Trophy Specialists
Fishing Charters

Common Questions

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Michigan Sportfishing Charter Trips:

Saginaw Bay
Walleye Capital
of the World!!!
Walleye Charters
at Au Gres (AuGres)
and Tawas City (or East Tawas)


Lake Erie
Walleye Charters
at Monroe,
Toledo and
Port Clinton


Saginaw Bay
Walleye or Perch Charters at Au Gres (AuGres)


Lake Michigan
King Salmon Charters
at Manistee


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(Select Big Fish)

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Qestions about trips with Trophy Specialists Fishing Charters.Are Credit Cards or Debit Cards Accepted?

Yes.  Trophy Specialists accepts only VISA, MasterCard, American Express and Discover credit cards.  We also accept debit cards too.  Credit cards are the preferred way to reserve your charter, but we do also accept checks for deposits too, as long as they are sent in promptly.  We can run your credit card at the dock for payments and even email you a receipt. 

Is food included with the charter?

No.  You may bring your own food and beverages.  I don't know what food customers like or don't like, and I am not licensed to serve food.

Can we start the charter at a later time than usual like for evening fishing?

Yes.  Most charters start early in the morning, however I will honor most requests for later start times especially for walleyes, brown trout and steelhead, which often seem to hit good later in the day anyway.  

Do I need a fishing license?

Yes, you will need to buy a license.  Licenses are available at department stores and bait/tackle shops at all of Trophy Specialist's port towns.  They can also be purchased over the Internet at Buy Fishing Licenses On-line.  If you are fishing for trout or salmon, you must purchase an "All Species License".  For walleyes, you can buy the less expensive alternative.  "One Day" licenses are good for all species and cost only $11.00, a real bargain compared to many other states.  Youths under 17 don't need a license. An Ohio license might be needed for walleye trips on Lake Erie. Ask the Captain prior to the trip if one is needed before purchasing one. 

What do I need to bring?

On the boat you should consider bringing the following:

  • your  fishing license

  • food

  • beverages

  • sunglasses

  • camera

  • rain gear

  • video camera

  • medications

  • proper attire

    Your party should pack food and beverages in small coolers that can fit under a normal seat.  Make sure to bring plenty of ice.  Many customers have run short on cooler space for the large quantities of fish that are so common.  Please bring along a big cooler with ice in it that you leave in you vehicle so you can transport your fish home in.  Also if you are considering getting a fish mounted, bring a big enough cooler so the fish won't get damaged.

Do I need to bring a rod or baits?

No.  Well maybe.  I provide top quality equipment for customers to use, however some folks like to use their own equipment and in most cases I don't have a problem with them using it; as long as it's proper for the situation.  If a customer chooses to use his or her equipment against the captains recommendation though, then the fish guarantee is off.  If you plan to try fly fishing for steelhead (yes this is possible), then you'll need to bring your own fly rod and flies.

What if we get skunked?    

Trophy Specialists has rarely been skunked, so the likelihood of drawing a blank is extremely slim, but if it does happen, a heavily discounted return trip will usually be offered.             

Do you have a toilet on board?

Yes.  I have a Portapotti and TP.

Who cleans the fish?

You have the choice of cleaning the fish yourself, taking the whole fish home with you or having the fish professionally cleaned for a fee. Optional fish cleaning services are provided at an additional cost either by Trophy Specialists LLC or a third party.           

Is tipping customary on charter boats?

Tipping is considered customary in most service industries including charter fishing.  Gratuities are a way to complement a service provider and are generally given in cash.  If you receive service that is beyond the standard charter fishing norm then you should seriously consider a good gratuity or you probably won't get that kind of service again on your next trip.  Many people have asked me how much a "normal" tip is for a charter.  While tip amounts vary a lot based on the quality of service given, it is commonly accepted that 15-20% is considered a "normal" tip in the charter industry.        

What if someone gets sea sick?  

There are several over the counter drugs available to treat motion sickness and also some powerful prescription drugs that work well.  If you have gotten seasick before or are uncertain if you are susceptible, then you should consider taking motion sickness medication.  If someone gets seasick, it is generally up to the customers whether to curtail the trip.  However, if someone vomits continuously or can't hold down liquids for a prolonged period of time, the captain retains the right to curtail the trip.  Sometimes, if the fishing is not too far from port, for an additional fee the sick person's) can be taken ashore and the charter can continue.  If the run is too long though, the trip might be over.   In all cases of trips shortened because of seasickness, even if the captain makes the call to curtail the trip, you still have to pay for the entire charter.

