Welcome to the Manatee County coastal lifestyle! Now let’s help you land some fish.
Whether you’re an experienced angler or just a curious visitor, a Bradenton-based, knowledgeable, professional fishing charter can be your key to unlocking the secrets of our aquatic bounty.
Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of options. Here’s why you need to hire one, and what you should know before you do.
Why You Need a Local Fishing Guide
For starters, there’s just a ton of Anna Maria Fishing information out there. Even experienced natives are still learning spots and following schools.
So what do you need your AMI guide to know?
Every area has its own quirks and nuances when it comes to fishing. And we’re not just talking about our local fish populations. Tides and weather patterns, channels and canals, coastal variations (from local plants to manmade features), underwater landmarks, and even a level of intuition all go into a successful fishing excursion.
On top of all of that, you need someone who has an operational boat, and knows how to pilot it. Bear in mind, it doesn’t have to be the best boat in the world. An expensive ride is no replacement for fishing expertise.
Convinced yet? OK. Now let’s book you a fishing charter.
Do Your Research
Start with google. Among the many options that pop up, look for the basics that might be important to you (price, types of fishing, groups or individuals, etc.).
Look for credentials. Fishing charter companies should probably be insured and bonded, which means they take their responsibilities seriously—both to keep you safe and to fulfill their agreement with you.
Lastly, don’t rule anybody out just yet! Especially if you’re a beginner fisherman, you might not know what you want until you experience it firsthand with a top-notch professional fishing captain.
Ask Questions Before Booking a Fishing Charter
Don’t just book online without ever talking to a real person. If you find a company you’re interested in, reach out to them—even if you’re just sending an email.
You can decide what’s important to you and/or what follow-up questions you might have after looking at their website. But here are some things you should probably include:
What kind of fishing do you offer? You may have personal preferences for types of tackle or technique, or you may just be envisioning a certain kind of experience. Whatever you have in mind, be sure it fits with the company’s offerings.
Who will be leading our charter? Larger companies might have multiple captains. You don’t want to book because you wanted someone in particular, then get stuck with a second-rate trainee. (For the record, Captain Nate Costello is the owner of AMI Excursions. He will always be your captain when you book with us!)
What happens to the fish that we catch? This isn’t a value judgement, just a way to guard against disappointment. Some charters only do catch-and-release, others may let you keep what you catch (assuming it meets legal requirements), and some will even lay claim to every fish landed on their boat. It’s up to them, just know what you’re getting into.
What licenses, certifications, or professional affiliations do you hold? Companies might be members of a number of professional organizations, both local and national. The captains could be certified, licensed, and/or members of local guide organizations, demonstrating a certain level of training and competence. There’s not necessarily one single certificate that makes or breaks a fishing charter, but if they don’t have any professional affiliations, it’s worth asking why not.
Be Aware of These Fishing Charter Red Flags
Reluctant to Answer Questions. So long as you were polite (we’re sure you were!), you have every right to ask a few questions before booking with a company. If they don’t want to answer, or if they get defensive about it, don’t feel bad. Just don’t book with them. Besides, fishing is wonderful! And that kind of person can really spoil a day on the water.
A Wide-Open Schedule and/or Last-Minute Availability. Cancellations happen. But we are in the middle of prime fishing season in the incredible fishing paradise that is southwest Florida. If a captain can’t get their boat booked, you’ve got to wonder why.
Multiple Bad Reviews for the Same Issue. Bad reviews definitely happen. You just can’t please everyone. But when you see a number of bad reviews for the same company over the same issue, there’s probably a grain of truth to them. Ask about it, at the very least.
These things happen, and they might have a perfectly reasonable explanation. But if you hit multiple red flags, or you see a pattern developing, just be careful who you book with.
Go for It, and Have Fun!
Lastly, don’t be paralyzed by all these choices. You’ve picked a already great activity; fishing is a fabulous way to spend your time. We can’t wait to see you out on the water!