boat tours

Tampa Bay – Gone Fishin’

Florida Fish Story

There is nothing like being out on the water with the wind in your hair, taking in the smell of clean air and salt water, watching the sea birds gliding effortlessly along side the boat and catching a few fish in the process. John and I experienced this and much more while on our fishing charter on the waters of Tampa Bay.

While interviewing Captain Danny Guarino for my last post, (click to read) important questions to ask before booking a fishing charter, he asked if we would like a first hand experience of a what a typical fishing charter is like in order to better inform my readers of what one might expect. Of course John and I jumped at this wonderful opportunity to enjoy a new experience and to learn something in the process.

The night before we were to go out on our fishing adventure Captain Danny let us know that the weather for the next day was looking a little iffy and a good captain always puts the safety of his customers first. If the winds were too strong and the bay too choppy because of it then our safety would definitely be a concern. Captain Danny advised us that he would be keeping up to date with the weather advisories throughout the evening and for us to go ahead and prepare to meet him as planned and he would let us know if we were a go or no go for getting out on the water.

When we got to the dock the next morning it became pretty apparent that not only do fishing charter captains have to know boating and fishing, they almost have to become experts in the weather as well because when we got there Captain Danny was busy in his office listening to advisories and watching weather radar. He explained to me all about the front that was passing through and that if we waited about an hour we might have a little rain but the winds would calm down enough for us to have a safe and enjoyable day. Captain Danny was right on with the call and an hour later we headed out for what turned out to be a near perfect day on the water.

Because John and I wanted to learn about the entire process Captain Danny included us in on going out and catching the bait, which is something that most captains do before the charter begins.

Click below to watch

Captain Danny Catching bait video

Today’s first mates demonstration on how to catch bait

After catching our bait we were ready to do some serious fishing and captain Danny took us to a spot where he and some other captains were having success catching mackerel. We still had some remnants of the passing front to contend with but a few rain sprinkles and overcast conditions was actually a blessing as it kept the usually very hot Florida August Temperature down to a comfortable level.

We also had a beautiful backdrop to our time on the water with great views of Downtown Tampa as well as Downtown Saint Petersburg and because we were very near the shipping channel that serves the Port of Tampa and the Port of Manatee, we also had some very cool views of passing ships.

The captains on the water often communicate with each other throughout the day sharing information about the spots they are in and what type of fish they are catching or if the spot they are in is a bust. When a captain is not satisfied with the results he is getting in one spot he will move to another and based on this network of communication, his own personal experiences and tidal conditions, the next spot to try is decided upon.

Based on past experience, the way the tide was moving and fish feeding patterns, Captain Danny decided to take us to a spot near the Port of Manatee. Something I found very interesting was the fact that in order for Captain Danny to take us to this proven fishing area he first had to radio in to port security to get clearance as this great fishing spot was also in a restricted area. Captain Danny explained to me that fishing charter captains must take a homeland security class to gain access to these restricted areas and once in the area they fly a flag over their vessel to show that they have clearance to be there.

This spot near the Port of Manatee proved to be a very good spot indeed as not only did we catch fish we also got the opportunity to spot a manatee swim by the boat and in addition we had the view of a natural and protected estuary where there were several species of Florida water birds hanging out on the banks of the mangrove covered island.

I myself only caught a catfish and a needle fish as I really proved to be more interested in the birds, the manatee and the numerous dolphins we saw on the trip. John, Captain Danny and Captain Danny’s wife Beth who joined us on this more of a social charter, had much more luck as they caught several mangrove snapper which John and I enjoyed for the nights dinner.

Because this was more of a social trip than a normal fishing charter, captain Danny had a little surprise for us and that was a little side trip to Egmont Key State Park, a pristine Island that can only be accessed by private boat or by the ferry boat that operates out of Fot Desoto County Park.

Island Paradise and Pristine Nature Preserve

Heading west through the shipping channel and passing under the picturesque Skyway bridge is the beautiful aqua green blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico and it is here that you will find the natural island paradise that is Egmont Key. If you are not lucky enough to have a private boat to take you there, no worries, because the ferry that operates out of Fort De Soto County Park awaits to take you to this part nature preserve, part family fun spot. Here you can spend the day swimming, shelling and exploring. Part of the Island is a nature preserve and is blocked off to guest allowing the native species of birds and turtles to thrive on their own coast line. Because of the many native species that are thriving on the island it gives visitors many great opportunities for some awesome pictures. There is also the remains of a fort on the island which dates back to the Spanish American War giving you the chance to explore and learn a little local history. The island is open to the Gulf of Mexico and is a great place to find beautiful, unbroken shells that wash up on the shore daily.

The Ferry from Fort Desoto to Egmont Key runs daily and a snorkeling cruise option is also available. reservations are a must as these ferry cruises book up in advance. For more information or to make reservations call 727-398-6577

For more information on Fort Desoto County park, directions on getting there, tolls and fees, please read my previous post on Fort De Soto.

Another Great Day in Paradise

John and I would like to thank Captain Danny Guarino, his wife Beth and his son and First Mate Mathew, for their generous hospitality, for giving us some insights on what a fishing charter is all about and providing a most memorable day for John and I both. Although Captain Danny is soon retiring as a fishing guide himself, he will remain very active in the Tampa Bay fishing community keeping himself available to help tourist and locals alike book memorable fishing experiences like the one John and I had this weekend. If you are interested in getting more information on booking a Tampa Bay Fishing Charter You can contact Captain Danny by email at shpoint@aol.com or for other fishing charter information elsewhere in Florida check out the Florida Guides website

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