Planning the Greatest Deep Sea Fishing Adventure of Your Life
A deep sea fishing charter in Destin, Florida is more than just a saltwater fishing trip. It’s a time when life-long bonds are created between family members, friends, and even strangers. With emerald green water, white sand, and blue skies as a canvas, the scene is set to make memories that will build and encourage groups to see life through the eyes of the ocean. The excitement of open water and adventure lurks in the distance of chance upon encounters of the unknown.
The mission of the Finest Kind is to set the scene for those amazing memories that will keep you reminiscing about your adventure at gatherings, reunions, and around the kitchen table for years to come. Even if you’re just looking for something fun to do on vacation, your experience will be much more than a simple day of fishing, and your group will catch much more than fish. We live for those memories, when a father will encourage his children to cast out the line, and reel in life’s blessings, a groom fishing alongside his prized catch, and those competitions that prove ever so surprising when one friend outsmarts his peers in technique and humility. These are the lessons that bring individuals together as a group. Travel away from all of the hustle and bustle, and find yourself in a place where some see life more clearly than ever before.
Whether your goal is to make memories with family and friends, to experience something different in life, to find yourself, or just to see what you can catch out of the depths of the sea, there is something for everyone with Destin, Florida’s deep sea fishing. To make your charter the greatest deep sea fishing trip of your life, check out these planning tips, and we’ll meet you behind the boat on the morning that you have scheduled your adventure!
Whether you are planning a trip with your family, a destination wedding, a reunion with old friends, or you just want to join in for a day of deep sea fishing out of Destin, the first thing to consider is choosing the appropriate length of your charter. Half-day, ¾ day, full-day, and overnight trips are available for private charters with up to 22 passengers. The Finest Kind’s 53′ G&S Sportfish custom boat offers all of the comforts of home, while giving serious fishermen room to move around. Group charters are also available for those who want to join other passengers to split the cost of the trip.
How long should my deep sea fishing charter last?
The Difference Between Private and Group Charters
Now that you have an idea as to which deep sea fishing trip best meets the needs of your group, it’s time to start scheduling your charter. Before setting a definite day and time with your group, always call to check availability. When you call, you should ask about the day that you desire first, but remain open-minded about other days close to your desired date. Once you have confirmed with your group that the availability of the charter fits a day in your schedule, call to book your deep sea fishing trip. A credit card number will hold your spot on the calendar until a deposit is made. One person from your group should communicate with the agency, and process the deposit. The same person is responsible for upholding the cancellation policy as it stands at the time of booking your charter.
How do I schedule a deep sea fishing charter?
The charter boat will provide the bait, tackle, ice, and fishing license for both private and group trips. A saltwater fishing experience is quite different from a freshwater encounter, and the supplies that you will need are likewise, different. When chartering a captain’s expert guidance, most everything that you need will be on the boat. What you should concern yourself with packing is appropriate clothing and shoes, protection from the sun, a cooler for food and drinks, another cooler for your catch, seasickness aid, any prescription medication that you normally use, your camera, photo ID, necessary receipts, and sleeping gear and toiletries for overnight trips.
What should I pack for a deep sea fishing charter?
Maps, Addresses, and Phone Numbers
Make sure to keep printed maps and addresses with your important papers while you travel. If you use your cell phone for a GPS as your primary navigational tool, you never know when you will lose service, or when the directions will be incorrect. Always have a hard copy to back you up while driving to any destination. It is also a good idea to keep the phone numbers of your destination with you at all times. If you happen to be driving to find your hotel or charter boat and get lost, you’ll have an easy reference handy to call for directions. Pack these papers in your carry-on!
Receipts for Deposits on Lodging and Charter Reservations
Keep receipts for deposits, confirmation numbers, and dates of payment records with your maps and telephone numbers. If there is a mix-up with your accommodations, you’ll be ready with proof of payment, and avoid the hassle of waiting to get to the bottom of mismatched records.
Weather Appropriate, Comfortable Apparel for Fishing
.The seasons bring different temperatures to Destin, and you’ll want to check them out before packing your clothes. Layers are always a great option, since the temperatures can vary throughout the day. Go for stain resistant and quick-dry materials. Bathing suits, t-shirts, and lightweight bottoms will do the trick, but you must consider the elements that you will be exposed to on your charter. You’ll need protection from the sun, something that won’t ruin with exposure to saltwater or fish slime, and an outfit that you can move around in comfortably. (Check out our What to Wear Deep Sea Fishing post for more ideas on outfits for deep sea fishing).
