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SiestaKation Charters & suggestions to play it safe

By: Kandace P.

If the thrill of hooking a feisty fish, the sight of the golden hues of a Siesta sunset on the water, or the thought of tiki bar hopping by boat excites you, I suggest you get to know a local Captain and his family friendly business- SiestaKation Charters.

U.S. Coast Guard Master Captain Josh Pritchett offers unique experiences out of Siesta Key Marina, specializing in customized charter packages. His clients include competitive groups trying to land the largest snapper; bachelorette parties spending the day site-seeing and dining on the water; and repeat northern families who love to spend the day 30 miles off-shore working on the heaviest hook-to-cook keeper fish. Customers choose from in-shore fishing, off-shore fishing, diving, site seeing/eco dolphin tours, and more.

Private Fishing Charter aboard the 32-ft. Andros
Photo2 is Captain Josh holding 40 lb. Cobia

SiestaKation caters to your party, with the custom-built 26-foot Andros boat for in-shore charters or Capt. Josh’s custom-built 32-foot Andros for off-shore charters. Captain Josh says he enjoys getting to know people onboard and he works hard to make sure they have the best charter possible. SiestaKation owns all required permits and licenses to fish off-shore legally. Can your captain say the same?

Captain Josh holding 40 lb. Cobia

When it comes to Sarasota fishing charters there are many companies to chose from, but not all come with legal permits or licensing that ensure you’re safe and your catch is legal. Captain Josh says the Coast Guard is cracking down on guides running illegal charters.

“People illegally chartering vessels and putting their passengers as well as other boaters in danger is something we take very seriously,” said Lt. Cmdr. Tilghman with Coast Guard 7th District. “We will continue to maintain a presence in the water and seek out maximum penalties for people who put others at risk through these illegal operations” he stated in a press release.

  Chances are you wouldn’t know the difference between an illegal charter company and a legitimate business unless you ask some key questions, according to Captain Josh:

  1. Are you a licensed Coast Guard Captain?
  2. Do you have all the required safety gear onboard?
  3. Do you have the state charter license and federal charter/headboat permits?

Capt. Josh says charter captains are not allowed to fish past 9 miles without the NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration) Federal Fisheries Reef and Pelagic for hire permits, yet he frequently sees this happen illegally in Sarasota. NOAA stopped issuing the permits in 1994 for the Gulf of Mexico, meaning the only way to purchase is from a previous permit owner.  “Charter captains are governed by the USCG (United States Coast Guard), Federal Wildlife Commission and NOAA Fisheries.”

Capt. Josh says some illegal competitors offer fishing charters at lower prices because they haven’t made the costly investment in the required permits and licenses. He says the going rate for those average between $25,000-$35,000. What may matter most to you as a reader is the rigorous processes legal captains and owners of charter companies go through to ensure your safety on the water and their preparedness in case of an emergency.

Fisherman Kevin Hagerty holding red snapper caught with Captain Josh/SiestaKation

Call or text Captain Josh for your next excellent (safe & legal!) charter experience at 941-993-7337. You can check out the boats and photo gallery at www.SiestaKation.com.  Check him out on Facebook, Instagram, Yelp and TripAdvisor as well. Mention this article for a discount on your next trip!