Trolling fishing boat

14 Deep Sea Fishing Tips for Beginners & Offshore Fishing Guide

What is Deep Sea Fishing?

Deep sea fishing is a popular type of recreational fishing that takes place farther offshore than inshore or coastal fishing. You can fish from larger boats, such as trawlers, yachts, and cruisers, outfitted with the necessary navigation and safety equipment to travel greater distances.

Deep sea anglers often target sizeable predatory fish species, such as tuna, marlin, sailfish, and shark. This type of fishing requires specialist tackle designed to withstand deep water pressures and catch large fish species. Squid and other small fish are the most common bait for deep sea fishing.

Trolling is one of the most popular fishing techniques – moving slowly with lines trailing behind the boat to entice hungry predators.

Deep sea fishing trips often last for several hours or days and can be enjoyed by both beginners and experienced anglers alike. Here are our deep-sea fishing tips for beginners.

14 Beginner Tips and Tricks for Deep Sea Fishing

Big game fishing

Here are some deep sea fishing tips for beginners.

Take a Charter Trip

If you’re a deep sea fishing beginner, the best way is to take a charter trip. Make sure to choose a well-equipped vessel with experienced crew members who can help you.

Do Your Research

Before you head out on your deep sea fishing adventure, make sure you do your research. Learn about the type of fish you’re likely to encounter, the best bait to use, and the best spots to cast your line. Doing your research will help you have a successful and enjoyable fishing trip.

Check the Weather Reports

One of the most important things to do is check the weather reports before you head out, and help you plan your trip and prepare you for any unexpected changes in the weather. Knowing the conditions before you set out is also a good idea. If there is a storm coming, cancel the trip. You can relax and enjoy your trip more if it’s blue skies and sunny. Better to know beforehand than be sorry later.

Take a Fishing Class

Take a fishing class to learn the basics, like tying knots and using the right equipment like reels and rods, and the proper fishing techniques. It’ll help you get off to a great start, and you’ll know what to do once the fish of your lifetime bites, and you’re in for a fight reeling it in.

Bring Food and Water

One of the most important things to remember is to bring food and water. You’ll be out on the water for a while, often four to eight hours, so staying hydrated and energized is essential. Pack some snacks and drinks to keep you going throughout the day.

Bring Polarized Sunglasses, Hats, and Sunscreen

The sunglasses will help you spot fish in the water, and the hat will protect you from the sun. Remember the sunscreen, too – it’s essential to protect your skin from sunburns and UV radiation. The sun is extreme on the open sea because the sun’s rays reflect from the water’s surface.

Choose the Right Bait and Tackle

pulling fish from the water

Have the right tools for the job. Consider what type of fishing you will be doing, and pick a rod that can withstand saltwater and won’t rust over time.

When I was a kid, I had a cheap rod that eventually broke in half while pulling in a 3 kg cod due to wear and tear over many years. The quality reel held up great, and I continued using that on another rod.

A combo rod is an excellent option for beginners, as it comes with everything you need for most fishing styles. More experienced people can purchase style-specific fishing gear and may want to invest in higher-quality equipment that lasts for a long time.

Offshore fishing may require more durable gear depending on the target fish. For instance, using a jigging spoon and live bait such as squid is ideal for targeting mackerel, but trolling with lures is best for catching tuna. A cheap rod will not help when you fight a 100 kg deep sea monster and risk breaking it and losing your catch. In that case, you need a heavy-duty rod that can handle more demanding conditions.

Avoid Sea Sickness

Tips for preventing seasickness:

  • Avoid big and heavy meals before the trip. Have smaller, more frequent meals and a snack if hungry.
  • Sit in the back of the boat if you get seasick.
  • Don’t let anything obstruct your view.
  • Keeping your eyes on the horizon helps your brain and body orient themselves and expect movements.
  • Refrain from reading while on the boat.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Discuss motion sickness medication with your doctor. Some medicines include scopolamine, promethazine, cyclizine, dimenhydrinate, and meclizine. They may have side effects and cause drowsiness, and their impact and duration vary. Anyone operating heavy machinery or sailing should not take them.

Consider the Fishing Calendar and Seasons

largre grouper fish

When planning a deep sea fishing trip, you should check the fishing calendar to get an idea of what types of fish you’ll have a chance of catching or when is the best time to go fishing for a specific species.

For example, in the springtime, you can find mackerel and cod, but you could miss out on other, more abundant fish if you do not go fishing in the summer. If you are entirely ignorant of the seasons, you may waste a lot of time fishing for a species that migrated south the month before and won’t be back for months.

Using a fishing calendar is the best way to plan your trip, set your expectations straight, and increase your chances of a successful outcome.

Be patient. It’s Called Fishing, not Catching.

When you go fishing, remember to be patient! It’s called fishing, not catching, after all. 

