Choosing a Salmon Fishing Charter

Salmon fishing is a huge attraction for sportsmen from all over the world. Coastal places like Ucluelet on Vancouver Island, Alaska, Haida Gwaii and numerous other areas have taken advantage of this, and salmon fishing charters offering the “salmon fishing adventure of a lifetime” etc. have popped up all over the place. So, with so many choices, how do you know which charter will be the best one for you? Discover tips to choosing the best salmon fishing charter for your next fishing vacation – with so much money on the line, it’s important to pick wisely and be sure you’re getting the absolute most out of your time on the water.

Fishing Conditions

Perhaps you have your heart set on Alaska for fishing, but if you have a tendency to get seasick, this might not be an option. Open ocean fishing up north can see some serious swell, wind and rain, so spending your money only to get seasick and have to come in is far from ideal.  Find out if the place you’re thinking of has some more sheltered options and more temperate weather. If not, you may want to pick a different destination.

Trip Lengths/Departure Time

If fishing is not a priority on your trip, you may not want to spend all day on the boat. If that’s all you really came to do, then starting first thing in the morning might be exactly what you want! Depending on what you came to do, whether or not you’re an early bird, and how long you want to spend fishing, find a salmon fishing charter with more flexible options. For some, fishing and filling the boat is the goal. You’ll likely spend eight hours on the water, leaving at the crack of dawn. Others have more flexibility and offer shorter trips departing in the afternoon for those less inclined to spend all day on the boat.



The boat can make all the difference in your time on the water. Ask about the size, how many people are on it, and if there’s a bathroom, or heated cabin. If you don’t care about keeping cozy in rainy weather, a cabin might not be a big deal, but if you’re fishing with children, or women, you may want a proper toilet on board. Check in with the type of engines and safety of the boats as well. You’ll want to get to the fish sooner, rather than later when you’ve paid for every minute on the water!


If you’re booking a fishing package that includes accommodation, see what the options are. If the place has its own lodge, you’re going to be stuck with whatever they give you. For some, that’s part of the experience and these days, there are some luxury lodges. For others, a lodge filled with fisherman might be something of a nightmare, rather than a dream come true. If you want to have a say in where you rest your head for the night, booking a salmon fishing charter with a lodge might not be the best option for you.

What’s Included

Do you want to just show up, fish and leave? If so, make sure you find a place that takes care of absolutely everything from transportation and accommodation, to gear, guiding and vacuum packing. If you like to deal with your own meals, pay for packing and handle other logistics yourself, then try to find a charter that isn’t so all-inclusive. Some offer the accommodation, but not the meals, others allow you to bring your own gear and some even just give you the boat and gear so you can take yourself out. Figuring out what type of experience and how in charge you want to be will help determine where you want to book. Be sure to ask about licenses, too – you may need to pick some up on the way!



Good gear makes for a great salmon fishing charter. Be sure to ask about what type of gear you’ll be using, and whether or not you need to bring some of your own. Know what is typically on the boat so you can be prepared for your experience – if there’s five people on board, but only three rods, you know you’ll have to switch off reeling in fish.


The guide is your fishing guru and best friend. They’ll be working to ensure you have the best experience possible, but there are some important questions to ask so that you know you’re getting the best guide on the water. First, you want to make sure they have experience not just as a guide, but in the area you’re fishing. The west coast of Vancouver Island, for example, is completely different fishing than on the east coast of Vancouver Island. If your guide has a few years’ experience, but on the other side, they may not be as effective as another guide that has spent more time in the waters you’re hoping to fish.

Payment and Tipping

Find out how you’re able to pay, and whether or not the gratuity is included. Some places want a credit card, while others only do e-transfer or check. There may be a deposit, which allows you to bulk up your account between payments, but others will want the full amount right away. Considering how expensive a salmon fishing charter can be, upfront payment might not be an option for you. Keep in mind that if the gratuity isn’t included, you’ll need to budget extra in cash for your day of departure. Don’t be afraid to ask a typical gratuity when you book, as your guide will take the tip amount as feedback for how they did.

Style of Fishing

If casting, setting the hook and reeling ‘er in is your style of fishing, then don’t look at going salmon fishing offshore – they’ll likely be setting up downriggers and trolling. Want to set the hook yourself when the downrigger pops? Check in with your guide to see how flexible they are with guest involvement. While some may feel like they aren’t getting a real experience by having the guide set the hook, unexperienced fishermen will likely end up with an empty boat if they try to do it themselves. At the end of the day, filling the freezer is the goal, right? Depending on how you want your trip to feel, you’ll want to find out the style of fishing for the charter.


Destination vs. Town

Flying out to a remote lodge in the middle of nowhere can be quite the experience. However, once you’re there, you are there until you leave. For some, that’s the dream. You’ll be surrounded by fishermen and literally eat, sleep and breathe fishing for the duration of your trip. For others, the draw of having other activities, and the amenities of a town, are more ideal.

Not sure about which you prefer? Check out this website’s blog:

Private vs. Group Salmon Fishing Charter

If you’re hoping to have a boat to you and your group, you’ll want to make sure the salmon fishing charter you choose offers private charters. If you’re a single fisherman and want to make friends, then a group charter is the way to go – plus, it’s more affordable. How much you want to spend and the type of experience you seek can be very effected by a private or group.


If a charter seems to match everything you need and sounds like a great option, don’t take the person on the phone’s word for it, check out others’ reviews! The best way to gain insight on the type of experience you’re signing up for is by reading about what other customers though about their time on the water. While sometimes a bad fishing day can lead to a bad review, if they’re consistent, you may want to pick a different place. Look for guide names in the reviews and ask to book with the one that seems to be getting the most positive mentions. Whether or not the owner responds to reviews, and how they do so on less-than-ideal ones is also a dead giveaway for the kind of operation they run.


No matter where you’re looking to book your salmon fishing trip, keeping these points in mind will help make sure you pick the place that will give you the best experience for your needs.

For more on fishing on Vancouver Island, the website is a great resource.

Finally, if you want to check out a charter in Ucluelet that seems to offer options for everyone, is a great place to start.