Fuel prices sink S.C. fish charters

At a time when fishing charter boats should be coming and going from marinas along the S.C. coast, many are spending more time at the dock because of high fuel prices.

The Post and Courier of Charleston reports offshore charter captains are spending about $5 a gallon on diesel. That means it can cost $1,000 or more for fuel for a daylong fishing excursion from Charleston 60 miles out to the Gulf Stream and back.

Charters that might have cost $1,200 last year can now run $2,000 or more. And that's discouraging recreational fishermen from making the trip.

“We're probably running about two trips a week,” said Carter Smith, the captain of the charter Holley-Daze. “This time of year, we should be going nearly every day.”

“Everyone has to raise prices,” added Jordan Parker, the mate on the Blue Boy, which fishes out of Charleston's Ripley Light Marina. “Usually we're booked 25 days out of June.”

But this year, Parker spent a lot of time attending to fishing tackle while waiting for weekend charter trips.

While offshore charters are hurting, business is better for fishing boats that stay nearer to shore, where fuel doesn't add so much to the cost.

Greg Weiss runs fishing trips along the Wando and Cooper rivers as well as along the Intracoastal Waterway.

“I've been chartering four years and it's picked up a lot for me. I talked to one couple and they had been quoted a price of $1,700 to go out” to the Gulf Stream, he said.

Weiss said the couple couldn't afford that so he took them on one of his inshore charters, which cost about $350 for a half day.

Still, Weiss said he has raised his prices about $15 to offset the higher cost of fuel.