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Starting a charter business


baitballin

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I don't want to sound like Donnie Downer but a Declining Lake Ontario Fishery, The age of internet sales and 4-5 months of winter could make it tough.  Possible I'm sure but it would be very tough depending on your expectations.  

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Where are you located. That could play a role. For instance. In the Kingston, ont area there are very few charter boats that operate in the spring and summer. IMO there is a living that could be made there but it won't be 100k that's for sure.

You would need to determine what income you need to make per year, divide that by months of fishable water. Then out of those months how many days you could fish and how many days you would lose do to unfavourable weather etc.

Once you know how many days you could fish you can decide how much costs per trip / overhead you're looking at and see what rates you would have to
Charge to make it viable.

It can be good money when it's good weather, the bookings are happening and nothing is breaking but you have to budget for those expenses and cancellations etc.

My .02 cents is it's a tough gig based on seeing several of my friends operate their business's. each of them have other means to offset their income.


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Where are you located. That could play a role. For instance. In the Kingston, ont area there are very few charter boats that operate in the spring and summer. IMO there is a living that could be made there but it won't be 100k that's for sure.

You would need to determine what income you need to make per year, divide that by months of fishable water. Then out of those months how many days you could fish and how many days you would lose do to unfavourable weather etc.

Once you know how many days you could fish you can decide how much costs per trip / overhead you're looking at and see what rates you would have to
Charge to make it viable.

It can be good money when it's good weather, the bookings are happening and nothing is breaking but you have to budget for those expenses and cancellations etc.

My .02 cents is it's a tough gig based on seeing several of my friends operate their business's. each of them have other means to offset their income.


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I am located in irondiquoit. I might try to base out of Braddock bay since they have fixed it up.

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6 minutes ago, baitballin said:

 

 


I am located in irondiquoit. I might try to base out of Braddock bay since they have fixed it up.

Sent from my SM-G900V using Lake Ontario United mobile app
 

 

I would not go to Braddocks because nothing has really changed.  The only thing that is a sure thing is the price of a slip is going up drastically on Braddocks.  With the money being spent on the old marina, you could go elsewhere cheaper. 

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I would not go to Braddocks because nothing has really changed.  The only thing that is a sure thing is the price of a slip is going up drastically on Braddocks.  With the money being spent on the old marina, you could go elsewhere cheaper. 


Thanks gambler. I will give it some more thought and planning.

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Some very good solid information and advice here. I have a further suggestion based on my own experience. See if they offer a class on starting up your own small business at MCC or at the Business Institute at Finger Lakes College in Canandaigua (e.g. evenings) and do a business plan. It will sort things out for you. That should really be your starting point in pursuing this with any chance of success. I have fished my whole life and it is a big part of my life even now and have had friends do chartering and I've assisted them in the past.  The fishing side of the equation is the smaller side of it - especially if you are considering doing it full time in this climate (as contrasted with Florida or California for example). If the business side of the venture is either ignored or poorly understood from the get go your chances of success are about zero point chit. Running a bait/tackle shop is a fulltime job as well if you don't have employees running it for you and the hours pretty much prevent you from doing other things away from the place if it is just you. I'm not trying to discourage you but there is the reality of it to consider which is quite different than the thoughts of doing it.

Edited by Sk8man
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If you're really serious about this have you considered just trying the first season part time? Maybe do trips on the weekends and when you can use vacation time at your full time job, me personally I enjoy fishing too much myself to bring other people out just to try and make a buck. Also what kind of boat do you have? You'll want a big heavy boat with a wide beam that's capable of fishing comfortably in 2-3' waves without moving around too much since you'll have a lot of people with little to no experience on a boat

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I started a welding business in July and it's the hardest thing I've ever tried. I've learned a lot in the last 8 month. Doesn't exactly translate over to chartering but I end up working about 70 or 80 hours a week once you take into account driving, quoting work or getting material. I'm really hoping I have time to fish this summer. I guess the biggest thing I can say is expect to spend way more money than you thought you would up front. I learned that the hard way.


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I have the same passion and did go full time during season, but I'm self employed and I work awfully hard in the winter so I don't have to count on a paycheck from fishing completely. I also spent 5 yrs saving and taking everyone I could find for free to learn the job...And it isn't really about catching...The fishing is the easy part! You better love taking people fishing more than fishing or you're in trouble. You can be the absolute best fisherman in the world hands down and that doesn't make you a good charter Captain or guide. I wouldn't even consider your idea if a constant stream of income like a normal job provides is necessary.

