How does Sportfish Hawaii select boats for its referral business?

There are approximately 125-150 or so charter boats throughout the islands at any given time, as operations come and go frequently. Kona leads the way with around a hundred, Maui is second with roughly 25, Oahu has about 20, and Kauai has about 10. It’s an industry standard that a booking agent will charge a fee to the operation for referring business, so essentially anyone can provide a list of boats and take a commission for selling a trip. The skippers generally will not charge a lower rate for a directly booked trip, because they know that type of practice will sever relationships with the booking agents they use, and besides, when they sell a trip themselves, they reward themselves with not having to pay a booking fee.

We select our boats based on several criteria. First and foremost is the skipper. As with any business, the person in charge is the lifeblood, and if that person has a good attitude, generally so will everyone else. We select boats that are primarily owner operators because we have found these skippers take better care of the boats and give a little extra personal touch to the angling customers. We also find they go fishing from a labor of love standpoint, and since fishing is their way of life as opposed to a job, it tends to be reflected in the way they carry their businesses. We interview each skipper before placing the company in our program, and we get to know them more and more on a personal basis all the time.

Second, we look at the condition of the boat and the gear, and personally inspect each and every boat. We also talk with other people such as marine surveyors and other skippers to find out how well maintained the boats are, and we also look at the gear whenever we visit our skippers (which is fairly regular). Premature line wear is a sure sign of a boat that has stressed the gear on a big fish without making repairs, and is a great indicator of how much the skipper cares about your fishing trip. Other items such as weather protection, size and weight of the boat, amenities, and the like are also considered and mentioned on our pages.

Third, we look at the reputation of the company. In addition to longevity in business (or at least in fishing experience in the case of guys who are former commercial fishermen) and frequency of catch, we want to know if these skippers can catch a thousand pounder if fortunate enough to hook one. Anyone can get lucky enough to strike a grander, but can the skipper and the crew handle it, even if an inexperienced charter is the angler?

In short, we don’t make a list available on the website and tell you to go and do the research yourself. While you will probably do some research and we do encourage that, we take the guesswork out of your fishing charter. We would go fishing on any boat we refer to, plain and simple, and to please us, that’s an accomplishment.

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