Going Fishing?

Here’s a no hassle way to book it

Sport fishing in Cabo has an almost legendary status. Each year, anglers from all over the globe flock here for that trophy fish. As our unofficial title of ‘Marlin Capital of the World’ suggests, Cabo is a true paradise for serious anglers who want to fight a big billfish. And, of course, there is the almost sure prospect of not going home empty handed. Have you noticed all the plastic coolers for sale around town? That’s to take home all the fish fillets that are caught here. And look at the red plastic coolers that are brought down on the airlines, too, in anticipation of the big catch. More than a few fishermen bring their clothes down in them and if they catch a lot, they wear six layers home to make room for their fish pieces, or they pack their clothes in with the fish. Eew!

It’s not cheap, though, and the more boats available, the cheaper it will get, in theory.

In recent years, tourists are booking fishing trips online. It seems the eBay and Amazon trend is finally making an impact on charter fishing.

Traditionally, anglers would get a recommendation from their hotel who to book. Of course, the concierge recommends whoever pays them the most, not particularly who is the best, so this isn’t the best way to select. Maybe it’s no coinky dink that in 2017 the share of online bookings soared to more than three times the size it was in 2015.

What makes the best fishing charter? Well, for starters, captains who speak English. Next, local knowledge of the water and where the fish hang out. Then comes the electronics which these days plays a big role in finding the fish. Oh, and then there’s the comfort and cleanliness of the boat. Also important is bait availability, which isn’t always handy, so your captain needs connections there. And if your charter includes lunch, you don’t want some lousy cheapo taco.

Now there’s FishingBooker.com, an online booking platform for fishing trips that works with 50 charter boats in Cabo. They are worldwide, not just Cabo, and FishingBooker has listed boats in 93 countries and 1598 cities. They are out of Amsterdam and the guy who runs it, Joris Zantvoort, has never been to Cabo. He has found a pretty good way to make a living from his kitchen table in his jammies. Well, we’re not sure about the jammie part but we’re pretty sure about the kitchen table. Anyway, he does a good job.

Just a few years ago, buying fishing trips through a booking site was practically unheard of. But now, the growth seems unstoppable. According to Zantvoort’s data, online bookings for Cabo were worth about $150,000 in 2015. In 2016 this nearly doubled to about $240,000, and in 2017, Cabo captains again received close to double that with over $400,000 in online bookings.

Captain Luis from Phantom Fishing Cabo notices the change. He gets a lot more business now than he used to. "It’s helping a lot. I've been getting a lot more bookings," he says. Luis thinks this is because it’s easy for captains to maintain their profile and calendar, while it’s easy for anglers to find and book charters.

The ease of use for both captains and anglers is something that more captains notice. Captain Casey at Picudo Sport Fishing has the same impression. “It's very user-friendly. I'm limited in time and it's so easy to update the calendar and accept bookings.”

Casey notes that his clientele has changed over his 35 year run as a captain. "Before it was hardcore fishermen, now fishing in Cabo is just part of what you do. You go golfing, you go fishing, you go zip-lining... These people are going online."

He thinks there are two main reasons that make tourists turn to booking websites: security and reviews. His customers mention to him that they feel secure booking through a site like FishingBooker. If you go on a charter's website and “you send them some money, you're risking it a little bit." For this reason, it’s not just tourists who book this way - Casey has had multiple groups from Cabo book him through booking sites as well.

In addition, he’s getting more bookings because as he says, "now I have almost all 5 star reviews." He adds: "To be honest, if it wasn't for FishingBooker I'd probably be out of business. They helped me over the hump. I've been in this business for 35 years and it’s cut-throat.”

Although the needs of customers are changing, sport fishing is going to be a big deal in Cabo for a long time to come. Now that fishing trips can be compared and bought online as easily as a book, Captain Jesus at Solmar VI Sportfishing confirms that “things are looking up.”

Most of the boats available for booking online are the smaller operations, many are onesies. They aren’t really a fleet, but one boat. Are they all legal to charter? Who knows, but that doesn’t affect the foreigner who books them. Stay with a captain that has good ratings, and you’re in good shape.