Making the most out of a party boat

Hello all,
For the last few years, my family and I have always taken a trip on with Captain Dicks on the head boat out of Murrels Inlet when we’re up there on vacation every year. It’s fun and all, but kinda dull catching the same fish drop after drop.
Anyone have any tips on how to target larger fish (grouper/AJs) while on a boat like this? Or any way to just make the trip more productive.


I live in the Myrtle area and go out on the new inlet princess couple times a year. Captain Robert is a great fishermen and puts people on fish, last time I went was May 1st and caught a scamp and plenty of bliners. Almost always get some grouper and plenty of snapper and triggers.
Nice change of pace from being a pier rat.

Some things locals and other experienced people usually do are:

Set up a drift line rig with a king duster on wire with 4x trebles. Drop back a cigar minnow off the back of the boat and let the current take it out a ways. Hopefully any king or mahi that comes by eats it.

A vertical jig will catch up all the Amberjacks you could ever want. Jig fast and then jig faster, I have caught my only mahi on a jig i pitched. You can get some nice grouper on the jigs as well.

Best way to target the grouper is live or cut bait on a 3 way swivel rig. 6 ft of #100 leader to a stout circle hook, pin a whole cigar minnow through the eye, a pinfish, grunt, or bliner chunk also will get a good bite.

Drop a jig and reel it fast from the bottom to top and you will likely catch an AJ, or you can slow jig up and down from the bottom to about 20ft off the bottom, just repeat over and over and keep a consistent rhythm with the slow jig or good speed with the speed jigging. Slow jigging will produce a variety of bottom fish and jacks while speed jigging will primarily produce jacks. Jigging takes a lot more effort but is something different from bottom dropping but will wear you out a lot faster. When you catch a small fish drop it back down and wait and you should catch something bigger. If you have a heavy rod with at least a 50w you can troll on the way out and in most of those boats go around 15 knots which is good for hi speed trolling. Or you can free line a bait if you get a spot at the front or back. Getting there extra early to get a stern position will leave you more options, room, and less likely to get tangled, also the back is a smoother ride, but has more diesel smell and engine noise. Do you go gulfstream or sea bass fishing because you won’t catch much other than sea bass on the half day trips but maybe a shark.

Or find a good private charter.

Olde Man Charters
286 Seafox/Twin 300’s

I was a mate on a party boat for a few years…

A $20 bill goes a long way - tip the mate upfront, let him know that you know how to fish and want to try something more than straight bottom fishing. You will get the best bait and tips on what is down there - and if its even worth while jigging. They may even set you up with better rods if you don’t have your own.

Bring along some 2-3oz white Spro bucktails and the largest white or pink plastic grubs you can find. Drop to the bottom and jig up fast for AJ’s - all the way to the surface. Or steady jig near the bottom for just about anything swimming… but keep it off the bottom a few feet so you don’t snag.

Ask if you are on a wreck or live bottom - if on a wreck you will lose a bunch of jigs if you keep them on or near the bottom.

Jigging brings the unknown factor into play, and typically gets larger fish. You may hook into large BSB, or a Cobia, or a big King - you never know.

And, if the boat isn’t crowded - try to live line a small (but legal) trash fish off the boat. Grab a small ring tail or grunt and feed it out a bit - something large will come along and grab it.

A large group of crew, mates, and even captains make frequent trips on Carolina princess. We do 24 hrs and it’s smaller group with all experienced anglers. Last trip we nearly hit 18 man limit for 3 species of grouper, 12 cobia, several mahi and Kings from free lined bait as well. Shoot me a msg and I’ll get you some info on trips. If you know what doing party boat is easy relaxing trip

Thanks for all the advice.
I typically fish the 3/4 day or whole day trips. I tried vertical jigging last year but wasn’t very successful, I guess this year I’ll try it with buck tails.

what do one of these trips normally go for?