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Know Before You Go: Hiring a Charter Captain in Niagara Falls USA

The advantages to hiring a fishing charter captain — and how you should go about selecting one for your next fishing trip.

Most people come to Niagara Falls USA to experience the thrill of the Falls. But for others, there’s a different draw: the thrill o­f the catch.

“I don’t think anywhere else in the country, freshwater-wise, can you find the size, the diversity and the numbers of fish that Niagara County has to offer to anglers,” says Frank Campbell, Destination Niagara USA’s outdoor promotions director. “It’s a 12-months-a-year fishery, meaning there’s always someplace where you can find the conditions needed to have a successful day. Let’s say you drive in from central Ohio and when you arrive, the wind’s out of the southwest and lake is too rough. The lake might be out of question, but that southwest wind is just fine on the Niagara River. There are always opportunities to be had.”

Turns out Frank is a good person to ask about fishing opportunities in Niagara Falls USA, having spent some 30 years as a Niagara region charter captain. He’s passionate about these waters, but with that passion comes a profound respect for their power. Lake Ontario and the waterways that feed it are, after all, great. “And conditions are always changing,” he says, “from the weather to the water. People can be out in a calm bay and then a storm blows in they weren’t expecting, and they can really get into trouble, resulting in Coast Guard rescues.”

That’s where a fishing charter comes in, Frank says. A knowledgeable captain will be in control of situations that might otherwise get out-of-control, for one. Beyond providing a safe outing, a captain also ensures a productive, positive fishing trip — they know where to go and how to catch fish, essentially flattening the angler’s learning curve to nil.

“The best thing about fishing is being able to go home and tell a story at the end of the day,” Frank says. “A charter captain will ensure that happens.”

“The best thing about fishing is being able to go home and tell a story at the end of the day. A charter captain will ensure that happens.”

How to Choose a Niagara Fishing Charter

With so many options to choose from, it can be hard to know how to select the right fishing guide. He recommends these tips for a successful booking.

Make sure the captain is local and experienced. Someone who is on the water day-in and day-out will be more familiar with the conditions than someone who drives in on the weekends to lead excursions.

Make sure the captain is certified. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to verify that the captain is Coast Guard-certified and insured.

Make sure the charter company has a cancellation policy. While it’s true that there are many different waterways which allows for flexibility when it comes to conditions, it’s also true that some days just won’t allow for safe fishing.

Your fishing charter will provide all bait and tackle, and all boats are equipped with safety measures and life jackets. Your responsibilities: Secure a New York fishing license, wear proper clothing — and maybe bring a snack.