How to Plan a Sea Fishing Trip

Looking up Loch Etive, Scotland, from the jetty at Aird's Bay
Looking up Loch Etive, Scotland, from the jetty at Aird's Bay

Sea fishing is a sport or pastime which is extremely popular all around the world. It is practiced by people of all age groups, from all walks of life. Whether you are an experienced sea fisherman or a complete novice, however, there are certain aspects of any sea fishing trip which have to be looked at and carefully planned in advance, on each and every occasion. The factors which you should take in to account will relate both to safety while at sea and to practical considerations regarding equipment and supplies you are going to require while you are sea fishing.

This page looks at the top ten things you need to consider before any sea fishing trip and will hopefully ensure that you enjoy your sea fishing trips as much as possible in a safe and responsible fashion.

Boats may well be available for hire in the area which you are hoping to fish
Boats may well be available for hire in the area which you are hoping to fish
Shore fishing can be a great way of getting away from it all and enjoying the peace and quiet of the great outdoors
Shore fishing can be a great way of getting away from it all and enjoying the peace and quiet of the great outdoors

Tip #1 - Choosing a Fishing Date and Venue

It may seem pretty obvious that the first step when planning a sea fishing trip - or any fishing trip - is deciding where and when you actually intend to fish. This decision can be a bit more complicated than it may at first seem, however, with a number of important points requiring consideration.

Sea fishing falls broadly in to two categories: shore fishing and boat fishing. There are many sea anglers who enjoy both, while equally there are those who prefer only one or the other. When you have decided that you are going sea fishing, choosing which discipline you are building your trip around is your first step.

If you are going boat fishing, you may have your own boat but a majority of anglers will require to either hire a boat or book a place on a charter boat. It is important that bookings are made in advance, as turning up at a destination looking to make arrangements at the last minute is a recipe for disaster and disappointment.

When you are booking a boat or a place on a boat, be wary of owners/skippers who require full payment in advance. Be sure also to check that where a reasonable deposit is paid, this will be refunded in full in the event of something like adverse weather conditions forcing the trip to be cancelled. Try also to ensure that any skipper with whom you are going out is appropriately licensed per the requirements of your country/area and that appropriate safety equipment will be present on board.

It is worth also remembering to ensure that time is booked off work (where applicable) before making any firm bookings with fishing boat skippers or owners...

Extended sea fishing trips also afford the opportunity to stay at wonderfully rustic, friendly local hotels
Extended sea fishing trips also afford the opportunity to stay at wonderfully rustic, friendly local hotels | Source

Tip #2 - Book Accommodation

If your trip is only taking place over a single day, or perhaps you are camping on the shore, this tip will not apply. If, however, your trip is taking place over two or more days and onshore accommodation is required, book this at the time of booking your boat. Perhaps the skipper or owner of the boat can offer you some local advice in this respect, or he may even have a deal with a local hotel or B&B where customers of his charter business get preferential rates.

Again, ensure that you don't turn up at the venue to find that local accommodation is fully booked or unavailable and find yourself sleeping in your car for one or more nights. That will be likely to put a major dampener on your trip.

Tide times will almost certainly have a huge bearing on your fishing trip, from shore or from boat
Tide times will almost certainly have a huge bearing on your fishing trip, from shore or from boat

Tip #3 - Local Knowledge and Tide Times

There is no substitute when going sea fishing for tapping quality local knowledge, in several respects. As the whole idea of any sea fishing trip is catching fish, you will want to know the top local marks for catching whatever species are available and at which stage of the tide the fishing is likely to be at its best. This will apply to both boat and shore fishing.

Charter boat skippers can of course be expected to provide this knowledge on fishing trips of this type but where you are out in your own boat or fishing from the shore, you will require to find other ways of obtaining the information you need. Try contacting local tourist information services before your trip, or local tackle shops, where you may wish to arrange to collect fresh bait and subtly pump the owner for information on the best marks. Don't leave this important task until you arrive at your destination, as particularly where you are only fishing for one day, arriving at the wrong stage of the tide could lead to a wasted trip.

The Internet can be used in many instances to obtain this information. Do always be wary of reading too much in to Internet reviews, as many of them are years out of date and vague at best. If you are reading an Internet review of a fishing mark, look for the date it was created, photographs to help verify the author actually made the trip and hasn't simply found the information online themselves and perhaps any independent, verifying comments which lend weight to the information. It can prove to be expensive and frustrating following some of these reviews.

(Note: Verifying reviews is very difficult. The quality of the fishing at marks will change hour by hour, never mind day by day. Remember, quality authors detail only their own experiences and never provide guarantees...)

Local knowledge: there is no substitute and never forget it.

