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What is Deep Sea Fishing?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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Deep sea fishing, sometimes called sport or big game fishing, is a form of fishing in which people angle for large open-ocean fish species, like tuna, shark, and swordfish. This type of fishing is meant to be enjoyable, in that fighting big game fish can be a real challenge, and it also provides a source of food, depending on whether people keep or release their catch. Deep sea fishing is practiced in many regions of the world, and it is often possible to charter a boat for sport fishing if you are visiting or living in a coastal community.

The goal with deep sea fishing is to travel far enough away from land so that fishermen reach deeper parts of the ocean, giving them access to fish species which only live in the open ocean. Big game fish like the open ocean because it provides them with lots of room and lots of prey, and some fishing grounds may be teeming with such fish, especially if they have been well-managed. Often, a deep sea fishing expedition will travel beyond the sight of land to reach prime fishing grounds.

Once the boat arrives on site, a number of techniques can be used to fish. Some people like to use nets, while others prefer to spread bait in the water to attract fish, and to hook them individually. Spear fishing is also possible with some species. In all cases, fishermen have to be strong and quick on their feet because big game fish can escape in the early stages of the process. This “fight for the fish” is the enjoyable part of the experience in the eyes of many sport fishermen.

If a fish is landed, there are a number of options for disposal of the fish. Some people take the fish home to eat, often weighing and photographing it as a trophy first. Others think that the catch is the fun part, and they release the fish afterward so that it can live to fight another day. Some deep sea fishermen work with fishery monitoring projects, tagging and logging the fish that they catch before releasing them so that researchers can learn more about fish and the health of the fishery.

Going on a fishing charter can be an enjoyable experience for people who like fishing and being out on the water. Many charters provide all of the equipment people will need, although it is also possible to bring your own gear, and the crew will support the fishermen as they quest for fish. Many crews have a great deal of experience, and they can help first-timers navigate the ins and outs of deep sea fishing, although they cannot assure fishermen of a catch.

Sport fishing is usually regulated by law, as big game species take a long time to mature, and some are threatened by over fishing. Usually people can only take a certain number of fish per trip, and they may be required to log their catch with a local authority. Size limits and other restrictions, along with a specific season for sport fishing, may be used to control fish populations to ensure that the fish will continue to thrive so that other people can have fun with deep sea fishing in the future.

Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Sports n' Hobbies researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By RoyalSpyder — On Feb 16, 2014

@Chmander - Catfish are very dangerous because of their whiskers, which are like sharp needles. However, I've never heard of anyone being attacked by a barracuda that's been fished out. Besides, when deep sea fishing, it's better to fetch your fish in a net. Don't let them come into contact with you until they're dead. The fish are fighting for their life and gasping for air. They'll do anything to escape.

By Chmander — On Feb 15, 2014

Just a quick question, but how dangerous is deep sea fishing? I know that there are some fish you have to be very careful of. For example, I have heard of people being attacked by barracudas and even catfish after having fished them out of the water. I know that there are always exceptions to this rule, but you can never be to sure. Does anyone have some advice?

By Fiorite — On Dec 18, 2010

@ FrameMaker- I went with a few buddies in Kona for a college graduation getaway and I think we spent somewhere around $1200 for a 12 hour charter on a 50 foot boat. We went out for tuna and blue marlin. The trip was awesome and we caught a few nice fish. We had the option to keep our catch, but we were just out for some fun so we did the catch and release bit. I mean, what would our girlfriends think if we came back to the villa with a couple hundred pounds of fish three days before we fly back to the LA?

There are plenty of great deep sea fishing charters on the islands (we were on the big island). We found our guide in a brochure at an information kiosk. There were even three day plus inter-island tours for the serious angler. It was a blast. I would highly recommend.

By FrameMaker — On Dec 17, 2010

Approximately how much would it cost to charter a deep sea fishing boat in Hawaii? My friend is having a wedding on the islands, and I thought that would be a good idea for a bachelor party. We all used to fish and camp together in high school, but we haven't been in almost a decade.

By istria — On Dec 16, 2010

I have a family friend who is a deep-sea fishing guide in Hawaii. When I was a kid, I used to go out on the boat with him and my father for a day of fishing. We mostly fished for marlin, mahimahi, or tuna, and it was always a good time. I can still remember cutting into fresh tuna once we docked and eating warm sashimi with soy sauce and wasabi. What I wouldn't give for fish that fresh again.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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