What is Inshore Fishing? Inshore vs Offshore Fishing (Key Differences & Comparison Table)

With outdoor activities resuming as restrictions ease and fishing weather approaches, if you’re new, it can be challenging to understand what inshore, nearshore, offshore, deep sea, big game fishing, and other fishing words mean. When exploring charter fishing for the first time, you might want to know what the differences are between inshore and nearshore fishing. Despite their differences, both have their strengths and make for a terrific day of low country fishing.

To make that a bit easier, we’ve compiled a short guide that briefly fills you in on both kinds, along with a very helpful comparison table that clearly explains the main differences in both inshore and offshore fishing and after this article, I really doubt that you would still feel a need to research more on this.

what is inshore fishing

What is Inshore Fishing?

The simplified definition would be any area you fish in, less than 30m deep, would be inshore fishing. And the varieties of fish you catch here wouldn’t be something you would hang on your mantle as a trophy, but it can be quite the treat if you’re out on a picnic or overnight camping. While there aren’t sharks or marlins, there are amazing flounders, snook and more.

Fishing at popular spots like beaches, rocky shorelines, piers, jetties, flats, and islands with light equipment, you’ll usually be within quick reach of the shore and, more often than not, within casting distance of it. Because you wouldn’t be battling harsh weather and waves in inshore water and it’s calmer than the offshore water, due to the close vicinity of land. Sailboats in this region would be basic and smaller. The baits, lures and tackles are also lighter.

Also do check our carefully selected list of best inshore spinning rods of 2022 which will help you to get the best out of your inshore fishing experiences.


In terms of target species, inshore fishing tends to bring in smaller fish than offshore fishing, despite the higher number of fish caught. When farther off while fishing, the catch tends to be bigger but just as time-consuming you could spend a whole day for just one massive fish, but when closer to the shore within half a day you could probably half a dozen active feeders.


The redfish would keep you quite preoccupied with live bait, lures, active feeders, but maybe you want a sizable catch. In that case, a tarpon would be your best bet. While it’s not the most common table fish, it can be quite the sport trying to get one, as tarpons usually put up a robust and challenging fight. Inshore fishing can provide you with the same level of stealth and fish, with varieties such as bonefish- this is for those who can’t take a week off for offshore activities. It could be quite a worthwhile afternoon.

With inshore fishing, do keep in mind that the boat required should be smaller, more manageable, as you wouldn’t be on the sea for multiple days on a stretch. Be open to swapping out amenities such as a bedroom, as it’s not required. Instead, having a baitwell and rod storage should be prioritized, and a refrigerator would help if possible.

What is Offshore Fishing?

Anything that hits around 30m or deeper comes squarely under offshore fishing—also called ‘open water fishing.’ This is where you get your tuna, marlin, sailfish, and more. The varieties you can get here are possibly only hampered by your location, and sometimes, by your choice of bait or vehicle.

The definition of “offshore” varies significantly depending on which captain you question in which region of the world. Still, it’s generally acknowledged that you’re offshore when you can’t see land any longer. The range of water here can range from 50 feet to beyond, once you cross 300 feet it’s usually known as ‘deep-sea fishing’. This is where the big marine animals are found and the true party commences here. 


The species for which you can go offshore fishing range from tasty bottom-feeders to famed oceanic hunters. With good cause, many fishers have at least one deepwater behemoth on their bucket list. One of the most fascinating hobbies you can undertake in the deep blue is offshore fishing. From bass to halibut, tuna, snappers, flounders and so many, aren’t just a visual experience for the catch, they provide anglers with memorable fights and experiences. Offshore fishing trips are usually day-long and take you 30 to 130 miles off the coast and allow you to see the entire horizon.


If you’re going this far out on the lake, you’ll need a strong boat and solid gear. The type of water encountered on a nearshore fishing trip necessitates the use of heavier equipment and technologies such as sonar and radar. The techniques used here are less hands-on – until you have a particularly challenging fish – and you catch a fish maybe twice in a day, but connections can last hours.