Light Colored and Rubber Soled Shoes
Boat decks can be very slippery with the high level of exposure to water. Even the morning dew can make the boat deck slick enough to bust a rump. Always wear shoes with good rubber soles on the bottom to battle the risk of falling. Choose a light-colored sole, as well. Dark bottoms on shoes sometimes leave scuff marks on the boat deck. Keep in mind that your shoes are likely to get wet, so look at shoes designed for deep sea fishing.
A Small Tote or Backpack with Essentials for the Fishing Trip
Space is limited, so you don’t want to bring a suitcase aboard your charter. Bring a tote or backpack along to make packing what you’ll need on the boat simple and efficient. Pack your bag when you get into town, and make sure that you are prepared for any circumstantial changes in weather. One of the most important preparation items is sunscreen lotion with at least a 30+ SPF. Sprays can get messy and make the deck more slick, so go with the lotion. Also bring wet wipes to easily remove the lotion from your hands, because the scent of lotion can leave your bait with an adverse smell for fish. Consider picking up a pair of fishing gloves to protect your hands while handling tackle and fish. A wide-brimmed hat and polarized sunglasses help to fight the reflection of the sun on top of the water, which helps to prevent excessive exposure to the sun. The sun shines bright in Destin, Florida, and the last thing that you want is a sunburn on your ears, nose, or neck, or sun damage to your eyes. Saltwater fishermen usually opt for gray lenses, as they provide the best clarity and safety. Make sure to pack a poncho or rain gear, because Destin’s pop-up rain showers can occur even on days with the brightest sunshine. A dry towel will also come in handy, just in case you get soaked. Don’t get caught at sea without the proper gear in your carry-on bag.
A Waterproof Bag
There are certain items that you will want to keep dry while on your deep sea fishing charter. Pick up a waterproof bag or pouch big enough to store items that are not made to withstand liquid! The waterproof bag should be able to contain your prescription medications, motion sickness aid, a photo ID, camera, cell phone, and cash. Always bring any regular medications along with you, in case you need them while on the water. It may take a while to get to shore, and we want you safe and comfortable while on the charter. Motion sickness aid should be taken the night before the trip, and the morning before, unless you have chosen to use patches or bracelets. You’ll want to keep your photo ID with you, which will probably remain in your wallet, and most wallets last longer if not submerged in water. Unless you have a waterproof camera to catch memories in the making, leave your camera in the pouch while you are not using it. Most cell phones are not waterproof, so keep them out of the way, and in your bag. Just have your phone in case your family needs to contact you in the event of an emergency. The deckhands that help to make your fishing adventure a hit work for tips. You’ll want to bring cash for tipping the mates, which is usually around 20% of the cost of your trip! Keep important items dry, so your fishing charter memories aren’t dampened by liquid disasters!
You’ll want to pack two coolers. One for the food and drinks that you plan to take aboard your charter, and one to leave in your vehicle to store your catch in. The first cooler should be sized, according to the needs for your group. (A shorter trip and a SMALL group calls for a SMALLER cooler. A private trip and a LARGE group calls for a MEDIUM sized cooler). You should bring water and drinks, like Gatorade or Powerade, and soda. If you prefer beer, bring it in a can, because glass is not permitted near the water in Destin, Florida. Your cooler should also be big enough to hold food that needs to be cooled. Common snacks include premade sandwiches, chips, and fruit. Whatever you bring to eat, make sure that there is little need for preparation. You don’t want to be stuck in the cabin preparing meals for long.
Your back-up cooler should stay in your vehicle until you get back to the dock from your trip. Once your mate fillets your catch, it is easier to ice down your bags of fish in a separate cooler. Save your left-over snacks and drinks from your charter to use during the rest of your vacation, or on your trip back home.
