In early August 2018, I was lucky to have a friend take me whale watching with a chartered whale watching company in Depoe Bay, the whale-watching hub on the Oregon coast. We left from the docks on a zodiac with the owner of the business as our captain. The zodiac is a good boat to whale watch from because it’s fairly quiet and it’s easier to get closer to the whales without disturbing them.

We saw a spout pretty early on, so we waited to watch the whale. Our guide was able to tell us that this particular whale is part of the Pacific Coast Feeding Group, a pod of gray whales that does not migrate because of the abundance of food on the Oregon coast. He was also able to name a couple of the other whales we say because of his ability to identify them based on their tail markings. The guide had a small vial of krill to show us what the whales were feeding on, and he provided us with some information about the species and other marine animals.

Our guide did an excellent job of driving out to the right spot to see as many whales as possible. At one point, the zodiac was surrounded by six or seven different whales. Overall, the guide was an excellent captain and provided us with answers to our questions, careful not to bombard us with information as we carefully watched for spouts.

Charleston is well known as a small town with beautiful views of the marina and excellent fishing. The best way to experience fishing in the area is going out with one of the three charter companies.

Captain John Blanchard at Sharky’s Charters

 

Captain John Blanchard single handedly runs Sharky’s Charters. John started as a commercial fisherman but decided to switch to guiding and has lead charters for four years now. He is the only captain, and takes out smaller groups of 4-6, which is a great way to get more valuable one-on-one instruction. When asked what his favorite part of being a guide was, he said that he likes meeting people and forming friendships with his customers, who frequently return for fishing trips. He also loves sharing his passion with others and remarked “If you do what you love, you don’t work a day in your life”.

Captain Kurt Smith at Betty Kay’s Charters

 

Captain Kurt Smith is one of the two captains at Betty Kay’s Charters and has about 18 years of experience. He will be taking over as owner of the company in the upcoming months. Kurt takes pride in his charter company’s commitment to customer service and making sure that every customer has a fun trip and great experience. He thinks that the value provided by hiring a guide is immeasurable, as they have all the “local insight” and know where the fish are better that any visitor could figure out on their own. Betty Kay’s is able to accommodate larger groups and more people depending on trips, fitting about 20 passengers on a boat.

One of the universal factor of fishing charters is they are entirely weather dependent. If the ocean is too rough or winds are too strong, they must cancel charter trips for that day, so it is important to be flexible when hiring. If you or someone you know is interested in fishing in the Charleston area, try giving one of the local charter companies a call!