Road Trips for Trophies - Is It Cheating?


Dec 19, 2018
FULL DISCLOSURE: I recently saw this topic being bandied about on FB and thought it would be interesting to hear the opinions of NY Angler members.

So, what are your thoughts regarding guys that make long road trips to catch trophy fish away from their "local" fishing locales? Some of the guys commenting on FB called it cheating. How do you see it?

To me, the "trophy" fish conversation doesn't extend past fluke & tog. These are the only two local species I target that I even consider when the topic goes to trophy fishing. Stripers, sea bass, porgy, weakfish, blue demons (inshore) & pelagic fish are not even on my radar anymore. While I still do make as many striped bass trips as I can in the spring, I wouldn't say I do it in pursuit of a trophy fish. I just don't care that much when it comes to bass. If a 50 or 60 comes along, I'd be very happy but I'm not targeting them for that sole purpose. Tog & fluke are a different animal. Those fish I specifically target with a particular mindset. Biggest fish on the lightest possible tackle. Goal 1, is to surpass my own personal best fish. Goal 2, do it on the lightest gear I can (that includes, rods, reels, line, jigs & sinkers). When those criteria are met, I'm a happy fisherman.

Which brings me to the topic at hand. Is traveling to far off destinations to catch bigger fish cheating? I don't see it that way. But I do think every fisherman has individual parameters that dictate what "success" is to him / her. Not everyone is a lunatic like myself and feel they HAVE TO catch the bigger fish on ultra light gear for it to be rewarding. It boils down to relativity I guess. If you catch a 14 lb. fluke dragging bait and using 16 ounces of lead or bouncing 8 ounce jigs, are you going to be satisfied? Are you going to feel a sense of personal accomplishment? I would guess that an overwhelming majority of anglers would be ecstatic with that achievement. As they should be. However, there are some anglers that believe catching an 8 lb. fluke on a 1/2 ounce jig with ultra light tackle is a more rewarding experience. Perhaps the only way to truly know is to have done both :) . So far, I have not been able to make a 10+ fluke happen on ANY size jig. I came close with a 9.25 lb. fish on a 2 ounce Spro a few years ago on my lightest Phenix rod, Okuma Serrano 200 reel and 8 lb. test Cortland Master Braid! I've also caught numerous 10+ tog on my lightest CTS & Daiwa Proteus rods - but I'm looking for 15+ on those sticks! It's what keeps me motivated...

Speaking from personal experience, I have NOT made the long trips to catch my "trophy" fish and it definitely intrigues me to do so. ESPECIALLY if I could employ my ultra light tactics. Going on the road with a few friends and getting away for a couple days is always fun. Fishing & seeing new places is very cool. These days my big excitement is a trip or two out to Montauk when the fluking is hot (and even that is hard to get done).

Love to hear what you guys think. Is it really cheating? And more importantly, would you feel satisfied?


Jan 29, 2019
I want to catch a really big Tarpon. I don't mean a world record necessarily, but suitable for mounting. Something to hang in the office or den that people would look at and see that it's a significantly large fish. A trophy. There's no FUGGIN' Tarpon on Long Island! So is a trip to Florida cheating?

Everybody sets some challenges for themselves as personal goals to make an accomplishment an achievement, so I wouldn't take anything away from that. But I think that the achievement is the catch. You still have to hook and reel in the grander, so what difference does it make if you do it in Costa Rica or Venezuela or off Cape Hatteras? I guess there would be a separate wow factor to doing it in Long Island Sound, but the catch is the catch. So giving yourself more opportunities to make that catch,... not cheating.


Staff member
Dec 19, 2018
Pretty much true of any species. A 5lb NJ smallie is a worthy PB...up on Erie 5lbers get culled lol.

"Cheating"s not the right word, but these benchmarks only mean something bc of the numbers/rarity. If a 12lb fluke on a Nantucket trip doesn't even get weighed for the's certainly not the same accomplishment as a 12lb fluke out of RB.


Kind of a Big Deal - In My Mind Anyway
Staff member
Dec 19, 2018
40 26.470/73 32.350
Not "cheating." Why would it be? Travelling to where the big fish live is the most logical route to catching that personal best trophy - without the attending disappointments and aggravations of local fishing.

Nope, far smarter to own a boat, put it in a slip and then wait for the fish to come to you, right?

Wrong. Take it from a life-time small boat boat fisher and owner - though it is super-satisfying to boat a biggie from your own deck, it just doesn't happen with the frequency that the significant outlay of time and cash required provides. That statement is species-dependent of course. But come on, not many of our peers sail off 60 miles every weekend in search of tuna or marlin. So we are actually talking about locally-caught inshore species - bass, fluke, blackfish, ect.

Setting aside the possibility of fishing from a local headboat or charter rig, rather as a boat owner, adding up the many weeks of Spring prep, the ridiculous cost of getting her floating and sitting in her slip every Spring (in my own case the approx. $3,000 is just the beginning of what its gonna cost to fish this season), the on-going required maintenance and unanticipated repairs to keep her "right," the waiting for a decent window of weather to sail, the lack of a quality bite local to your slipped boat - either due to a lack of the targeted desired species, migratory patterns, or government-imposed regulations, I can certainly see the positive side of going where the fish are.

