from damaging rays. Weather cannot always be predicted; it is important to plan and pack accordingly.


It is important to understand how tipping works before you go on a fishing charter. You should always tip your captain, crew, and guides for their service. A 15-20% of the total trip in cash is often the standard way to tip the charter crew. This gratuity can be given in cash to the captain after the completion of your charter. Your captain should then disperse the tip to the entire team.

Big Daddy’s Local New Jersey Charter Picks

Fishing poles on the stern of a fishing charter boat.

Here are just a few of Big Daddy’s saltwater fishing charter recommendations in New Jersey:

Silly Willy Charters (Absecon, NJ)

Gambler Deep Sea Fishing (Point Pleasant Beach, NJ)

Moover Fishing Adventures (Ocean City, NJ)

Badfish Fishing Charters (Somers Point, NJ)

Finominal Charters (Belmar, NJ)

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