Party Boat Time
Fishing on a party boat can be a ton of fun, and lead to a cooler full of dinner. But it has its ups and its downs. On the positive side, it allows you to get out on the Gulf without having a boat of your own, whether that’s because you don’t own one or you’re travelling without your boat in tow. And party boat captains usually know the areas they fish quite well, so you’ll often end up fishing at some of the best hotspots around. On the negative side, party boats are sometimes elbow-to-elbow crowded and you’ll commonly have to deal with lots of tangles, courtesy of the plentiful inexperienced anglers aboard. Still, party boat fishing holds the potential for some excellent catching – and these party boat fishing tips will help you make it happen.
- Bring your own gear, whenever possible. Party boats always have their own boat-gear aboard, usually for a slight rental fee or sometimes included in the cost of your ticket aboard. But this gear gets used by anyone and everyone on a daily basis. You can expect to find tangles and snarles in the reels, frayed line, and barely-functional tackle.
- Go on a weekday. The biggest problem with party boats is that they get crowded, but this is at its worst on weekends. Quite often a boat that might carry 40 or 50 anglers on a Saturday will have less than half that load on a Tuesday or Wednesday.
- Look for a spot near the stern of the boat. The boat’s transducer is usually positioned aft, and when the captain anchors the boat over the structure you can bet he’s looking at his fishfinder. So being located near the rear of the boat usually means you’ll be located near or over whatever he or she was looking at, on the LCD screen.
- Make friends with the mates. They’ll be running around like crazy un-tangling lines and helping the newbies. But they’re also the ones you need to depend on when you hook a big fish and need a gaff or a net. Become fast friends with them, and they’ll race over to help when you get Bubba up to the surface.
- When bottom fishing, use a bit more weight than necessary. The idea is to keep your line straight up and down, even in a current and as the boat swings on the anchor. This will help minimize tangles with the other anglers aboard, who often let out too much line and have their rigs swept around by the current and the boat’s movement.