Destin Party Boats -

A party boat is an excellent way to get on the water and get some fish at a reasonable price in Destin.  There are approximately 8
party boats calling the Destin Harbor their home that run anywhere from a 4 hour trip to over 16 hour trips, with prices starting
around $40.00 each. What is the difference between a Destin Private Charter boat and a Party boat?  


CHARTER BOATS

The charter boats normally only take a small group of
fishermen (6). They have more freedom in determining
what fish they want to catch and what type of fishing they
will do, ie, trolling, bottom fishing.

There is normally one set fee for the whole boat, around
$ 160.00 to $170.00 and hour, with a 4 hour trip being the
minimum required.








PARTY BOATS

A party boat (sometimes called a "head boat" ) takes many
more fishermen, anywhere from 40 up to 80 fishermen.
They are "open boats" in that anyone can sign up. Each
fisherman pays a set fee for himself and, in return, is
allowed to pick one of the many fishing stations on the rail.

Party boats bottom fish only. They schedule different length
of trips, anywhere from 4 to 14 hour trips throughout the
week and you pick which trip you want to go on.  

Trips start at 4 hours for around $ 45.00 per fisherman.
The party boats almost exclusively target fish that live on or near the bottom of the ocean.  These fish will be fish from the
Grouper family (mostly Gag, Scamps, and Red Grouper), fish from the Snapper family (mostly Red and Vermillion (Mingo)
Snapper), Amberjacks (Greater Amberjack and the Almaco Jack),  Triggerfish, and the Porgies (also called White Snapper).  All
are fun to catch and good eating. You will catch other fish, to include sharks, bonito, some bait fish,  and King Mackerel, but not
as often.



















                 MINGO SNAPPER                                                                                    WHITE SNAPPER
                (Vermillion Snapper)                                                                                          (Red Porgy)  


















                 RED SNAPPER                                                                             RED SNAPPER & ALMACO JACK



















                       AMBERJACK                                                                                     BONITO (LITTLE TUNNY)



















                       SCAMP                                                                                   SMALL GAG GROUPER


















                   KING MACKEREL                                                                        SMALL RED GROUPER



















                  SMALL TRIGGERFISH                                                                TOMTATE (RUBY RED LIPS)
                                                                                                                                   (Use for bait)

The mate will assist you with your catch and take it off
the hook for you. Most fish in the ocean have a nice
set of teeth, you really don't want to go sticking your
fingers in their mouths.





         
  Right, a toothy Spanish Mackerel





There are many rules that fishermen have to follow in the Gulf of Mexico. Most fish are restricted by size and when you can
keep them. Your mate knows these rules, so don't get mad at him when he comes by and throws your 29" amberjack back over
or your 20 pound Red Snapper back when they are out of season.
1. Most party boats supply you with a bait container of both cut squid and cut Boston Mackerel. The Mingo Snapper and White
Snapper usually are small (less than 14") and like squid for bait. The Red Snapper, while they will bite squid, usually prefer cut
bait or live bait.





















2.  Most party boats use a Penn reel rigged with a 2 hook bottom rig, Most have gone to the smaller (#1) circle hooks.
(You must use circle hooks now in the gulf when fishing for reef fish).  This will allow you to catch the smaller mingos and white
snapper, and the red snapper. Normally,  most fishermen around here prefer a larger hook (#4 or # 5 circle) for Red
Snapper. If you want to target Grouper, you want to go with even a larger hook (say # 6 or larger circle hook).

Some points to remember on saltwater fishing and hook size:

The larger the bait, the larger the fish you will catch

Match the size of the hook to the size of the bait. (You want the barb and hook showing, not hidden in the bait)

So, depending on what you are fishing for, mingos/white snapper, or bigger fish such as red snapper, grouper, you want
 to adjust your bait, hook size, and presentation.  For this reason, I recommend you bring your own tackle.

         - Penn 113h reel with boat rod, rigged with 40# braid or monofilament to a 100# swivel.

         - Prerigged leaders

          - Use a 2 hook bottom rig with # 1 or #2 circle hooks if you want to catch Mingos, Porgies, or Triggerfish.
Use cut squid for bait.

