Big fishing party boats aren’t my preferred method of fishing, but it’s something different to do and I like the company. My dad and I have done a variety of private fishing charters, sport fishing, and group deep-sea fishing boats. Private charters can be hit or miss. Sport fishing is an incredible experience but can come with a hefty price tag. Party boats are limiting, but simple. This post will serve as a running list with reviews of some of the party boats I have hit up.
1.) Sailor’s Choice- Key Largo, FL
Visited: March 2018
Rating: 4.5/5 .
Any fishing in the keys is a unique experience. The sport fishing down there is incredible, but can be quite pricey. We did the Sailor’s Choice the day after we sport fished for Mahi Mahi because it was advertised for a mere $40! That’s a bargain, even for a party boat, especially in the keys. It didn’t take too long to get to a good fishing spot and our lines weren’t too deep, but we still caught a plethora of strange fish I have never caught before. It definitely satisfied my desire to do some good fishing in the keys. If you aren’t ready to pay $600+ for private game fishing, this was a worth-while memory.
2.) Queen Fleet- Clearwater, FL
Visited: June 2018
The Queen Fleet has multiple trip options. I always recommend doing the half days rather than full days, and this one served as a good example why. We did the half day and got in at the same time as the full day. We had just as many fish and twice the energy. Being on the ocean in the sun for a full day can really take a toll on you. Luckily the Queen Fleet had plenty of shade, benches, and even an upper deck with lounge chairs. The mates were excellent with us, as we were more self-sufficient than most, but not altogether very charming. Half the fun is finding a boat with a crew that could make even a dead day of fishing fun! The amenities on the boat itself made it an enjoyable environment. I can’t say it would be like this every time, but the location we were in had a short drop line which meant a lot less reeling!
3.) Orlando Princess- Cape Canaveral, FL
Visited: August, 2018
Bob and I have always wanted to go for some thrilling, nighttime shark fishing. It has never worked out for us until now. The Orlando Princess offers a shark fishing party boat from 7-11 in the evening for just $40! Most of the sharks are just little sharp noses, so being on a group boat isn’t really a burden. The issue with shark fishing is that there isn’t a lot of catching. The amount of sharks caught each trip fluctuates. Of our 20 or so people, only four sharks were caught the whole night (yes, we had one of those four!) We took our poles with us in hopes of doing some regular fishing while waiting on the chum to bring in the sharks, which can take up to an hour. We did not catch anything in the mean time which makes sense, because the boat wasn’t going to particular fishing hot spots while waiting for the sharks to come. Many people on the trip left disappointed in the fishing action. What we did enjoy about this trip was that they fed everyone. There was a woman who cooked hot dogs and hamburgers for the duration of the trip and it was included in the ticket.
Pro tip: there are a few up charges on the boat where they make a little cash. You can pay extra to get a particular spot on the boat, which I think is more of a fisherman pride thing. We didn’t pay that, were in an awkward forward spot, and still caught more than anyone else. They also offer to put a steel leader on your pole for $5. This is a very necessary piece of equipment as we found out when we brought a second shark to the surface that chomped through line. Take your own leader. That is pricey, especially when you have more than one pole and person in your group. You could get a pre-rigged leader to take with you and use later.
I will work to keep this list updated as life goes on. To speed up my ventures, feel free to mail me some cash (haha!)