June 23, 2024

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What to Tip for a 2024 Fishing Guide

Reading Time: 7 minutes

How much should I tip a fishing guide? Is there a difference in gratuity between a 4-hour and an 8-hour fishing charter trip? How do I pay? When should I give the tip? Do I only tip the charter captain or also the mate? There are many questions and dilemmas around the tipping etiquette, but what are the answers?

Photo courtesy of Heritage Fishing Charters

If you’re about to embark on a charter fishing boat for the first time, these thoughts will undoubtedly cross your mind. Even if you’ve fished before, you’re probably wondering whether the customary deep sea fishing trip tip in Texas, for example, applies to your upcoming river angling trip in Alaska. But fear not. We’re here to answer all those questions and give you some additional insight on how to go about tipping.

Why should I tip?

If you’ve ever ordered a meal in a sit-down restaurant, you’re familiar with tipping etiquette. The same approach applies to charter fishing. Plus, when you realize how much heart and soul goes into your fishing trip, you’ll most certainly want to thank the captain and the crew for everything they did for you.

So, before we get into the nitty-gritty of how much money to prepare for the tips, let’s see what guides and mates do to make your day and why tips are appreciated.

A photo featuring a young female angler happily looking at a fish she caught, with a captain helping her hold the line and the fish on it while they're standing on a charter boat
Photo courtesy of Island Excursions Fishing Charters

The captain and the first mate are responsible for the boat, equipment, catch, clients, logistics, navigation, communication, and, above all else, safety.

First and foremost, they ensure the boat, tackle, and all devices aboard are in top-notch condition. They also stock the boat with the necessary supplies and safety equipment. If you have an early morning trip, this means they’ll be up and running, most likely, before 4 a.m. to guarantee everything is ready for your arrival.

During the trip, they’ll operate the boat, locate the fish, and help you land your dream catch. After the trip, they usually clean your fish and pack it for you to take home with you. And that’s without mentioning all the great memories you’ll have made.

So, why should you tip? By tipping, you send a message that:

  • The crew’s effort to assist you didn’t go unnoticed.
  • The expertise your guide (and mate) shared with you is welcome.
  • You loved being on a boat geared up with first-class equipment.
  • You appreciate the prep work they did before you came aboard.
  • You’re thankful for the smooth communication before and during your trip.
  • You enjoyed fishing and spending time with them.
  • The service they provided was memorable.

In return, they’ll have the wind at their backs, motivating them to keep striving for excellence by providing equally memorable experiences to all their future and returning clients.

It’s also not uncommon for first mates to work for tips, so your gratuity is more than welcome.

How much should I tip a fishing guide?

While the reasons for gratuity are universal, charter boat tipping practices may vary depending on several factors, including the location, the number of anglers on board, and whether a captain is a one-man band or has a mate. Let’s take a closer look…


Wherever you are, gratuity usually ranges between 15% and 20% of the trip’s total price. This is the case in almost all states, from Alaska and Hawaii to North Carolina and Florida. But you’ll always have more options at your disposal. Here’s a quick overview of what you may expect:

State Tipping range Customary gratuity Other common tips
Alabama 15-20% 20% 18%
Alaska 10-25% 15% /
California 10-25% 20% /
Florida 10-30% 20% $70 – $100 per trip
Hawaii 10-25% 20% /
Louisiana 10-20% 20% $50 – $100 per trip
Maryland 15-25% 20% $100 – $200 per trip
Massachusetts 8-20% 15% 18%
Michigan 10-25% 20% $100 – $200 per trip
New Jersey 10-25% 20% $150 per trip
New York 10-30% 20% /
North Carolina 10-25% 20% 18%
Ohio 10-25% 20% 18%
South Carolina 10-25% 20% /
Texas 8-20% 20% $50-$75 per trip
Virginia 15-20% 20% 18%

As you can see, the tip can sometimes be as low as 8% or as high as 30%. The customary tip, however, is 20%. This is the prevalent option in Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin as well. So, when in doubt about how much to tip a fishing guide, go for the industry standard of 20%.


Besides location variations, there are cases where the tipping policy depends on the number of anglers fishing. The reasons for this are numerous, but the main one is the fact that there’s more demanding preparation and often the need to hire additional help to assist larger groups.

A photo featuring a group of almost 10 anglers posing with their catches on the dock after their fishing trip has finished and before they tip their fishing guide for a memorable experience
Photo courtesy of Action Charter Service Inc.

For example, when there are five anglers aboard a charter fishing boat, a $200 gratuity is expected. In other words, each person should leave a tip of at least $40 per trip. This is a practice in some parts of Florida and Maryland.

Alternatively, you may see notes stating that the first mate will be available only for groups or on demand. They’ll work for tips in both situations, so don’t be surprised if a minimum of $100 per trip is required, not only encouraged.