Extras for Overnight Trips
For overnight charters, you’ll need to bring a few extra items, as well as more food and drinks, motion sickness aid, appropriate medications, and an extra change of clothes. In addition to your extra supplies, bring a pillow, a sleeping bag or blanket, and coffee (if you’re a coffee drinker). You may also want to consider a pair of ear plugs and a sleeping mask. There are bunk beds available, but the tight sleeping quarters of a charter boat can leave an angler sleepless if he or she must have silence or total darkness to sleep. Consider picking up a pair of slip-on shoes to wear at night for trips back and forth around the saloon. However, when you plan to go out onto the deck, whether daytime or night, make sure that your non-slip shoes are on your feet. A microwave and refrigerator are also available, but it is still a good idea to bring your own cooler with enough food to last you the length of your trip. The maximum capacity for overnight charters is 12 passengers, and you can catch a two day limit of fish! The charter boat is also has restrooms, a stereo, and Satellite TV and DVD. Get everything that makes you comfortable through the night, and stay focused on the fishing!
Once you arrive into town, your first stop should be checking in with your hotel. If you are coming in from I-10, there are several ways to access Destin. Some of the common traveling routes are through Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, and Freeport. You will travel along HWY 98 for most everything from food, to shopping, and entertainment. Get a map of HWY 98, and study the sites before you get to Destin. After you’ve checked in for lodging and found your way around Destin, you’ll want to get ready for your deep sea fishing trip within 24 hours of the time that the boat is scheduled to leave the harbor.
New Bypass from State Road 85 to the Mid-Bay Bridge
From Fort Walton Beach to Destin
From Niceville to Destin
From Freeport to Destin
Finding the Finest Kind Charter Boat
Make sure that you know exactly where the boat is before the morning of your charter. When you find HarborWalk Village, you should find a parking spot as close to the south side of the lot as possible. Walk down the steps to the harbor. Find your boat’s slip close to HarborWalk Fishing Charters. Finding the charter will help you to know exactly where you are supposed to be the next morning, so you are not wondering around the dock searching for the boat.
Settle Your Balance
Use this time to settle up your balance with your charter boat booking agency, or the captain, if you have booked directly with him. Don’t wait until the morning of the trip to learn that the ATM machines are all going crazy, or that you have forgotten your checkbook at home. If you have booked with an agency, meeting the day before to settle your balance will keep you from having to wait in long lines with others paying for their trips. Once the captain has payment, the booking agency will send a manifest to him. Once the captain has his manifest in hand, you can leave the dock! Get this over with the day before your charter, so you can get down to fishing the morning of your trip!
Last Minute Shopping
Now that you have found your charter, and you’ve settled your balance, start gathering the items that you plan to take aboard the boat in the morning. If you have forgotten anything from the list, or if you waited to get into town to get your drinks and snacks, there is a Walmart in Destin that has everything you could possibly need. There is also a Winn Dixie and a Publix close by if you just need food items. Make sure that you have your motion sickness aid! Also, if you’ve forgotten to pick up quick-dry material clothing for your deep sea fishing trip, try the Bass Pro Shop at the Destin Commons. All of these stores are accessible from HWY 98, east of HarborWalk Village. Once you have made your last minute shopping stops, grab your backpack or tote, your carry-on cooler, and your waterproof pouch, and make sure that you are ready to go in the morning.
Plans for Breakfast
Go ahead and make plans for where you will eat in the morning. This will help to avoid the inability to decide, which could result in being late for your charter. Deep sea fishing charters leave early, so make sure that the place where your breakfast will come from opens early enough to be at your boat 30 minutes before you are scheduled to leave. The top picks around Destin for eating breakfast out are: The Donut Hole (Can get super busy, so have a back up!), Harbor Docks, and Another Broken Egg Cafe. The hours change throughout the seasons so double check the times of opening before you commit to one of these restaurants. IHOP is always a good backup! If you prefer fast-food, Whataburger is located just across the street from HarborWalk Village. They are open 24 hours a day, and they do serve breakfast. You could choose to get your breakfast to-go, and eat once you are on your charter! Plan to pick up some ice for your food and drinks before, or after, breakfast. Though there is ice on the boat, it is typically used to ice your catch.
A Good Night’s Sleep and Seasickness Prep
So you are all packed and ready, you know what your first three steps will be in the morning, and you are ready to go to bed early to avoid adding any pressure to yourself during your awesome deep sea fishing adventure. Before you go to sleep, double check your motion sickness medication, and if you have chosen a pill form, like Dramamine or something similar, go ahead and take a half of a dose to get the medication in your system. Follow the directions in the morning, first thing when you wake up. Don’t forget your motion sickness meds and remedies, and don’t wait until you are already on the boat to use them! Get them in your system ahead of time! Now, settle in, go to sleep, and dream of catching the big one!
