Informational Guide

What Is Deep Sea Fishing

What is deep sea fishing? A true test for adventurers who want to catch more than just a few fish for dinner.

by Andrew

Informational Guide

What Is Deep Sea Fishing

What is deep sea fishing? A true test for adventurers who want to catch more than just a few fish for dinner.

by Andrew

by Andrew

Deep sea fishing is a great adventure if you are interested in heading offshore in search of giant sport fish.

While inshore fishing happens within sight of the shoreline, you are not considered to be deep sea fishing until you reach between 10-30 miles offshore, where there is no land in sight.

This article will go over everything you need to know to plan and execute a deep sea fishing adventure.

A culmination of skill and grit, deep sea fishing is a test for adventurers who want to catch more than just a few fish for dinner. Deep sea fishing is a lifestyle for many charter boat captains and anglers who live in coastal towns and cities around the United States. Cities like Charleston, South Carolina, and Galveston, Texas.

These waterfront cities give a new meaning to the traditional fishing villages of the past. Every morning, charter boat captains fill their vessels with food, drinks, bait, and ice before dawn in preparation to head offshore in search of giant fish for their clients. Depending on the species they target, most deep sea fishing trips involve trolling or deep drop drifting.

How Does Deep Sea Fishing Work

Deep Sea Fishing Target Species

Around the USA, species vary based on geography and water temperatures. For example, in the North, states like New York and Maine have large populations of colder water deep sea fish such as Cod, Tuna, and Striped Bass. As you head South, you can catch billfish, such as Sailfish or Marlin.

The Gulf of Mexico is great for Snapper and Grouper. West coast deep sea fishing is world-class, allowing anglers to catch Yellowtail and Dorado off the coast of San Diego or Flounder when running out of Seattle, Washington.

Rules & Regulations Regarding Deep Sea Fishing

When booking a deep sea trip, you will want to contact charter captains prior to embarking. You will need to discuss seasons for targeting specific species, as well as licensing regulations. You will want to book trips with licensed charter captains. This allows you to fish under the umbrella of their fishing license and insurance, eliminating any possibility of legal infractions.

These captains are not only legally accountable but are also knowledgeable and well-versed in particular fishing locations. Research charter businesses and review thoroughly before booking to ensure you have the best chance to catch because deep sea charters are relatively expensive.

Best Season To Deep Sea Fish

The best seasons to go deep sea fishing will depend upon factors ranging from geography to climate to the target species' migration patterns. This is another way that a charter captain can help you. They will typically have a fishing calendar posted on their website to ensure you book during the best time of year for your desired catch to be in season.

If not, you can always research fishing calendars on the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service official website

Generally speaking, the best time to go deep sea fishing is in early summer. Most charter boats will book three trips per day, and depending on the forecast, choose one of the first two slots of the day for your best chances.

Where to Find Good Deep Sea Fishing Spots

Deep sea fishing spots are as vast as the oceans themselves. In order to find the best locations, you will have to decide what you plan to fish for and what time of year you plan to do so. Once you have narrowed down your search, you will want to research the cities you plan on fishing offshore out of. 

For a quick trip, you will want to find a city that has easy access to the fishing grounds so that you can easily navigate around. If you have more time on your plate, search for fishing-oriented towns where the economy is dependent on deep sea fishing.  Here are some places to keep on your shortlist of possibilities

  • Florida Keys, Florida
    The Florida Keys are one of, if not the best, fishing places in the United States. From here, you can fish inland, inshore, or deep sea. The seasons overlap for year-round angling and adventure. Species to chase are Mahi, Swordfish, Sailfish, and multiple species of Tuna.
  • Charleston, South Carolina
    Being the second largest city in South Carolina, you will find a great atmosphere, coupled with great deep sea fishing out of Charleston. The season picks up around May, but June is a great time to book a trip focussed on catching Dorado, Redfish, and Sailfish.
  • Outer Banks, North Carolina
    The Outer Banks is legendary for tuna fishing. Home to Oregon Inlet, the OBX is a wonderful fishing destination. Known as the billfish capital of the world, book a trip here and get ready to pose for photos with your Marlin and Sailfish catches.
  • San Diego, California
    Early summer is when you will want to plan this trip of a lifetime when Tuna and Dorado from Mexico travel up the coast into US waters. From here, you can fish the Baja Coast and beyond for the fish of your dreams.
  • Seattle, Washington
    If you want to take a fishing trip in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is the place to go. With an abundance of Salmon and Flounder, you will have a great opportunity to net some food worthy fish!
  • Galveston, Texas
    Snapper and Grouper are the target species off the coast of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico. These are some of the most fertile fishing grounds in the world due to their geographic features and climate. Book a charter, and all you will need to bring is a cooler for keeping your catch, as most of everything else will be provided by the vessel.

