Tips and gratuities on Charter fishing boats and many other places have gone from being optional to expected. Many crew members work mostly for tips and will work as hard as they can to impress you. Like any gratuity, if you receive bad service it is well within your right to withhold some or all of the crews tips.
The customary gratuity is 15-20% of the price of a charter, just like a restaurant. In other words, on the high end $100 for every $500 you spend. If the crew has gone considerably far out of their way for you, you may tip more and you my tip the Captain.
Some people like to associate a gratuity with how much fish they catch. Certainly, if you’re catching a lot of fish that Captain and mate are working extra hard to get the fish in, bait new lines, and filet it back on the dock. Having said that, if you do not catch a lot of fish, it doesn’t mean that the crew wasn’t good or didn’t work hard to make your trip enjoyable. There are days where the fish just aren’t biting and that’s why they call it fishing and not catching, it’s not always the crews fault.
If you don’t catch a lot of fish and are considering an appropriate gratuity, consider how far out of their way did the crew go to try and find the fish or entertain you in other ways. Did the captain move the boat around in search of fish? Did the mate try different techniques, perhaps with different equipment or bait? If the answer is yes, than the crew likely did everything they could, and may have even worked harder than on an ordinary day. In this case it would be appropriate to give them a generous tip.
If, on the other hand, you didn’t catch fish, the crew was sour, or didn’t do anything to try and find the fish, than you probably have a good case for withholding a gratuity and tell us about it.