Justin Okrepki
NYSDEC licensed guide #7324
http://www.otiscolakeguideservice.com/
(607)-349-1750

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Breaking into the industry can be tough. Unless you've already run illegals for years, or are connected in some way with an established charter, building a clientele list takes time and a lot of energy as well as funds for advertising. Nothing is inexpensive, maintenance, dockage, storage, fuel, insurance, etc.....Not to mention the stressors associated, weather and client safety are foremost. Good luck!

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I find myself in the same situation as baitballin, I have fished Erie for years, been on Ontario several times too, I got my captain license last yr just because I always wanted it,  not to start a business,   and now have lots of people who know me as a fisherman and now a captain are asking me  to take them out, i have never taken anyone for money and wouldn't know what to charge, I have been on several charters myself so I know what i paid.. I know about people as Im a contractor, I also have a fully rigged 26' boat with all the bell and whistles...I also know what it cost me to get this set up...maintained, ect...Im not sure Ill be comfortable with strangers on my boat, handling my gear, and I'm sure they will want to be drinking,  as I have never have allowed alcohol on my boat before,  we drink when we are done has always been my saying....

any thoughts, Rick

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Reel Overtime  - It sounds as though you have some good things to start with....the main problem however may be the fact that you are looking at your boat and equipment through the eyes of a sportfisherman (which is understandable) and herein lies a major problem. When you make the decision to charter your boat and equipment become much like any other business tools (e.g. drills, sanders, compressors, office furniture etc) Like it or not when you make the decision to let strangers board your boat and use your equipment  and pay money to do so to a large degree you are surrendering your control over how it is used (or abused). A lot of times these are folks who have had little to no experience fishing let alone with your particular equipment You have little control over alcohol use in some ways as sometimes customers arrive half wasted or may have been drinking or doing drugs to some undetermined degree  and you have responsibility for those peoples and the others aboard in terms of safety and you may be the one to clean up the puke on your freshly cleaned floor resulting from their poor judgement. You may have to deal with kids totally tuned out to listening to you or your instructions regardless of their importance to you and parents too embarrassed or else unable to properly control them. Folks may say "oops" after they drop your $200 rod and reel in the water in 100 ft of water. You may have folks cancel out at the last minute (perhaps not caring if they forfeit part of their money) when you are waiting at the dock all ready to go fishing. The most critical thing is the major thing that can affect your business and you have absolutely NO control over....the weather. In this climate many fishing days have to be scrapped because of it and that can be money down the drain....if you are totally dependent on that income as your full time job  for your subsistence you are screwed. I think you will see if you look into things carefully that there aren't many FULLTME charter guys operating and some may be doing it part-time just for the tax write-offs to maintain their :habit":lol: There are much easier ways to make money than the long hours and expenses connected with having your own charter business. There are some really great Lake O charter guys on this site and I hope they pipe in here too.

Edited by Sk8man
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Thanks Les,

I have a lot to think about,

As stated , Im a contractor so I deal with the employee and tool loss, ya, oops, left it somewhere...  i also deal with weather everyday, snow, wind and rain as we do snow removal, concrete, blacktop sealing,  I need good weather for everything I do..     I have a great respect for all who charter, you work hard, and I get that...if it was easy everyone would do it.  I love to be on the water and on my boat, I have a lot of free fishing friends and family and ya, there too I get to pay for the fuel, lost equipment, rod overboard, net, lures lost, rod broken,  now think its time to turn the page,  I am thinking if I did a few charters on the weekends, it may help pay for the boat maint and ins... I don't have the expectation to do this full time although i didn't think I would do a charter after i got licensed either,

getting a licenses was a lot to learn, now i have a lot to think about...

