Proper planning before a fishing trip is crucial to get the most out of your day out. This goes further than planning the gear you’ll bring, or the shoes you'll take. It means planning from the moment you leave the house to when you return home.
This guide covers everything a novice angler should be aware of, so you get the best success from the get-go.
While fishing is a fun activity to share with loved ones, solo fishing is not without its merits. You get to try out that new rod and reel you’ve purchased in different depths and with your variety of lures and baits without any judgment.
You also just have to worry about your needs, so if you're hungry, cold, wet, or tired, you can adjust and not worry about those around you. It can be a great way to combat stress and anxiety, but only if you feel comfortable and confident to go fishing alone in the first place.
Teaching and sharing your skills with your kids or partner can be a lot of fun, and it builds strong bonds with those around you. Other fishing friends can also share their knowledge with you, making you a better angler. This can increase your self-esteem and resilience when you are ready to tackle a lake, ocean, or stream solo.
Another perk of going with a group is that everyone can share the cost of charters and equipment for the outing.
Fishing Trip Planning Checklist: Knowledge is Key
Where & When to Fish
There are amazing fishing destinations across all 50 states. Some of these destinations are lakes, streams, oceans, and ponds.
Florida is a great state for saltwater fishing, and Michigan is popular for freshwater species. Fishing during the golden hours (before sunset and sundown) is your best time to catch as a ton of species feed around these times.
Not all fish are the same and can be found everywhere, so we recommend checking breeding and feeding patterns on the fish you plan to catch.
Understanding the Weather, Fishing Season, Tides & Currents
The sun, moon, and the earth's movement affect tides and currents, but the weather plays a big part in this, too. If you’ve got high-pressure systems from clear sunny weather, you should expect tides to be low.
Whereas low-pressure systems from cloudy, rainy conditions will leave you with tides that are much higher than predicted. This is why anglers don’t get much luck fishing numerous species in groggy winters or steaming hot summers. The best fishing seasons for a lot of anglers are fall and spring.
Fishing Regulations & License Requirements
Having the appropriate license to fish is mandatory before you embark on your fishing adventure. You won’t have to do a written exam nor a practical test. You can buy a one-day, annual, or lifetime license through your state’s agency website.
You have the option to purchase additional features, called permits or tags, to your fishing license as certain species require this. Clamming, crabbing, or tarpon fishing require added licensing, so keep this in mind.
Following laws and regulations in the state is just as important as well. One of the biggest limitations is harvesting. Harvesting is when you catch and keep your catches. Many species have specific regulations on this, so it’s wise to check this out before going to the water.
Narrowing down the fish you’re hoping to catch will also help you figure out the waterways you’ll be fishing in. This will then help you to decide which line, rod, and reel you’ll need. Some of the most popular fish species you can target in freshwater and saltwater are as follows.
Freshwater Fish Species
Saltwater Fish Species
Clownfish- Percula Clownfish
Bass- Largemouth & Smallmouth bass
Trout- Sea trout & Speckled trout
There’s nothing worse than hitting the water and then realizing you’ve forgotten something in your fishing arsenal. Whether that’s weights, lures, lines, or leaders, it’s not fun, and nearly every angler has experienced this in their lifetime. We recommend bringing a small tackle box with a mix of everything you’ll need for your trip, along with your rod and reel.
In regards to your clothing, we recommend covering your skin with light-colored, breathable fabrics. It’s best to protect your arms and shoulders with a long-sleeved shirt to avoid sunstroke on hot days. And, don't forget to pack your fishing hat and a raincoat in case the weather turns on you!
What to Pack on a Fishing Trip
Now that you know where you’ll fish and what gear you'll need, it's time to pack your bag accordingly. We recommend making a checklist for all of the essentials you’ll need to bring.
What About a Fishing Charter?
If you want to fish out in the open water but don't own a boat or fishing kayak, a local fishing charter can be a great option. Many anglers have invested in these fun experiences and have said it has elevated their fishing skills tremendously.
You’ll make the most of the time on the water if you pick a package that’s right for you. Some charters are more for fun and for mingling, like on party boats. Whereas other charters like public/shared-expense charters will focus solely on fishing.
By choosing a charter over a simple boat rental, you get knowledge and feedback from the captain and the charter company. They are full of useful tips and information to help you get your catch with the right charter for you.
Charter companies also offer rental equipment within their packages, leaving you free from unnecessary stress. This can increase the price up significantly.
Choosing the Right Fishing Charter
People also Ask (FAQs)
How much money do fishing charters make?
After all expenses, an average fishing charter has a 20-25% profit margin and makes around $60,000 per year. If you work for a company, you’ll see it's a lot less lucrative than being your own boss. However, it’s a great way to build your reputation and learn everything you need to know before going solo.
Is a newer charter boat better than a seasoned one?
A new charter boat is clean, crisp, and stylish. In contrast, a seasoned charter boat might have more comfortable installations to suit an angler’s needs. The choice is up to you, but bear in mind, newer boats tend to be even higher in prices for day trips.
What’s the best time of year to go charter boat fishing?
Most charter companies see peaks in their schedules in May, June, and July due to hot, sunny weather. We recommend the end of the summer (August and September) as the best time for taking chartered trips. The weather isn’t unbearably hot, and many species are more comfortable with the cooling weather, so they tend to bite more.
What kind of fish are most popular to catch?
As we mentioned previously, trout, bass, and catfish are some of the most popular freshwater fish. For saltwater species, clownfish, sea trout, and damselfish are extremely popular.
Do I need a fishing license for a charter boat excursion?
Most charter companies purchase an exemption certificate from the state, which allows their customers to fish without an individual fishing license. It’s wise to ask the company if they possess this certificate before taking the trip, so you know you're covered.
If I reel in some big fish, am I allowed to keep and cook what I catch?
As long as the fish is in season, you can bring home trophy catches and prepare them any way you want. If the fish isn’t in season, you’re breaking the regulations and could have your fishing license revoked.
How much should I tip a fishing charter captain?
It’s customary to tip 15-20% of the total price to the captain and the crew. Other anglers like to tip more depending on how much fish they catch. This is entirely up to you but be kind to the crew if they’ve been kind to you. Often they work for just tips alone.
Fishing is a great way to get some exercise and enjoy some time outdoors. Whether you decide to go solo, with friends, family, or with complete strangers on a fishing charter, you’re sure to improve your fishing skills one way or another.
If you decide on booking a fishing charter, we hope it's a fun, rewarding, and memorable experience as you imagined it to be. Happy fishing!