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Social Media and Charter Fishing

Manistee Michigan Salmon Fishing Charters

The Evolution of Charter Fishing in the Age of Social Media

They say time waits for no man and boy do I know it! It feels like just yesterday I kick-started my charter service, amidst the naysayers who scoffed at the idea of internet and websites. That was a quarter of a century ago; now we’re in the days of a social media frenzy and I often find myself questioning if our customers are truly on board with this race to the dock mentality that modern Great Lakes charter captains have adopted.

Post-COVID Shifts in Charter Clients

In the post-COVID era, I’ve noticed a shift in our charter clients. There’s an increase in family outings and outdoor vacation planning, with groups exploring the local scene and filling their days with forest treks, canoeing, fishing, and hunting. My longer charter trip offerings, which were once dwindling due to costs, are now making a comeback as people flock to our corner of the Great Lakes.

The Social Media Race and Charter Fishing

The latest trend within charter fishing is to be the first captain to post the day’s catch on social media. While this race to the limit may stroke the captain’s ego, I can’t help but wonder if it comes at the expense of the charter client. I mean, how do customers feel about shelling out today’s charter rates for a fishing trip that lasts just one hour?

A Lesson From the Past

I learned a valuable lesson on this matter back in the early 2000s, fishing from the port of Luna Pier on Lake Erie. The 2003 year class of walleye was the best in decades, with 30 fish caught an hour, sometimes across three trips daily. It was a total whack-fest for weeks on end. However, the following year, I noticed a slump in my bookings. Certain repeat clients were conspicuously absent from my books.

So, I took to the phones and reached out to my past customers, assuring them that the upcoming year was shaping up to be just as prosperous. To my surprise, the common response was: “That was great and all but…I never had time to eat my sandwich, drink a pop and chat with my group.”

It was a lightbulb moment. I hadn’t lost customers because of good fishing; I had lost them because I didn’t meet their expectations for the day. They had planned for an adventure, traveling to my boat, eager and ready, only for it to be over within an hour. Lesson learned indeed.

What Makes a Charter Captain Great?

We captains, we’re a pretty skilled bunch. Some of us, admittedly, are better than others – just ask us! The dock and Facebook are never short of a captain’s ego. Some customers buy into this race mentality, but I’m guessing most don’t. As captains, we have a choice: we can take people fishing…or we can offer them an unforgettable experience, creating lifelong clients and friends.

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