Posted by: socalsalty | July 11, 2011

Surviving Summer Open Party Trips

Summer brings out the crowds

The weather is great and the fishing is really heating up on the local trips.  Great news for anglers…or is it?

On the last couple day trips I’ve been on, it’s been pretty crowded.  After slogging through many trips where we JUST had enough people to go out, it’s been kind of a shock to see all the people again.  I’m happy for the crews and landings.  It can be a little disconcerting for us regulars, but when you know what you’re doing, you know some good tactics for getting a spot on the rail, or other productive options.

I didn't pay just to watch guys!

But what if you’re part of the newbie crowd?  You paid your money, but you’re getting crowded off the rail.  You don’t really know what you are doing and you’re not getting hooked up.  What do you do?

1. Ask for help – especially if you’re female or have kids, but it’s OK men to ask the crews for help.  They will try to set you up for success.  But please, do what they tell you to do.  Nothing PO’s the crew more than people that don’t follow directions.  They want to keep you safe.  They want you to catch fish.  Listen.  And if they do help you out, please show your appreciation and tip your deckhands at the end of the trip.  You buy a $2 cup of coffee and tip a buck.  Help these guys out.

2. Be patient – when it gets crowded, sometimes the crew will make people rotate around the rail to make sure everyone gets a shot in the prime spots.  If they don’t rotate, just take your spot and often the natural course of people moving because of getting bit or their line getting tangled etc. will create opportunities to move to better spots.

3. Fish the bow – people think the stern is the prime spot.  Often it is, often it’s not, depending on the kind of fishing that is going to be done that trip.  If everyone is crowding the stern, try the bow.  If nothing else, you know you won’t catch anything if you don’t get a line wet, and often the bow is where you can find some elbow room and stay in the water.  Also, what the captain is seeing on the fish finder is going to be up around the wheelhouse, so even if it isn’t crowded, fishing the bow can be a good option.

My zig went BIG

4. Zig when everyone zags – If everyone is flylining a bait, try fishing the bottom, or put on a jig and go over and past where the free swimming bait is.  Sometimes the results can be spectacular.  When I caught my WSB a couple weeks back, I went bottom with squid when everyone was flylining a live bait.  Look what happened.

5. Get better with your skills – Read up, practice casting at a park, read the fish reports and be prepared.  You can help yourself a lot by being prepared.  When all else fails, try to go with a friend who knows what’s up (or ask Salty if you see me).  One of the captains I know has noticed a lot of guys with all the gear, but that they don’t know how to use it.  He’s thrown out the idea of creating an “Essential Skills” on the water class.  We’ve been talking about doing it as midweek twilight type of thing.  Go out after work, get in some practice and a little fishing, be ready for the weekend.  If that makes sense to you, let me know and I’ll work on making it happen.

Tight lines!



  1. Great advice man! I second the notion about tipping the deckhands. Out here a lot of the mates in the offshore fleet work for tips alone and they usually go above and beyond to earn them. Makes me mad when people don’t tip a good mate , deckhand or even a waitress.

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