Can we drink "Alcohol" on the boat?   

Yes.  Alcoholic beverages are permitted, however drunkenness is not.  Also, at least one designated driver must remain sober on the boat.  If alcohol is abused on the boat, then the trip may get curtailed and the customer will still have to pay the entire charter fee.  Illegal drugs are not permitted on the boat and regardless of it's medical benefits, marijuana is not allowed on the boat under federal laws.     

How do we find your boat?  When do we meet?

After the deposit is paid, a trip planner and confirmation is sent to you via either US mail or email.  The packet covers all the details of your charters) including meeting places and times with directions and maps included.  We also make lodging recommendations.  

Is lodging included? 

No, we do not include lodging with our services.  We do however make lodging recommendations.  Some offer discounts for our customers.  Customers are responsible for making their own reservations and paying for lodging.

What if the weather or fishing is bad?

If the weather or conditions are unfishable, I try to contact my clients as soon as possible to hopefully save them from a wasted trip.  In any case, if a trip is called off by the captain due to bad weather or certain other reasons, the customer can reschedule the trip at their convenience based on charter availability.  Deposits, prepayments and gift certificates are non-refundable.    

Do you mix parties?

No.  Well sometimes.  On rare occasions when two parties both request a mixed party and the dates work out, then it's possible.  Otherwise, you have the boat and my services to yourself.

How many people can you take in your boat?

For quality customer service purposes, I limit my charters to four customers or a maximum of 1,000 pounds of combined customer weight, including the customer's gear, to avoid overloading the boat.  I do partner up with other expert captains on walleye, salmon and steelhead trips to satisfy large groups.         

What if we have a group larger than four people?

Trophy Specialists can run two charters in one day to accommodate large parties.  Customers can also charter two days in a row to get the whole group out on the water for some awesome fishing.  If those multiple trips are scheduled for a weekdays, then a 10% discount would apply.  We can also partner with other charter boats to handle large parties of people.     

What if someone wants to go in early, can you drop them off and go back out?

Sometimes.  If we are fishing close to port, it is not a big deal to head back in to drop someone off or even just to take a break.  However if the fishing location is far from port, then it is often logistically impractical to drop someone off.  The time spent running to and from port and taking breaks are considered part of the charter duration.   If someone wants to get dropped off early it may be necessary to fish close to port and in that case the trip may not be guaranteed.  A surcharge may also be applied to cover the added cost of ferrying people back to shore.

What happens if we catch our limit?   Can we catch additional fish on the captain's limit?  What about catch and release?    

First of all, when limits are taken on a charter everyone is generally awfully damn happy.  Most captains do not allow fish to be caught on their limits and it's rare to find a charter that allows catch and release fishing on the Great Lakes.  Trophy Specialists Fishing Charters is not an ordinary charter though.   Once customers catch their limits, at the captain's discretion (for customers that tip well), you can sometimes catch and keep a few extra fish for the captain, however those fish are the captains property and it's up to him whether he wants to keep them for himself or give them away (again here's where a good tip can help).  When fishing for durable fish like walleyes, lakers, steelhead and browns, catch and release beyond limits is sometimes permitted, but only on 8-hour charters and only for customers that recognize that such privileges are way beyond the normal scope of common charter service.  Even then, once limits are in the box, the trip is over so catch and release fishing requires that customers posses less than their limits in order to keep fishing.  Due to the poor survival rate of salmon, once limits of salmon are reached, then the trip is over and we have to head back to port.  If you are allowed the extraordinary service to catch and release fish or catch and keep fish on the captains limit and you fail to tip the captain, then do not expect that same level of service on your next charter.

What happens when one person catches their limit, can they still reel in more fish?       

Generally, customers take turns catching fish.  However since the vast majority of our fishing involves trolling, which is a genuine team effort, each fish caught, collectively, belongs to everyone on the boat.  So therefore, the limit is actually a boat limit.  For a person to be able to take a limit of fish, they must be actively participating in the fishing. For instance, if little five year old Johnny only reels in one fish and then he just wants to play video games for the remainder of the trip, then the trip is over once the rest of the party that is still fishing has their limits plus the one fish Johnny caught.         

Can customers set lines and set the hook?

Customer participation is encouraged in all facets of the charter.  However if a customer sets a line wrong or are otherwise negligent in their activities, then any resulting costs incurred will be charged to the customer.  

How do you fish, trolling or casting?     

