Staying on the theme of #FishingFriends, my trip down to ICAST this past July was made better with the opportunity to fish with my buddy Arthur Champagne of Angler Management Charters. Arthur is originally from Rhode Island, but moved down to Florida after getting his Captain’s License up North. He always told me to come down and fish with him, and it finally came together!
I knew it was going to prove a little tricky to make it down to Orlando, drive to West Palm Beach to fish, and then get back to Orlando to the show, but luckily another good #FishingFriend, Bo Thai, came through in the clutch! He was going to join us for some fishing, as well as share travel and lodging back and forth. We were good to go!
Bo and I both took late flights in to Orlando, and when I landed he already had the rental car and was ready to head the couple hours West. We got to the hotel in time for a nice two-hour nap, before waking up early to head to the legendary Sailfish Marina to meet up with Capt. Arthur and his awesome mate Dalton. Arthur met us at the dock, we got all rigged up and headed out for a great day of fishing!
This was my first time offshore fishing down in Florida and I was looking forward to an awesome day, and knew I was doing it with the right people! We did all sorts of fishing styles including trolling, drifting live baits, and fly fishing for many different species. I had awesome, awesome time and Dalton and Arthur made sure Bo and I were on fish all day! I can’t wait to get back down there again!
<< After my trip I had the chance to do an interview with Sportsmen’s Compass about my trip with Angler Management, and specifically the differences between the fishing I am used to in New England compared to the fishing we did in Florida. Find the transcript from that interview below! >>
You mostly fish in the New England area for Stripers, Blues etc. What are the main differences between the two fishing areas?
The main difference I noticed between fishing in Florida vs. the fishing I am used to in New England is the need for live bait down in Florida. In New England people use Eels, Mackerel, and Bunker for bait sometimes for Striped Bass, but we primarily use light tackle set-ups with topwater and soft plastic lures, or flies. In Florida you can definitely use lures and flies, but the most effective way by far to fish is with live bait. And because there is such a premium on live bait, it is expensive! I was surprised to learn how much each bait cost for our trip.
Tell us about the different fish you targeted. Specifically, how the approach, tackle, and water type changed?
We started the day high-speed trolling for Wahoo. We had two set-ups out with very heavy inline trolling weights, and live baits rigged up on harnesses. We had one knock-down, but no hook ups. (However, about a month after our trip our captain and his mate hat a streak of a week straight of charters hooking up on Wahoo!) We then switched to drifting live baits on conventional and spin set-ups for Spanish Mackerel, and Bonita (False Albacore.) We were able to land a ton of HUGE False Albacore, which I was surprised to learn that they were considered an unwanted catch, or trash fish. The Southern Strain of these species were much bigger and easier to fool than their Northern cousins. While we were fishing live baits I was also able to catch a huge False Albacore on the fly, which was an absolute blast.
We then switched it up and used some of the False Albacore we caught to tease in some huge sharks which ranged from 6 feet to way over 10 feet long. Instead of trying to get one on the hook and line, we instead tied the bait to a rope and lured them in close to the boat, to get some cool shots, and see them up close and personal.
Provide some tips/suggestions for someone making a trip in this area for a guided trip?
For this type of trip I would suggest to people to be ready to catch fish! Make sure you check some of the reports and reviews from local charters you want to go with, but if you choose to go with Angler Management, prepare yourself for a great day with a responsive and respectful mate and captain who want to (and will!) put you on fish, and lots of them!
— Joe Gugino