I recently vacationed with my family on Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras. One of the activities that we were most excited about was fishing for tuna. We've fished in Mexico, Costa Rica, Hawaii, and Alaska, always having an excellent experience even when the fish weren't biting. Not the case with this trip.
The first mate spent the bulk of his time on his cell phone conducting personal business instead of taking care of his duties on the boat. Even when he was not on his phone, he didn't have a clue about which tackle to rig and how to rig it. Consequently, we spent a lot of time waiting for the Captain to do the first mate's job for him.
When we did get a good sized fish on the line, a poorly manufactured leader failed, allowing the fish to get away. Upon inspection of the failed leader, the boat captain acknowledged that they were trying some "new leader" instead of using leader they built up themselves. The leader failed at the swage, indicating that it was poorly manufactured and likely never tested to ensure it would hold up when loaded to the limit of the leader line. The captain was clearly embarrassed by the situation.
Finally, and most importantly, the boat had no live-well for live bait fish. It wasn't until we were out on the water that the captain informed us that the pump on their live-well was broken, so they didn't have any live bait ! It turns out that the only success we had that day was achieved using live bait that we had to catch ourselves, using our chartered fishing time, then assist in pouring fresh water every few minutes into their broken live-well to keep the bait fish alive. Unbelievable.
It is important to note that, although the boat captain was very young, he said he was only 17 years old, we felt he did the best he could with what he was provided and would not hesitate to have him at the helm again.
When I took these issues up with the owner, Loren Monterroso, he offered a small rebate and said that he had fired the first mate as a result of our experience. He did not apologize or own up to the failed gear and live well issues, which were more easily addressed than the crew issue. We felt a significant refund was warranted, based on the multiple problems we experienced. He disagreed.
One other issue worth mentioning . . . we had indicated in advance of booking the charter that we wished to pay the balance with a credit card. The owner agreed without hesitation. Fifty percent of the charter cost was required up front in cash. At the conclusion of the trip, however, the boat captain did not have the credit card machine to take an imprint of our card, so we ended up having to pay cash. This unplanned expenditure created some temporary cash flow problems for us, since we did plan on having to spend an additional $430 cash on the fishing charter. Fortunately, we were able to obtain additional funds through a cash advance on our credit card. Nonetheless, it was unprofessional of Early Bird to agree to accept a credit card, then change the rules at the last minute.
Do yourself a favor and steer clear of Early Bird Fishing Charters.