The vast majority of Trophy Specialist's charters involve trolling tactics.  For steelhead we can sometimes sight fish using casting techniques.  For walleyes, trolling accounts for 95% of our effort, however we do jig, drift and cast on occasion for walleyes, salmon and browns.  

How old do kids have to be to go on a charter?     

All kids are different in their physical and mental maturity.  Basically a child must be mature enough to be able to sit still in a boat for the duration of the trip.  There will likely be slack, boring times in the boat between action and a child needs to have patients, so as not to drive everyone else nuts.  Kids grow up physically at different paces.  I've seen 10 year olds that could catch huge king salmon with no trouble, but I've also seen 18 year olds that couldn't even pull in a small walleye.  You have to judge your kids physical ability, but as a benchmark, kids should weigh at least 90 pounds to go salmon fishing and kids should be at least 8 years old to go walleye fishing.  As a safety precaution against flying hooks, if the kids (or adults) are not strong enough to hold the rod tip in a safe position during a battle, then they will loose their turn on that fish to another angler.  If parents insist on having their kids pull in a fish even if they are not physically capable of handling the fish themselves, then the customers will be responsible for any lost or damaged equipment, but even then rod tips must be kept in a safe position.  All minors under 18 year old will be required to have their parent or guardian sign a waiver of liability before the charter.

Can we come in early before the scheduled duration of the trip is up?

I've had more than one person ask me this one.  Of course you can end your trip whenever you want.  

Why are we asked to sign a waiver of liability?

In 2005, the state of Michigan changed the laws regarding liability on state lands for businesses like charter boats.  The state now holds charter owners responsible for any and all liability concerning just about any occurrences pertaining to the charter activity.  The state has forced me to require a waiver of liability to operate from "their" facilities.  Also, with this sue happy world we live in, I want to avoid any and all costly civil litigation, so waivers of liability are now a fact of life that we will all have to deal with.

What happens if a charter is canceled?

If the customer cancels a charter or fails to show up on the scheduled date and time of the charter, then the deposit may be forfeited at the Captain's sole discretion.  The reason for the strict cancellation (or no-show) policy is because the charter season is too short for the captain to be able to afford the loss of business.  Many motels and airlines also have the same type of policies.  If a charter is cancelled by the captain due to bad weather or for other reasons, then the customer can reschedule the trip depending on charter availability.  Prepaid charter fees, deposits and  gift certificates are non-refundable.   

What happens if I want to reschedule a charter?

If the customer wishes to reschedule a charter then the more lead time given to the captain the better.  It is strictly up to the discretion of the Captain concerning the rescheduling of charters.

Can we book a half-day charter and then extend it to a full-day charter during the trip?

Yes and no.  If the captains schedule allows, then the trip can be extended, however extra hours of fishing are billed at $50 per hour.  If you want to get the 8-hour rate and level of service, then you will need to book an 8 hour trip.

I can't decide on whether to go on a 5 or 8 hour trip.  Can you advise?

If your party consists of 3 or 4 people, then a 8-hour trip is advised to allow you enough time to catch your fish.  For instance, sometimes on salmon trips, we will hook a big fish early in the morning that will take an hour to bring in, which really cuts into the number of fish possible to catch.  Also, on some trips, it may take several hours just to find the fish.  There is a much higher level of service on 8 hour trips too.  The longer fishing duration allows more options on fishing locations.  For instance, 5-hour trips are limited to closer proximity to port, so if the fishing is red hot further away, you will miss that action.  On some species, we allow catch and release fishing (limited to those that tip), but only on 8-hour charters.   The only advantage to a 5-hour trip is a little bit cheaper, but not much more.

Why do you charge extra for afternoon trips?

The morning charter is a full day's work for the captain.  An afternoon charter then goes into overtime and thus the price difference. 

Can we fish for perch if we limit out on walleyes or vice/versa?

No for several reasons.  I don't have enough storage space on the boat to carry all the rods/reels and tackle necessary for the two, completely different fishing techniques.  Also, perch fishing requires minnows and by law I can't buy minnows for my clients on a charter, so the clients would have to buy minnows if they wanted to try for perch and few would want to do that for the off chance that they may have time to fish for perch.  It would be a royal pain to try to keep minnows alive on an eight hour charter just on the off chance that we have time to fish for perch at the end of the trip.  It is two completely different fisheries and usually the locations just don't overlap.



Trophy Specialists Fishing Charters Homepage

copyright 1998

copyright 1998 Trophy Specialists LLC

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