Avoiding Fishing Charter Scams in Los Cabos - How to Charter Safely and What You Should Bring on Your Charter

Charter fishing clients head to their boats in the East Cape of Los Cabos
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A young couple saves up their hard earned cash for a vacation in Cabo. One thing they know they just have to do is get out on the water and catch some of those marlin they've heard about. In fact, the first place they went after checking into their hotel was the marina and my what a display it was. Boat after boat after boat. So many, but how do you know which one's a "good" one, wondered the couple.

That's a pretty common scenario along the Cabo San Lucas marina. We've seen it happen or hear the terrible stories of how folks get taken by "coyotes" – the term used by locals for the scam artists that hang out at various spots along the docks. That's the bad news. The good news is that armed with a little advance knowledge, you won't be one of those folks that gets ripped off. Instead, you'll be one of those talking about the great fishing.

The Puerto Los Cabos marina
It's easy to get excited looking at all the beautiful fishing boats in Los Cabos, but don't fall prey to "coyotes" out for your money.


We're back with our young couple walking around the marina in awe of all the beautiful fishing boats. It's hard not to get excited, but it's that very excitement that can lead to making a bad decision. Here's how that can pan out.

"Well, look at all the flags on that one" the young man says, "that's got to be a good one!"

The young lady figures her beau knows what he's talking about, but just out of their vision is someone listening in who knows he doesn't.

"My friend, let me tell you that you are absolutely right!" he says. "I know the captain of that boat, he is my cousin and he is a great fisherman."

"Really?' says the young lady.

"Yes, he is my cousin and we are very close. He takes me out fishing when he doesn't have a charter, like tomorrow," her new friend tells her. "But I have to help my mother tomorrow and cannot fish."

"The boat is available tomorrow then?" asks the young man.

"Sure... you want it?" he asks.

And so it goes. Soon, they're haggling over the price and what time should we be there followed by "let me call him to let him know" immediately followed by "okay, it's all set, I just need the deposit.... $350." He gives the young couple a receipt and is on his way with a "buena suerte!" (good luck!).

What happened next? You probably guessed it, the real captain did have a charter and know one knew who his "cousin" was. Moral of the story... book with a coyote and it's probably going to be no fishing for you.

I know, that would never happen to you, right? Well, these guys are pretty slick and trust us when we tell you that many a wise character has fallen for their routines. Although it might not happen all that often, if it happens to you it will be one to many times, so don't take the risk of ruining a great vacation.

The single best piece of fishing advice we can give you is to ALWAYS deal with an established, reputable charter company. Do your homework and if at all possible, book your charter BEFORE you get to Cabo. If the fishing is exceptional, chances are all the good boats will already be reserved by the time you get here. Any reputable charter company will take a deposit to hold your boat then you'll pay the balance the day before, or in some cases, the day of your charter.

If you can't make the arrangements in advance, always look to charter with a company that has an office... a real physical location where they do business. At least you'll know you can return their should you run into any problems as opposed to trying to find "the guy" you dealt with somewhere along the marina. Bottomline, use common sense and if it sounds to good, too cheap to be true, rest assured it probably is.

Charter fishing trip in Los Cabos
Follow a few simple rules, apply some common sense and you'll find that a day of fishing in Los Cabos may be the best part of your vacation.


Most Important! You are a guest aboard the boat. If you have any questions, problems, or concerns let your captain and/or crew know about it, they are there to help you. Before you book your trip, ask if there are any special "rules" regarding smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol, then abide by the boat rules or find a different boat.

Try to bring a minimum of clothing that will be suitable for the weather and pack your gear in a duffel bag or other soft-sided, collapsible luggage to make it easy to store your things out of the way. Make sure you bring a good pair of non-skid deck shoes.

Make sure you bring your legal documents and ID. Remember all persons fishing on the vessel need fishing licenses. It is very easy to get dehydrated when boating. Remember to pack some bottled water and drink it. Boating activities multiply alcohol’s intoxicating effects. The hot sun, wind, rough ocean movements and the boats vibration all contribute to what’s called “boater’s fatigue.” This means that one beer on the water will most likely have the effect of two or three beers at home.

Familiarize yourself with safety and emergency procedures before leaving the dock. Know the location of the boat’s fire extinguisher. Fires are very serious aboard a boat. Everyone on board must have a clear understanding of who is in command. Try and have someone onboard who is able to take over and operate the VHF radio to ask for help should the captain and/or crew become disabled.

Each year roughly 700 people die in boating-related accidents; nine out of ten of these victims were not wearing a life jacket. There is no law requiring the use of a life jacket but make sure you know where they are located if you decide not to use them. Only grab spots on the boat that are solid.

Do avoid intense sun exposure if possible. Remember water reflects UV light back to you. Wear long sleeves, a wide brimmed hat, put on sunglasses (sunglasses should be polarized to cut the glare and protect against UVA and UVB radiation) and use waterproof sunscreen. Apply the sunscreen liberally for it to work and reapply as needed during the course of the day. It's better to put the first application on 30-60 minutes before going out in the sun so it can penetrate into the skin.

A minimum suggested tip per day is $75 to $150 and should be handed directly to the boat captain. The captain and crew rely on their gratuities and customarily a tip should be between 15-20% of the service fees. Keep in mind these gentlemen are hard working people and though they have a great job, they still have families to feed. Leaving your extra fish on board is a great gesture and is very much appreciated! If you need fish packing and freezing, ask your crew who they recommend, chances are it will be Gricelda's on the marina side of the Wyndham Tesoro Resort. Grace and Dale will handle your catch like it was their own at a fair price. Airlines allow hard-sided coolers to be packed with frozen fish for transport in the cargo hold.