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Zip Code: 315000

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A Guide to Your First Deep Sea Fishing Trip

By: Tony Fontana


If you haven’t ever been deep sea fishing, chances are that you think of shows such as Shark Men or Deadliest Catch. But for those who have done it regularly, they know that one of the exciting things about it is that you’re never going to know what you might find on the end of your line. Many times, however, the day is going to be a lot more relaxing than what you think it’s going to be. Below are some things that you should expect when you go on a deep sea fishing the first time (and every time).

Get Settled In

When you’re first getting onto the boat, locate a place to put your gear. You shouldn’t put things right on the boat’s deck. The deck will get wet which can make your stuff slide, and the other anglers and the crew will need some room so they can pass. Go to the manifest and sign in. Speak with the ship’s crew and introduce yourself and ask their names. You’re going to be asked if you’d like a bag to put your fish in. You want one – it’s only $1 – $2. You’ll also get a number for your bag. Remember the number you’re given. When you’ve caught fish later, one of the deckhands are going to come and get it from the hook, then give the hand your number. There also could be a jackpot that you can enter if you want. It’s usually $5-$10 to enter. If you’ve caught the biggest fish of the day, the jackpot is yours. The anglers who are more experienced normally catch a lot more fish, but the biggest fish prize is up for anyone to grab. Everyone who is entered has to have an individual bag for their fish instead of sharing. If you’re renting tackle, you’re going to get it later, so you don’t have to worry about it right away.

Pay Attention

After your journey is underway, either you will see the captain appear on deck or you’ll hear them speak on the intercom. You want to pay close attention to the things the captain says. The captain is going to tell you where the safety equipment is stored, let you know what you should expect during the day, and the way that you can rig up. If you’re not able to catch everything said, feel free to ask a member of the crew. If you’re only going out for a few hours to a day, you’ll ride 30-60 minutes to arrive at the fishing spot. During this period of time, deckhands will be setting up all rental gear as well as giving a brief class on the way that you can use it. Make sure you’re paying attention. There may be different rules for each boat, and this will be where you’re going to find out the rules for that boat. It’s important to the crew that you’re catching fish and having fun, so you want to make sure you’re listening and acting accordingly.

Stay Calm

After you’ve arrived at the fishing spot, stay calm. Locate one of the rail’s open spots and then wait for the boat captain to announce it’s time to drop the line. If you’re dropping your line too early, a lot of times your boat is settling into its spot and you’re going to become tangled or you’ll have to reset. If you’re using squid for bait, it’s okay to bait the hook early. If you’re using live fish like anchovies or sardines, you don’t want to remove it from your live-well until it’s time to fish. You’ll want a fish that is lively at your line’s end so that you’re attracting your target fish. If you’re baiting it too early and allowing the fish to dangle on your line, it’s going to be dying and it’s not going to attract your game fishing. After you’re fishing, if you’re using dead or live squid you’re not going to have to change it until the bait is gone. If you’re using live fish, try feeling it wiggle at the end of the line. If the fish is not active, reel your line in and then use a new one.

Weigh Your Catch

When the day is done and the return ride starts, one of the deckhands is going to say that it’s time for weighing in for the jackpot. If you’ve entered, take the largest fish that you have caught from your sack and they’ll weigh it. This is a really fun time so that you can see what people have caught as well as take pictures. Make sure that you have your camera ready. After this is done, they’re going to begin cutting the fish. It’s a really smart idea to leave this to the crew. It will usually cost $1 for each fish, but could be more if you have something really big. This is worth it because it sends you with some freshly caught fish that are ready for you to cook up and eat. There are also choices that you have about the way that the fish is cut.

These are the basic things to know.

  • Keep the correct attitude. Remember that you’re not always going to catch ‘the big one’. Even the most experienced anglers have bad days. So just have fun.
  • If you’ve enjoyed your trip, appropriately tip the crew. If you’re willing to tip a person who waits on you at a restaurant, why not tip someone that has spent a day with you and helped you with having a good day on the sea?

If you have never been on a deep sea fishing trip, it’s something that you should try. You’ll have a lot of fun and you may even come home with a story and pictures that tell your own fish tale. It’s an experience that you are likely never to forget and you may find that you want to go again and again.

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About Author:

Tony Fontana: Growing up in Naples on or near the water, I have had a passion for fishing my entire life. As I matured as an angler, I realized that guiding was what I wanted to do. What I enjoy most about my profession, as a fishing guide, is teaching anglers of all ages new things.


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