          - Use a 2 hook bottom rig or 1 hook fish finder rig with # 5 circle hooks if you want to catch larger Red Snapper, Grouper,
 Amberjack.   Also, if  you have to use frozen bait,  the Red Snapper and Grouper seem to prefer the cigar minnows you can buy
at any of the bait stores in the area.

3. You will normally catch bigger and more fish if you use "live" bait.  Most boats will have a live well you can use. Be sure to
call first and ask about their policy. Some fishermen get to the docks early and use a squid tipped Sabiki rig to catch live pin fish
from around the dock prior to the boat leaving. Also, I have been on boats where they will supply live bait at times. Use a 1 hook
fish finder rig if you have live bait.

4. Use a cooler that has wheels, much easier to use.

4. Most return fishermen prefer the rear of the boat.

5. You want to keep your lines tight the whole time by reeling
in any slack on the line. Slack lines drift and you will get tangled
with other fishermen.

6. Use a larger weight than you would normally use to get your
bait to the bottom quick and to keep your line tight. Recommend
at least 16 ounces.

7. If your mate works hard for you, which they normally do, it is
customary to tip them around 15%.

8. Normally, the boat needs a minimum of 15 paying customers to operate a trip. If they don't have the minimum, they will
probably cancel your trip. During the off season, you might want to check the day before to see if they have enough to go.

9. Most of the party boats offer a $ 10.00 discount for military. Ask.
Party Boat Experience - What to expect

What the boat supplies:

1.  
Your fishing license. No need to obtain a Florida fishing license, your ticket includes your license.

2.  
Fishing rod and reel rigged with a 2 hook bottom fishing rig
(called a "chicken rig", a "porgy rig" or "dropper" rig).



















3.  
Bait. The mates will supply you with a bucket or
other device that has both cut squid and cut small fish.














4.
A laundry basket to put your fish in. They will
periodically come around and collect your fish and
place them on ice. They have different ways of
marking your fish, but most use an aluminum spike
stringer with a number on it. Just remember your
number.

5. They will r
emove the fish from your hook for you and
determine if it is of legal size or in season. If not, it goes back over.


6. At the end of the trip, they will clean your fish (fillet)
and give them to you in a plastic bag. Some boats
charge extra for this. You do have the option of taking
them home and cleaning them yourself.
Captain Cliff Cox runs the Sweet Jody. It is located behind the Fisherman's Wharf
restaurant next to the Destiny and Destin Princess.


DESTIN PARTY BOATS
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THE PARTY BOAT EXPERIENCE - WHAT TO EXPECT

DESTIN PARTY BOATS
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Some party boat tips and nice to know stuff......

Most, if not all,  party boats use a model of the Penn 113 4/0 Senator       
conventional reel, spooled with 60 lb monofilament.   The black               
model (113) is most prevalent, with a few using the red model (113H).     
 If you have a choice, choose the red reel. It has a higher retrieve           
 ratio (3.3:1 red reel vs 2:1 black reel)  which means you will do less        
 cranking with the red reel.

The reels used on party boats have seen a lot of fish and some are         
not in very good condition, depending on the boat. You are allowed       
to bring your own rod/reel on all of the party boat, which I would             
suggest if you can.

If you have never used a conventional bottom fishing reel, you will         
need to learn the basics on it or you willend up with a reel full of             
tangled line (called a "bird's nest).  The mates will normally have a          
mass meeting during your trip out which they explain how to use the
reel. Just pay attention and keep your thumb on the line as you let it       
out. For more information on how to use a conventional saltwater           
bottom fishing rig, click below:  
       
             
HOW TO USE A CONVENTIONAL SALT WATER REEL
AMERICAN SPIRIT
116 Highway 98 E
Destin, FL  32541
(850) 837-1293

The American Spirit is the largest party boat in Destin.
It is rated for 92 passengers, but they only carry 80.
Has an upper deck, air conditioned lower lounge.  Call
for trip times and the current rate.



