When I was 6 years old, I started going deep sea fishing with my father. We lived in Brooklyn, NY at the time, so we’d go on a party boat (“a boat that takes paying passengers for a day or several hours of fishing, as in coastal waters or a bay, and usually rents fishing tackle and sells or provides bait”) out of the city-run marina in nearby Sheepshead Bay. We’d do a full day of fishing on the Rainbow (which I heard sunk in later years) for fluke and/or flounder, and it was a great way for us to have some father-daughter time while doing something that we both enjoyed (my mom, on the other hand, would get seasick looking at a boat on TV. No lie!).
Author (it’s me, Sharon!) as a very awkward 12 or 13 years old, with the fluke she caught. Note the braces on her teeth, the oh-so-fashionable T-shirt with the faux suspenders printed on it, and her lucky rabbit’s foot hanging out of her jeans pocket. She wishes she still had the rabbit’s foot.
We fished on party boats out of some other places too, such as Staten Island (after we moved there when I was 10) and Long Island. But when I was about 15 or 16, I was in the midst of my teenage angst and didn’t want to wake up early anymore, didn’t want to smell like fish, you name it. So from that point on, my dad used to go by himself.
Fast forward 30 years or so. My dad was gone but after a salmon fishing excursion while on an Alaska cruise, I rediscovered my interest in fishing. From that point on I went once every year or two, sometimes on the Orlando/Canaveral Princess, but occasionally on party boats that were docked further south, in Sebastian, FL.
Once COVID hit, I started going fishing more often. Besides the fact that I was enjoying it just as much as I had when I was a kid, it was also a good way to get out of the house and do something, but still be relatively safe because I was outdoors. I’ve been going once a month or so ever since.
I had been fishing on the aforementioned Princess for several months but there were a few things happening on my excursions with them that made me decide to try a different party boat. That’s how I found the Ocean Obsession II, which is docked at Sunrise Marina (also at Port Canaveral, by the cruise ships), right next to Grills Seafood Deck & Tiki Bar.
Also known as the Double O², the 65-foot boat goes out daily:
- Half day trips on Sun (10a-4p), Tue (8a-2p) and Thur (10a-4p)
- Full day trips on Mon, Wed, Fri and Sat (8a-5p)
- Shark fishing on Wed, Fri and Sat (6p-10p)
- They’re also available for private charters, 5p to 9p, on Sunday evenings, for groups of up to 20 people.
Double O² also offers special trips, such as “Full Moon Trips” (12-hour fishing trips when there’s a full moon), an extra hour added to the full day trips (beginning at 7am instead of 8am) on select Wednesdays, etc.
Their website is easy to navigate, and you can make reservations online or via phone (if you’re eligible for the discounts they offer – $20 off full day fishing for age 55+ or active military – you need to call to get the discounted rate, and then show your ID for proof, on your fishing day). They send immediate confirmation via email, and if they have to cancel because of weather conditions (it happens), you’ll get an almost immediate refund, as well.
Double O² is all-inclusive and gives you almost everything you need for your trip:
- Half day: Rod, Bait, Tackle, Fishing License, Lunch, and Soft Drinks
- Full day: Rod, Bait, Tackle, Fishing License, Breakfast, Lunch, and Soft Drinks
- Shark fishing trips: Rod, Bait, Tackle, Fishing License (BYO drinks and snacks)
- Sunday private charters: Rod, Bait, Tackle, Fishing License, Dinner, and Soft Drinks
- Full moon: Rod, Bait, Tackle, Fishing License, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Soft Drinks
Your 1-day fishing license is also included in the cost. So all you really need to bring are a hat, sunglasses, suntan lotion, and cash to tip the mates and the galley chef (figure about 20-25% of your cost, +/-).
They ask you to arrive no more than 30 minutes before the boat sets sail. You check in (it’ll probably be with either Colette or Laura), settle up as necessary, and climb aboard.
Once you’re on the boat, you can take any spot, as long as it isn’t one of the reserved ones on the stern (back), unless you reserved a spot there (that costs extra).
Who you’ll see & what you get
Staff on the boat included the captain, two mates/deckhands and the galley chef. Obviously, I don’t know all of their responsibilities, but as someone “looking in,” this is what each of them did:
The captain will probably be Dustin (but occasionally John). His main job is to drive the boat – he figures out where the fish are, and gets us there. If there aren’t fish in one spot, it’s up to the captain to decide it’s time to leave and try somewhere else.
