What’s the one thing that can make a difference between a miserable charter fishing trip and an enjoyable one? Well, besides hearing “Fish on!” for hours on end, of course. Often times it comes down to what you wear. If you dress appropriately, you’ll be warm when it’s windy and cool, you’ll be cool when it’s sunny and hot, and you’ll stay dry when the boat gets wet. Ready to find out what to wear on a charter fishing trip? We wanted to pass along some things we’ve learned over the years, and maybe it will help you be more comfortable on your next adventure.
Being out in the sun for hours on end can really wear you down if you don’t protect your eyes. Many people get headaches from being out in the open water for long periods of time without their sunglasses. With so much white on the boat, so many reflections in the water, and no trees to provide shade, your eyes are constantly absorbing UV light. Ask yourself a question – how many times have you seen a charter captain or a mate working on the boat that isn’t wearing sunglasses?
We recommend a pair of polarized sunglasses. While normal sunglasses (the kind you might find at the gas station on the way to the marina) offer some level of protection, polarized sunglasses are ideal for a day on the water. Much of the glare and reflection from the water is reduced by polarized lenses. And as a bonus to those actually trying to see some fish in the water, polarized lenses actually clarify the view into the ocean. You’ll find most folks on Cobia towers wearing polarized sunglasses, because it helps them see a few feet below the surface of the water. You’ve only got one set of eyes – protect them!
You also don’t want to lose those nice polarized sunglasses in the water, so invest in some wraparounds or at least some croakies.
Wear a hat
Some folks opt for the visor, some for the mesh hat, and some go for the canvas hat. Wear whatever you’re comfortable with! A hat is a great idea because it helps provide shade for your face while you’re out on the water. With the sun directly overhead, a hat can prevent a sunburned face or neck. Some folks opt for the wraparound shade so they don’t have to choose what gets drenched in sun, while others keep the visor of the hat covering the face or neck, alternatively. If you’re a bald guy, don’t wear a hat with an adjustable band and don’t go the mesh route.
Keep your feet covered
Nothing is more sobering than venturing out 30 miles into the ocean, the sun rising overhead, and realizing the tops of your feet are turning red. You know you have to make it another 6 hours, but you’re wearing flipflops. Avoid finding yourself trapped in this situation. Besides the potential for sunburned feet, wearing flipflops can leave your feet unprotected against fish thrashing around. While rare, people have suffered bone fractures and deep lacerations from larger fish violently thrashing around in the boat. I’m sure you’ve heard of “boat shoes” before, and there’s a legitimate reason for the terminology – they work well on boats. Often these shoes are constructed of leather with perforations so your feet can breathe, and a non-slip rubber sole (boat decks can be slippery, especially when wet). Really any kind of shoe that covers your feet and has a rubber sole with grip will suffice. But don’t be surprised when they get wet, and you run the risk of your favorite pair of tennis shoes smelling like the ocean, fish, or some combination of the two.
Dress in layers
First and foremost, check the forecast for the day you’re going out. That will tell you how to dress for the actual fishing part of your trip. But what about the ride out and the ride in? Some boats offer a climate-controlled cabin so you can relax in comfort as you head out, but a lot of charter fishing trips will have you experiencing the elements. Most of your time spent moving will be heading out and coming in, and that will be done in the early morning and late afternoon. During these times, it’s not going to be as warm as it was in the middle of the day in the wide open. It’s always a good idea to bring at least 2 layers of clothing. A standard t-shirt is fine, and a waterproof jacket shell is recommended. If you really want to check all the boxes, bring along a longsleeved hooded t-shirt or sweatshirt. If you get too hot, take off the jacket and sweatshirt. If you get cold, put on the sweatshirt. If it starts raining or gets rough, put on the rain jacket. Now you’re ready for everything.
Bring a rag
You know it’s going to happen. You’re looking down at your beautiful wahoo, the mate starts bringing him in, and the fish splashes water all over you. Maybe a fish starts flopping around on the deck and sprays your legs. Perhaps you grab your catch and pose for a picture, and realize there was slime all over the line. You’ll need something to wipe these things off. So bring along a handkerchief, a small towel, or some other item that will allow you to clean off your sunglasses and take in the beauty of that dark blue water.
Once you’ve dressed yourself for the occasion, you’ll find the trip much more enjoyable. And once you know what to wear on a charter fishing trip, you can make sure you don’t forget the other important stuff. Other items of interest would be a cooler (to take home all the fish you catch), another cooler (for your food and drinks) and a nice supply of sunscreen.
See you out on the water!