If you enjoy the thrill of sport fishing and are thinking about taking a yacht charter, the deciding factor could be whether you can fish from a yacht? On a larger boat, it goes without saying that you can fish for several different types and sizes of fish… with sport fishing yachts being ideal for small fish and big game fish. Here’ a quick overview of yacht fishing to get you primed with some basic essentials.
Can you fish off a yacht? You can fish from a yacht using various techniques, including anchored fishing, spinning, jigging, and trolling for big-game fish. Sportfishing yachts are suitable for all types of fishing and often have all the equipment and gear you need for an enjoyable, lengthy trip.
Whether you use a sailing yacht, sport fishing yacht, or mega-yacht, you can catch several different sizes and varieties of fish in the open ocean.
Small fishing boats are suitable for coastal fishing, but yachts can enter deeper waters and travel farther. This is one of the big appeals of yacht fishing. Let’s be honest, big-game fish like marlins and blue-fin tuna cannot be caught in a small johnny boat or rowing boat so you need to go BIG!
Yachts have the power and structural integrity to take you several miles from the coast to find the tastiest and most desirable fish. If big game fishing doesn’t interest you, you can fish off the side of the boat to catch smaller fish and bottom feeders.
With the right fishing gear and electronic equipment, you can enjoy fishing off a yacht for whichever kind of fish you like.
How do you fish off a yacht?
Before you go fishing on a yacht, determine what kind of fish you’re trying to catch. You can consult local bait shop owners, boat crews, and captains to find out which fish are available in your area.
If you’re yacht fishing in waters populated by reefs, it’s wise to avoid eating the reef fish. Smaller fish consume algae off the reefs that sometimes carry ciguatera toxin. Unfortunately, larger predatory fish eat the smaller fish and can build up high levels of ciguatera in their systems.
When ciguatera is present in the area you’re fishing around, you must avoid fish like grouper, jackfish, or barracuda. Ask the locals in the area for more information about the reef fish and which areas to avoid.
If you consume the ciguatera toxin, you may experience symptoms such as chills, diarrhea, shakes, or vomiting. Although the effects of the toxin aren’t deadly, they can be long-lasting, and you should seek immediate medical attention if you’re affected.
Yacht fishing at anchor
Besides using an electronic fish finder to locate fish, you can consult local fishers to find the ideal spot to set your anchor. While anchored, you can cast off the side or stern (rear) of the boat with a rod and reel, or you can use a rod or hand reel for bottom fishing.
Bottom fishing is one of the most effective ways to fish while anchored, and it’s ideal for beginners because the medium-sized fish you catch are less difficult to catch. To bottom fish, you need a rig with sinkers attached to reach the bottom.
Let your rig hit the bottom of the ocean floor, and then reel the bait in slightly so that it hovers over the bottom. The following list displays some of the fish you can catch while anchored.
- Red Snapper
- Yellow-Tail Snapper
- Mangrove Snapper
- Red Grouper
- Black Grouper
- Gag Grouper
Jigging is a technique you can use while anchored, but you’ll have better luck if you let the boat drift while you’re jigging. Jigging involves dropping a line to the bottom, reeling in slightly, and lifting the line up and down.
The up and down motion will attract the fish, and if the water is choppy, you can use the boat’s up and down motion to do the jigging for you. Use your fish locater to find marine life near the ocean floor, and if you don’t have any luck, try moving to another location.
Spinning lures come with small metal blades that rotate in the water and mimic a bait fish’s motion. Spinning is more effective when the yacht is drifting and is ideal for catching medium-sized fish.
Unlike the massive reels and stubby rods required for big-game fish, spinning setups have longer poles and smaller reels. When you use a spinning rod for medium-sized fish, you won’t need a rod holder or safety strap to catch the fish.
Smaller fish will put a fight, but you’re unlikely to hook a marlin or tuna that could you overboard with a spinning rig.
If you want to hook delicious, big-game fish from a yacht, trolling is an effective method. Trolling involves dragging a line behind the yacht. The captain should keep the vessel between two to five knots during a trolling trip, and the ideal distance for your bait is around four boat lengths from your yacht.
When the vessel slowly moves through the water, a wake is created that disturbs the water and attracts the fish. If your bait is too close to your boat while trolling, the fish may not see the bait and will not bite. The optimal spot for the bait is in the center of the wake’s disturbance.
If you see birds diving into the water, you should troll for fish near the bird’s location. Feeding birds are a strong indication that fish are plentiful in that area.
Unlike anchored fishing, you must have the rod firmly attached in a holder when you go trolling. Most sportfishing yachts are equipped with holders for trolling rods. The following chart displays some of the fish you can catch while trolling.
- Spanish Mackerel
- Yellow-fin tuna
- Blackfin tuna
- Mahi Mahi
Keeping or putting back when yacht fishing
You can use a small net when you are spinning or jigging, but with big-game fish, you’ll need a gaff. A gaff has a long shaft with a sharp hook on the end of it. When you reel in the fish beside your yacht, you use the gaff to skewer the fish and raise it into the boat.
Catch and release
If you practice the catch and release method with big-game fish, try not to damage the fish too much with a gaff. Another helpful tip to employ when you’re not planning on keeping a fish is to straighten the barbs on your trolling hooks.
Use pliers to straighten the barbs and avoid tearing up the fish when you remove the hook. When you use the catch and release technique, you want to minimize the damage to the fish so that it can live a healthy life. At least, the fish should be healthy until it is caught by someone else or consumed by a predator.
When you intend to consume the fish you catch, it’s easier and less messy if you kill the creature humanely. Pulling a hooked fish into a yacht can be quite an ordeal but resist the temptation to bash the fish with a mallet or slam it against the deck.
You can use a large cooler to hold the fish while you pour vodka into its gills. The alcohol will suffocate the fish, and you can quickly gut it, filet it, and store the meat in a cooler.
If you didn’t bring alcohol, you could use a sharp filet knife to slice into the gills. Hold the fish over a large container or cooler to catch the blood. The owner of the yacht will not be pleased if the entire deck is covered with fish blood.
To minimize the risk of bacteria, filet the fish and store it immediately in a cooler. The high-end coolers that hold ice for several days are best for keeping fish cool on a boat. If possible, keep the cooler away from direct sunlight to avoid quicker thawing.
The last word
Yacht fishing in the open ocean is an incredible experience, and when you have access to a sportfishing yacht, you can reach active fishing spots that you could not reach from the shore or pier. Smaller fish like grouper and larger fish like Wahoo are easier to locate when you’re on a well-equipped yacht.
So, grab your trolling rods and bring home some mackerel for dinner tonight, because you can fish off a yacht!