August 9, 2019
You’ve booked your fishing trip, paid the deposit and now it is time to pack and leave the house. What do you need to take?
First, always check with the charter service to see if there is anything they recommend. Most services provide basics like rods and reels, bait, some drinks and snacks. Charter captains in Florida also have a “six-pack” license that covers up to six people fishing from the boat, so you don’t need a license unless you are aiming for a record tarpon (see below). A charter captain has a series of certifications for his license.
If you plan to fish from the water or the shore, you must have a Florida saltwater fishing license.
The captain has all the gear needed, including artificial lures. If live bait is needed, he will have that.
Leave your fishing equipment at home unless you have a specific rod and reel that you want to use to make a memory. If so, check with the captain to make sure your equipment is suited for the fish you want to catch. When you get back to the dock, be sure to rinse the reel and rod thoroughly in freshwater. Salt buildup can ruin both.
If you are fly fishing, then bring your fly rod and an assortment of flies and leader material. Your guide likely will have some flies as well. If you tie flies, call ahead to see what the fish are hitting and tie those patterns. Also, make sure the rod and reel you bring are suited for the fish you want to catch. For trout, snook and reds, 5-7 weight bass rods are good enough. Offshore and big tarpon require heavier rods and reels with plenty of backing.
Bring plenty of flies. Saltwater fish often have extremely sharp teeth and slice through monofilament leaders.
The rinse rule applies here as well.
Bring sunscreen. The captain probably has some, but you know what works best for you.
Bring a hat with a good brim to keep the sun off your head. A bandana is also a good idea. This can be soaked in the drinks cooler and wrapped around your head or neck. The bandana can also hang down your neck from under the hat or wrapped around your face for even more protection from the sun.
Some people wear a light long-sleeve shirt. The sun bouncing off the water reflects enough UV to cause sunburn in some people.
Sunglasses are a must. Be sure to secure your sunglasses with some kind of strap that will hold them to your neck if they bounce off your nose. The best straps also have a float to keep the glasses on the surface if they do fly off. Polarized sunglasses are recommended, especially if you are going sight fishing. Rinse with fresh water at the end of the day.
Bring something to fight off motion sickness. Pills, liquids and patches all work well. Get what works best for you.
If you have special dietary requirements and will be on the water when you must eat, then bring the food you need. The captain will have a place to store this.
Bring a box of 20 or so gallon-size sealable bags if you want fish for supper. You will take home fillets in bags. If you are catch-and-release fishing, you still need a bag to store your personal gear. Wallet, cell phone, camera, etc. go in a bag. The captain has space to store this. Just remember to get it when you get back to the dock.
Leave your cooler in your vehicle at the dock.
A sharp pocket knife is always in order.
Bring some extra money to tip the captain. He works hard to provide you a quality fishing experience. Show your appreciation. You tip your waitress.
Tarpon are catch-and-release only with one exception, someone trying to set a new record for this fish. In that case a $50 tarpon tag is required. If you are serious about trying to set a new tarpon record, check with your charter captain first and then get the tag.
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