Rick

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Reel Overtime  - It sounds as though you have some good things to start with....the main problem however may be the fact that you are looking at your boat and equipment through the eyes of a sportfisherman (which is understandable) and herein lies a major problem. When you make the decision to charter your boat and equipment become much like any other business tools (e.g. drills, sanders, compressors, office furniture etc) Like it or not when you make the decision to let strangers board your boat and use your equipment  and pay money to do so to a large degree you are surrendering your control over how it is used (or abused). A lot of times these are folks who have had little to no experience fishing let alone with your particular equipment You have little control over alcohol use in some ways as sometimes customers arrive half wasted or may have been drinking or doing drugs to some undetermined degree  and you have responsibility for those peoples and the others aboard in terms of safety and you may be the one to clean up the puke on your freshly cleaned floor resulting from their poor judgement. You may have to deal with kids totally tuned out to listening to you or your instructions regardless of their importance to you and parents too embarrassed or else unable to properly control them. Folks may say "oops" after they drop your $200 rod and reel in the water in 100 ft of water. You may have folks cancel out at the last minute (perhaps not caring if they forfeit part of their money) when you are waiting at the dock all ready to go fishing. The most critical thing is the major thing that can affect your business and you have absolutely NO control over....the weather. In this climate many fishing days have to be scrapped because of it and that can be money down the drain....if you are totally dependent on that income as your full time job  for your subsistence you are screwed. I think you will see if you look into things carefully that there aren't many FULLTME charter guys operating and some may be doing it part-time just for the tax write-offs to maintain their :habit" There are much easier ways to make money than the long hours and expenses connected with having your own charter business. There are some really great Laoek O charter guys on this site and I hope they pipe in here too.

Killed my enthusiasm for making my fun into work!....if I was in the keys maybe then! At least it would work for more than 3 months. Still...puke..., peanut shells in the bilge pumps, drunks...naaa never mind.
That's the best description of this business I could think of...

cent frum my notso smartphone

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Rick you make some good points too. As long as you have your other employment and after having gone to the trouble of getting the license etc. taking a few charters might be worth a shot as long as you're ready to share your "baby" with others :lol:

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I am giving you advice that i have given to many on here in person  for over last 30++++ years I have been chartering.

 

1:  Chartering is NOT for retirement = you don't charter your income building years to build up a retirement fund      AND     Retirement is for chartering (Think of this on so many levels----tax brackets @ different ages/income brackets ---Paying into social security for 30 years on the books 1st. ---Cash income in life when certain income limits are in play---winters off OR down south working boats in tourist locations  ETC...........

 

2: There are 2 goals in a business model ---INCOME (earn Highest possible for your area and situation)   &    EXPENSES (Lower them "at ALL costs")

 

3: Make sure it is always FUN. "A fun job is not a job at all" Once it becomes a job and income driven then you have passed the point of diminishing returns !!!!!!!!  = YOUR Time spent(lost) has more value than $$$ earned 

 

4: You must have a good Accountant & good Lawyer & a GREAT SPOUSE.......

 

5: Learn all you can from others----- Walk a dock/make contacts and ask questions---you will learn quickly business tips both good & bad (BOTH tips have Equal value in a business model)

 

Jerry

RUNNIN REBEL

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"1:  Chartering is NOT for retirement = you don't charter your income building years to build up a retirement fund      AND     Retirement is for chartering (Think of this on so many levels----tax brackets @ different ages/income brackets ---Paying into social security for 30 years on the books 1st. ---Cash income in life when certain income limits are in play---winters off OR down south working boats in tourist locations  ETC..........."

 

This is so true.   I work for probably the largest, busiest charter business in Henderson Harbor.  None of the captains in that outfit rely solely on the fishing to pay the bills.  To what extent, I cannot say, but I will say all of the captains I know have other jobs, and fish HARD when the weather permits.  I too had dreams of starting my own business and working this glorious job.  On the water every day, meeting people, doing something I love and making some money at it.  Those things are all still true, but it takes catching lightening in a bottle to put them all together.  One of the first things I realized is that anybody can go out and get their license, buy a boat, put up a sign and call themselves a business.  The tricky part is making it stick and actually being able to sustain that business.  Putting together an experience nice enough to entice people to come back year after year, and to create buzz, is the hard part.  My advice to anyone is twofold, even though I have limited experience:  First, work for someone for a few years to get your feet wet, and see how a fishing business runs.  The devil is in the details in EVERYTHING, I mean EVERYTHING you do to be successful.  Second, if you want to jump in on your own, start out part time.  Use up weekends, vacations etc. from your real job to ease yourself into the grind.  I haven't been in the business long enough to pretend to talk about the state of the lake, so I will leave that part to the many more experienced people on this forum.  Good luck, and I hope anyone starting out does well.  It truly is a great job.  

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