Frequently Asked Questions
What Should You Bring?
Most important is a positive attitude and open mind to soak up the knowledge and tips I’ll pass along as well as the incredible natural beauty of the Keys. After that, here’s what I recommend for my standard 5 hour charter:
- High-quality polarized sunglasses - best tints for inshore are brown, green, amber, copper
- Sun-protective, tropical weight clothing and/or sunscreen 30spf or higher
- Drinks and snacks for yourself including plenty of water. No alcohol, please. Plenty of time for that after we get back!
- Florida saltwater fishing license
(available at some local tackle stores OR available anytime online at MyFWC.com - you’ll want the “saltwater recreational license”) I would LOVE to provide your license for you like the powerboat charters, but FWC has no such product for kayak charters. Technically, we are each in our own separate “vessel”, so we each need a separate license. It’s kind of silly, but it’s out of my hands.
How long is the trip?
My standard trip is 5 hours, which usually proves to be plenty of Florida sun and exercise for most clients. However, if you’re hardcore and would like to do something more, let me know. I’ll put together a game plan and pro-rate the guide fee accordingly.
What does it cost? Do you need to place a deposit? What if you have to cancel?
-$300 for the first angler
-$125 for the second angler
I currently do not require a deposit to hold your fishing day(s). So, if you say you’ll be there, then please, be there on time and ready to go. If we have communicated and set up dates to fish, you are on my calendar. If your plans change due to unforeseen circumstances, all I ask is that you notify me ASAP so I can open up the day for someone else. Please be respectful of your guide’s time and honor this policy.
Can you bring along a spouse/friend/relative who doesn’t want to fish?
Absolutely! My charters are a terrific eco-tour for someone who doesn’t care to fish. “Tag along” price for a kayaking-only client is $50.
Will you be fishing with other folks you don’t know?
No. I don’t do “mixed” charters (mixing parties who don’t know each other). The trip is all yours and you will have my undivided attention.
What about larger groups?
I strive to provide a high-quality experience for my anglers, which normally includes a lot of one-on-one instruction to get you acclimated to fishing in these waters. Therefore, I prefer to keep my charters to a maximum of 2 anglers. If you have a family or group with more than 2 anglers, it will be best for us to schedule multiple trips, so everyone can get the full experience. Alternatively, I would be happy to recommend a powerboat charter fishing captain who can accommodate your group.
What about fishing tackle?
I'm happy to provide fishing tackle at no extra charge. However, if you want to bring your own gear, that’s fine too. I’m very fond of braided line, but monofilament will work. We use fluorocarbon leader here due to the clear water in the Keys - no exceptions. I suggest letting me provide the leader and all lures, hooks, bait, etc. It’s no extra charge and will keep us from losing a nice fish due to a bad knot or flimsy hook. Your reels need to have SMOOTH, high-quality drag systems. Several of the fish we target can literally blow up a cheap reel or a sticky drag in a few seconds. If you want to land a trophy saltwater gamefish, your gear has to be up to the challenge. The two primary setups you need are:
Spinning reel - Minimum 200yds 10lb main line on a 7’ rod rated 8-17lbs
Spinning reel - Minimum 200yds 20lb main line on a 7’ rod rated 10-20lbs
These two rigs will cover the vast majority of inshore fishing in the Keys. However, if we’re targeting big tarpon (April-June) or big sharks, you’ll want:
Spinning reel - Minimum 200yds 25lb-30lb main line on a 7’ rod rated 15-30lbs
For fly fishing, 8wt, 9wt, and 10wt will be the tools of choice. If you can only bring one fly rod, I would say bring the 9wt. The exception would be big tarpon or big sharks, where a 11wt or 12wt would come into play.
I can tell you that your fishing reels WILL get wet from the splashing and spray of paddling and kayak fishing, and the salt is very corrosive on gear. Unless you already have saltwater reels and take the time to carefully rinse them after every trip, you’ll likely get salt inside the reel and have to take them apart for cleaning and/or repairs. Again, I’m happy to provide quality tackle for you for free and save you that hassle.
What time do we go? Where do we launch? Where will we fish?
Locations and times vary considerably depending on winds, tides, and the species we’re after. Also, I’m happy to work with your schedule, since most visitors have a lot of things they hope to do while they’re here in paradise. I have a trailer to haul kayaks and gear to several different launch sites. As our fishing day(s) draw closer, I will consult with you and with the weather gods to formulate a plan for the day. Since we will be paddling, not motoring, our range is limited, and picking the right area to fish on a given day is critical. My area of expertise is the Lower Keys - from the 7 mile bridge (MM40) to Boca Chica (MM6). This includes the gorgeous flats around Bahia Honda, Coupon Bight, Big Pine Key, Torch Keys, Summerland Key, Cudjoe Key, Sugarloaf Key, Saddlebunch Keys, and Geiger Key.
What are some of the species of fish we might catch?
There are over 250 species of fish that live in the waters surrounding the Florida Keys. A partial list of fish commonly found while kayaking inshore would include: bonefish, permit, tarpon, barracuda, lemon shark, bonnethead shark, blacktip shark, jack crevalle, yellow jack, Atlantic chub, snapper (several), grouper (several), grunt (several), porgy (several). A list of less commonly found fish would include redfish, snook, seatrout, pompano, bluefish.
Will you be able to physically handle the trip?
You don’t need to be an Olympic athlete to go kayak fishing! Kayaking is mild physical exercise. I’ve guided literally thousands of novice paddlers over the years and I pride myself on making the trip comfortable for the client. However, if you have any lingering health issues, please let me know in advance so I can plan the trip accordingly. This would include any joint or mobility problems, recent wounds, allergic reactions, blood sugar issues, etc. And LADIES............. A common misconception is that it requires a lot of arm strength / upper body strength to paddle a kayak - NOT TRUE! I’ll show you correct paddling form, which spreads the effort out over several muscle groups throughout your core and torso. Female newbies almost always do better at paddling than their male counterparts!
What about the wildlife? Should you be worried about bugs, snakes, alligators, jellyfish, sharks, flying dragons, the Loch Ness monster, or any other dangerous critters?
The short answer is no. For me, part of the joy of guiding here is that it is incredibly safe for my anglers, yet gives us a chance to see so many animals up close in their natural surroundings. After guiding in the Keys for over 14 years, I’m happy to report the worst injury suffered by a client on one of my trips was getting scratched from a broken mangrove tree branch. True! Most of the critters listed above live here, but don’t pose a serious threat to us. In the spring/summer/fall, mosquitoes and no-see-ums can be an annoyance on land, but are generally a non-issue once we get on the water. And I always carry high-quality bug spray you can use if necessary.
What about the weather?
I could easily write several pages on this topic! And that’s one great reason to hire a guide - so you don’t have to worry about figuring out the weather. The biggest weather threat to us yak fishing folk is summertime lightning. If thunderstorms are threatening the day of our trip, we may have to adjust our launch time, return early, or completely reschedule our outing. I don’t mess around with lightning. You will never be charged for any time we are unable to fish due to dangerous weather.
The other weather factor I should mention is wind. Unfortunately, there are some days that are just not fishable in a kayak due to stiff winds, especially in the winter and early spring. We’ll try to reschedule on a better day.
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frequesntly asked questions
Kayak fishing in Key West and the lower Florida Keys