What Is Deep Sea Fishing? A Thrilling Escape Into The Blue Wilderness


If you’ve tried every type of fishing there is to try from land, you might want to give deep sea fishing a go. This thrilling angling experience can only be achieved by heading out the deepest of waters, but it’s not a style made for everyone.

What is deep sea fishing? Deep sea fishing refers to fishing that takes place offshore where waters are usually at least 100 feet deep, and often a lot more. Commonly called offshore fishing or big game fishing, the purpose of this type of outdoor adventure is to try and land a different group of fish altogether and experience the depths of the ocean.

Where once deep sea fishing was left to the hardcore anglers, it seems everybody has a chance these days to give it a go as well. Before you jump in a book a spot on a charter boat though, check out this guide to fishing in the deep seas and see what’s what.

Deep Sea Fishing Explained

Deep Sea Fishing Explained

Deep sea fishing refers to a type of fishing done at a specific location, which is usually between 20 and 30 miles from the shoreline, at least. As well as being this far off shore, deep sea fishing also needs a water depth of at least 100 feet, otherwise, it won’t be classified as such.

The purpose of deep sea fishing is to target the types of fish that are commonly found out in these waters, and is sometimes referred to as big game fishing because of it. The most popular fish that anglers try to land on a deep fishing expedition are swordfish, marlin, and snapper, but anything in the offshore area will do.

There’s not much required for deep sea fishing, other than a vessel to take you out there, and people can either use their own or an off shore charter boat. You’ll need your usual rod, safety gear, tackle, and bait, and because of the deeper waters, might have greater success with a fish finder.

What Happens During Deep Sea Fishing?

Deep Sea Fishing Rod

Before a deep sea fishing trip, it’s normal to feel a little nervous, especially if you’ve never been on a chartered boat before or taking any kind of vessel far out to sea. To get rid of the unknown, we’ve got some of the usual steps that happen on a deep sea fishing trip if you choose to go out on charter.

  1. You get on the boat and meet the crew and sign in on the ship. They will direct you to the place where you store the gear, and will usually tell you to avoid the deck.
  2. The deck might ask you if you need to buy a bug for fish storage, which is a good idea if you have nothing on hand.
  3. Some boats run a jackpot where all participants put in a small amount of cash so they might ask you to be involved if you want. The winner is the person with the biggest fish at the end of the day and they take home the jackpot as well as their impressive catch.
  4. The captain will leave the dock and usually speak to everyone on the boat. They’ll cover all of the basic information like safety, where you’re headed, and the rules of the ship.
  5. While you’re traveling to the destination, the deck crew will start hiring out gear and giving basic lessons on how to use it, if needed. If you didn’t bring your own gear and are renting, you’ll want to sort this out now.
  6. Once you’ve arrived, wait for the captain to give the go-ahead to drop your line in. you’ll spend a set amount of time here fishing and be given some warning before the day is done. Pack up your catches in a bag and if you entered the jackpot, now is the time to get your fish weighed.
  7. The crew of the boat might also cut your fish for you if you want, and this costs just a couple of dollars. You can now leave the boat with your catches and make sure to tip if it’s been worthwhile.

The Essential Gear

Deep Sea Fishing Gear

Depending on how and where you go deep sea fishing, there’s some basic gear you’ll need. If you’re using a charter, everything might be provided for you, but usually, people have supplies that they’re faithful to.

  • A fishing license is required in some states and anyone over 16 years of age needs one.
  • Cash for any items you want to purchase on the boat, as well as tips.
  • The right clothing, including layered garments, long sleeves, non-slip shoes, sunblock, sunglasses, and a hat.
  • A gunny sack for carrying fish, and a cooler box that you can store in your car at the dock for keeping it fresh on the way home.
  • Camera or smartphone to record the action and take a photo of your proudest catch.

Licenses and Regulations

Fishing License

Deep sea fishing comes with some regulations, as with any type of fishing, and it’s your responsibility as an angler to know what they are. Most states in the US require a fishing license as a bare minimum, and you can easily purchase one of these online or on the phone.

If you’re booking a charter, you’ll want to check off a list of requirements to ensure that the operator is legitimate. Questions to ask are whether they have the right permits to allow fishing in federal waters if the captain has a valid license, and whether they have a safety plan in place.

Anyone planning on operating a charter and charging people for the services of using their boat will need to be licensed to do so. A permit must be acquired before chartering a boat for any kind of fishing, and the penalties for not doing so are serious.

Do You Need to Charter a Boat?

Chattering Boat Fishing

If you’re lucky enough to own a fishing vessel of your own, there’s no need to charter a boat. However, for most, chartering is a good way to test the waters and see what they think about deep sea fishing before making such a large investment in a boat themselves.

During a boat charter, the best advice is to listen to the crew and leave all of your preconceived notions at home. Many people join these charters with an idea of a reality TV show they’ve watched, only to be let down when they get on board because it was nothing like they expected.

There’s a chance that you might not catch anything either, as is the nature of fishing. The goal with any deep sea fishing expedition is to enjoy yourself and experience the great outdoors as far away from society as possible, and deep sea fishing is a fun way to do both of those.

Go Deep for A New Adventure

There’s something magical about heading out to the middle of the ocean and casting a line down further than you’ve ever done before.

To try your hand at deep sea fishing, there’s a bit you need to learn first, so make sure you’ve researched the safest and best way to do it before you jump on board.

Deep sea fishing is just one of the unique ways you can enjoy angling, and there are plenty more for you to try. To learn more about the rules and regulations surrounding different fishing methods, we’ve answered some FAQs that can give you a rundown.

Can You Keep Any Fish You Catch in the Ocean?

There are different rules and laws in place regarding what you can keep after catching it in the ocean, and this includes state-specific and federal ones.
In California, for example, anyone over the age of 16 that catches a fish, crustacean, or invertebrate from an ocean or bay, must have a fishing license to take it home.

Are You Allowed to Fish in International Waters?

Countries generally control their waters for a distance of up to 12 miles out to sea, and when you’re fishing from here, you’ll need to follow the laws of that state or country.
However, beyond this point where it’s considered international waters, there are no laws about the type of fishing that can occur.

Is Deep Sea Fishing Dangerous?

As long as you follow the rules and safety protocols on the boat you’re traveling on, there’s no reason that deep sea fishing should be any more dangerous than regular fishing.
There are risks involved with fishing from a boat, like drowning and dangerous weather, but these can be mitigated with the right safety precautions.


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