Tipping Your Fishing Charter Captain

Published on August 18, 2020

We understand the dilemma: to tip or not to tip? You have everything else prepped and ready for your upcoming charter excursion, except the gratuity. You’ve come here with one question on your mind: Is it customary to give gratuity (a tip) to a fishing charter captain or guide? The short answer is yes. But there’s more to it than that. Let’s take a look.


We’re all accustomed to giving a gratuity in certain circumstances. Whether you’re on vacation or not, it’s part of our daily lives. But let’s take a look at fishing vacationers specifically: While you’re on vacation it’s customary to tip those that provide a service. Just think of your entire journey from door to shore: as you ride from the airport to the hotel or vacation home you tip the driver. If you’re staying in a hotel you tip the bellhop for helping with luggage and the housekeeping crew for bringing extra towels. As you go out to eat you tip the bartender and servers at the restaurant. It’s a service industry norm for customers to add a tip for the good service provided, above and beyond the base price of your experience.The better the service, the better the tip (traditionally).

Fishing Charter Gratuity

This same principal carries over to charter captains, fishing guides, and first mates that provide services during your fishing experience. Typically customers will add 15% to 20% gratuity to the trip price, depending on quality of service. Although it is not mandatory, there is a certain etiquette for showing your appreciation. If you feel that the Captain or Guide was not deserving of appreciation, perhaps only a 5% tip is warranted; but we’ll get into what is good service in just a bit. Oftentimes, the gratuity you give goes straight to the First Mate (if applicable). In some cases, the tip is the only compensation a first mate receives, as they are mostly interns learning their trade. If you feel both the Captain and First Mate deserve gratuity, you can offer cash to both. The Captain may still give all or some of their portion to the First Mate, but the gesture is noted and appreciated.

Good Service on Fishing Charters

What does Good Service on a fishing charter look like? You may say “ it looks like me reeling in fish” - and for the most part that is accurate. But we promise there’s more to a Captain’s day than filling the boat with fish. Among a Captain’s many job requirements include weather person, repair person (fixing the boat), housekeeper (cleaning the boat), stock person (buying bait and fueling the vessel), host (offering drinks and snacks), driver, and of course, angler. If there’s a First Mate onboard, they’re in charge of making sure the hooks are baited, lines are in the water, and you have help reeling in the catch. Whether or not you are reeling in fish, all of these preparations have been made to get you a great trip and contribute to the overall experience of the day. These are the kind of things that you don’t notice, until something goes wrong and then you definitely notice. Even if you do get skunked, and don’t bring anything in, a gratuity for all the preparation is still appreciated. It's called "fishing" and not "catching" for a reason! Even the most experienced Captain can't control Mother Nature. On the rare trips that you’re not reeling anything in, it may be because you have too narrow of expectations. If you’ve asked the Captain for a specific fish in a specific area, and those fish aren’t biting, there’s not much the Captain can do. If you say, “Hey, I want to catch fish!” and don’t really care what the species is, this opens up the Captains’ options. He can take you to what’s called a “honey hole”, where fish are always biting. It may not be the trip you expected, but any day with bent rods is a good day in our books.

Tipping Your Charter Captain

When all is said and done, keep in mind that your fishing charter captain or guide works day in and day out to share their love of fishing. Sure, everyone has a bad day - but for the most part they are working hard to get you a memorable day of fishing. It’s all about the love of the sport for them, and sharing with anglers the joy of fishing, hopefully getting you hooked for years to come. To get yourself a trip of a lifetime, for the best trip for your group. Whether it’s a fly fishing trip near Alaska, or , we’ll partner you with a professional fishing guide or captain. And at the end of the trip, you’ll have no problem showing your appreciation with a tip to the one who made it such a memorable adventure!

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