Tip #4 - Check your Tackle and Traces

It is important when you are going sea fishing, particularly if you have not been for a while, that you both check your tackle for any essential repairs and ensure that you have all the equipment you are likely to need. If you have done your research in to your chosen venue properly, this will assist you in deciding what tackle to take with you and ensuring you have the right tools for the job.

Begin by checking your rods and reels. Look particularly for damage to the eyes on rods which the line will pass through. Does your reel need oiled if it has perhaps not been used for a while? Check for line abrasion on your reel and always replace the line fully if you are in any doubt.

If you need to tie up traces for your fishing trip, make the time to do so in advance, in the comfort of your home. Tying up various elements of end tackle is always likely to be necessary to some extent on fishing trips but it is far quicker and easier to do it where possible in your living room or kitchen than on the deck of what may be a rolling and pitching boat when your hands are numbed by the cold. It is also likely to mean your knots are more reliable and your whole rig is therefore stronger.

Mustang Survival Standard Coverall and Worksuit, Orange, Medium
Mustang Survival Standard Coverall and Worksuit, Orange, Medium

This flotation suit meets US Coastguard standards, includes velcro straps at the wrists and ankles and a hood to keep you as dry as possible in inclement weather, as well as keeping you afloat in emergencies

 

Tip #5 - Appropriate Clothing for Sea Fishing

It is important that you know when you are going sea fishing that the weather may be a lot colder than it is on land or inland when you are on/at the sea. Safety is also a big consideration when deciding what clothing is appropriate for any sea fishing trip.

It is far better to have warm clothing with you which is not required than to be uncomfortably cold during your fishing trip. If you are shore fishing, space should not be an issue but even when you are fishing on the smallest of boats, make room for warm clothing should it be required.

Keeping warm and safe at sea can both be achieved by investing in a one or two piece flotation suit. These suits have a buoyancy which can keep you afloat and alive should anything untoward happening during your sea fishing trip and their value should never be underestimated.

Bait will have to be arranged for your fishing trip and a practical means of transport and storage determined
Bait will have to be arranged for your fishing trip and a practical means of transport and storage determined

Tip #6 - Arrange the Bait for your Sea Fishing Trip

It may be the case that you intend fishing only with artificial lures on your trip, or you are hoping to gather/catch fresh bait when you arrive at your destination. It is very likely, however, that you will be looking to take some fresh or frozen bait along with you from home. Ensure therefore that you obtain or order your bait in plenty of time and that you have made arrangements to transport the bait in such a fashion that it can be used in pristine condition.

A coolbox is an excellent way of transporting frozen bait to any fishing destination. Do bear in mind only that if you are fishing from a boat, space may be at a premium and there may not be room onboard for every angler taking their own coolbox. Perhaps you can double or triple up with other charter anglers or come to some arrangement with a skipper if this is an issue.

Food thermos flasks are an excellent way of ensuring that you have hot food on your fishing trip, as well as a hot drink
Food thermos flasks are an excellent way of ensuring that you have hot food on your fishing trip, as well as a hot drink | Source

Tip #7 - Food Supplies for Sea Fishing Trips

So you have arranged the bait with which you hope to tempt the fish with the offer of a free meal. It is now time to consider what you will be eating during your trip.

It is understandable and forgivable that particularly novice sea anglers will think that preparing their lunch when going sea fishing is simply a matter of making up some sandwiches.

When you are going sea fishing and are considering what food to take, you have to consider that your hands will be likely to be covered in fish or bait blood, you may be cold and want some hot food or drink, space may be limited and what you can take on board may be a concern. The site linked to on the right looks at food for fishing trips in detail and may raise some points you have not otherwise considered.

Important: Do bear in mind, above all, that alcohol is not an appropriate drink for fishing trips, especially from a boat. Enjoy your fishing trip in safety and leave the beer or two until the boat is safely moored up and you are back on dry land.

Never be in any doubt that flat calm waters like this can change to huge rollers in a matter of minutes when the weather suddenly changes - as happened on the day this image was taken on Loch Etive, Scotland
Never be in any doubt that flat calm waters like this can change to huge rollers in a matter of minutes when the weather suddenly changes - as happened on the day this image was taken on Loch Etive, Scotland

Tip #8 - Check the Weather and Watch the Weather at all Times

The weather will play a huge part in the success and enjoyment of any sea fishing trip. It is imperative not only that you check the weather in advance but that you keep a careful eye open for any changes while you are fishing. Do not go out if the weather is bad or forecast to be bad and if it turns unexpectedly when you are out at sea, head in to shore without delay. This is one of the most important factors to bear in mind with any sea fishing trip.

Remember that the weather can also have an effect on shore fishing from a safety point of view. Sudden large waves can wash you off rocks or even piers and again no stupid risks should be taken.