There are a handful of people who may be your mates – John, Kyle, KC, or Rod. There are usually 2 mates on the boat and they’re there to help with whatever you need while fishing – give out fishing poles and bait (and how to use them), put bait on hooks, take fish off hooks, unknot lines that get tangled on each other, get you “unstuck” when you’re stuck on the bottom, replace hooks and sinkers that are lost, marking a fish you’ve caught (“Two (nicks) on the top of the tail!” That’s how they know which fish belongs to who at the end of the trip) and putting it in the hold, let you know if that grouper is too early to catch (not until after May 1), that mangrove snapper was too small (12″ minimum), or it’s not red snapper season (it’s only a 3-day weekend, usually in July), etc. They’re also are available to filet fish that had been caught. (some fishing people can do all of that, some can’t do any. I’m somewhere in the middle – I have no issues baiting my hook or getting a fish off the hook [my dad would be so proud! There were years that I was too squeamish to do that!] but I’m not very talented with untangling or when a fish has swallowed the hook)
The galley chef is named Mike. He’ll come around to see what you want to eat, get your name, and call your name when your food is ready. Mike has a wide variety of choices for meals:
- Breakfast: Choice of sausage, bacon or ham. Egg. Cheese. Usually on a sandwich or wraps (your choice). Served with breakfast potatoes.
- Lunch: Choice of hamburger (with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato and/or onion), chicken sandwich, BLT, hot or cold ham and cheese sandwich, or a Caesar salad, all with a side of potato chips.
- Dinner: I’ve only experienced their dinner once; it was on St.Patrick’s day and they had a choice of corned beef sandwich or a Reuben sandwich.
- Coffee and soda are free and “serve yourself.”
- They have other choices for snacks and beer for sale (they also sell stuff for seasickness, if needed, as well as Chapstick, hand towels, ponchos and lighters)
Mike will work with you on special requests. For example, due to a dietary issue, I bring my own bread for my breakfast sandwich, and he makes it on that. I also sometimes ask for “no sandwich, just chips” for my lunch, since I bring my own sandwich from home.
When you get back to shore, you’ll be greeted by someone – usually Tawny, Colette or Laura.
I will tell you that every single person who works for Ocean Obsession II is friendly and helpful. If they miss your phone call, they call back quickly. Captain Dustin is a “hands on” captain – you’ll see him walking around, saying hi, helping the deckhands, and even fishing sometimes (when he’s not driving the boat) – and if/when he catches something, he gives it away to someone who hasn’t been lucky enough to catch a keeper. Mike the galley chef has an amazing memory – once he knows your name, he’ll know it for practically forever. And all of the mates are awesome – they’re constantly working and helping people, are respectful to all, and they pay special attention to younger kids (at least 2 of the mates have kids of their own) to make sure they have a good time and catch SOMETHING (even if it’s just little fish that typically get used for bait).
There are 2 restrooms (they’re actually called “heads”) and both accommodate men or women. They’re clean but if you’ve never been on a fishing boat before, heads up – they’re VERY basic amenities.
What you catch
The running joke is that the sport is called “fishing,” not “catching.” There’s never a guarantee that you’ll catch anything (although if you follow the directions the mates give you, your chances are better). But IF you do, you can expect to catch cobia, sea bass, grouper, mahi-mahi, mangrove snapper, lane snapper, triggerfish, flounder, grunts (you can eat them but they’re also good as bait), etc.
Was it worth it?
As of this writing, the full day fishing (9 hours, 8a-5p) costs $105 ($70 for age 4 to 15) and you get a discount of $20 off for age 55+ or activity military (with proof). The half day (6 hours, 8a-2p) costs $70 ($55 for age 4 to 15). Taxes and fees (i.e., your 1-day saltwater fishing license) are, of course, added to those prices. They also charge extra if you want a “special” assigned spot, such as a stern position (those are the spots along the back).
If you want to be in the “pool,” that’s another upcharge (person in the pool with the biggest bottom feeder fish wins all the money), but it’s 100% optional to participate in that or not.
If you catch anything, the mates will filet the fish for you at the end of the day, if you’d like. Please tip them extra, if you do.
For me, fishing on Ocean Obsession II costs a little bit more than the Princess, but is definitely worth it. I’ll even say this – of all the party boats I’ve been on in my adult life, it’s my favorite. 🙂
Feature Photo: Ocean Obsession II / Facebook
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