In comparison to inshore boats, offshore boats are much more significant. As an angler, the minimum distance that you’d travel is about 20-30 miles in a charter that’s equipped with all the latest electronics to make your fishing experience memorable. They even offer dining rooms and sleeping quarters for strenuous trips.

As the water depth increases, so does the size of the boats and the weight of the equipment. You’ll need a strong tackle and trolling equipment to catch those bigger fish.

Inshore vs Offshore Fishing

Where you’ll go is the most apparent difference between the two. By most definitions, offshore fishing stretches beyond the 30m radius and encompasses a wide range of deep-sea fishing activities. Meanwhile, inshore fishing encompasses various activities, including boat fishing along the coastline or in an entrance.

You may have quite different priorities depending on the type of fishing you perform. A half-day offshore fishing expedition can accommodate a whole family and is a terrific way to spend time while on vacation. Inshore fishing is also as easy as picking up a rod and killing some time. Your priorities and objectives primarily determine it.

Comparison Table

 Inshore FishingOffshore Fishing
Water depthUp to 30 meters in depth, green-colored inshore watersBeyond 30 meters, deep water with a distinct blue color
How far out will you be?Within 15 miles of shoreBetween 15-80+ miles offshore
Length of Trip3-4 hours (at max. A whole day)Typically range from 6 hours to 3-4 day excursions
Type of CatchSnappers, redfish and active feeders.Potentially include shark, game fish, Tuna or King Mackerel and so many more.
EquipmentBait, rods, and safety gear, including high-SPF sunscreen if you plan on spending a lot of time in the sun.Bait and rods, as well as safety equipment, will be included in the arrangement. A satellite TV, 96 nm radar, satellite phone, and satellite weather are all included on the boat.
License RequirementYes, unless you’re part of a charter then you can skip it.On a charter boat, there is no need for an additional license because the skipper handles it all and it’s included in the price.

Inshore Fishing

It doesn’t take much to start fishing with bait and a rod—as long as you have a boat! However, you may need to inquire about obtaining a fishing license, which benefits offshore fishing in a large group.

Inshore fishing requires little travel, making it simple to get started provided you have all of the necessary equipment. It’s simple to fish inshore alone or with a group—the options are practically limitless, depending on local regulations and any issues with public land.

But on the other hand, inshore fishing has significant limitations, especially given how difficult it is to move locations in search of new fish. To put it another way, if the fish aren’t biting, you could be tempted to go from inshore to offshore fishing.

Offshore Fishing

Large groups of individuals usually go offshore fishing; the more extensive expeditions can hold up to 22 people or more. That means it can accommodate a large party for an outing, particularly during vacations.

When you go deep-sea or offshore fishing, you have a lot of opportunities to catch fish that you would never get inshore. Experimenting with new things is part of the fun of the trip. Offshore fishing is a whole new level of adventure, as you’ll discover the moment you receive a bite. (Offshore fishing is also the only technique to get big game fish like marlin and tuna.)

Additionally, You receive the extra convenience of gear, directions, and the experience of a captain and/or mate when you join a boat for offshore fishing.

The major disadvantage is that once you’re offshore, you’re permanently offshore. If you want to get your money’s worth, you can’t just put the rods away and go home immediately.

Is there a better option among the two?

Certainly not. On an inshore fishing excursion, some users love to be close to the shore, whereas others prefer to see the whole horizon on an offshore trip. Preference is essential, but it’s only one factor. Whether you choose an inshore or nearshore tour, you’d be guaranteed to have a good time with the proper preparation.


Regardless of what sort of fishing trip you choose, the preliminary step is to ensure all your fishing tools are in shape. Cleaning and repairing damaged equipment, spooling lines on reels, arranging fishing tackle, and purchasing necessary supplies are just a few of the things that need to be done to be ready for opening day. Finishing these tasks prepares fishers for success by organizing and preparing them. Still, it also helps avoid downtime during the season due to gear malfunctions or insufficient supplies.

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