Deep sea fishing is one of the most exhilarating and rewarding experiences there is, but it can also be brutally tough for a beginner to get into.
The following ten tips will hopefully help you prepare for an amazing journey offshore. We’re going to dive into the absolute essentials you need to understand and what kind of situations you should be prepared for at sea.
- 1 1. Always Bring an Expert
- 2 2. Securing the Right Boat
- 3 3. Getting Your Hands on the Right Equipment
- 4 4. Shipwrecks and Reefs (Wreck Fishing)
- 5 5. Research Live Bait to Bring (Or Catch)
- 6 6. Getting the Best Artificial Lures
- 7 7. Anchoring the Boat
- 8 8. Be Careful What You Fish for
- 9 9. Reading the Situation
- 10 10. Avoiding Seasickness
- 11 Conclusion
1. Always Bring an Expert
Our first tip is a big one and something that really shouldn’t be overlooked if this is your first time out on the open water. Whatever you do, always ensure you bring an expert with you. As a newcomer, it’s vital to remain safe out there, and the expertise you’ll gain from having an old-hand on deck is SO important.
The expert can be a friend with a lot of experience, perhaps someone with their own boat, or it can be somebody you’ve specifically hired to help you navigate the waters and show you the ropes. These types of ‘guides’ aren’t actually as expensive as you might think and it’s definitely worth investing in one of them if you want to get the absolute most out of the experience.
You might think you can handle anything that the open water throws at you, but when conditions turn ultra harsh and adverse weather strikes without warning, you’ll be glad to have an expert on board who knows exactly what needs to be done.
Plus, an expert will be able to assist you in finding the very best fishing spots and can show you what techniques work. There are so many reasons to hire someone to help you out on your first trip offshore.
2. Securing the Right Boat
Obviously, you’ll need a boat to go fishing offshore. If you don’t own one of your own, you’re going to need to rent something that’s built for the conditions you’ll be facing. Out at sea, you’ll experience harsh weather and large waves, so making sure you choose the right boat is essential.
If you’re planning on staying out for an extended period of time (and a lot of deep sea fishing trips DO take time), you’re going to want to get something that’s fairly large. A smaller ship is fine if you’re only going out for a few hours of the day, but anything longer and you should really aim for a boat with comfortable seating and a cabin to rest in.
Some people opt for the cheapest boat they can get hold of, which is a surefire way to have a disappointing trip. Even the most impressive fishing boats are usually fairly affordable to rent and take out on open water. Especially if you share the cost with your fishing buddies and all chip in to get a solid and safe boat.
3. Getting Your Hands on the Right Equipment
Making sure you have the right equipment is just as important as having the correct boat. Navigational gear such as a fish finder, GPS systems, and nautical maps can help immensely. Having access to these onboard the boat (or renting them) can make your trip a whole lot more fruitful and increase your chances of a big catch.
If at all possible, make sure the boat you’re renting has equipment like rod holders and livewells. These should be included with the rental, but it’s best to double check. It’s also a good idea to make sure you have suitable fishing seats, cranking outriggers, and if you’re hoping to cook what you catch at sea, you might even want an onboard grill.
Having the right rod is a huge deal. The higher quality offshore rods are usually made of graphite, which is a lightweight, extremely powerful material. The best types of reel will have enormous cranking torque so you can easily drag larger fish from the sea.
If you’re looking to get tactical with your fishing, consider using downriggers on your boat. These allow you to set your bait to very specific depths, which can drastically improve the odds of hooking yourself a genuine trophy!
4. Shipwrecks and Reefs (Wreck Fishing)
When you’re fishing offshore, one of the best locations where you can catch larger fish is around shipwrecks and reefs. In these areas, you’ll find huge masses of small fish. They very often congregate in groups among wrecks and reefs (both natural and artificial).
These large groups of small fish are prime targets for the larger catches you’ll be searching for out on open water. By fishing around the natural hunting ground of these big fish, you stand a much better chance of securing a massive catch you can be proud of.
Any kind of underwater structure will usually house many different types of fish. Keep an eye out for rock formations and underwater valleys which could provide you with the chance to catch something epic!
Depending on where you go fishing, there might not be any shipwrecks or reefs. There will, however, usually be areas where smaller fish naturally congregate. Ask around the area you’re in to find out the best spots in the water.
5. Research Live Bait to Bring (Or Catch)
Using live bait will very often be the best way to secure the larger fish when you’re offshore fishing. Having a boat equipped with multiple livewells will allow you to keep a variety of bait and ensure it stays fresh. A livewell is essentially just a large tank that is used onboard fishing vessels to store live bait safely.
