The 5 Guys You Meet On A Party Boat

Any given party boat trip has an incredible cross-section of anglers, from first-timers who’ve never been fishing to regulars who practically live on the boat.

I was introduced to head boat fishing by my dad (who regularly plays the role of Fisherman #5) in the early 1990s, and ever since, party boat trips have been the highlights of my fishing seasons. From anteing up the pool money to trying to sneak in a few extra seconds in the water after the captain says it’s time to go, I love every aspect of party boat fishing—especially the people.

Any given party boat trip has an incredible cross-section of anglers, from first-timers who’ve never been fishing to regulars who practically live on the boat. If you find yourself on a party boat in 2016, these are the five guys you’ll meet.

1. Sir Tangle-lots
Sir Tangle Lots
Illustration by Eddy Stahowiak

He means well, he really does, but Sir Tangle-Lots just didn’t get the memo that if he uses a 6-ounce sinker while everyone else is using a 12, he’s going to spend more time picking through a web of lines than he does fishing.

With dozens of anglers standing shoulder to shoulder to shoulder and dropping baits 50, 100 or even 200 feet down, it’s remarkable that any rigs make it to the surface untangled. Even the most seasoned anglers end up “weaving a basket” from time to time, but there always seems to be one angler at the center of every rat’s nest. If you find yourself next to Sir Tangle-Lots, wish him well, and move to the other side of the boat. If that’s not an option, be thankful that party boat mates are well practiced in untangling the untangle-able.

2. The Frequent Flier
The Frequent Flier
Illustration by Eddy Stahowiak

At first, you might mistake him as one of the crew. The Frequent Flier is friendly with the captain, the mates, and many of the other anglers on board. Multiple pictures of him holding big fish are thumb-tacked to the cork boards inside the cabin. He’ll usually stake out a spot at the bow or the stern, and his tackle is of the finest kind. On many trips, he’ll be in contention for the pool money, but don’t be surprised if he loses out to Angler #3.

3. The First-Timer Who Wins the Pool
First-Timer Wins The Pool
Illustration by Eddy Stahowiak

Beginner’s luck plays a huge role while party boat fishing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a novice angler put up a pool-winning fluke or sea bass in the final minutes of a trip. On my first deep-drop trip, I was the beneficiary of beginner’s luck, landing the pool-winning wreckfish despite having too little line and too light an outfit. For me, this has always been part of the charm of party boat fishing—once the captain puts the boat over the fish, anyone on board has a chance to hook the big one.

4. The Party Animal
The Party Animal
Illustration by Eddy Stahowiak

Whether it’s a nighttime bluefish trip departing at 7 p.m. or a morning fluke trip departing at 8 a.m., the Party Animal cracks his first beer before the boat leaves. He’s a great guy to hang with on the ride out, but he may not be the best person to sidle up to at the rail (See #1). In some extreme cases, he may also play the role of the next party boat angler.

5. The Guy Who Never Leaves the Cabin
The Guy Who Never Leaves The Cabin
Illustration by Eddy Stahowiak

Whether its seasickness or the result of downing his first beer at dawn, there is bound to be at least one fisherman on every trip who never leaves the cabin. You’ll find him sprawled out on one of the benches, looking green, a hat over his face. He may muster the strength to drop a line down at some point in the trip, but don’t be surprised if after a few moments, he’s leaning over the rail, adding his breakfast to the chum slick.

45 on “The 5 Guys You Meet On A Party Boat

    1. Robert Brady

      Went on a blue fishing trip out of conneticut with 4 friends.The boat was called the Black Hawk out of the Niantic river.The boat fishes the race, It was around July 1966.Won the pool for most in AM and won the pool PM for the Biggest. After trip at the dock bought me a ten pound bag of cherry stones and 6 lobsters.One of my best party boat trips I’d ever had. We were all from Ossining NY.

      1. Jack Bannister

        The Black Hawk Is still there in Niantic Ct. They are currently the best Party boat in the state. The boat is a newer and slightly bigger fiberglass hull boat. The old boat runs out of NY or NJ.