Tip #9 - Transport, Boat and Safety Equipment

Unless you live very close to the spot where you are fishing, or from which you are heading out to sea, transport will be necessary to get you to and from your destination. This means that you should check your car carefully in advance of your trip. Is it needing serviced in general? Are your tires OK and set to the correct pressure? Have you filled up the tank with fuel, as it may not easily be available where you are going? Sea fishing trips are often about visiting extremely rural areas so do not find yourself stranded before you even get to wet a line.

If you are taking your own boat out or are hiring one, ensure that you have conducted all necessary safety checks. Consider things like whether you have filled up the reserve fuel tanks as well as the main one. Is the radio working and is the reserve battery fully charged? Do you have flares and life jackets aboard in the quantities which may be required in the event of an emergency?

These are bread and butter sea fishing precautions but it is amazing how many people neglect these factors with potentially disastrous consequences.

The RNLI is the organisation which operates the lifeboats around the coast of Great Britain. If you are a British seafarer, please consider a donation today. Your life may depend upon it...
The RNLI is the organisation which operates the lifeboats around the coast of Great Britain. If you are a British seafarer, please consider a donation today. Your life may depend upon it... | Source

Tip #10 - Tell Someone Where you are Going and When you Expect to be Back

Especially when you are going out in a small boat, in a small group, always make sure that someone on shore knows approximately where you intend fishing and as closely as possible the latest time at which you intend being back in safe harbour. If you do get in to difficultuies out at sea, having someone to raise the alarm can quite literally be the difference between life and death.

Remember never to stay out longer, unexpectedly, just because perhaps the fishing is good. If you are staying out longer, only do so where you have effectively communicated your revised schedule to your onshore contact. Rescue services will not appreciate being called out on what could be a very expensive false alarm.

Quick Summary of these Sea Fishing Trip Preparation Tips

Tip
Action
#1 - Venue
Decide where and when you are going fishing
#2 - Accommodation
Ensure that you book somewhere to stay in advance
#3 - Local Knowledge
Obtain information on where to fish and for what
#4 - Tackle and Traces
Ensure you have all the equipment you will need, fully prepared
#5 - Clothing
Ensure that you have warm and protective clothing packed for your trip
#6 - Bait
Obtain the bait you will need or ensure it is available at the venue
#7 - Food
Take sufficient and appropriate food for your trip
#8 - Weather
Check weather forecast and watch for changing conditions at all times
#9 - Transport and Safety
Maintenance checks on vehicles and safety equipment is essential
#10 - Arrange a Safe Return Time
Make sure someone responsible onshore knows when to expect you back from your trip
Catching Fish is the Principal Purpose of a Sea Fishing Trip
Catching Fish is the Principal Purpose of a Sea Fishing Trip

Bonus Tip - Enjoy Yourself!

Sea fishing is about catching fish and enjoying the great outdoors, often with the camaraderie of like minded friends as an added bonus. The precautionary tips featured on this page are not about putting people off going sea fishing, they are about ensuring your trip goes as well as you can ever hope. By following these tips, even if you don't catch fish, you can still enjoy a pleasant trip and be safe to go head to head with the fish another day.

Are you Planning a Sea Fishing Trip?

If you are planning a sea fishing trip at the moment, or are likely to be at some point in the future, I hope that you have found these tips valuable and they will help you get the most out of your adventure. Good luck and I hope you catch that fish of a lifetime.

Thank you for visiting this page and if you have any tips to share with regard to planning a sea fishing trip, you can leave them in the space below.

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4 comments

Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 5 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

Thanks for the comment and visit, loveonline.

Believe me, I know what you mean about the beer and totally understand your point of view. Unfortunately, I have seen too much over the years of a negative nature caused by mixing alcohol and deep water to even begin to tolerate it, over and above the obvious safety concerns. I have (I'm glad to say!) never seen a fatality but the risk remains.

Having said that, when we come off the water, I am usually first to reach the bar in whichever hotel we happen to be staying! :)

Enjoy your fishing - and your beer! - in safety...


loveonline profile image

loveonline 5 years ago

Very well thought out and nicely organized hub - though in my opinion fishing without beer is like watching football without beer, just my two cents, :)


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 5 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

Thank you very much, Eiddwen

I'm glad that you like the Hub and enjoy fishing. It's a particular pleasure to have the approval of a fellow enthusiast! :)

Good luck with your fishing,

Gordon


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

A brilliant hub which I've bookmarked to give to my partner to read tonight.

He is an avid fisherman,river,lakes or sea.

I go with him sometimes as it's very inspiring.

Thanks for dharing this one and here's to many more to share on here.

Take care

Eiddwen.

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