You may have done your fair share of fishing before, but if you’ve not enjoyed a deep-sea fishing experience before, boy oh boy, you’re in for a treat! Deep-sea fishing is unlike anything else and, while it isn’t for everyone, it’s something that every angler should experience at least once.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time on open water, sometimes successfully bagging weeks worth of exotic delicacies and others, returning empty-handed. The only consistency between any of my excursions is the great quality of the time that I have on the water.
If you are new to deep sea fishing or have not been on very many, then this post is for you! I can’t promise that I’ll have you receiving bite after bite, but I can promise that this post will help you get the most from your next deep sea fishing charter!
Let’s talk about the fundamentals
Deep-sea fishing happens at a minimum depth of thirty meters and is commonly known as sport or big game fishing. The reason that it goes by these names is that you can expect to find fish on the end of your line that you wouldn’t commonly find closer to shore. Sea monsters like Marlin and King Mackerel are just two of the species of fish you can expect to find out there, and you’ll need to make sure you have the right saltwater spinning reels.
Reach out to the captain before departure
If you’re hiring a charter, the captain of the boat will be your go-to for information and guidance. He knows the area best, understands how to get the most from your day, and will have a set of rules and guidelines established for your safety. I always phone about a week before departure to confirm my booking.
I use this time as an opportunity to address things like:
- What kind of gratuity I should bring for the crew (the crew work tirelessly throughout the charter to ensure you have a great time, tipping goes a long way),
- Fish cleaning and gutting fees (most charters offer this as a standard service, it’s best to budget for these costs beforehand),
- Rules and guidelines (ask about the big “no-no’s”), and
- Any general information he/ she feels you should know before you set off.
Having a chat with the captain beforehand also allows you to raise any concerns you may have or outline your expectations for the trip, like particular species you’d like to take home.
Preparing for your trip
There is a lot of preparation that you need to do before you head out onto the water. The first thing you should do, if you haven’t already done it, is research various charters. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all charter. Each one caters to different experience levels, the kind of experience you’re looking for, and price points. You must find the right charter for your particular demands. Next, you’ll want to ensure that you have all the details of the day on hand.
- Having checked the directions to the harbor from which you’ll depart
- Having checked the weather (I like to do this about a week before, then again about two days before departure.
The weather will impact your experience and the way that you prepare, so be sure to keep an eye out for what to expect)
- Familiarize yourself with general policies held on a charter.
While each charter and captain will have different policies, it’s good to know the fundamentals.
Packing your bag
You’ll also want to have a bag packed and ready well in advance. I recommend creating a checklist (and printing out at least two copies) of everything you’ll need so that you can tick off everything on the list while you pack, as well as when you do one last check the night before you leave.
Here are some of the things I recommend that you take with you:
- A hat, sunblock, and polarized sunglasses
It’s very important you don’t underestimate the effects a hot sun can have on your body during a long day’s fishing. Make sure to pack and apply lots of suncream, a hat, and plenty of water. Don’t forget to protect your eyes from the sun either, the best polarized sunglasses for fishing will not only protect you against potentially damaging sun rays, they will also protect your eyes from stray hooks.
Motion sickness may be something you’ve never had the displeasure of experiencing, but being on a boat all day long can affect even the most motion-resilient of people.
There is no harm in taking a motion sickness pill prior to your departure and carrying a few spare ones on you.
- A first aid kit
Motion sickness isn’t your only worry on the water.
Be sure to pack painkillers, chronic medication you may need, bandaids, sanitizer, and the likes. The crew will likely have medical supplies on board but having your own on hand is beneficial.
- Snacks and water (with emphasis on the water)
Some charters may provide snacks and beverages, but it’s always best to pack your own in case. The sun is going to be one of, if not the biggest enemy on the day. Water will help fight sunstroke, while snacks will help fight fatigue. Trail mix, crisps, dried fruit, or even grilled chicken are great snacks that you can eat without concern for nausea.
What to wear
I’ve already addressed the hat and sunglasses aspect of your attire, but the rest of your outfit is just as important:
- Dress in layers
Most anglers know this trick – you dress in multiple layers of clothing so that you can take off layers when you’re hot and add layers when you’re cold.
- Closed, slip-resistant shoes
Please don’t wear sandals – trust me, you don’t want to be that guy.
- A windbreaker (keep it in your bag if you don’t need it when you depart).
Gloves aren’t an essential clothing item, but extra protective gear never hurt anyone, so make use of them if you can.
Let’s talk about the “don’ts” of deep-sea fishing.
- DON’T arrive hungover
If for nothing else, watching you chumming up the water with last night’s tequilas may not go down with the other anglers on board.
- DON’T bring any weapons, illegal substances, or any other contraband on board (and yes, that includes marijuana)
- DON’T eat a greasy breakfast before departure
- DON’T disrespect, interrupt, or challenge the captain or crew
Remember, you’re on their boat and they’re there to help and protect you (and every other person aboard) – don’t make their lives hard.
And with that, you should be set to get the absolute most from your next deep sea fishing charter.
Share Your Thoughts!
If you have any questions or suggestions, I’d love to hear them!
Drop a comment and let me know if you have any other tips for other anglers looking to get the best experience from their next charter!