You can purchase live bait from any number of local bait shops and suppliers and easily bring it with you on your trip. Another option, however, is just to catch the bait yourself while you’re out at sea. This can be an extremely cost-efficient and effective option, depending on how much time you have out there.
Much like in any other style of fishing and any other body of water, different fish will have different baits that they’re attracted to. You will want to research the food that your catch eats and try your best to source similar bait.
For example, tuna loves feeding on mackerel, so this is what you’re going to want to get your hands on when you’re hoping to catch yourself a large tuna fish. Different fish from different areas will sometimes feed on various food sources, so do your research before you head off on your journey.
6. Getting the Best Artificial Lures
Whether you use them in conjunction with live bait or just on their own, artificial lures are amazing at helping you bag big fish. Lures come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and some of them are more effective than others when fishing offshore.
Dragging an artificial lure behind the boat while it’s moving is often called “trolling,” and this is an extremely effective tactic to cover a larger area of water and keep your lure looking like a fresh target for the big fish you want to catch.
Use different lures for different fish and research which ones are best for the area you’re fishing in. Using lures like the larger heavy-duty jigs can help get the bait down deep into the water, which gives you a better shot at catching certain fish. Faster moving lures are perfect for catching predator fish like tuna and marlin while trolling.
7. Anchoring the Boat
Although dragging lures behind the boat and using live bait are both great tactics, don’t forget to occasionally anchor the boat and drop bait down while waters are still. There are certain fish that may not necessarily be attracted to the dragged lured, such as grouper or snapper.
Anchoring the boat also gives you a great opportunity to just sit back and relax, which is one of the most enjoyable parts about fishing. We view deep sea fishing as a pulse-pounding, white-knuckle adventure, but you can still stop every now and again and just enjoy yourself.
If you do have access to a fish finder (a piece of equipment we mentioned earlier), then you’ll be able to calculate the depth below you and work out what kinds of lures and baits will be best suited to the fish you’re looking to catch.
8. Be Careful What You Fish for
While offshore fishing, you need to ensure that you don’t catch more than you came for. Keep an eye out for what species of fish are around you, as you don’t want to injure anything which you don’t have to.
For example, dolphin and tuna usually school together. You have to become familiar with the difference between them and ensure you never catch a dolphin in place of a tuna. These differences are something you’ll learn over time, so don’t be afraid if you’re unsure right now.
A lot of the raw knowledge you’ll gain about the different types of fish out there will be learnt while actually fishing. Don’t be afraid of ‘on-the-job’ training, as that’s what deep sea fishing is all about – getting out there and finding out more about fish!
9. Reading the Situation
Perhaps one of the most important tips we can possibly give you about deep sea fishing is this… learn to read the situation and fully understand the environment you’re in. Fishing can be a relaxing and rewarding hobby, but it’s important not to underestimate the open water.
If you feel like weather conditions might be too harsh or waves are too choppy, trust your gut. Catching the fish of a lifetime ISN’T worth your life. In the vast majority of situations, you’ll be completely safe and secure. But don’t let yourself become complacent and always keep an eye on external factors like weather and the water conditions.
Note: Here is a complete guide on determining if bad weather is approaching.
In the same vein, you might not begin to catch the type of fish you’re after until you have a better understanding of the area and the environment. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t take to the open water straight away as it’s an entirely different beast to regular fishing.
10. Avoiding Seasickness
Our last tip is simple but essential. If you’re prone to motion sickness or seasickness, you’re probably going to have a tough time out on the open water – there’s simply no getting away from that fact.
However, you can limit the amount of sickness you feel by a decent percentage if you take anti-nausea or anti-seasickness medication. There’s a number of over the counter versions which can be purchased at a relatively inexpensive price.
Try and avoid too much food and drink if your stomach is feeling poorly, to lessen your chance of throwing up. It’s a horrible feeling, but you’ll get used to it (or get over it) sooner or later. Sometimes it’ll just take a few trips out on the water to become accustomed to it.
If you’re still finding yourself feeling a little sick during your trip, then try and keep yourself focused. Distract yourself with fishing and try and focus yourself on that entirely. Usually, you’ll be able to ride it out.
That’s our big list of ten deep sea fishing tips! Hopefully, we’ve set you on the right path to planning out an amazing fishing adventure. Deep sea journeys can be the most exciting and rewarding trips you’ll ever go on, but never underestimate them!
The most important tip we’ve given you today is to always bring an expert if you’re a newcomer to offshore fishing. There are situations that can rapidly become dangerous when you’re out on the sea, so their knowledge is invaluable.
Although we’ve tried our best to provide the most useful tips possible, there’s still plenty more to learn about the sport. As long as you have an expert, a boat, and the right equipment, however, you’re guaranteed to have a good time while offshore fishing.
See you out on the water!