Find out What to Bring and What to Expect
What Should I bring?
Out on the water, we recommend you be prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at you. We run rain or shine, seas permitting, so we recommend you have a hat, sun block, sun glasses, a rag for slimy hands, and if the weather looks questionable, a poncho or other rain protection may be required. In addition, if your trip leaves early in the morning, the temperature may be cooler, so you may want to dress in layers. We do rent rags at the office, and sell other items you may have forgotten like hats, sun block, disposable ponchos and disposable cameras. You may purchase a colorful Flying Fish Fleet T-shirt or embroidered hat as a souvenir of your trip.
Do I need to bring bait?
Bait is included in your fare. We provide cut squid on our 4.5 hour trips, and cut squid and thread herring on our 6 and 8 hour trips. We also have 5 pound bags of frozen sardines available for purchase at our office for those interested in this additional bait. You can bring your own live bait, however you will need to provide your own container and aerator on all but our 12 and 18 hour trips. On these trips, a communal bait well is available, or you may bring your own personal bait well.
Do I need a fishing license?
No. We maintain state and federal blanket licenses that cover our passengers on all of our boats, so your license for your trip is included in the fare.
Do I need to make a reservation? YES!!
In order to ensure a spot on your requested trip we always recommend that you make a reservation. Our trips have minimum and maximum passenger limits, so your reservation is important in ensuring your spot and ensuring your trip will be going out. However, you are always welcome to come and see us at the docks to inquire about a particular trip.
How do I make a reservation?
You may make your reservation by phone or in person at our floating office
Call the office at (941)366-3373 to make your reservation by phone. Our friendly office staff is available from 9am to 6pm, 7-days a week to book your trip. We will take your information and hold your reservation. Outside of these hours, you may call and leave your contact information. Our Office Personnel will return your call to consummate your trip in the morning.
What is your cancellation policy?
Trip reservation/Cancellation Policy—Head Boats
All reservations must be made by 5pm EST the day prior to your selected trip. In fairness to other passengers, all cancellations must be made at least 24 hours before your scheduled trip. If the trip is running, of course "Walk up passengers" to our floating office are always welcome.
Unless we contact you, your boat will be departing the dock on time. Rain, overcast skies, or moderately choppy seas will not cancel your trip. Once the boat has left the dock, there will be no refunds.
You will not be charged for any cancellations made on the part of the Flying Fish Fleet due to extreme weather, mechanical issues or lack of minimum fare requirements.
Trip reservation/Cancellation Policy—Big Catch
All reservations must be made by 5pm EST the day prior to your selected trip. A 25% non refundable deposit is taken upon booking your trip. Due to limited availability and in fairness to other passengers, all cancellations must be made at least seven days prior to your scheduled trip otherwise the full amount of the fare will be charged.
Unless we contact you, your boat will be departing the dock on time. Rain, overcast skies, or moderately choppy seas will not cancel your trip.
You will not be charged for any cancellations made on the part of the Flying Fish Fleet due to extreme weather, or mechanical issues.
How do I get to the Marina?
Please see our contact
Where do I park?
There is parking available at the Marina, however, please check at the office to see if you need a parking permit. The parking lot in front of our office is a Sarasota city lot with 3 hour parking. However as our customer we provide you with a parking permit free of charge. If a permit is necessary, we will require your driver's license or a physical credit card, to be returned to you upon surrender of our parking permit. This procedure ensures the return of the permit that we originally purchased.
What is your Alcohol policy?
For the safety and enjoyment of all our passengers, we do not allow any alcohol to be brought on board our party boats; however, we do have beer available for purchase at our galley allowing us the ability to control consumption. To avoid potential embarrassment on the docks for you and us, please do not attempt to "smuggle" any form of alcohol on board.
Is there food available on board?
We have a cash galley on board the boat for your enjoyment. We offer a variety of food items including, hot breakfast sandwiches, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, beer, chips, pastries and ice cream. All at reasonable prices.
Can I bring a cooler?
You may bring a small cooler, no longer than 12" inches by 20" inches on board. We ask that there be NO glass containers of any kind or alcohol contained in the cooler. Cans and plastic containers are fine.
Which trip is better, the morning or the afternoon?
As we like to tell you, the fish don't care. We recommend you chose the trip that's most convenient for you.
Can I bring my own rod?
Yes, you may bring your own rod and reel. No braided line, Dacron, or Spider wire is allowed—Please use Monofilament only. You are responsible for all tackle required for your equipment; otherwise you’re free to use our rods aboard the boat. We will not re-rig personal rods.
We recommend anywhere from 1/0 to 5/0 hooks (depending on length of trip), with a 3-6 ounce sinker. 30 pound line is recommended for Snapper, with 50 pound line recommended for grouper. Overall, 30 pound line with a 30 pound fluorocarbon leader should be sufficient for most anglers
What can I expect to catch?
