Are you ready for a Key West fishing trip? Here’s what to expect
Many (and I mean many) moons ago when I rocked up for my first Key West deep sea fishing charter trip I must have looked like a total newb. For those of you unfamiliar with contemporary lingo these days, a newb is someone who hasn’t the foggiest notion what they are doing.
At any rate, to get back to my story, not only did I roll in with my tackle box full of bobbers and glow worms, I’d brought along a trout fishing pole that would have snapped in half in an instant should the boat captain not have calmly and politely let me know that I could go ahead and stow my gear back in the car. He said, “Shh, I won’t tell anybody.” Looking back I’m certain that he had a good chuckle with his mates later on at the bar at my expense.
But hey, I was young and inexperienced and it was my first time in the Florida Keys. So, my pain can now be your gain. If you’re a deep sea fishing virgin but want to look like a pro when you get to the boat, here’ s the low down on what to expect from an offshore fishing charter.
It’s an all-you-can-eat gear fest.
Within reason, all that you’ll need to bring with you on the day of your trip is a great attitude, your camera, and perhaps a box of Dramamine. When it comes to tackle, the charter company will have you covered, hook, line, and sinker…and rods and reels, too.
They’ll also provide bait, safety equipment, and the price of your fishing license for the day is covered in the charter fee.
Offshore fishing is different, in particular with regards to the size of the fish you’ll be gunning for. Specialized gear is required to successfully land and haul in a billfish. Tuna, sailfish, dolphin, marlin, or any of the other big game fish that lurk below the deep are stronger than heck and fight like the dickens.
There’s a reason that charter outfits provide you with all the gear. It’s because you’d be hopelessly out of luck with any of that stuff you’ve got stashed away in the garage. Seriously, leave those raspberry floaties at home unless you’re looking to raise some eyebrows!
Don’t be concerned about your lack of experience.
Professional fishing guides get paid to help people catch fish. Sure, experienced anglers will probably catch more than a complete novice, but even if you’ve never gripped on to a fishing rod in your life, the captain and his team can provide all the expertise you need to have an awesome day.
All that being said, expert knowledge is only as useful as you are at listening. Pay attention to the crew, both when it comes to fishing advice and safety protocol.
It could get a little bit bumpy out there.
Offshore fishing means just that…off shore. Without the protection of a sheltered harbor the seas can get rougher than what you are probably used to. If you are prone to sea-sickness take the necessary precautions ahead of time. Even on a large vessel like the Triple Time, a 46’ Bertram – my most recent excursion – rough seas can rock the boat. But rest assured, says Captain Joe Mercurio, a responsible fishing charter won’t go out when there are ‘small craft’ advisories.
Often times the boat will be so many miles offshore that you won’t even be able to see the coastline. Prepare for the sun by packing plenty of water, sunscreen, and a hat. Remember, the boat won’t be turning back just because you’re ready to return to dry land. Plan on being out to sea for a long day and you’ll have a lot more fun!
These fish are big…real big.
Clearly you’re not paying good money to go out and try to catch sardines. But if you’ve never been before, you’ve got no idea how different it really is to have a barracuda on the line as opposed to a bass. Deep sea fish are super strong and it’s not uncommon for the fight to last an hour or even longer.
Once you’ve got a fish on, get ready to buckle down and enjoy the ride. It’s not like lake fishing where you go from bite to net in a couple of minutes.
Finally, prepare to have the time of your life.
Here’s just a little warning I like to doll out to all newcomers to deep sea fishing:
You’ll have so much fun that you’ll soon be an offshore addict!