What To Expect on Your First Offshore Fishing Trip 

You’ve decided to take the plunge and opt for that glorious golden adventure featuring miles and miles of living sea beneath a sky that fills the horizon. You’ve decided to go on your first offshore fishing trip.

Chances are, you’ve been thinking about going deep sea fishing with family or close friends—or maybe even co-workers—for a while now. You know that it will be a day that everyone will remember, and you want everything to match that picture-perfect experience you’ve envisioned.

Louisiana Charter Fishing is the one place to find all of the very best offshore fishing trips that will leave from the Louisiana shore and take you into the Gulf of Mexico. We make it easy for you to find—and book—the right charter vessel and captain for you.

Because we want your entire group to have a fantastic time, we want to take a few moments to answer some frequently asked questions about deep sea fishing, offer some pointers on what you can expect on your first charter fishing trip and mention some things that can help make your saltwater adventure a success.

  • How long will the trip take?

    Together, our captains offer a wide range of fishing trip options. You can find sessions of eight or 12 hours as well as overnight or several-day-long excursions. If you find you and your crew would like to return earlier for whatever reason, your captain should be able to accommodate you. Just as our guests have preferences regarding the duration of the trip, so do our captains. Some prefer shorter trips while others enjoy a more intensive experience out on the water. You just need to book the captain and charter duration that are right for you.

    As a first timer, you may want to try a single day excursion to start—especially if you have members in your group that haven’t been out on the water before.

  • What time do charters start?

    Most deep sea fishing trips start early, so 6 a.m. is not an unusual departure time. Keep in mind that the captains schedule their outings to take advantage of when and where the fish run, get you to where the big fish are and give you the time needed to bring in that great catch.

    You can ensure your trip will be the best it can possibly be by showing up fully prepared and on time at the proper docking location for boarding. Even once you schedule, be sure to double check with your captain regarding your reporting time and departure location to ensure you’ll be at the right place at the right time.

    Especially if you’re coming from a distance, you’ll want to arrange suitable lodging that will supply a good night’s rest the night before and schedule transportation to and from the dock well in advance if needed. Captains can usually help with transportation and lodging arrangements, so be sure to ask about that when you schedule your trip!

  • How far out will the charter vessel go?

    A good bit depends on how long your charter tour is versus where the fish are. Bigger fish tend to stay farther from shore. Most trips will take you at least 15 miles out. The longer the trip, the farther out your captain will be able to take you. That means that a fair portion of the trip is dedicated to traveling to where the fish are and returning back to dock.

    This time is a great opportunity to ask questions, get to know your captain and any deckhands, familiarize yourself with the boat and give yourself over to the whole experience of being out on open water. The Gulf of Mexico is full of wildlife—both in the water and in the air—so it’s also a good time to get out the camera and start figuring out how to get the best shots.

    Probably the worst thing you can do is to be afraid to ask questions or to pretend to know or understand something that you really don’t know or understand. Ask questions, and be ready to listen. Your captain and crew want you to have a fabulous trip, and their many years of experience have given them some amazing tales that they just might be willing to share.

  • What can you catch?

    When you think about offshore fishing, most of us automatically think of game fish—gorgeous species of sporting fish known for putting up a fight. The Gulf of Mexico is deep and teeming with sea life thanks to both natural bottom features like shell reefs, craters and slopes and manmade structures like offshore oil rigs and platforms.

    Here, you’ll find everything from yellowfin tuna, red snapper and dolphin fish—more commonly known as mahi-mahi or dorado—to wahoo, cobia and amberjack. You can also count on classic sport fish like sailfish and marlin as well as mackerel, tarpon and more.

    Bringing them in is an art that your captain or deckhands will help you with, but recognize that some species cannot be harvested during certain times of the year and must be released—red snapper and amberjack, for example. In addition, certain species must meet minimum size requirements to be eligible for harvest.

    You’ll want to consider how much fish you’ll actually want to keep and eat—and prepare accordingly—or whether you’re more interested in the trip experience and catching and releasing. If you're set on fishing for a particular catch—yellowfin tuna, for example—you’ll want to confirm that possibility with a potential charter captain prior to booking. In fact, some captains will cut a yellowfin tuna freshly caught on the boat and provide sauce and spices to dress it with, allowing you and your crew to eat a few raw bites as a nice snack while fishing.

  • What is typically included?

    Most captains provide everything you’ll need to be able to saltwater fish—fishing rods, bait and tackle, for example, suitable for what you’ll be fishing for. You can usually count on your captain to provide ice, water and perhaps extra coolers to hold the catch, and some will even filet the fish for you. Packaging for shipping is extra and can be done through a third party. Ask your captain prior to your trip for recommendations.

    Booking fees may or may not include fuel. Be sure that you understand what services, amenities and supplies are included in a particular package’s cost versus what may be available for an additional fee. You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with your captain’s policy on cancellations and inclement weather. Payments via credit card are usually subject to a small—4 percent—surcharge.

    Of note, a captain’s tip of 15 to 20 percent at trip’s end is considered a standard courtesy that often benefits the deckhands who have been baiting your hooks, teaching you how to fish and maybe even cleaning your catch for you. The tip is traditionally given as a cash thank you while the deckhands are present.

  • Do I need a fishing license?

    Anyone over the age of 16 will need a fishing license. Louisiana offers a convenient 3-Day Charter Passenger License for those individuals who don’t have a basic-plus-saltwater license already. Those 16 or under should have proof of age on them.

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  • What should I wear?

    You’re going out on the water for most likely at least eight hours. On clear days, the sun can be dazzling, with even shady spots subject to light reflected from the water. On overcast days, the sun can still be surprisingly intense. At the same time, temperatures can be 10 to 20 degrees cooler out on the water than on land—especially in springtime, when water is cooler and breezes are more frequent.

    Because conditions on the water may be not only different from those on land but also changeable, layered clothing is a must. Be sure to bring something with long sleeves that you can take off or put on as needed to protect against sunburn and windburn. Fishing shirts, for example, are lightweight, block sun and wind, yet have long sleeves and plenty of coverage. Other items include a brimmed hat, sunglasses, and non-slip shoes like boat or deck shoes. Most important, don’t forget the sunscreen.

  • What else should I bring?

    Items guests are usually responsible for bringing themselves include their fishing license, sunscreen, any medication you may need, and a cooler holding any food or drinks that you may want while on board. If you intend to keep your catch, you should bring a cooler for that as well. Some of our captains will provide ice, water and even cooler space, but not all do. Please check with your particular captain.

    Most guests enjoy taking photos, so you’ll want your phone or camera. Waterproof bags are handy as well as fanny packs for keeping track of personal items. Expensive camera equipment may merit a padded, latched cooler of its own just in case. By the way, superstition holds that bananas at sea are bad luck, so "no bananas on board."

Ready to find your captain and book your offshore fishing charter? Just click here. You can start by meeting our captains and reading their profiles. We make it easy to find your perfect match.

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