Whether you call it “Magic City” or “Sunshine City,” one thing’s certain – the charm and unique vibe of Miami can’t be overstated. Whether you come here to escape harsh winters, have an unforgettable night out in the world-famous art deco clubs, or go scuba diving, the city will not disappoint. And if you’re coming here to fish, well, you couldn’t have picked a better spot. While there are many ways to explore these prolific waters, Miami party boat fishing is a stepping stone for many first-comers.
Affordability, great fishing action, and availability are some of the reasons why party boat fishing is so popular in Miami. If you’ve never been party boat fishing before, we’ll walk you through all the info you need to get started.
What to Expect When Fishing on a Party Boat
Despite the name, “party boat” doesn’t mean you’ll be at an actual party, with music blasting and alcohol everywhere. When you book your spot on a party boat, you’ll be fishing with other anglers from all over the country. You’ll have a professional crew at your disposal and plenty of room on a big fishing vessel. Here’s what you can expect.
- Arrive early. A good rule of thumb to follow is to arrive at the dock half an hour early. That way, you get to pick your spot on the boat and get to know the crew a little. If there’s time, you can also familiarize yourself with the tackle you’ll be using.
- All the basics included. One of the perks of party boat fishing is that the operator provides the tackle, live bait, and fishing licenses. Everything from rods and reels to hooks and leaders is already taken care of when you step on the boat. You can also bring your own equipment if you prefer.
- Big boats, bigger crowds. Party boats, also called drift fishing boats, can be massive, around 70’ and accommodate dozens of people. Captains try not to have their boats too crowded so that every fisherman has enough room to land their fish.
- All facilities on board. Because these boats are made to cater to a lot of people, there are usually toilets on board. There are also built-in ice boxes to keep your catch fresh, and plenty of shade to protect you from the unavoidable summer heat.
- Half-day trips are the sweet spot. Most party boat trips last 4–6 hours, and they take place in the morning and in the afternoon. It’s plenty of time to reach excellent fishing spots, hook into good fish, and come back for lunch or dinner.
- Complimentary fish cleaning and filleting. Some party boats in Florida charge extra for catch cleaning at the dock, but that’s not the case in Miami. Most crews are happy to do it for you free of charge.
- Wait for bait. If you’re using live bait, your deckhand will bait the hook for you, it’s faster and safer that way. If you’re using cut bait, a crew member will show you how to use it and leave you to it.
- Discuss your ambitions. Talk to your crew members about what you’d like to catch. Is it just a few good-eating fish? Are you looking for a trophy? Let them know, and they’ll try to accommodate your requests, either by giving advice about what rig to use or which spots to fish extra hard.
- Tips are always welcome. You probably already know the catchphrase “it’s called fishing, not catching,” and this is the rule to live by. While most charters can’t promise you’ll catch something, the crew usually goes out of their way to provide good service. The best way to thank them is with a tip – 15% of the trip price is the norm.
When to go party boat fishing in Miami?
When it comes to South Florida and Miami itself, there’s no bad time to hit the water. Your timing solely depends on what you’d like to target and when you have the time to visit the city. Thanks to the warm Gulf Stream that’s only 1,5–3 miles offshore, the bite is on all the time, it’s just the species that change.
Come to Miami in spring, and you’ll be spoiled for choice, especially if you’re casting your line inshore. Party boats will put you on a variety of smaller Snapper and Grouper around the reefs. This translates into a fabulous dinner down the line. Variety is the name of the game in spring.
Summer and fall are the most productive fishing seasons – anything from Tarpon to Swordfish is fair game. Thousands of anglers flock to this nook of the Sunshine State in the summer, looking for their next trophy catch. And since the fishing is outstanding, there’s a lot of people looking to get a piece of the action. Charter boats, be it private or shared, get booked up very quickly, so reserve your spot well in advance.
In the winter, Miami is the perfect getaway from frigid temperatures, and there’s plenty to catch in the nearshore waters. The fishing pressure is much lesser during the colder months, which leaves brag-worthy catches like Sailfish, Blackfin Tuna, and King Mackerel to you. Miami party boat fishing is very good in the winter and can take you to some great fish for a very good price.
What fish are running in Miami?
With its many reefs, wrecks, and hotspots, Miami’s fishery offers a great mix of pelagic, reef, and bottom species. With the Gulf Stream at your doorstep, you’ll be in the realm of great catch opportunities just 15 minutes after leaving the dock.
Miami party boats focus on fishing the reefs, most of which hold Snapper and Grouper – both are fun to catch and delicious. This is the combo most anglers can’t resist, no matter their expertise. Snappers come in all shapes and sizes, be it Mangrove, Mutton, Yellowtail, and of course, Red when they’re in season. On the Grouper side of things, Black and Gag are commonly caught, but sometimes you might stumble upon the mighty Goliath. Bottom fishing could put you on any of these fellas.
Aside from Snapper and Grouper, Miami’s reefs are the playground of impressive Amberjack, Cobia, Sharks, Wahoo, and Mackerel, both Spanish and King. The most popular among pelagics, Mahi Mahi are the “bread and butter” of party boat anglers, and they’re available year-round. These colorful beauties can grow up to 50 pounds, and their fighting prowess and delicious meat set them apart from all others.
But what can make Miami party boat fishing truly special are Sailfish. The artificial reefs in the Gulf Stream attract huge numbers of Sails and fishermen can’t get enough of them. From fall and all through spring, these speedsters are the stars of the Miami fishing scene and yes, you can catch one from a party boat. They’re the favorite target of experienced anglers and are available after only a short boat ride to the deep waters. What’s not to love?