Deep sea fishing trips are a bit more intense than your typical fishing adventures. For the best results, you’re going to want to take a little bit of time to prepare yourself—who knows? You might end up reeling in a shark. Whatever you’re aiming to catch, some planning is in order.

The following will break down a few elements of a well-planned fishing trip. The goal is to have you in the right spot at the right time, with the right gear so that when the day of the trip comes up, you can simply relax and take in the serenity of the sky and the water (that is until you get ahold of a whopper).

Choose Your Destination With Care

When choosing where you want to deep-sea fish, there are more options than you ever thought possible. It might help to answer the following questions as a way of narrowing down your options:

  • What fish am I looking for?
  • What can I comfortably afford?
  • Am I looking locally, nationally, or internationally?
  • How long will I stay there?
  • Will I work with a private charter or a group one?

As a side note, when choosing the fish you’re seeking, do some research. Not all types of deep-sea fishing are sustainable. Look into the impact of the type of fish you’re hoping to catch.

Decide on the Right Charter

When it comes to chartering, there are a few options. You might be interested in chartering your own boat, but this is typically not recommended unless you are incredibly experienced. Most of the time—especially if you’re fishing someplace new—you’re going to want a guide who knows how to keep things safe and where the best locations are.

Booking a charter comes in three forms: a private charter, a group charter, and a party boat. Party boats tend to be more affordable and are great for beginners but are very socially-based and might result in you learning a bit less than the other options.

A group charter involves you and your fishing buddies, probably with another group or two. This is a medium-priced option and involves a little bit of interacting with strangers but far less than the party boat does. A private charter is when you hire a boat specifically for you and whomever you’re fishing with. Moreover, points out that all of these charters can come in different shapes and sizes from full-day to half-day trips. Don’t overshoot your group’s capabilities—nothing ruins the day faster than someone struggling desperately to keep up despite being worn down by the day.

Check the Weather

Given that you’re going to be way out on the water, there are different safety precautions you need to be taking to ensure that the trip isn’t miserable, uncomfortable, or downright painful. You’re going to need to be keeping an eye on the weather updates because conditions offshore can alter rapidly and suddenly; that perfect fishing Saturday is maybe the worst day you could think of to go deep-sea fishing. Whatever the weather, bring lots of layers and gear that’s suitable for the day, including sunblock, hat, sunglasses, rain gear, and non-slip shoes.

Share Your Float Plan

Submit a float plan to the marina you’ll be leaving from or to a trusted friend or family member. This information can be used in the event of an emergency. It will help the Coast Guard locate you and provide any services needed.

Safety Gear Is Key

Before heading out, ensure that everyone on the boat—both anglers and passengers—know where all safety equipment is stored. Everyone should know where things are and how to get them in the event of an emergency. You’re also going to want to make sure that all the safety equipment you need (like personal flotation devices, your first aid kit, life jackets, flashlights, flares, fire extinguishers, and VHF radios) are on board and working. Include more food and water than you think you need in the event that you end up being out on the water longer than expected.

Plan Accommodations

If you’re traveling more than a couple of hours drive, you might want to sort out some lodging for yourself (especially since many charters leave extremely early in the morning). Fishing hot spots tend to have many options available depending on your tastes—fishing cottages or cabins for those who like things natural and rustic; home shares and AirBnBs for those who like to experience a place as if they’re a local; hotels, motels, and inns for those who want a more traditional traveling experience, with all their needs covered easily.

The above points should help you sort out your next deep-sea fishing trip. Don’t forget your fishing license unless the charter is providing this for you!