It’s probably every angler’s dream to land a huge fish, something that will afford you bragging rights for years to come and is worthy of posting to Facebook. Whether you’d like land a Shark, Marlin, Tuna or something else, there’s something magical about wrestling with a truly monster fish. Even if you don’t land anything, the very fact that you’re on a boat in the middle of the ocean is an experience in itself. I’ve done my fair share of fishing all over the world, from South America and Canada to Australia and Scotland, I’ve been lucky enough to throw my line into nearly every ocean. However, until very recently, I hadn’t had the opportunity to sail into the ocean for several days of intense deep sea fishing.

When the opportunity presented itself, the first thought I had to myself was is deep sea fishing dangerous? Thankfully, deep sea fishing is not especially dangerous. However, anything involving boats, water, hooks, knives, wild animals and unpredictable weather will present some sort of risk. 

Some common concerns about deep sea fishing are:

  • Can the boat sink?
  • What happens if there’s an accident?
  • What if I’m seasick?
  • What if there’s a fire?
  • Is it safe to be in a storm?
  • What if someone falls overboard?

As above, there are a lot of things to potentially be concerned about, however, the biggest dangers are probably the same ones you’ll face when on land. Sunburn and dehydration. Keeping yourself hydrated and topped up with suntan lotion will go a long way to avoiding most of the risk. For everything else, pay attention to what you’re doing and pay attention to what the captain and crew are telling you and you should be absolutely fine. It would be naive of me to say that accidents can’t happen, because they definitely can, but bear in mind that charter boats do this stuff day and day out and should have a plan in place for every eventuality.

Is Deep Sea Fishing Dangerous? | Do your Research!

You must thoroughly research the charter company you’re employing to take you out, in fact, it’s worth doing a comparison off as many companies as you can before you commit any money. It’s definitely a situation where cheap is not always best, spending a little bit more on a charter can mean a more reputable company. However, the most expensive option does not necessarily mean it’s the best. Try and find actual customer reviews online, ideally on third party websites such as trustpilot.com. Bear in mind that customer testimonials and reviews placed on the charter companies own website can be cherry-picked or completely fabricated. Additionally, any online reviews can be manipulated quite easily, so just bear that in mind when you’re reading them.

Get the charter on the phone before making any final decisions and confirm the details published online. The last thing you want to happen is to turn up on the day of the booking and be met with a boat that looks nothing like it did online. Having said that, most charters are truthful, otherwise, they wouldn’t stay in business for long. Most scam companies are taken down pretty quickly by the authorities, but some will always slip through the cracks, it’s these companies that pose a danger and can cause a deep sea fishing trip to become dangerous.

Know the Weather

You shouldn’t rely on someone else to inform you if the weather is not ideal for fishing. Most charter companies will cancel or delay a trip if the weather forecast is bad, however, it’s always a good idea to check the weather leading up to a trip for any unforeseen storms or strong winds. It might be possible to head out into rough seas, but it’s not at all fun, especially if you suffer from seasickness. What might feel like a storm to end all storms to you, might just be a little bit of chop for the captain?

At the end of the day, you’re responsible for saying when you’re uncomfortable and when enough is enough. If you’re going to some of the more popular deep sea fishing locations such as Mexico or Alaska, make sure you know what season you’re going in, and try to avoid hurricane or winter seasons. If you check online, you might see some great deals, just make sure that these deals are only available during hurricane season. Being on a boat in rough weather can be experienced, but it quickly becomes tiresome and is not something I would recommend. A twenty-foot wave is far larger than you might think and trust me when I tell you that they are incredibly scary, even for experienced fishermen.

Take Your Own Supplies

Most charters will provide you with food, including snacks, drinks and main meals, but it’s worthwhile taking your own just in case. You might find the food is not to your taste, or there’s simply not enough, if this happens to you, you’ll be glad you have your stash. It’s incredibly unlikely the ship’s captain will turn around simply because you’re hungry, the fuel costs alone make this uneconomical, so make sure you have enough to keep yourself fed and watered for at least a day. Additionally, I would recommend bringing the following items:

  • Change of clothes & warm clothes
  • A towel Sun cream
  • A Hat Sunglasses
  • Any medication
  • Toilet paper
  • First aid kit
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Beer
  • Camera
  • Waterproof bag to store electronics
Bear in mind that you’ll probably be out for most of the day and possibly into the early evening, the conditions can change quite quickly, so while it’s hot onshore, once you’re offshore it can be quite cold. Be prepared for every weather eventuality, including hot and cold periods. As you’re out on the water, the chances of becoming sunburnt increase dramatically, even if it’s not especially sunny, so make sure you have lots of sunscreen with you. If you’ve booked a large charter boat, the amenities and variety of equipment available to you will be significantly more than a smaller boat. Some smaller boats might not even have toilets, so bear this in mind when you’re thinking about opening your third beer of the day.

Mishaps Can Occur

Despite the best of intentions and plenty of precautions taken, accidents can occur, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that deep sea fishing isn’t safe. Deep sea fishing need not be any more dangerous than fishing from the shore. Even if you trip and cut yourself on a boat, it’s doesn’t mean the same thing could have happened while you were crawling over rocks on the shore. The best way to avoid serious trouble is to do exactly what the crew tells you to do and to always keep your safety in mind no matter what you’re doing. If the seas start to become rough, the crew are going to tell you what to do to keep yourself safe, don’t do anything stupid and you should be absolutely fine. Let’s say you are injured, most minor injuries can be treated on the spot and you can then go about your business. If a more serious injury occurs, it’s always possible to turn to boat around and head back to shore, if the injury warrants it, a rescue helicopter can be with you within a few minutes. Even if your boat gets into difficulties, there will be plenty of ships and boats nearby that can come to your assistance. It’s very unlikely you’ll be fishing somewhere where there isn’t another boat nearby.

The Right Clothes Can Make a Difference

If you want to maximise your chances of having a great day out on the water, it’s essential that you understand what clothes you should be taking with you, and the best way to do this is by speaking with the crew and captain before you leave. Most charters will leave the docks at an extremely early time, between four and six AM. Doing so maximises the hours you’ll have available for fishing and means you can arrive at your fishing spot well before most people are even awake. The downside of this is that it can be pretty chilly at that time of the day, even in tropical regions, the temperatures at 4 am might be a lot colder than you’re used to. You could be just fine with a pair of shorts and a hoodie, but make sure you have some sensible footwear on. You’ll want to avoid wearing anything that gets slippery when wet, so flip flops and sandals are probably no goes. Additionally, when you return from the days fishing, it can be early evening, 8 to 9 PM or later, so the temperature can begin to dip. Make sure you have something warm to change into while you’re waiting for the boat to dock. If you can, speak with other people who have been on similar trips and get their opinion on what you should and shouldn’t take with you.

Is There Anything Else I Should Know?

The perceived safety or lack thereof when deep sea fishing is largely dependent on your actions and how well prepared you are. Anything that poses a serious risk of injury or to your wellbeing can likely be mitigated by not doing anything stupid. Accidents can happen, but the risk presented to any individual should be minimal. The safety of passengers during a deep sea fishing excursion will be at the top of the priority list for any decent charter company, so just make sure you pick someone reputable and plan your trip accordingly.
If safety gear such as life jackets are available, they are probably worth wearing, safety is a larger concern than looking cool. You never know when something might happen and life jackets have saved thousands of lives over the years, they simply work.