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What to expect on a guided trip: Head Boat

What, exactly, is a “Head Boat,” sometimes known as a “Party Boat”? A Head Boat is a large recreational fishing vessel, that charges a fixed fee per person or angler. Head Boat trips are quite different from trips on a 6-Pack Boat or a Tournament Boat because they can accommodate many more passengers. Most Lake Erie Head Boats will host anywhere from 10-50 passengers at a time. The passengers on board may not always be focused primarily on fishing. Many people will use a Head Boat simply to sightsee on Lake Erie.  

With that in mind, let’s dive into what you can expect on a Lake Erie Head Boat trip. 

A Head Boat trip is also different from these others because a Head Boat captain is not responsible for your fishing gear — although many charters offer fishing tackle you can rent. The crew onboard is also not responsible for tying on your lures, landing your fish, or making recommendations on what tackle to use. A Head Boat trip is not like a traditional guided trip because the captain and crew are facilitating the trip and taking you to proven fishing grounds, more than anything else. This can be an interesting advantage because instead of targeting a specific species, anglers on board will have an opportunity to catch several different species that call Lake Erie home.  

Now that we have a better understanding of what a Head Boat is and the services they provide, let’s talk about who a Head Boat trip on Lake Erie might be ideal for.  

Large Families or Family Reunions

Because of their size and the relatively inexpensive cost per person, a Head Boat trip is perfect for a large family or a family reunion. As we mentioned before, a Head Boat can accommodate a lot more passengers than a Tournament or 6-Pack Boat. This is great because no one has to be left behind even if they decide not to fish!  

Head Boats also allow you to bring your own food and drink on board and they also offer protection from the sun. This ensures that everyone on board can alternate between active fishing and taking a comfortable break. Just keep in mind that you will need to bring or rent all the fishing gear your group will want to use for the day.  

Corporate Events and Retreats 

It is no secret that Lake Erie is beautiful and its proximity to major metropolitan areas in Ohio and Michigan make it the perfect place to take your team or organization for a corporate retreat. A Head Boat trip is also ideal for this situation because of its ability to accommodate a lot of passengers.  

Pack a lunch and bring a big cooler full of cold drinks and snacks for everyone on board. We also recommend that while you have your team on the water you have a friendly competition and see who can catch the most fish! For those that choose not to fish, there are still lots of bird watching and photographic opportunities.  

Solo Trip or First Time Angler 

Say you find yourself in Cleveland for a day or two and you have half a day to kill. There are a lot of things to do in town, no doubt, but you’re looking for an adventure and some fresh air. For you, a spot on a Head Boat is perfect because it allows you to get out on the water inexpensively without having to book a dedicated fishing guide weeks or months in advance.  

You will be sharing the boat with other anglers, as we have mentioned before. These other anglers can be a great resource for techniques or tackle and can even lend a helping hand if you are new to the sport. Stop by the local bait shop before your outing or rent gear directly from the Head Boat charter of your choosing.  

What to Bring on Board  

There are a few items you will need to make the most of your Head Boat fishing adventure. Here are the top three items:  

  • Ohio Fishing License  
  • Fishing rod, reel and tackle 
  • Cooler for fish, food and drinks  

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