The first thing to consider when booking a deep sea fishing guide is who will be on the boat with you. Is it a group of experienced anglers, your wife and kids, or a mixed group of experienced and non-experienced people? Figuring this out will help determine how long your trip will be, and what species you’ll target. For example, if you have young kids, you might not want to chase 1,000 lb. marlin, but might do better trying for a larger number of smaller fish. Perhaps a couple of people in your party don’t do so well in high seas; There are plenty of options for calmer saltwater fishing, such as bonefish, tarpon or redfish. But nothing beats the excitement of trolling out in the big water, where even the name “deep sea fishing” can be a misnomer. Many of large fish including marlin and sharks are caught right on the surface, trolling fresh-cut bait at high speeds not far behind the boat’s frothy prop wash.

If the location of your trip is to be determined by the species of fish you want to catch, then your internet search should begin by zeroing in on that species. If however, you already know where you want to travel and what can be caught there, you should begin narrowing down your list of fishing charters based on your budget. Once you have five or ten potential guides you’re interested in, based on what you’ve seen on their websites, try searching their name on various fishing forums and blogs to see what past clients have to say about them. Ask specific questions about the guides; Were they courteous? Were they prepared? Did their equipment work? Were they safe? And of course, did you catch any fish?

You might get a chance to visit the area prior to your scheduled fishing trip. If so, ask local fisherman and bait shop owners to recommend a fishing guide; You might even get a chance to meet some captains and have a look at their boats. There’s nothing worse than arriving at the dock, excited to fish, only to realize you’ll be taking out the smallest, shoddiest-looking vessel in the whole marina. Even if you’re dealing with the best fishing guide around, dirty boats and broken gear can really detract from any deep sea fishing experience.

In general, be prepared to pay higher prices for deep sea fishing guides during peak travel seasons, and don’t forget you’ll have to put down a deposit, so be aware of cancellation polices and related details. A small boat with a 2-4 person capacity usually costs from $200-$400 for an all-day trip, while a day on a larger vessel can run $900-$1,200. There are also large boats for “family style” outings available for under $900, depending on the number of anglers. These trips can be a blast and you can catch a lot of fish, but don’t plan on tying into a tuna or a marlin.

Another thing you’ll want to double-check are license requirements. A good deep sea fishing guide will have these details taken care of, but it never hurts to ask even before booking the trip. What are you responsible for in order to be legal? How much does the license cost. Don’t forget to ask about “hidden” costs, like fuel usage, included gratuities, and any special tags required for certain fish.

Researching the various fishing charters can be tedious, but the more work you do, the more you’ll enjoy your deep sea fishing adventure.

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