Summer's almost over. School's about to start. But there's still time for one last hurrah.You could pack the kids into the minivan and head to the water park like you've done a dozen times before. Or you could do something completely different. Hint — it involves the word "party."But to be clear, the word is not used as a verb, but an adjective, as in "party" boat.For those of you who are unfamiliar with the vernacular of the docks, a party boat is not a booze cruise. On the contrary — it is good, clean fun.A party boat, also called a head boat, is a fishing vessel that charges by the person, or per head, and for the average angler there is no better deal. A private, for-hire boat will cost more than $500 for a half-day offshore charter, whereas a party boat typically charges around $50 per person, with kids usually half price, for the same trip.Party boats — you will find them in Tarpon Springs, Clearwater, Madeira Beach and Pass-a-Grille — are also roomier than your average sportfisherman, which is a big plus for kids, who like to walk around.But before you book a trip, there are few things you need to know. For starters, every party boat has its regulars, hard-core anglers who fish every week. Some of the older operations, such as the Florida Fisherman that runs out of Hubbard's Marina on John's Pass, have customers who don't measure their tenure in years, but decades.The regulars are usually the first on the boat, and know the captain and mates by name. These dedicated fishermen tend to stake out the same spot on the "rail" week after week. More casual anglers, and that's everybody else on the boat, including the other regulars, should give these fishermen wide berth.But there is no need to worry. Party boats are built to accommodate a large number of anglers. So keep moving, find a spot where you can all fish together and drop your gear. But before you drop your first bait over the side, you'll listen to a short speech on the do's and don'ts. Pay attention. Every boat is different. It is always a good idea to know where the personal flotation devices (PFDs) are stored.Many anglers bring their own gear — stout, bottom fishing rigs, ideal for grouper, snapper and the stray pelagic, including the amberjack and king mackerel. If you don't have your own gear, you can rent an outfit. And the deck hands are always willing to help tie knots and bait hooks.You might have an hour or more run to hit the best deep-water fishing spots, so take this time to familiarize yourself with the boat, your equipment and neighbors. Fishermen love to talk and you'll never know what you'll learn if you keep quiet and listen.When you get to your fishing spot, and you might hit a half dozen or more during the course of the trip, you'll have your choice between frozen sardines and/or squid. Try both, but if your neighbor is catching fish and you are not, do what he is doing.Remember, fishing is a participation sport. Don't just drop your bait and forget about it. Check it often. If it looks beat up, change it. If you hook a fish and don't know what to do, holler. Veterans love to help rookies. Some might even say that they'd rather watch a youngster catch their first than land one themselves.If you follow directions, keep at it, you will hook up. A deck hand will usually tag your fish and put it in the community cooler. Most boats will clean your fish as well, so carry some extra cash to take care of those folks who took care of you. The captain and crew appreciate tips.