Of course if one wishes to own a boat and travel, a trailered boat is one option. But there is a practical limit to the size of the boat that one can trailer, the time constraints involved in any long-distance fish chasing - and one still has the maintenance, repair and monetary challenges of boat ownership with which to contend. Plus needing a place to store a decent-sized trailer/boat rig.

After a lifetime of boat ownership, I can certainly see the advantage of travelling a bit to up my catch quality - and leaving the piloting to someone else, better qualified to fish those far off grounds. In fact at this point I pretty much envy that path to fishing satisfaction.

Everybody believes the grass to be greener somewhere else. When I pass a large party boat coming/going up channel, relative to my slip in Freeport, I can see the looks and in some cases the pointing and commenting of the patrons to one another. Heck, when I worked as a mate, waaay back in the late '70's I often stared at the beautifully sleek boats running at speed past us, admiring the whole concept of self-determination that captaining my own rig would engender. And vowed that one day I would join that fairly exclusive "club" of guys that didn't have to depend on another to take me to the fish.

Well, I did manage to achieve that goal (no small task), which I must admit still does appeal to my sense of "type-A" control of my fishing situations. But knowing now what I didn't fully understand or anticipate back then - would I do it all over again, given the ownership and fishery issues I set forth above?

No effin' way.

I would still fish hard - just not in the way it all worked out for me. Fishing Nantucket for a shot at a giant fluke, or to the South for the monster tog that swim in those waters? Yeah, that sounds way better to me at this point. Who the hell would have thought that, back when I started with the boat-owning thing, all those years ago?

Not I, that's for sure.



Dec 20, 2018
I don't think its "cheating" at all to travel to a destination type place such as Alaska, The Florida keys, etc to fish for stuff that you can't target in your own local waters. If somebody has the financial means to go on such trips, so be it.

However, i find the concept of a "trophy" a bit interesting. Paying a charter captain or guide to put you on fish in a "can't miss" type of situation is not a trophy in my mind. Yeah it's fun and all to just jump on a boat and have someone put you on fish but in my opinion, its NOWHERE near as satisfying as catching something off my own boat. My own boat that I prep for the season, maintain all season, winterize etc. Planning for weather, tides, deciding when/where to fish and being successful catching anything is WAY more satisfying to me than having someone find the fish for me and calling it a "trophy". I would compare than to getting a participation trophy in an event I didn't win.
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Dec 26, 2018
I wouldn't call it cheating in any way, shape, or form. I'd call it fishing.

Just like CC my prefered 'trophy' fish would be caught on my boat, no matter where that boat is. My backyard is Smithtown Bay, but I trailer to Montauk too. In my opinion, no 'trophies' on my boat yet. 9+ pound fluke, 5 pound seabass, and a 46 pound striper have thus far hit the deck, (caught by me) but none meet my criteria. All caught in 'my' style of fishing. Lightest possible!

That being said, I am one that loves to travel and fish. So when I travel I fish when/where I can. Yes sometimes you have to fish in ways that I would rather not. But when in Rome...

Six years ago I went to Costa Rica, on east side specifically to catch jumbo tarpon. The lodge (meticulously researched by me) allowed you to fish with whatever style you prefer. I brought my own gear. :rolleyes:

I chose the same technique as my favorite way to catch striped bass in Smithtown Bay. Catch your own bait and liveline. In Costa Rica it was sardines, but nothing beat going out on the inlet each morning at dawn to the ripline. Drop down, jig up bait, get enough, move on!

We livelined and outfished all the other boats at the lodge. By the second day the other boats finally copied our lead. I had in my head I needed a 150 pound tarpon to get a mount made of it. (my personal 'trophy')

We (my father and I) fished four rods. I was fishing two rods. One in the rod holder (that I was 2" away from) and the other one I held. I made it 100% clear to the captain don't handle my stuff. If I lose a bite that's on me. He was cool and completely understood. Although the look I gave him when he attempted to bait my hook was probably unnecessary.:mad: I asked him to show me, not do it for me. My bad, I apologized.

The captain hooked a fish first and went to hand me the rod. Um,,, no thanks, give it to my father. He hooked a few others, I never took the rod from him. I didn't want it, would not count to me!

The biggest one I caught, on my own gear was about 125 pounds. Most were in the 80-100 pound class. No trophy for me, but a ton of fun fishing!!


New Angler
Jan 2, 2019
Montauk, NY
I have traveled to a lot of places for many years hoping to get a trophy fish: 60+ lb. striper on Cuttyhunk Island, PEI 800+ Bluefin Tuna, Maryland Eastern Shore for 17+lb. Tog, Gulf of Maine for 50+ lb. cod and Halibut and many more. Having fished more more than seventy years the need for the "Five Minutes of Fame" putting that trophy on the scale has long passed. My favorite thing is light tackle fishing in shallow water with bucktails where is 5lb+ fish will give me a spirited fight and releasing most of the fish I am fortunate to catch.


New Angler
Jan 29, 2019
I have traveled to a lot of places for many years hoping to get a trophy fish: 60+ lb. striper on Cuttyhunk Island, PEI 800+ Bluefin Tuna, Maryland Eastern Shore for 17+lb. Tog, Gulf of Maine for 50+ lb. cod and Halibut and many more. Having fished more more than seventy years the need for the "Five Minutes of Fame" putting that trophy on the scale has long passed. My favorite thing is light tackle fishing in shallow water with bucktails where is 5lb+ fish will give me a spirited fight and releasing most of the fish I am fortunate to catch.
Well put!

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