      2. Ben weekes

        We are still sailing all the time from the same dock.We would love to have you back and give you another shot at doubling up on the pool again. Thank you sharing your story

  1. jb

    Nothing better than crushing beers at 4 am at 15 degrees headed out for cod. It’s always awesome watching the green guy getting yelled at to not puke in the galley trash can! I have never been like that thank God. However I been able to crush a six pack before hitting the Point Judith breakwater!

    1. Mike

      JB you the man! Gotbtonfisk MTK next year. Last year at Gurneys has got to be the charm.

  2. joelovesfishing

    i am for sure # 2 except for the pool part. i just love fishing with people. dont get me wrong, i can get fustrated with the first timer. i get to the boat 2 hours early to get my spot, and i dont get it all the time. i just really hate the guy who comes 5 minutes before the boat is going to leave, and sets up right next to you with no respect to your space and belongings. but overall even that keeps me coming back. i just love the tug on the rod and reeling up to see that you have a very nice fish on your line. like i said i love fishing.

  3. B.S

    Here is some I’ll add to that list:

    1)The old guy:
    Very similar to the frequent flier but different.Hes the guy with a clammed up penn jigmaster or vintage reel.And is the guy that may not win the pool,but at the end of the day has a cooler full.He is not bad to fish with(in fact helpful and full of knowledge).

    This is the guy who has the latest and greatest gear.This is the guy who has a custom $500 rod,matched with a Van Stall,high end lever drag or a Shimano trinidad.He utilizes all the tricks and techniques he learns around the web,utilizing the latest and greatest lures and other do-dads(usually the guy who comes aboard with a Yeti cooler or equivalent) .He sometimes catches fish but is outfished most of the time by the frequent flier or the old guy.

    This is the guy you want to avoid.Hes those type of guys who gives you mean looks when you pass him or when something good or bad happens to you.Hes the type of guy who cuts peoples line when he gets tangled and has no remorse about it.He is usually barks and insults people with his knowledge.Hes over all someone you want to avoid but can be hard to identify until the fishing starts.

    1. halking

      All of these fisherman are true. But you forgot to add the guy who keeps whatever he catches legal or not and when he gets back to the dock he tries to avoids the game warden’s inspection of his cooler. Sometimes to the point of abandoning his cooler all together. This is some funny stuff
      Lol and very true!!!

  4. hudsonman

    True. True. True. Also the frequent flier feels like it’s “his boat”. Lol

  5. Jay Simmons

    Great article as to the reasons why I never go on a party boat . They should add a sixth category . Guys who only hire private charters . I go on private charters exclusively with three guys for the following reasons :
    1.)You catch more fish
    2.) I don’t need to deal with the other five categories .
    3.) I get to choose whom I fish with .

    Guys in this category generally are good anglers that catch lots of fish . They follow fish and game regulations and are good stewards of the fishing industry . While on trips we help each other out and do what it takes for our charter to have a great day . Paying the extra money to a great Charter Captain is well worth it versus going on a party boat .

    1. alby

      certainly would love to be you, had i the extra money to always charter my own boat…..

  6. Bobby Stag

    I think fisherman are a little too concerned with what and who everyone else is on the boat. I come to fish; not to worry about who tangles with themselves, who the regulars are, or who spends the day in the cabin sea sick. I’m only concerned with drunks if they’re rude to me or interupt what I’m doing. I’m happy for pool winners. And oh yeah…pay attention to your line and stop letting out so much. I don’t want to waste time fixing your tangle party or losing a fish because you’re sleeping. Watch your children too. You made em. Not me.

  7. Dave C.

    A great article. I’m curious: do you guys bring your own rod and reel or use what’s provided by the boat? Most boats I’ve been on frown on braid as well. Those that bring their own gear, do you use a reel w just mono?

  8. A.O.

    Could you add one more….. Mr. Perpetual Motion. Has 5 tackle boxes, changes all of his gear constantly and never takes a rest!

  9. Mike B

    Great article. I’ll add another one. My wife likes to work the boat. On one trip out at the Race on one drift one of the sports caught a 39 lb striper and thought he had the pool. On the same drift my wife had a big one on. Turned out it was a 47 lb cow beating the best striper I’ve caught. Because she’s a slight 4ft 11 in my buddies thought the picture was 55 lbs. now she calls stripers her “specialty”.

