How to Survive the High Season: A Brief Guide
Jun 13, 2019 | 4 minute read
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Balancing between work, family, and other commitments has never been easy. It sure helps if your job is something you love and enjoy. But while it’s hard to find a charter captain who doesn’t love to fish, doing it for a living is far from simple. Being in touch with captains 24/7, 365 days a year, we discovered a lot about the issues every captain faces in the high season. Based on our findings, we’ll discuss a few solid tips to make your life easier when the going gets tough.

The Problems (and Solutions)

During the high season, it’s easy to feel like you’re on the wrong end of the rod.

It’s not just the captains who get booked back-to-back that struggle in high season. Captains face all sorts of problems during the entire year, the high season just makes them all the more pressing. Even if you’re not overbooked 24/7, this article can help you run a tight ship, saving both time and money.

Last-Minute Bookings

One of the biggest headaches of the high season is last-minute bookings. A difficult thing to deal with in the best of times, arranging a trip for an inflexible customer can be a real nightmare when you’re all booked up.

Here it’s important to also understand the customer’s side of things. When people are on vacation with their family, they’re likely to have a lot of things pre-planned and will think of their fishing trip as a part of that overarching plan. Show them you’re able to work within the parameters of their plan and you’ll be golden.

Say your potential customer wants to book a 2:00–6:00 p.m. slot, and you can only do trips from 3:00 p.m. A good plan is to offer them a 3-hour trip that will still work with their schedule.

Weather Cancellations

Lousy weather is unfortunate, but something you can usually fix easily by rescheduling. Unfortunately, that’s hardly an option when you’re all booked up for the next few weeks!

The key is to still attempt to provide a service to the customer. If you know a captain who would be able to get them on, make a recommendation. Both sides will be grateful, and word of mouth is a strong thing. If you’re just starting out, every good word from a customer is worth its weight in gold.


man sitting in a leaking boat

Stress is part of daily life in modern society, and dealing with it isn’t anything new in the charter business, either. Most stressful situations tend to happen outside the boat before the trip is even due to begin. Whether it’s mechanical failure, bad weather, inflexible customers, or something else entirely, it’s too easy to get burnt out during the high season.

To make things even more complicated, it’s not easy to keep in touch with all the people you care about when you’re running charters all day long. Holidays like Memorial Day mean booked-up weekends for charter captains, with little time to spare for yourself and your loved ones.

While everyone deals with stress differently, maintaining a positive attitude is a good way to get started. Captain Matt Bellinger from Bamboo Charters, one of our top-booked listings in Islamorada, likes to say that “We get paid to go on someone’s vacation.” It’s easy to forget about the perks of the job and focus on the problems – it’s just the way we’re wired.

How to Take Back Control of Your Work-Life Balance

Be Organized

The best way to free up some personal time for yourself is to run your business like a well-oiled machine. One way to avoid problems and time-sinks is to have a tightly-run calendar and avoid double-booking. This has the upside of maintaining a reputation for reliability among your customers, but also giving you some time for R&R. Your calendar is one of your biggest assets, and it’s important to treat it like this.

Spend Time with Your Family

Family of four walking on a wooden crossing surrounded by water.

Speaking of R&R, it’s too easy to neglect friends and family when you’re swamped with work. Regular contact with people you care about is very important for your health, but circumstances can make it more difficult. Plenty of captains go out-of-state to run charter trips, so the people they care about are a long flight or even longer drive away.

We’re fortunate to live in a time when things like video chat are readily available, but even something as simple as a phone call allows you to unwind before going back on the water again.

Take Care of Your Customers (and They’ll Return the Favor)

Having a good relationship with your customers is a gift that keeps on giving. According to Capt. Matt, your responsibility as a charter captain is to “Return every phone call, email, and inquiry. Try to get these people taken care of.” Even if that means recommending them to a different captain, the way you treat your customers can define your business. When you look back on the season and the glowing recommendations from customers, you’ll know your hard work paid off.

Did you also miss a birthday because it was Tarpon season? How do you cope with high season stress? Let us know in the comments below!

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