On our head boats, you can expect to find pan-sized fish including black sea bass, lane snapper, Key West Grunts, Porgies, Sand Perch, and Triggerfish. These fish are excellent to eat and fun to catch.
We do bring in the occasional King Mackerel or keeper-sized Grouper, but these are the exception, not the rule.
If you’re looking to catch some larger fish, we definitely recommend booking our 43- foot air conditioned private charter boat the Big Catch
. Our private charter boat brings in Grouper, King Mackerel, Amberjack, Mangrove Snapper, and a variety of other species, plus offers spacious accommodations as well as personalized, one-on-one service from the Captain and Mate.
I don’t want to fish. Do I get a discount?
We offer a $5.00 non-fisher discount if you’d like to go out just to enjoy the sights. However, if you haven’t fished before, this could be the time to give it a try.
I don’t have access to a kitchen. Is there someplace that will cook my fish?
O’Leary’s Tiki Bar, within walking distance at the other end of the marina, will cook your catch for you, blackened, grilled or fried. It’s a perfect way to wrap-up a day of fishing and is a favorite place of the Flying Fish employees.
They provide a tropical beach side setting with clean modern restrooms and daily musical entertainment. They charge $2.95 per person. Drinks and sides are extra. They do require a food waiver, acknowledging that you supplied them with the fish, and a courtesy call to let them know you’re coming, so please ask at the office if you’d like to head over there. We certainly recommend you do so.
What can I expect on my trip on the Head Boats?
For a typical trip on our party fishing boats, expect to arrive at the dock no later than a half-hour prior to the departure time of your trip. Please come to our floating office to check in. At this time you may pay with cash or a credit card. At this time, you may also rent rags, or purchase sardines, if you desire that additional bait. In keeping with Coast Guard regulations, the restrooms on board the boat will not open until approximately one half-hour after the boat leaves the dock. If you need to use the rest room, please walk over to the Marina Jack, along the side of the building near the dock master’s office.
Just prior to boarding, the Captain will deliver a short welcoming and informational speech that is important to listen to. The Captain and Mate will begin boarding the boat approximately a half-hour before the scheduled departure time of the trip. At this time, they will issue you a rod with a standard 1-hook rig. The Captain and First Mate will also give you the option of upgrading to a 3-hook rig for an additional $3 (cash only) to maximize your catch potential. After receiving your fishing rod, you may place it in an open slot, and then feel free to move about the boat. You can expect anywhere from an hour and 15 minutes to two hours ride time, depending on your trip. During this time, you can take in the sights, make use of our galley, or sit outside, either on our upper deck or on the bench seating along the sides of the boat. Don’t forget to join in on the fun by participating in the fish pool. Just $5.00 will enter you into the Jackpot for the largest keeper fish caught on board. In addition to the admiration of your fellow anglers, Jackpot winners receive a $25.00 off voucher for any fishing trip on the Flying Fish I or II and a cash prize. On the ride out, the First Mate will come around and collect for those who wish to participate.
Once the boat has reached the fishing location, the Captain will give you some verbal instructions. Please pay attention, to avoid tangles thereby optimizing your fishing time. You will be bottom fishing, and depending on conditions, you may drift, anchor, or a combination of both. You will be baiting your own hook. When you catch a fish, just call out “Fish on”. Your Captain or Mate will remove it from the hook, issue you a stringer number, and start a stringer for you in the already iced fish box at the back of the boat. If you do not intend to keep your fish, please do let the Captain or the Mate know at this time. Some anglers prefer to practice a catch and release program.
At the end of the fishing period, you will reel in your line and leave your rods in the holders. The Mate will come around and collect them later. Then you can sit back and relax and enjoy the ride home. During this time you will have the opportunity to tip your captain and crew. They love what they do and work hard to make each trip a success. A 15% per trip gratuity is the industry norm.
Upon returning to the dock, please check and make sure you have everything you brought with you. If you rented a rag, please leave it on board. Send one member of your party to the fish box, and you will be handed the stringer corresponding to your number. If you entered the jackpot, and you think you have the winning fish, seek out your Mate, who will weigh contenders and award the prize on the dock.
On the dock, you may have your fish professionally cleaned by the Captain and the Mate. They charge $0.50/fish for the smaller fish, and $0.50/pound if you were to catch something larger. They'll put your boneless, skinless fillets in a bag for you, ready to take home. Also, don’t forget to stop by the office for a $5.00 return fare coupon, good for your next trip out with us. These have no expiration date, so even if you’re visiting us here in Sarasota, they’ll be good for your next outing with the Flying Fish Fleet!