Most of the time, it’s a great experience. But I have seen people getting frustrated or impatient when they don’t get a bite in the first 10 minutes. That’s understandable, but it’s important to remember that you can’t expect a catch every time you go out. You might end up coming home empty-handed and disappointed, but that’s part of what makes fishing so exciting. 

You never know when the next big bite is coming and how big the fish will be, making the wait much more rewarding when it finally arrives.

Expect the Unexpected and Prepare for Anything

Billfish white Marlin catch

I don’t mean to be paranoid and ruin the fun of your trip, but never compromise on safety when you go fishing.

It’s always best to expect things to happen and prepare for surprises. Bring a first-aid kit, a flashlight, warm clothes, extra food, and water. Stay in contact with someone, such as through radio communication or phone. If you venture outside areas with good phone signals, let people know where you are going and when you expect to be back at the harbor.

Store any valuables or electronics in a waterproof bag, and take the time to locate the life vests, the lifeline, and the fire extinguisher. Bring spare parts for your gear, just in case your line or rod breaks or falls overboard. 

By preparing for the worst-case scenario, you’ll handle whatever surprises come your way on your next deep sea fishing experience.

Listen Carefully to Your Captain and Crew.

The captain and crew are experienced fishermen who know the waters like the back of their hands and can provide you with important advice about the best spots to throw your line and may instruct you on essential safety procedures. 

They’re usually great company and can tell entertaining stories about their fishing experiences. So make sure to pay attention to what they have to say – it could be the difference between a good day of fishing and a great one!

Stay hydrated. Avoid Alcohol and Hangovers.

man fishing on private boat

Dehydration can negatively affect your performance. When you are out in the open, under a scorching sun, and having sunlight reflected by the water from all sides, the intense heat can dehydrate you quickly and lead to serious adverse health effects. You don’t want to faint when navigating a boat, perhaps miles from the nearest healthcare facility.

Drink plenty of water and beverages, and consider electrolytes or sports drinks if you are sweating a lot, but stay away from alcohol as it dehydrates you even faster. Also, if you have a nasty hangover, have diarrhea, or feel unwell, you are probably already dehydrated. You should reschedule your fishing trip to a later time when you feel better.

Don’t Bring Bananas

Fishermen are superstitious, and many believe it’s bad luck to bring bananas on a fishing trip. 

You may be thinking, “It’s just a banana. What is the worst that could happen?” However, many things can go wrong on a fishing boat on the open water. You may not catch fish; the weather could change quickly, the engine may fail, etc. If you don’t bring a banana, at least you won’t be the one to blame for any of it.

Deep Sea Fishing Techniques and Methods

  • Casting: Throwing a lure or bait out into the water and waiting for a bite.
  • Live Bait Fishing: Using live bait such as worms, shrimp, or small fish to attract larger fish. 
  • Chumming: Sprinkling bait into the water to attract fish.
  • Drifting: Allowing the boat to drift with the current while fishing.
  • Jiggling: Using a jigging rod to drop a weighted lure to the bottom of the ocean and then quickly jerking it back up.
  • Trolling: Towing bait behind the boat while sailing through the water.
  • Bottom Fishing: Dropping a weighted line to the bottom of the ocean and waiting for a bite. It’s also called Deep Dropping.
  • Fly Fishing: Casting a fly line with a weighted fly lure to attract 
  • Handlining: Using a single line with a hook and bait to catch fish.
  • Spear Fishing: Using a spear or harpoon to catch fish.
  • Float Fishing: Using a float to suspend bait in the water.

Unexpected Fishing Charter Expenses: Tipping Etiquette and Cleaning Fees

There may be unexpected expenses when planning a fishing day on the water on a charter boat.

Tipping etiquette is one of the most common and widely accepted forms of compensation for a well-done job. While tipping is not mandatory, it is customary to tip your captain and crew at the end of your trip if they provide excellent service.

Additionally, some charters may charge a cleaning fee if equipment or the boat needs cleaning after your trip. This fee may vary depending on the type of fish you caught, how many people were on board, and how messy the boat was when you returned.

If you are unsure, ask the organizer about any additional fees before booking your fishing charter so that you are aware of all costs associated with your trip in advance.

Deep Sea Fish Species to Target

This last part of the beginner’s guide to deep sea fishing covers the species of fish to target.

There are many kinds of fish species anglers like to target, but in the deep sea, you’ll be fishing big fish, including:

  • billfish such as marlin
  • sailfish and swordfish
  • tuna
  • king mackerel
  • wahoo
  • dorado
  • barracuda
  • grouper
  • snapper
  • amberjack

Whether trolling for tuna or bottom-fishing for grouper, the deep sea provides plenty of opportunities for anglers to experience the thrills of big game fishing. With the proper knowledge and equipment and following tips from this guide, you can enjoy an incredible day out on the water targeting some of the most sought-after deep sea fish species.

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