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How Much Should I Tip on a Fishing Charter Boat

Written by Capt. Noah on Sunday, 15 January 2012. Posted in Miscellaneous


We get asked all the time, "what should I tip the captain and crew?" Unfortunately, there's no right answer, but I'll give you a little background to help you make an informed and appropriate decision.

The general rule of thumb 15 to 20% of the price you paid for your charter if the crew did a good job. This is a service business after all and if you don't feel like you were treated well there's nothing wrong with witholding a portion or all of the tip you planned to give. Most mates know that happy guests equal big tips and will go well out of their way to make your trip enjoyable.

Keep in mind, many mates work nearly entirely for tips. Crew compensation varies by boat, some mates get paid a flat rate, others get a percentage of the charter fee and others get nothing except tips.

Who should I give the money to?

Again, there's no solid answer. A safe bet is to give the money to the captain and ask him (or her ocassionally) to divide the tips fairly amongst the crew. Many boats have a predetermined split. It is also fine to tip the mate directly, or if there is more than one mate, tip them together or separately. If there is more than one mate, tip as if there was only one and divide the amount between them. Again, they probably have an agreement already.

Do I still have to tip if we didn't catch anything good on my fishing trip?

Just because you didn't catch anything doesn't mean your crew didn't try hard or do a good job. This is fishing after all and some days just don't work out. But step back and look at the big picture. If you can't answer yes to at least one of these questions, you may consider witholding a portion of the tip:

  1. Did the crew move the boat multiple times in search of fish?
  2. Did the crew try to contact other boats in the area to see what they were catching and where?
  3. Did the crew try different fishing methods throughout the charter?
  4. Did the crew go out of there way to make the trip fun anyway?

About the Author

Capt. Noah

Capt. Noah

Noah is a United States Coast Guard licensed captain and PADI divemaster. He grew up in South Florida and has a passion for all things involving water. He is one of the rare bread of boaters who loves sailing and power boating. Noah sails competitvely and enjoys travelling, photography, and cooking. 


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