  10. steve pimental

    just love fishing!!patriot party boat in Falmouth is great.the captain is pretty cool as well as the mates!! love meeting new people mostly the ole timers,who share stories and always shareing what they know! LOVE FISHING!!

  11. J. Hansen

    In any group of people you find yourself with if you can’t spot the a**hole in the first 10 minutes, it’s you!

  12. Scott Taylor

    These 5 things about fisherman are 100% true ,no matter what boat you are on or where. You will find these 5 kinds of anglers

  13. Tom A.

    I see people taking everything they bring over the rail, I have more fun giving fish away and seeing the smiles of those on board who have only a few or none in the box, at least they can go home and say they caught it.

  14. Willie

    As a Delaware headboat captain, this so amazingly true. We have seen all of the above. Wouldn’t trade it.

  15. Hobie Fisher

    Buy a Kayak, fish alone or with good friends and let the mental patients enjoy the charters.

  16. Adrien Lavoie

    I certainly used to be the frequent flier when I was younger between 8 and 18. Had a few mentors that went multiple times a week and my dad would let me go with them. So many great memories. I think the one thing that stuck with me is that I have never drank any alcohol in my life and never will, I’m 38 now. Seeing all the drunk sick belligerent a-holes puking and yelling at people scarred me for life. 1 guy almost threw me overboard because I wouldn’t talk to him. He was wasted and I was scared of him. Mates saved my life, even though they were all on cocaine they were good guys…..

  17. Wicked Porgy

    The Blackhawk is my favorite Party Boat. Always a good time and the Capt’s really know how to put you on the fish. Full coolers are the rule, not the exception. Popular boat for many reasons, all 5 types on every trip. The mates are of Luke Wiggins caliber, and if you know Luke, that is high praise indeed!

  18. tim mitchell

    funny stuff,,, all categories are the reason I got off the deck !!!!!!!

  19. frank

    I love fishing the party boats for cod and sea bass. I’m the old guy LOL


    Thanks for bringing me back to my childhood. I watched a guy swap his glass eye with a cod’s eye, and another guy lose a thumb to a bluefish. Both drunk as hell. Good times!

  21. Bobbylang

    Sounds just like Headboat of yesteryear!! I’ve been Lucky, my Bro always had a boat, but he passed w/boat!!
    Sure love to try it again BUT I need a 120 volt plug for my oxygen portable!
    Maybe this spring when the fluke start again, I’ll bring an extra battery!!
    I Never caught a “Porgy”! “Yankee Bill” (Bro),hated them and treated them as “TRASH”!!! we fished Stripers, Blues, Fluke, Sea Bass, Weakies!! Used to take the kids for “Blowfish in NJ!
    I must have lost about 1000 fiddlers fishing for “Blackfish” and they ALL got away!!

  22. william grahn

    I’ve always had a boat but always liked party boats time on Dec 23 I went out on the Super Squirrel (super puke)out of PT Judith RI and once the boat cleared the harbor of refuge breakwater I started chum trolling.8 hours of puking-sleeping.Back at the dock I couldn’t get off of the boat fast enough.Grabbed my rod and tackle and left.An hour later I discovered I left my $100.00 boots in the cabin.I said “screw em”.

  23. william e grahn

    I was the puker on a trip many years ago out of Point Judith RI on The Super Squirrel (The Super Puke ) on Dec 23 of that year.It was blowing SE at 20 MPH with 6 foot seas.Once we cleared the harbor of refuge the pukin’ began for 6 hours.We got back to the dock and I got off the boat so fast I left my $100.00 boots onboard.The boat never should have left the dock.

  24. H.O.

    Very true. My wife always tell her friends, she love to see people on board, more fun than fishing sometime.

  25. Scott

    #6. The guy or couple that are suddenly your best friend. They want to meet up after the trip, be friends on facebook and so forth.

  26. Kevin Urbine

    I truly loved reading it! I drive the continental shelf out of north myrtle beach and I see and love everyone of these folks listed. And they come in male and female forms. Catch em up!

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