As mentioned above, most captains have a specific policy regarding when the first mate will be present. Some captains have them always aboard, others hire them depending on the number of anglers, while many don’t even have a helping hand. When there’s only a captain aboard, there aren’t any dilemmas on who to tip, right? But what happens when there’s also a mate?

A photo showing a captain, his first mate, and several anglers posing together aboard a charter boat docked in the marina with a huge Billfish they caught during the deep sea fishing trip in Cabo San Lucas in Mexico
Photo courtesy of Cabo Sportfishing Crew – El Pargo

The first mate usually works for tips, so in situations where there’s both a captain and a first mate, you won’t go wrong if you leave your tip directly to the first mate. What’s more, if you try to tip the captain, they’ll almost certainly advise you to tip the mate instead. You may also opt to give 15-20% to the first mate and at least a 5% gratuity to the captain. It’s up to you to decide if you’d like to tip both.

How should I tip a fishing guide?

The answer to this question is quite simple – when it comes to gratuity, cash is king. We recommend ready money as your primary tipping method. But if you forget to pack cash, you can use other payment methods to transfer gratuity to your charter operator.

A photo featuring a person’s hand while giving a tip to a fishing guide after the fishing trip

For example, if you’re in Florida, you can always use an ATM machine in the marina after the trip. Also, you’ll likely be able to add the tip with your card – just remember that you’ll have to cover the processing fee as well. Alternatively, you may opt for Venmo or other digital transfers. However, these aren’t commonly used (yet), so consult with your guide directly and agree on the best way to give them the money.

When should I tip a fishing guide?

Once you’ve fished your heart out and had a blast on the water, it’s time for the trip to end. As you’re summing up your experience on the way back, you’ll notice that you’re slowly approaching the marina. This will be your cue to start packing and get ready to thank the captain and mate.

Before you disembark, thank your captain and give them the gratuity you prepared. Therefore, the ideal time to tip your fishing guide or mate is at the very end of your fishing trip.

What else to know?

We covered the most important aspects of gratuity, such as what gratuity is for, what the customary percentage is, what different scenarios you may expect, and what the ideal time to tip is. But here are some additional tips on what else to consider when tipping a fishing guide:

A photo featuring a man while sitting and holding a wallet in one hand and several dollar bills in the other hand thinking about how much to tip a fishing guide
  • Correct currency. If you’re in the Maldives or exploring fisheries in Europe, it’s preferable to tip in the currency of the country where you’re fishing.
  • Smaller bills. In case you decide to adjust your gratuity at the last minute, it’s useful to have smaller bills with you. So, along with $50 or $100 bills, make sure you bring $10 and $20 bills, too.
  • Traveling in a group. If you’re fishing with friends or family, decide on how much you can set aside for gratuity and agree who will give the tip before you hop on the boat. This way, you ensure everyone is on the same page when the time comes for tipping, and the tipping experience itself is smoother.
  • Trip duration. Whether you’re on a 4- or 8-hour fishing charter, approach gratuity in the same way, which is tipping the industry standard. In other words, don’t focus on the duration of the trip but on 20% of its total price.
  • Consult with your captain. Your guide will communicate openly with you prior to your trip. They’ll walk you through the essentials and let you know what’s included in the price and what’s not – so you should be familiar with the tipping policy ahead of time. But if you’re still unsure about tipping, don’t hesitate to ask your captain about the details. They’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have.
  • Notes on the boat. Pay attention to any notes the captain makes about their service. Almost all guides make signs about gratuity or other rules visible somewhere on the boat. This may come in handy if you still have a dilemma about tipping.
  • Always tip. Last but not least, it’s important to remember that tipping is related to the service and hard work your guide put in and not how many fish you catch. So, if your guide and mate did everything right but the fish simply didn’t bite, let them know you appreciate their effort by tipping normally.

How much do you tip a fishing guide?

With no single approach toward gratuity, it’s no wonder that many anglers are unsure how much to tip a fishing guide. There’s a certain charter boat tipping etiquette, but nothing is set in stone. While you can’t go wrong with the industry standard of 20%, don’t be afraid to talk to your guide about it and consult on their customary tip and gratuity policies.

A photo featuring different tipping options when tipping a charter fishing guide via cards

The same goes for all other tipping-related dilemmas. Feel free to discuss them with your charter operator – after all, they’re used to handling these questions. But in any case, we hope this article gave you an idea of some different scenarios you may encounter.

How much do you tip a fishing guide? What’s a customary tip in your area? Do you have tipping dilemmas that we didn’t resolve? Hit the comment button below, and feel free to share your thoughts with us and your fellow anglers.

The post How Much to Tip a Fishing Guide for 2024 appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Tanya
Title: How Much to Tip a Fishing Guide for 2024
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/how-much-to-tip-a-fishing-guide/
Published Date: Thu, 30 May 2024 15:25:49 +0000

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