Working On A Charter Boat

Working On A Charter Boat

So you are thinking about working on a charter boat. It's not the glamorous, fun-filled life, as it would seem from the perspective of a charter boat guest. In fact, it is far from such a life. Now don't get me wrong, if you meet certain qualities you might be inclined to work in our industry. And, actually enjoy it.

Qualities of a Charter Boat Worker - Captain and Crew

To begin with you must enjoy boating and being on the water a lot. Also, you must enjoy working in waves and in climate weather. About the only thing that prevents us from taking our guest out is waves bigger than 4-6 foot along with thunderstorms & lightning. If you're susceptible to seasickness, you can stop reading now - This is not the job for you! One must have the gift of gab and be willing to communicate with others. Entertaining customers is a large part of the job. Oh, and did I mention the long days that sometimes begin at 2 a.m. and may not end until 5 p.m.

A Typical Day in the Life of a Charter Boat Worker

The alarm rings at 2 a.m. Grab a quick shower to wash away the bedhead and the brain fog from waking so early and get ready to go work on the charter boat. Next pack a lunch and plenty of water and gatorade. Life on the water can be taxing and dehydrating. Apply the first application of sunscreen and head to the car. Pick up ice for the charters on the way to the boat.

Once we get to the boat, the captain and mate work to get out the equipment, make sure the boat fires up, check the oil and fuel levels, change out lures for the start of the day. retie any lines that may have nicked, frayed or broke the day before. We clean the spiders from boat, the dew from the windows, dry the seats, and rinse the back deck. Now we wait on the guests and shove off by 4 a.m.

The captain will assure everyone has their fishing license and go over a few safety rules, while the mate removes the dock lines... and we're off. Once we get to the fishing grounds, the captain will adjust speed, trolling direction, and set the auto pilot, while the mate begins to set lines. Often we'll have fish on before the lines are all set. The captain and the mate will often work together to get the fish netted and continue setting lines. The goal is to keep the lines in water and get them out there quickly.

As the days grows upon us we may change some lures and lines to achieve a greater catch. Additionally, the mate will routinely adjust lines and keep the guest ready for the next fish to strike. when fishing is slow, this can be make for a long charter now matter who the guests are. It is our job to catch fish and provide a safe environment for the guests.

As the charter time is nearing an end, the captain and mate will work to pull the lines. The captain will  take photos of the guests with their catch and do the social media work, while the mate cleans the fish. Did I mention a great ability to balance in a moving boat is essential? It is... because the fish typically get cleaned by the mate while the captain powers back to the dock.

Now were back at the dock... A quick good-bye to the current guests, rinse the deck and cooler, refresh the ice, use the restroom, and get ready to do it all again for charter number two of the day. This is working on a charter boat. Sounds like fun doesn't it! If you're the right person for the job it is and what you're doing is not like work at all.

Becoming a Charter Boat Captain

In oder to become a charter boat captain you must have extensive time on boats and a thorough knowledge of fishing. Many captains move up from being mates previously or through boat ownership and extensive fishing experience. Once you have this requisite, obtaining a USCG License is the first step. In order to obtain the license you must:

  1. Complete a USCG recognized course
  2. Complete a DOT physical including drug testing
  3. Obtain a TWIC card
  4. Obtain a fishing license
  5. Complete an extensive application process

Once you are licensed, you are ready to begin. However, you must well versed in operating the fishing vessel. You must know how to use and interpret high end electronics like fishing sonars, charts & graphing, along with radar equipment. Working an auto-pilot and maintaining safe vessel control while navigating within boat traffic is a must.

Working on a charter boat
Charter Boat

As far as fishing is concerned, the captain must know how to find fish, develop a network with other boat captains, understand light and lure selection, where to place the lines in the water column,what techniques are producing best, and recording the fish caught. Mentally putting the program together to catch fish falls upon the captain as does finding the fish.

Becoming a Charter Boat Mate

The requirements of working on a charter boat for the mate are far less than those of the captain. Having a basic ability to understand fishing techniques, equipment, and lure types and the boats selection is a good start. Great mates are typically post high school students who haven't yet decided what to do for a living. Also unemployed or retired individuals who have the time, passion, and abilities are great candidates.

  1. Must be able to enroll in the drug free program to work on a charter boat
  2. Must be able to maintain a surefooted quickness at times when the fish are biting fast
  3. Must be able net fish properly - The captain will teach you this skill
  4. Must be able to tie simple fishing knots, change lures, retie flies, change hooks, etc.
  5. Must be able to cleanfish
  6. Must be able to to clean a boat deck
  7. Must be able to communicate with guests
  8. Most important, must be able to take instruction from the captain
  9. Must be able to work in adverse conditions
  10. Must be reliable.

What are the benefits of working on a charter boat?

Have we talked about fun in the sun on most days. Lake Life and dock parties. Front row seats for Fourth of July events, fresh fish, and becoming a better angler are some benefits of working on a charter boat. If you're good, you'll become respected in the industry and have opportunities for sponsorships, offering seminars, hosting some famous guests, etc.


Welcome to Spendthrift Charters!

Frequently called the "Best Chicago Fishing Charters" in Chicagoland and proudly serving the Chicago and Waukegan, Illinois areas for over 40 years, Captain Jerry Nied has been chartering the finest of fishing trips. Spendthrift Charters is one of the largest fishing charter fishing vessels available on Lake Michigan today. We currently have three 39-ft Tiara ships to satisfy every fishing need, no matter the size of the group. Captain Jerry is a full time U.S. Coast Guard and licensed captain. Fishing charters are available 7 days a week. Call now for the next available Chicago fishing charter departure time!

Mail: 1091 West Dearborn Ln. Vernon Hills, IL. 60061

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