Going fishing is many things to many people. That’s one of the allures of the sport. For some, the solitude of the game is what’s important. It’s man against the fish. The angler chooses when, where and how to fish and success is a quiet joy.
For others, fishing is quality time with family. It could be father and son, brother and sister or generational, with Grandpa, parents and children involved. Catching a fish is a sidelight to just being together and enjoying the outdoors together.
But occasionally, fishing can be the star of the party and become the party. It could be a corporate outing designed as a team-building event or a reward for a job well done. It could be a family reunion, involving brothers, uncles, sisters and nieces. How about bachelor parties, graduations – you name it and with a little work and planning – a summer fishing outing on Lake Michigan can be a memory maker!
Indiana’s charter fishing community
Indiana doesn’t have any one “fishing company” with either a giant boat that can hold a dozen or more participants or with multiple boats, but don’t rule out a large group outing for your next celebration. Indiana’s charter fishing community is a tight-knit group. Most captains know all the other captains in their port and most of the other captains in the state and they all frequently work together.
All Indiana captains are licensed by the Coast Guard and the Indiana DNR to allow up to six passengers at a time on their boats. Some have smaller boats and the captain chooses to restrict the number of passengers due to space and capacity.
So what do you do if you want to plan an outing involving eight, ten or more people?
It’s not that hard. First, go to www.charterfish.org to get a list of Indiana’s top charter captains. Pick one of them and give them a call. Explain you want to plan a group outing involving more than six passengers and you understand it will have to involve more than one boat. Most captains have been involved in group outings previously and know how to set them up. The size of the group has no reasonable limitations. I once set up an outing for 32 anglers.
Before you call, know some details about your group. Have a date in mind or a couple of dates that will work. The captain you call may have August 11th available, but he will have to find other captains available for the same date.
Most important is having a good count on the number of people who will be coming. For example, just saying ten or fifteen won’t cut it. If it’s ten, two boats will need to be involved; if it’s fifteen, a third boat will be required. Also, if your party is set up for a dozen people, don’t show up with a couple of people who were last minute invitees. The six passengers or less regulation is firm.
Is multiple boats less fun?
Not really, it will probably mean the group as a whole will catch more fish than if they’d all been on the same boat. The captains can pick a little-used channel on their marine radios so all the participants can keep tabs on the fish count (or who lost a big one) on the other boats. The boats will often fish the same areas so when it’s dad’s turn to catch a fish, the boats can draw closer to watch the fish being reeled in and hoisted aboard.
Plan a tournament with each boat involved being a team! Awards can be given out and group photos taken at the fish cleaning station as the captains and crew clean and package the salmon and trout for each participant.
Most important is to plan this as far in advance as possible.
You may be able to call around and find an open boat a few days or a couple of weeks in advance during summer, but finding two or more with openings on the same day would be difficult. If you want a specific boat or boats, planning six months or more in advance would be good. Otherwise, especially if weekend days are involved, a month to six weeks prior planning ups your chance of putting your plan in action.
Lake Michigan is a big lake, it has some of the biggest fish in the Midwest and can provide some of the greatest fun and lasting memories for any size group of anglers.