12 Deep Sea Fishing Tips and Tricks of the Trade

Whether you’re a beginner or you’re looking to perfect your skills, these deep sea fishing tips and tricks of the trade will help you master the sport.

A few of the tips below are specific to deep sea fishing in Hawaii, but if you’ll be fishing somewhere else, continue reading. Most of these deep sea fishing tips can be applied to fishing in any location.

    • Research charter options in advance.Consider the pros and cons of each season
    • Check the weather—before you book
    • Check the weather—after you book
    • Bring the right type of sunscreen
    • Research possible extra expenses
    • Bring lunch and refreshments
    • Don’t bring bananas
    • Avoid hangovers
    • Sit in the back of the boat (especially if you get seasick!)
    • Be patient—it’s a long journey
    • Listen carefully to your captain and deckhand
  • Expect the unexpected

Scroll below for additional details and insider tips.

private fishing charter1. Research charter options in advance

There are a few different types of charters, and each makes for a different experience. A private charter will cater to your needs and make for a more personalized experience, but you’ll pay more for that privacy. Group or shared charters offer a more affordable trip, but that means sharing a boat with people you’ve never met before.

Learn more about Sport Fishing Charters and what to look for before booking.

The reality of sport fishing is that it is expensive. Boats, equipment, maintenance, gas, and licensing do not come cheap. Don’t look for a charter company that’s much less expensive than the rest because chances are they are cutting corners somewhere.

Before you book, do a quick check of the company’s, as well as the Captain’s, reputation and read reviews.

2. Consider the pros and cons of each season

The best time for deep sea fishing in Hawaii is spring and summer, even though the weather in Hawaii is beautiful year-round. But don’t rule out the off season in any location, especially if you’re a beginner. There are still plenty of exotic catches out there from October to March. Also, fishing when there are fewer fishing boats on the water means you’ll have less competition. The off-season can make for abundant hauls.

If you have a specific fish in mind, make sure you research seasonal availability. Even if an area is known for a certain fish, it might only be there at a certain time of year. For example, off the shores of Oahu, Hawaii, the best time to catch a Yellowfin Tuna is between April and November, and the best time to catch a Dolphin Fish (Mahi Mahi) is between September and May.

3. Check the weatherbefore you book

Before you book your charter, check the upcoming weather forecasts.

You want to look for a day forecasted with no rain and little wind. For deep sea fishing, you want a calm sea. A windy day will make for a bumpy journey and the likelihood of seasickness increases with bad weather.

4. Check the weatherafter you book

The night before you go out to fish, there’s not much you can do about unexpected weather, except be prepared for it. It’s a long trip (see tip number 10), so you don’t want to be caught in the wrong clothes. This applies to rain as well as hot and sunny days. If it’s going to be a clear, hot day, come prepared with comfortable clothes, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.

5. Bring the right type of sunscreen

Hawaii has banned two ingredients commonly used in sunscreens because of their significantly harmful damage to coral reefs and the overall marine environment.  Make sure your sunscreen does not have either of these ingredients: oxybenzone and octinoxate.

We recommend using sunscreens with Titanium Oxide and/or Zinc Oxide; they offer the best coverage against sun damage and have not shown to have harmful effects on the environment or people.

6. Extra expenses – research tipping and fish cleaning fees

Each charter company has a different policy on fish cleaning. Look this up in advance so you come prepared with extra cash if needed.

Tipping expectations vary across regions and charter companies. It is customary in Hawaii to tip the crew 15-20%. Sometimes you can pay gratuities in advance, even by credit card, but find out before you get on the boat so you know how much cash to bring along.

7. Bring lunch and refreshments

Many charters allow you to bring a cooler on board. This is super handy because you can pack food that suits your preferences and dietary restrictions. Bringing your own food, when possible, can also save you money compared to onboard meals. A cooler can also store alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to keep you hydrated throughout the day.

8. Don’t bring bananas

Pack a lunch, but do not bring bananas. You don’t want to find out what happens if you do. Bananas are extremely bad luck on fishing boats. Even though they are a handy snack, bringing a banana on board will likely anger your captain and get the trip off to a bad start for you and everyone else on board.

9. Avoid hangovers

Hangovers are magnified once you get on board the boat and there’s no turning back once you’re on. There’s enough of a risk of seasickness as it is without adding a hangover into the mix.

10. Sit in the back of the boat (especially if you get seasick!)

The back of the boat is a lot less bumpy than the front. If you are prone to seasickness, snag a spot at the back.

There’s also the potential of catching more fish at the back. Often this is where the fish finder is located so you’ll know you’re right on top of what the captain is seeing.

11. Be patientit’s a long journey

To catch exotic fish, you have to travel to them. This can mean long journeys from shore. Your day out deep sea fishing includes the time it takes your boat to get to the fish. This process can be a little underwhelming your first time out.

You board your boat prepared and ready to make your first catch of the day only to find out the first hour will be spent traveling to where you will fish. If you’re an impatient person, or if you want to know how the day will be structured, ask your charter in advance so that you know what to expect.

Prepare yourself for the journey and then sit back and enjoy the breathtaking views of Hawaii’s coastline.

12. Listen carefully to your captain and deckhand

Listening carefully on a deep sea fishing boat is important for many reasons. For your own safety and the safety of those around you, pay close attention to the captain’s instructions—especially if it’s your first time.

Listening carefully to instructions will also help you catch more fish. Your captain and deckhand know the waters best and they know where the fish are located. If you’re instructed to keep your bait near the surface or near the bottom, it’s because that’s where the fish are. The instructions you get will set you up for the best chance of catching fish.

Bonus Tip: Expect the unexpected

Each deep sea fishing journey is different and that’s part of what makes it so exciting. It also means you need to go into it with an open mind. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment

by having specific expectations about what you want to catch.

No two trips are alike. Some days are better than others for catching fish and sometimes, despite all of your planning, the weather just doesn’t cooperate. Great day, or bumpy day, it will most certainly be an experience you won’t soon forget.

Whether it’s your first or 10th-time deep sea fishing in Oahu or elsewhere, it always helps to be open-minded and ready for whatever the day throws at you.

Want to put these tips into action? Book your deep sea fishing Hawaii experience off the beautiful coast of Oahu.