Deep Sea Fishing Charters (How Much Does It Cost?)

Booking with a charter for your next fishing trip could be the difference between just fishing or catching. While most charters will not guarantee your success, their wealth of knowledge gathered over years of fishing will give you the best chance at success when attempting to deep sea fish.

Trips range between 3-8 hours and are priced between $100 per person and $400 per person per trip. While this may sound expensive and vague, consider the cost of fuel, bait, tackle, and time that it would take to be deep sea fishing on your own. These captains are insured, licensed professionals that are certified in navigation and first aid. They provide food, drinks, bait, and tackle for your fishing adventure, and more often than not, they will go out of their way, above and beyond, to put you on the meat.

Note: be sure to tip the first mate on the charter boat, at least 10% of the overall cost; they are up early and covered in fish guts, helping you catch your dream fish for little more than mandatory experience hours on the water in pursuit of their own captain’s licenses.

Where To Deep Sea Fish

How to Prepare for Deep Sea Fishing Adventures

Preparation for deep sea adventures is more research than anything. You will want the correct fishing apparel based on any conditions you may encounter. This means warm weather gear and sunblock, cold water gear, and rain gear. Not having enough gear end your day early, and there are no refunds on charter trips. 

Researching before the trip is vitally important. You will want to know where to meet, what to expect, how long you will be out, and what to do in case of emergency.

Being prepared for anything eliminates anxiety and lets you focus on fishing. At the end of the day, you are miles out to sea with strangers and vulnerable to the elements. Proper preparation prevents poor performance.

People also Ask (FAQs)

Is deep sea fishing safe?

Deep sea fishing is especially safe with a charter. It is no more dangerous than any other form of boat-oriented fishing. In most cases, the deck hands or mates take care of rigging and tools, while the captain takes care of navigating the surf. You just have to reel in the fish and pose for the photos!

How much should one spend on deep sea fishing equipment?

The sky's the limit when it comes to deep sea fishing gear. Focus on purchasing quality clothing first and foremost. When choosing gear, be sure to include warm (hot) weather clothes, cold weather clothes, quality rain gear, which could be as much as $200 US, and do not forget about boots. Most charter captains or boat owners will require non-skid rubber-soled boots or sneakers. There will be water, slime, and blood on the boat deck, so don't skimp on footwear.

What is the best bait for deep sea fishing?

Live bait is great for deep drop drifting while deep sea fishing. Most mornings for charter captains involve netting dozens of live baitfish to be stored in bait wells for use all day. If you are trolling, you will most likely be using teaser-style baits. These are sometimes called flies or streamers but actually look like a piece of bail with a colorful plastic skirt that is dragged on the surface behind the boat—this form of trolling lures target species like Sailfish or Mahi to explode out of the water.

How do I prevent seasickness when deep sea fishing?

First thing to prevent seasickness, lay off the coffee. Most of us routinely grab a coffee to go in the morning with the idea that the caffeine will kick start our brains and bodies for the day. Having a 20 oz coffee rolling around in your stomach while you're rolling about on the waves is not something you want to put yourself through.

How do you set up a deep sea fishing rod and reel? What are the best ones?

Setting up a rod and reel for deep sea fishing is similar to any other setup, except everything is super-sized due to the depth you are fishing and the size of your target species. The best deep sea fishermen use large with to ten foot heavy-duty rods and levelwind reels spooled with sometimes up to 100lb test.


Deep sea fishing is an amazing adventure no matter where or what species of fish you desire. Most charter captains are experienced and informative. They will be more than happy to explain why they are choosing to fish a location or bait. Make sure to bring your camera as you are likely to capture some great fish and even better memories of your day offshore.