Tips on - Going on a Gamefishing Charter Boat

By: Adrian Watt

Know Before You Go

First, do your research. What you want to catch dictates were you want to go and fish. Once you decide where you want to go, find out what charter boats are in the area. Read magazines, get on line and put some time in to find out all you can about your options. When you have a couple of possibilities, call them up, drop them an email, ask them questions, not just "how much is it?" but "what is the best time to come? What fish are in season? What type of tackle do you have on board and in what classes? Can the weather stop you going out? Do you fish under IGFA Rules? Is the skipper an IGFA Certified Captain? What about beginners? Can you put me in touch with a couple of previous clients? What types of fishing can you offer?

Try to find out if they are a serious charter boat with good equipment, a good crew and they know what they are doing!

If you can, talk to the skipper before you go out. Tell him/her what you would like to catch, your level of experience and if you would prefer calmer waters or are happy to corkscrew all day if the fish are there.

You are out there to have fun, not sit in a corner looking green and feeling miserable. If you start to feel unwell, tell the crew ! Here in Kadavu, we can always move to calmer waters.

A good charter boat will take your wishes into consideration when deciding how and where to fish.

When You Step Aboard

Listen to the safety briefing. It's not just done to fulfil Maritime Safety regulations, it will also give you information about that particular boat, where emergency items are stored, where you can sit and where you should not go or sit during cruising for safety reasons.

Be prepared. Talk to the skipper or deckie. Ask questions like "what do I do when a rod goes off? And how do I do it?" We always establish the experience of our guests and we tell you what to do and show you how to do it. The last thing the deckie or the skipper wants is to lose a fish because of simple confusion on the deck.

I once watched 3 anglers begin, and continue with, a lengthy discussion on who should pick up a screaming rod whilst a nice sailfish of about 100lbs tail walked away from the boat. Despite us backing down, the sail took over 700 yards of 30lb mono and spooled the angler just as he finally reached for the rod.

Don't fiddle with the equipment, even if you are experienced and understand its operation. Lever Drag Gamefishing reels have their drag settings carefully tested and set to a drag setting appropriate to the type of fishing you are doing and the fish you expect to catch. If you accidentally bump a reel setting - tell the crew.

The crew should be more than happy to explain the use of any piece of equipment and why it is set as it is.

On a Game boat, everything has a place. The crew may need to get something quickly so be careful not to move things around. Don't rummage through tackle drawers or pull out equipment and toss it back in a mess. At best, you will annoy the crew (who will have to sort it all out again and at worst, you may get a hook through your hand.

When the deckie takes a leader or gaff in hand, stay well back. Only the angler and the deckie should be at the back of the boat. It you are there too, you are in the way. If you are marlin fishing, this is positively dangerous. Crowding the deckie not only blocks the skipper's view, it endangers the life of both you and the deckie. You and he could be pulled overboard if a hand or foot gets tangled in the leader. If the deckie is tracing a big marlin and you get in the way - it's a tense and potentially dangerous moment. Don't be offended by the stream of loud four letter words directing you to move back.

You will get your chance to take close up pictures when the fish is tagged and under control.

When a fish comes aboard, stand well back and listen to the deckie's instructions. They are for his safety as well as yours. Most lures used have 2 or more hooks. One may be in the fish's mouth, the other may be swinging free - just waiting to catch you.

A colleague of mine got a 10/0 Stainless Steel hook embedded in his calf when a mahi mahi got loose on the deck. Very painful and that was the end of the days fishing.

A good charter boat will do everything it can to ensure you have an action packed, fun filled day of fishing. It is, after all, in their best interests that you go home and tell all your friends how good the fishing was and what fun you had. If you are out there flogging a dead horse (its rare but it does happen)....don't blame the crew....they will be even more frustrated than you are!

Some Do's and Don'ts


* Take a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses. You will get a lot of glare reflected off the sea, even on cloudy days.

* Take a camera.

* Wear non marking soft soled shoes.

* Ask if you are fishing under IGFA Rules - You just might catch a World Record!

* Ask, if you want to come up and see the bridge.

* Eat your catch - you won't ever eat a fresher tastier fish than one that you just landed.

* Respect the boat. Don't trash it. Rubbish makes its way to the bilge and can block bilge pumps.

* Enjoy the whole day's experience, not just the fishing!


* Brag before you go about how many fish you are going to catch. It's bound to blank your day.

* Step on board wearing high heels or shoes that may damage or mark the deck.

* Play with fishing equipment settings. (Even if you do know what you are doing)

* Put a rod butt down on a teak deck - It will damage the teak. All rods go in rod holders.

* Crowd round the deckie with a camera when he is tracing or gaffing a fish. STAY WELL BACK.

* Bring a hand held GPS. If the skipper sees it, you won't be going to any of his secret hot spots.

* Access the foredeck or engine room. They are out of bounds unless the skipper specifically tells you otherwise.

* Litter. Never throw any type of rubbish (including cigarette butts) overboard. Turtles eat butts and die.

* March up to the bridge, plonk yourself down in the deckie's seat and put your feet up on the console. Unless you want a swim.

Crew Talk Jargon Explained:

"Fiddler & Tweaker": Somebody who can't resist playing with reel drag settings or ratchets.

"Nibbler": Somebody who stares at the outrigger tip when you are trolling 16" marlin lures on bent butt 80s and shouts "I think we just got a nibble!"

"Plonker": Somebody who asks if they can bottom fish when you are 7 miles out on the Kadavu Trench in 1,000 fathoms of water. (6,000ft)

(I once had a guy stand up on the transom with the boat cruising at 22kts, wave at one of our resort dive boats following in our wake and decide to dive in. (My deckie Joe managed to grab him before he killed himself) Game boats and large quantities of beer do not mix. If you get drunk aboard one of my vessels, I will consider you a danger to the crew who will have to rescue you when you fall overboard. I will tie you to the game chair and drive home. Just so you know.)

Fishing Guide

» More on Fishing Guide