It’s Time For Your Deep Sea Fishing Charter
Well, you’ve done it! You’ve planned a great deep sea fishing trip! Now the alarm sounds before sunrise, and it is time to get going. You already have your outfit picked out, and you’re getting ready to go to breakfast! Now is the time that you will want to take your second dose of motion sickness aid! Then off to breakfast, pick up some ice, and get to the back of the boat for your charter! Here are some tips to help make sure that your adventure goes as well as your planning!
Are You Ready?
- Make sure that you have taken your motion sickness aid before you leave your room, and well before your trip.
- Grab your early breakfast, your ice for food and drinks, and head to the boat.
- Arrive on the dock behind your charter boat about 30 minutes before your scheduled departure time.
- You can drive down to the dock to unload your cooler and bags, but you must park on the hill in the HarborWalk Village parking lot. This benefit makes it easy for guests who cannot walk for long distances. Leave your group at the boat, and have one person park the car, and walk back down.
- Never board a vessel without the captain or first mate knowing you are there. A member of your group could slip into the harbor between the boat and dock, which could result in injuries.
- Take your belongings into the cabin to keep the back deck clear during your trip.
- Listen to the safety instructions provided by your captain or first mate, and go over the agenda for today’s charter!
- Listen to the instructions given by your captain and his crew. Even if you have chartered with someone else who approached fishing differently, each charter is unique in regards to technique and specialty. You may learn something you never knew with patience and optimism.
Have fun and reel in some memories!
You’ve made it through the best deep sea fishing adventure of your life with great planning and ample luck! Now your charter is creeping up to the dock, and you get to show off how well those newly acquired fishing skills paid off! A little extra planning can help you to stay a step ahead of the rest!
What Happens When the Boat Docks?
When the charter boat docks, your first mate will begin to unload your fish and hang them on the board. This is a great time for group pictures with your catch! Everyone back home will be waiting to see that “Hero Shot!” After the mate has arranged your catch, gather around the board. Get creative, and consider funny poses for at least one of your photos! Sometimes, photographers walk along the dock and offer to take your picture for a fee. Never turn them away, because they may be snapping a photo for your captain. Other times, the local newspaper will be snapping pictures along the dock for an upcoming featured article. If a photographer asks to take your picture, go ahead and let them. You may love the printed photo and choose to buy a copy. If not, the mate can snap a picture with your camera, so even Mom can get in the shot!
Once photos are done, your mate will begin to fillet your fish. This is a good time for you to begin unloading your belongings from the boat onto the dock. Unloading is best done by staying in the boat and placing your items directly onto the dock. Don’t try to be a hero by carrying everyone’s belongings as you step off the boat. You may be the one needing a hero if you step in between the boat and the dock. Have someone run up and get the car, so you can easily load your vehicle from the convenience of the dock. While you have your vehicle, grab your back up cooler, and get some ice.
Allowing the mate to fillet your fish is an important part of the deep sea fishing experience. If filleting saltwater fish were an easy task, then the crew would just let you take your catch with you to fillet at home. These men are skilled with the know-how on what parts of the fish are good, and what parts are to be thrown with the carcasses. Cut a fillet the wrong way, and you have just ruined the taste of an amazing seafood cuisine. Also, the service is free to customers. The mates will supply bags for your fish, so you are all set!
The mates work for tips, which is why tips are emphasized on many of the charter fishing villages along the Gulf Coast. Once the fish are filleted, the appropriate time has come to tip your mate. Remember, 15% of the cost of your trip is customary, and 20% is complimentary!
When you are settled and packed up, consider bringing some of your catch down to one of the “cook your catch” restaurants along the harbor. AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar is the closest to your boat. You could leave your fish with the hostess, go back to your room for a shower, and meet back at the restaurant for a dinner consisting of your catch, french fries, hush puppies, and more!
Once your charter is over, you will be ready to start planning your next deep sea fishing trip. To stay in touch with your captain, and to remain aware of Destin’s current events subscribe to the charter newsletter at http://www.finestkindcharter.com/newsletter/. There is always something going on around the town, and we would love to share in the making of memories created right in the heart of Destin, Florida!
By: Jessica Baggett
October 22, 2015