Guests sit pretty in the Viking Sportfish from Panoply. Experienced staff are always ready to help reel in a big one.

Curious about fishing? We caught up with the team at Panoply to get all the expert details.

Q: Do you have to have experience to go on a fishing charter?
A: Absolutely not! We welcome guests of all experience levels, from first-time anglers to seasoned pros.

Q: Do you have to touch the fish?
A: Haha! No, you do not have to touch the fish if you don’t want to – our crew will get you as involved as you would like.

Q: What kinds of fish can you catch?
A: Offshore we target tuna, wahoo, mahi-mahi and kingfish for eating, and blue marlin, white marlin and sailfish for release. Inshore we target snapper, grouper, trigger fish and more! Our rule is to keep only what we will eat and release everything else. All billfish, sharks and vulnerable species are released with minimal contact. We observe CPR in this instance – Catch, photo, release – never removing the fish from the water.

Fishing is available both offshore and inshore, where different species bite during different times of the year.

Q: Can you request the type of fish to catch?
A: For the most part, yes! But different species bite during different times of the year. We are targeting tuna and marlin May through September/October and wahoo and mahi-mahi from then through April and May. For example, it’s unlikely (but not impossible) to release a marlin in the middle of winter – this is typically a warm water, summer catch, but we’ve released ‘Christmas’ blue marlin before! That’s part of the excitement with fishing: we don’t always know what we’ll see out there!

Anglers of all experience levels can get out and try their luck at fishing in the local waters.

Q: Do you have to be strong?
A: It’s not about muscling in the fish, it’s all about technique! We’ve coached little lady anglers through reeling in fish bigger than themselves! For first-time anglers we always begin our charters with a little ‘Fishing 101.’
1. Don’t yank the rod. Use your whole body to bring the rod tip up in a controlled, smooth motion. If your arm’s doing all the heavy lifting, you will wear yourself out quickly. Spread the load and use your whole body to do the work.
2. No slack. If the rod tip is not bent, you should be reeling. We want the line tense from the hook in the fish’s mouth all the way to the rod and reel.
3. Timing! Cranking the reel shouldn’t be difficult. You gain line by smoothly bringing the rod tip up and then crank the handle on the way down to retrieve line onto the reel. The moment you start to bow your rod down, reel to retrieve that line! Rewind and repeat, big fish in the box!

Q: Do you always go to the same spots to fish?
A: Fish move! The species we target offshore are highly migratory and inshore species move about as well. When trolling for deep sea fishing, the boat is always moving and we are covering a lot of ground to find fish. For bottom/reef fishing, we anchor and then drop lines. If that spot is not being productive, we pick up and move to the next spot. Sometimes we have to try a couple of different spots to find the fish. If we knew where they were it would be easy – that’s why it’s called fishing, not catching!

Q: How much is skill and how much is luck?
A: It’s a lot of experience, a little science and a whole lot of luck, but a good captain and crew gives you the best advantage. Successful crews find the fish, know what to present them to get them to bite, and maintain their equipment to ensure when you find the fish you don’t lose them to equipment failure.

Q: What kind of boats are used for fishing in the TCI?
A: Sportfisherman and center consoles are used for fishing here in TCI.

Q: Can you fish every day?
A: Our fishing charter operates seven days a week, 365 days a year. Ask our crew and they’ll tell you ‘Land sucks! Book a charter and let’s get out on the water!’

When it comes to fishing, a good captain is key.

Q: What makes fishing in the TCI unique?
A: We are fishing a quick 15 minutes from the dock! It’s a much shorter ride than in many fishing destinations, where they might run 30 to 60 miles to get to fishing grounds. We are trolling or anchored to bottom fish with land in sight for the most part, blue water just minutes from port.

Q: What does a guest get out of the experience?
A: Of course hooking fish is important, and there’s nothing like sharing in the excitement when we hook a big fish and then get it over the gunwale and into the fish box, or release a 350-pound blue marlin at the back of the boat! That said, some of our best days on the water have been no-fish days, or what we affectionately refer to as a “skunk” day. It’s about great company, time spent together, and just being on the water. You never know what you are going to see out there! Watching humpback whales breach, massive loggerhead turtles surfacing for air, a blue marlin free-jumping off the stern, a pod of 100-plus dolphins playing in the wake – it is all spectacular. It’s truly about the overall experience of having a great time on the water.

Q: Can non-fishing guests join alongside those who want to fish?
A: Absolutely, it’s a fun excursion for anyone who wants to get out on the water! We even offer combo trips with some fishing and then on to snorkeling and island hopping, for example. You might be surprised. Very often those who weren’t interested in the fishing to start with find they enjoy it more than the avid anglers. You just don’t know you love it until you try it!