Click below for more information:

American Spirit web site
NEW FLORIDA GIRL

NOTE

The New Florida Girl is getting out of the party
boat business as of January 2010. According to the
Destin Log, it will remain in the
Destin Harbor but will be used for short harbor tours
and educational trips.  
Click here to read the entire article in
         
The Destin Log

WHAT YOU  NEED TO BRING:

1. Cooler with ice. The ones with  wheels are the most
convenient.

2. Food, snacks, and beverages. You can bring beer,
but you need to bring plenty of water too as it is easy to
become dehydrated in the summer months.

3. Two small towels. Use one to hold the fish you catch
while you are removing the hook and the other, keep it
wet and put it around your neck, it will keep you a little
cooler.

4. Whatever personal tackle: rod, reel, etc you would
like to use. Keep it compact.

5. Pair of needle nose wire pliars to help remove the
fish hook from the mouth of the fish. The mate will
remove them, but sometimes they are busy. If you do
it, you can get your line back down quicker.

6. Small knife.

7. Hat

8. Sun screen

9. Camera
SWOOP I & II
76 Highway 98 E
Destin, FL  32541
850-337-8250.

SWOOP I and II are identical 65-ft. long party fishing
boats powered by twin 660 hp Caterpillar engines,
and a 19-ft. wide beam. These custom built boats
cruise comfortably at 20 knots and are Coast Guard
approved for up to 49 passengers but normally carry
only 40 fishermen. Both have upper decks and an
air-conditioned cabin.

Click below for more information:

Swoop Party Boat web site
Legendary runs two party boats out of the Destin Harbor, the Swoop I and Swoop II. They are
located on the west side of the Lucky Snapper restaurant behind the Emerald Grande.
Captain Jim Westbrook runs two party boats out of the Destin Harbor. They are located just west
of AJs restaurant.
The Destin Princess and Destiny party boats are located behind the
Fisherman's Wharf restaurant.
Olin Marler runs up to four party boats out of the Destin Harbor: the Tropical Winds, Gentle
Winds, Gulf Winds, and the Gulf Breezel located on the west side of AJ's restaurant.
DESTINY
210 Highway 98 E
Destin, FL  32541
(850) 837-5088
(888) 837-5088


72' Single-V Hull that is US Coast Guard approved for
up to 65 Passengers. Has an upper deck and air
conditioned cabin.


Click below for more information:

Destiny Party Boat web site
DESTIN PRINCESS
210 Highway 98 E
Destin, FL  32541
(850) 837-5088
(888) 837-5088

65' Catamaran that is US Coast Guard approved for
up to 45 Passengers.  Has an upper deck and air
conditioned cabin.


Click below for more information:

Destin Princess Party Boat web site
TROPICAL WINDS
102 B Highway 98 East
Destin, Florida 32541
(850) 837-7095
(850) 654-7113


60' boat.  Has an upper deck and air conditioned
cabin.


Click below for more information:

Olin Marler charter boats web site
Click here for a trip on the DESTIN PRINCESS
GENTLE WINDS
102 B Highway 98 East
Destin, Florida 32541
(850) 837-7095
(850) 654-7113


60' boat.  Has an upper deck and air conditioned
cabin.


Click below for more information:

Olin Marler charter boats web site
GENTLE WINDS PICTURES
GULF WINDS
102 B Highway 98 East
Destin, Florida 32541
(850) 837-7095
(850) 654-7113


60' boat.  Has an upper deck and air conditioned
cabin.


Click below for more information:

Olin Marler charter boats web site
GULF BREEZE
102 B Highway 98 East
Destin, Florida 32541
(850) 837-7095
(850) 654-7113


Has an upper deck and air conditioned cabin.


Click below for more information:

Olin Marler charter boats web site

Click here for a trip on the
Gulf Breeze
SWEET JODY
210 Highway 98 East
Destin, Florida 32541
(850) 650 2500
(850) 654 0088

57' boat with an upper deck.






Click below for more information:

Sweet Jody party boat web site

What kind of fish can I catch on a party boat?
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Click here to see a trip on the Florida Girl
Click here for a trip on the DESTINY