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Are you looking forward to reeling in a big one this fishing season? Saltwater fishing is an exciting challenge that will put your skills and perseverance to the test. Fishing in the open ocean is much different than angling in lakes, rivers, and streams. The fish are bigger and tastier, and they put up a fight! Common types of saltwater fish that anglers seek out include cod, flounder, grouper, halibut, marlin, bluefish, bonefish, pacific yellowtail, redfish, sea trout, sailfish, sharks, snapper, striped bass, tarpon, and tuna. Before you head out into the sea in your bay boat, walkaround, or other saltwater fishing boat, check out these twelve saltwater fishing tips from Boatline.

1. Check Licensing Requirements

Before you head out, know the rules and licensing requirements for the area you are going to. Regulations help protect fish populations, and daily or seasonal limits may be in effect for certain species and/or at certain times. Each state has different fishing license ordinances, so check them out before you purchase. If a license is needed, you will have to carry it with you.

2. Research Your Fishing Spot

Research your fishing spot based on what you want to catch. Up-to-date marine charts can be helpful and save you time and energy, especially when you first head out on the water. Fishing clubs or other local groups can be another great source for learning the different species of fish found in the area and suggesting strategies for catching them. And if you’re willing to go to any length to catch the fish you want, be sure to check out some of the top fishing destinations around the world.

3. Pay Attention to Tides and Tidal Currents

There are several differences between freshwater and saltwater fishing. Tides and tidal currents are one of them. Depending on the species and water depth, fish may amass during ebb or flood tidal currents. Knowing the tides and tidal currents can help you determine the best times to fish.

5. Bring Saltwater Fishing Tools

Tools such as pliers, scissors, saltwater gaffs and nets, a hook remover, and fishing knives should accompany you on your fishing trip. Pliers and scissors are used for cutting wire, removing hooks, and tightening knots. A hook remover helps you remove the hook more quickly and safely. Fishing knives are used for cutting bait and cleaning fish. Gaffs and nets make catch-and-release fishing easier and safer.

4. Choose the Right Rod and Reel

Choosing your gear is important. Longer rods will cast further, but shorter rods are more powerful when fighting the fish. Fishing rods are labeled with line size ratings which help match rods and reels. A spinning reel will let you cast farther and helps prevent ‘bird’s nest’ tangling. Keep in mind that a properly balanced rod and reel reduces fatigue in your wrists and forearms and provides a more sensitive rod and reel set up.

6. Know Your Knots

Using the right knot can be the difference between a great catch or a letdown. There are several knots which will help keep you in good stead. The Bimini Twist keeps 100% of its strength, making it an ideal knot to know. Other knots which are good to learn are the double palomar, uni knot, and loop knot. Keeping a book of knots on board your center console or other boat can provide a helpful reference.

7. Get Hooked

There are several types of hooks to choose from, so select the one which is right for the type of fishing you’re doing. J hooks are great for chunked bait. Circle hooks are good for catch and release because they catch in the fish’s mouth rather than its esophagus and can be removed quickly. Live bait hooks allow bait to swim unobstructed when they’re on the hook.

8. Types of Saltwater Bait

You can use a variety of saltwater bait, and it can be live or artificial. Common types of live bait include: shrimp, crabs, clams, mussels, squid and baitfish. Artificial bait includes: spinner baits, poppers, plug fishing lures, soft plastic lures, spoon fishing lures, metal jigs and lead-headed jigs.

9. Keep Your Bait in Top Shape

If you’re using live bait, keep it out of direct sunlight and keep the water fresh. Change the water every two hours. Using an aerator will help keep the water oxygenated.

10. Remember to Change Your Line

Keep your line fresh and strong. When your line gets dull and rough, it’s time to change it. If your line breaks during a fight, you not only lose the fish, but the trailing line could ensnare it, or other fish, before it breaks down.

11. Keep the Deck Clear

Keep the deck clear on your power cruiser, or other saltwater fishing boat, so you have a safe space to wrestle the whale of a fish you just caught. You don’t want to injure yourself or others by leaving various obstacles on deck that folks could stumble over in the excitement of hauling in the line.

12. Wash Your Gear When You Get Home

Saltwater will corrode your gear. When you get back from your day on the ocean, remember to thoroughly wash your gear in fresh water from a hose or tap. Your guidelines and reels are particularly susceptible to rust. You can also soak your reel in water to remove all the salt. Don’t forget to give your boat a washdown too—when you get home and after you’ve cleaned and gutted your fish.

We hope these tips from Boatline help you the next time you head out into open water, ready to catch the big one. Do you have other tips to share? Leave them in the comments! Don’t know which kind of boat to buy? Check out the eight types of saltwater boats.

If you’re ready for a new rig to take you into the sea, check out all the available boats at

By Janelle Baldwin


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Keona Frasier
Keona Frasier

Other Resources

Tips For Post-Ride Boat Maintenance

7 Red Flags to Avoid When Buying a Boat Online

9 Tips For Deep-Sea Fishing From Your Boat

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