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So you’re interested in booking your first fishing charter?
In this article, we will cover the details of the 3 most popular types of fishing charters available to people of all experience levels.
- In-Shore Fishing Charters
- 6-Pack Off-Shore Fishing Charters
- Head-Boat/Party-Boat Charters
Inshore fishing charters
Inshore fishing charters are great for beginners, children, and very experienced anglers. These are generally a good value with flexible durations. Access is typically easy and Captains know the inshore waters, streams, and inlets, as well as they, know the route to the local gas station.
Inshore charters focus on flats fishing and species such as redfish, speckled trout, snook, and flounder. The captains running these charters are usually driven by a love for backwater beauty and one specific species.
These fishing charters are usually shorter 3-8 hours and can depend on the tides. Typical inshore charters are limited to 2-3 anglers depending on the boat size. Price ranges can vary between $300-$1000 a day depending on the number of anglers, time frame, and location.
Inshore charters can be a lot of fun for father/son trips and even father/daughter trips as the scenery can be beautiful. The chances of getting seasick are also much lower than offshore fishing charters.
Captain Caleb Blackburn of Grandslam Fishing in Palm Coast, FL. is an example of an inshore fishing charter.
6-Pack offshore deep sea fishing charters
6-pack fishing charters get their name due to the maximum number of anglers allowed on each trip. These trips are great for a variety of experience levels, trip durations, target species, and types of fishing available.
These charters are typically run by a Captain and one mate, sometimes multiple mates depending on the boat, location, and target species. You will be able to select between 4 hour near shore trips focused on near shore species, through 12 hour and sometimes overnight gulf stream trips focusing on pelagic species such as tuna, marlin, or swordfish.
The most common trip will be 8-10 hour trips focused on bottom fishing for snapper, grouper, and other reef fish. This time frame will also provide an option to troll for pelagic species such as kingfish and wahoo.
Shorter duration trips are recommended for less experienced anglers and sea legs. Seasickness can force any of these trips into a very uncomfortable experience. TAKE YOUR DRAMAMINE. Don’t ruin your trip or the trip for others on the boat. Remember, over the rail and let it sail. We’ll cover etiquette in another article as this is very important.
I recommend doing your homework on the boat and Captain prior to committing to longer ranger offshore trip. Boat speed = more fishing time. We all know the time means $…. These trips can range from $600-$6,000 depending on the range you plan to fish and of course, gas prices. Also, consider the distance from the dock to the inlet. If it takes 45 minutes to get from the dock to the inlet, that’s an hour and a half less you’ll be fishing.
The Captain and his crew, as in any fishing charter, can impact your experience. Some Captains love teaching children, other captains love working with hard core fishy anglers that were born with gills. If you have a specific experience you’re looking for, talk to the Captain ahead of time. They appreciate knowing how to provide a better experience for their clients.
In addition, your location in a state such as Florida can play heavily on your experience and target species. Deeper blue water is closer to shore in south Florida so getting to the spots can be quicker at times.
You typically do not require gear. The reputable Captains will have bullet proof gear for you. All you really need to take is food for the day. And if you’re new, yes they will bait your hook.
My personal recommendation is Reel Dreams Fishing Charters located in beautiful St Augustine Florida. Captain Adam Jeffrey and his crew are incredible.
Similar to 6-Pack fishing charters, party boats (or sometimes referred to as head boats), offer a variety of ranges and value trips. However, these trips can range in the number of anglers on the boat. These are popular due to the boat size and cost of most trips. These boats a generally much larger and can accommodate between 15-45 anglers on a single trip.
These can also be very popular deep sea fishing solutions for new anglers who want to take a short half-day trip offshore while their wives shop, or sleep in on vacation. However, some also accommodate groups of lady angler clubs. These are great solutions for a team-building trip for your office or facility. The offshore ailments will apply to these trips for sure. Nearly every trip I’ve been on, there has been at least on seasick individual.
These trips can range from 4 hour near shore trips to multiple-day trips. If you intend to select a multiple-day trip, do your homework and review ALL of the information provided on the Captain’s website. Party boats will focus on bottom fishing for reef fish species and those that are in season. Some may allow you to troll depending on the length and depth of the water on the ride in and out. You will not be allowed to overhand cast due to safety reasons. More experienced anglers may be able to pitch flat lines for fish that generally reside in the higher water columns.
These can vary in the amenities provided such as galley access, gear availability, sleep accommodations, etc. Some extended long-range deep drop trips will only contain a crew of a multiple coast guard mandated captains with no support on deck for the anglers. These are for very experienced anglers that will fend for themselves. These trips require specific gear that you will need to supply.
These trips can range from $100 per person to over $1,000 per person depending on the range and amenities. Many provide meal packages, showers, bathrooms, and sleeping bunks.
A few items to note when considering a party boat trip. Review the reputation of the boat. Consider that there are people who have bad experiences that may be leaving reviews because they have higher expectations and believe they deserve one on one attention with the deck hands. Most commonly, these fishing charters are staffed with the required number of Captains and a limited crew such as the cook and 2-3 deck hands.
The crew should cover the basics of fishing elbow to elbow with other anglers as this can be difficult at times. Among their duties of unhooking fish, cleaning the boat, and tending to everyone’s needs, the crew will be very experienced at untangling lines. This can be frustrating for many folks but you have to be patient and remember, that everyone is trying to enjoy themselves also. The boat needs to work as a team.
My personal recommendation is to start children and less experienced anglers on shorter-range trips. Attention spans can weigh heavily on your experience while fishing. Once you have a couple of 4 and 8-hour trips under your belt, try a long-range 39-hour trip. These are incredible trips to learn from individuals who have a passion for fishing as well as excellent crews. Sleeping on a boat for your first time on a calm night during the trip back in is like non-other.
The ocean life that you get to witness at 1:00 AM, 3:00 AM etc, while being the only light in the water 100 miles from shore is something you can only experience on a trip like this. It’s an alien world out there.
I recommend Hubbard’s Marina in amazing Maderia Beach Florida for various trips to suit your needs, including the 39 and 44-hours mentioned.