Where do we leave from?
I typically launch from the Angler House Marina—a full-service Islamorada marina with bayside access near mile marker 80.5. We can make arrangements to meet elsewhere if necessary. Just call me a day or two before the trip, and we’ll work it out.
What time do we leave?
Fishing trips are subject to many variables including the desired length of your trip, the target species, the time of year and the day’s tide. We will schedule a launch time once we talk on the phone.
How do I pay?
Personal check or cash is preferable, however, AFG also accepts all major credit cards for your convenience. Venmo and Zelle also accepted.
I want to learn to fly fish. Can you help me?
Yes! A preliminary fly casting lesson can be scheduled on land before we ever hit the water. Once you’re on the boat, the instruction continues and before you know it, you’ve caught your first fish on fly.
Are tips customary?
Yes. Though that comes as a surprise to many, both blue water and backcountry guides traditionally receive tips after a day of fishing – especially if you’re leaving with lots of stories to tell. While the amount – and decision to tip or not – is completely up to the client, amounts can range from $25 for a half-day to $100 for an outstanding full day.
WHAT TO BRING
Sunscreen! Thin, breathable long-sleeved shirts and pants and comfortable sandals or boat shoes are ideal to wear, along with your hat and polarized sunglasses. Bring rain gear if the weather calls for it. And don’t forget your camera! It can be stowed in a water-tight compartment on the boat.
Capt. Steve will provide all the necessary tackle, bait, water and ice. You are responsible for other beverages and your meal. Most importantly, bring a curiosity for nature and enthusiasm for the hunt!
TEN HELPFUL TIPS:
1. Dress warm. Yes, it does get cold in Florida! Maybe not Canada cold, but when you start out in the chilly, wet morning and add some wind, all of a sudden it feels like the thermostat is broken and the cold air blows right through your core for 45 minutes. Layering is the answer. Bring raingear, a light jacket or sweatshirt and long pants. You can even get the long pants with the zip off shorts if the weather gets too hot to wear the full length pant.
2. Bring polarized sunglasses. Can’t catch what you can’t see. This isn’t so important if you’re going to be “blind casting” most of the day, but still, c’mon, get some polarized sunglasses. You don’t have to spend a fortune. Most sporting goods stores and even some gas stations will carry some kind of polarized sunglass.
3. Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be standing for most of the day and you’ll want to protect your feet from the sun and from the hard deck of the boat. It’ll also help your back. Leave your wading boots behind unless you plan to get out of the boat.
4. Wear a hat. Don’t bring your favorite “lucky” hat. Bring it of you don’t mind it getting wet, lost, or fishy smelling. Hats reduce glare, protect your noggin from the sun and keep you cool.
5. A good attitude. Even if the weather gets you down, don’t frown. The bite may be on or it may take some time, but you’ve got to be ready when it happens. If you’re bummed because the fishing is slow and decide to make a few calls or write some text messages, that’s when the fish decide it’s time to strike.
6. Bring a camera. No, it’s not bad luck. A camera captures the memory and keeps the fish alive. Video is cool, too. Some folks have underwater housing and take some exotic photos, while others just keep the camera dry and whip it out for the release shot of a lifetime. Make sure the batteries are charged before you leave for the dock. Camera phones work too.
7. Food and drink. I usually have an assortment of refreshments on ice, but bringing along your favorite drink like a frapaccino-latte-mocha-whatever, Gatorade or a Redbull might be the ticket to keep you going. Think easy packaging too. While a green salad sounds like a great idea, it might blow away if you try to eat while the boat is moving. Stick to heartier and easier to handle foods like tuna salad, ceviche, egg salad, or deli sandwiches, fried chicken, beef jerky, trail-mix, power bars or anything you like to munch on.
8. Make a plan. Decide what you want to fish for before leaving the dock. It’s always good to have a plan. And while things change, at least it gives you a strategy for the day. If you’re not familiar with the area or kind of fish you might encounter, you can let the guide decide what might be best for the day. It always makes good sense to call your guide the night before so he can be ready with the tackle and the strategy. A day of bending a rod and a day of catching bonefish are very different things but can be equally as fun and exciting. Your guide might have you in a good area for redfish, but far away from an area that’s productive for tarpon. Keep your options open but be aware that not all kinds of fish are in the same areas that you might be fishing in for the day.
