The Complete Head Boat Fishing Guide

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If you do not own a fishing boat, chances are, you have thought that you are limited to only casting your spinning rod while standing on the shore. This, however, is not entirely true. Head boat fishing can make it possible for you to spend up to 4 days fishing offshore.

Head boats, often referred to as party boats, are available in almost every coastal location. After putting on your best fishing hat, you can join a group of 10 to 100 fishermen on a drift or bottom fishing trip. While headboard fishing may be a little bit expensive, most of the fishing beginners and experts do find it worth both their time and money.

What to Expect When Head Boat Fishing

On average, head boat fishing trips last anywhere between half a day and 4 days. To have a spot on the head boat fishing trip, you will have to pay an individual fee, which is generally known as a per head fee. Depending on the trip, the per head fee may range between $30 and $200.

In almost all the cases, the head boat fishing trip will include gas, tackle, bait, someone to help you with gaffing and taking the fish off, and help if your fishing line gets tangled or breaks. If you have some fishing knowledge, meaning that you know how to handle the fishing rod and reel, set the hook, and reel in a catch, you should have the ability to catch numerous fish when head boat fishing.

Since you will be fishing offshore, you should be able to catch a wide variety of fish species. Depending on the geographical location and season, you may be able to catch croakers, bass, trout, flounders, kingfish, and small sharks.

It is worth noting that you may have to rent some of the fishing gear separately when head boat fishing. For example, it is not uncommon for people planning to go headboard fishing to rent a rod and reel.

Although fish bags and ice are usually provided, chances are, you won’t be provided with medium or even small fish coolers. Often, people interested in head boat fishing have to bring their own food. If you forget to bring your own food, you can purchase it before departure.

Why You Should Be on the Back of the Boat When Headboat Fishing

If you are serious about catching numerous fishes when head boat fishing, you should find a fishing spot at the back of the head boat. The head boat captain will position the boat headed into the current when he/she reaches the fishing site.

Irrespective of whether the captain anchors the boat or decides to just maintain the position, the water current will be running off the head boat’s back. Those who are using their saltwater spinning reels on the stern end will have a much better chance of hooking up big fish.

If you happen to be on the side of the bow, you will find the fishing line constantly going under the head boat. At best, your line will angle towards the stern.

How Does the Captain Position the Boat When Head Boat Fishing?

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On top of having the best fish finder, a professional head boat captain is supposed to have Long Range Navigation (LORAN) and GPS. These will help him get the readings of reefs, ledges, live bottom, and wrecks. The captain is supposed to head to these locations and either hold position or anchor in the right place.

In some instances, the captain may have to reposition the head boat a couple of times. This is necessary when the current and the wind gets tricky. If the fishermen determine that the available fish are small, the captain will move the boat to a different location that probably has bigger fish.

Do the Captain and the Crew Fish?

When head boat fishing, both the crew and the captain should focus on attending to the paying passengers. This means that a professional crew and captain won’t be fishing during the trip.

It is worth noting that some crews and captains may want to fish. If this is the case, the chances of getting poor care will be higher. For these reasons, before paying for the head boat fishing trip, confirm whether the crew and/or the captain will be fishing. This can make a huge difference during your head boat fishing trip.

Useful Tips for When You Decide to Go Head Boat Fishing

Apart from knowing the ideal hook size, you should use, some additional head boat fishing tips can make your trip a success. The tips include:

  • If it is possible, try to avoid half day trips. Due to time constraints, the head boat may not be able to reach the best fishing grounds.
  • Make sure you arrive early and find a good spot at the back of the boat. Boarding the head boat is usually based on first-come, first-served.
  • Listen to your fishing mates, especially if you are new to head boat fishing. By following their instructions, you may be able to catch more fish.
  • If you have the time, visit the dock a couple of times and check out the catch. This will help you know what to expect when you board the head boat.

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If not owning a fishing boat has been keeping you from fishing offshore, you should consider trying a head boat fishing trip. Headboat fishing trips are not free. However, the fishermen do get value for the money they spend on the trips.

While choosing your spot on the head boat may not appear important, it could make all the difference. Arriving early and choosing a good spot at the back of the boat can make it possible for you to reel in more and bigger fish. To ensure that you will be getting all the necessary attention from the crew and the captain, make sure that they won’t be fishing during the head boat fishing trip.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!