Haulover fishing is a scam!
Haulover Marina, is a marina in South East Florida (North Miami) where several charter take out people to go fishing daily.
I've always been a big fan of Shark and Marlin fishing. So the past 4 years since I moved to Miami I went out on fishing boats at Haulover 3 times. Had a bad experience every time, and was scammed every time. Every time before I go I always make it clear I want to go Shark fishing or billfishing (billfish is Marlin, Sword fish, and Sail Fish). Every time they promised they would take me Shark, Marlin, or Grouper fishing and then at the end they would take me trolling for Bonito instead (Bonito, a relative of tuna, that are caught in the Atlantic from Canada down to Florida and the Northern Gulf of Mexico, and in a number of locations worldwide).
It costs between $150-$175 per person to go for half day of fishing (5 hours), the boat takes up to 6-8 people max. They promise you the world to get you on the boat, but once you're out at sea it's a different story.
The first time I went out as I booked the trip I told them I wanna go shark fishing they said no problem we can see to it that you'll definitely catch yourself a shark on this trip. They also asked me if I am planning to taxidermy the shark, and my reply was no. But once out at sea they took out their trolling gear and started trolling for Bonito. Bonito is a fish which is non consumable in warm tropical climates: Bonito may contain levels of mercury contamination that pose a health risk to adults and children. Bonito can also be contaminated with ciguatera, a foodborne illness caused by a marine toxin. There have been reports of ciguatera poisoning from bonito around the Gulf of Mexico, and like tuna, bonito have been shown to possess unhealthy levels of mercury.
After 45 min of trolling I asked them when we going fishing for Shark like you promised, they said in about half hour more, an hour later I asked them again, they replied to me half hour more, and for the next 4 hours they gave me the same bs reply. Finally the time was up and we turned back to shore. All the other 6 people who came on the boat that day didn't seem that happy either on the way back. Also on the way back I asked them why didn't we go shark fishing, and their reply was usually when people aren't planning to taxidermy the shark, we usually won't even bother to try to fish for one.
A year later my dad came to visit from out of town, my dad loves grouper fishing, so we decided we would go to Haulover Marina on a charter boat. Upon arrival at Haulover I made sure not to go on the same boat I went on last year. Again $175 per person. This time I made it clear that we want to do bottom sea fishing for grouper, and not trolling because my dad gets sea sick, and they said "no problem." Again same story, they took us trolling for Bonito. All the other 5 people on the boat that day, where sick of Bonito fishing after the first hour, and started complaining they wanna drop anchor and bottom fish. For the next 4 hours, the captain again came up with the same bs excuse in a half hour more, in about a half hour more. Finally at the end they dropped anchor, and let us bottom fish. No kidding, for only 7 MINUTES NO MORE! Then they pulled up the anchor and said time to go back to shore.
Six months later my son had his 13th birthday and he begged me to take him fishing, he told me he wanted to catch a Marlin or a Shark. I looked at all the other places, and realized the only convenient one was Haulover Marina again. THIS TIME I FOUND A DIFFERENT' CHARTER BOAT, AND MADE IT CLEAR TO THEM NO TROLLING!!!!! Explained to them the situation, that my son wants to catch a shark or marlin they said sure that's what we do. I also explained to them the past bad experiences. We boarded the boat, and trolling again. This time, trolling for little kingfish. During the trolling I asked the captain can we please do something else instead of catching the same Bonito and kingfish, and his reply was What's wrong, you don't like catching fish? And he also said If we wont taxidermy the shark or marlin they won't bother to even try to fish for one. As we were heading back to shore I asked one of the assistant of the captain, why do I get the same crap story every time of sure we'll go shark fishing and then take us trolling and he told me Ok I will tell you, its because when we go shark or marlin fishing we might catch only one the whole trip, and if it's not your turn on the rod (people take turns on the rod every time a fish is hooked) then it will ruin your whole fishing trip. But when we go trolling, everyone catches a fish I told him Thanks for not telling me that BEFORE I got on the boat.
Let me not forget to mention at the end of every trip, they ask for a twenty percent tip, but they ask in such a way to make us feel guilty if we choose not to give them.
After speaking to several people I found the real reason why they take people trolling for Bonito every time. They know that Bonito you can't keep, because in Florida its non consumable, so they take advantage of us to catch them bonito so they can sell it to other fishermen as shark bait (Bonito is known as one of the best shark baits). Another reason they take advantage of us to catch them Bonito, is so they can use it as shark bait' when an individual pays MORE money and charters the boat all to himself and pays $750 half day or $1400 for the whole day. Also a third reason is because Bonito you can only catch in summer, so basically they take advantage of us to catch them bait for next season.
About 3 or 4 other times I wanted to go fishing or had relatives from out of town who wanted to go fishing, so we ended up going to the pier and paying $3 each, instead of $150 each and getting ripped off.
Here are the names of all the charter boats in Haulover:
New Moon III
Miss Tra Sea
North Miami Beach, Florida