9. Practice casting. The better you’ve prepared your ability to cast, the luckier you’ll be. Go to the park, backyard, parking lot or any open space where you can practice. Be sure to practice with the wind in various angles because the fish seem to know when you have trouble casting in a cross-wind.
10. Listen to your captain. Your guide is out there everyday and sees all situations. The more you act like a team instead of competitors, the more fun you’ll have and the more fish you’ll catch.
These tips and a conversation or two with your guide will ensure a great time on your next fishing charter. After all, it’s all about getting out on the water and enjoying the day. When you’re more prepared for what might happen, the luckier the fisherman you’ll be.
Food & Lodging
Below is a list of my favorite local spots, where I send family and friends. A more complete list of options can be found at the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce’s website: http://www.islamoradachamber.com
Janet and Mike’s Keys Cottage Mile Marker 76.7, Oceanside. (270) 210-6845. A beautiful, recently updated, 900 sq. ft. cottage in Lower Matecumbe with 2 bedrooms and 1 bath. Three big flat screen TV’s, full kitchen, living room and BBQ. Perfect economical option for fisherman seekinga calm, quiet, affordable retreat. Feed the tarpon at Robbie’s Marina, eat at Habanos Restaurant and also have access to the homeowner association’s outdoor pool.
La Siesta Resort Mile Marker 80.2, Oceanside. (877) 278-0369. Known as the “hidden hideaway of The Florida Keys.” La Siesta Resort and Marina is a mix of cottages, island retreat-style suites and secluded bungalows that offer an unexpected blend of tropical charm and sophistication.
The Islander Resort Mile Marker 82.1, Oceanside. (800) 753-6002. Twenty acre property with sandy beach, poolside bar and restaurant, pier, water sports. All newly renovated ground floor units.
Casa Morada 136 Madeira Road, Oceanside, near Mile Marker 82. (888) 881-3030. An intimate, all-suites hotel. Peaceful and secluded. Kayaks, BBQ, in-room phones, safes, cable TV.
Kon Tiki Resort Mile Marker 81.2, Bayside. (305) 664-4702. Boat basin, pool. Efficiencies available.
Cheeca Lodge and Spa Mile Marker 81.8, Oceanside. (305) 664-4651. Luxurious resort with spa, pool, golf, tennis, water sports and in-house babysitting.
Mangrove Mike’s Café Mile Marker 82.2, Bayside. (305) 664-8022. Specializing in generous portions of breakfast and lunch family dining. Bakery. Open daily 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call ahead for subs and box lunches to go.
The Hungry Tarpon Mile Marker 77.5, Bayside. (305) 664-0535. Open daily 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dine by the water overlooking Robbie’s Marina, or soak up the A/C in a traditional conch house-turned diner. Stay to feed the wild tarpon at Robbie’s.
Midway Cafe & Coffee Bar Mile Marker 80.5, Oceanside. (305) 664-2622. Wraps, sandwiches, pastries, and vegan menu items for breakfast and lunch. Coffee beans roasted on premises.
Morada Bay Mile Marker 81.6, Oceanside. (305) 664-0604. An outdoor Mediteranean bistro in the sand open for lunch and dinner. Live unique entertainment, spectacular sunsets, and a large child-friendly beach with giant Adirondack chairs.
Lazy Days Restaurant Mile Marker 79.8, Oceanside. (305) 664-5256. Bird’s eye oceanfront dining indoors or out, lunch and dinner. All seafood is local and fresh. Menu also includes steak, chicken and pasta. Reservations recommended.
Ziggie’s & Mad Dog’s Mile Marker 83, Bayside. (305) 664-3391. Steaks, chops, and fresh local seafood served in sleek, sophisticated surroundings. Orchid-garnished cocktails and international wine list. Open for dinner only. Reservations recommended.
Lorelei Restaurant and Cabana Bar Mile Marker 82, Bayside. (305) 664-4656 Outdoor dining on the bay for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Home of the famous sunset celebration. Boaters welcome. Live music.