Choosing a guide.
How do I book a trip?
What fish are available when I visit?
Where do you fish and when?
What do I need to bring?
How many people can we bring on the boat?
Will I need a license when fishing on your boat?
Can I bring my own tackle?
What tackle do you have available to use?
Can I bring beer or alcoholic beverages?
Is there anything else I should not bring on the boat?
How much fish can I take home or keep?
What are your rates?
What is your cancellation policy and do you give refunds?
What is Trip Insurance and do you offer it?
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Choosing a guide?
First thing, please use some common sense when looking for a guide. There are many guides and captains in this state and on our local waters. Many offer lots of things. Some are ethical and some are not. Some are safe, and some are not. Some are full time but most are not. Some have native fishing experience, and there are many that do not. Many offer fly fishing, but use a boat and/or tackle designed for anything but fly fishing.
A lot of what you’re looking for when choosing a guide is apparent, and some needs deeper digging. The guide’s tackle and sponsors may indicate his specialties, or lack of them. Same for his trip photos. Does your guide pole a boat or always use trolling motors? Is there a tower on the boat that can spot fish from 100 feet away? Pretty simple questions, really. Many guides that advertise fly fishing don’t fly fish themselves. Sometimes it may not matter, but don’t count on it. If the guide is not a fly fisherman, he probably won’t know how to fish you properly, let alone give you instruction if it’s needed. Again, buyer beware.
Be honest about your expectations and skills when speaking with your guide. Once you are fishing, it won’t take long for your skill levels to be noticed. If you are up front and honest, your guide may be able to suggest an alternative guide or fishing method based on your experience or talents. This could mean the difference between a successful day of catching and not. An example of this may be as follows: Your casting skills may not be up for the saltwater challenge. By telling your guide this he may suggest using chum to bring the fish in closer to the boat. Or, let’s say you are the hunter type of fisherman and prefer to stalk fish and sight cast. By telling your captain this he may decide to suggest another guide who poles a smaller skiff for you to fish with. Or, he might just book you because he needs your money and he’ll try to change your mind later or fake it. Ethical? It’s up to you and, you are the one choosing the guide.
Remember that there are no guarantees in fishing, and just because you are fishing with a guide doesn’t mean you will have a great day of catching. The important thing is to have a a safe trip, bring a good attitude, and have an enjoyable day.
2. How do I book a trip?
Contact me either using email or phone and let me know what date or dates you are interested in. If you are booking a trip last minute you should probably call. Please leave a detailed message (with work and home numbers) as I am usually fishing during the day and will return your call ASAP. If you have another date, which may be used in case of bad weather conditions, please advise me of this. If at all possible (and I am not already booked) we can move the date you had. This is called an alternate weather date.
Once we have agreed on your date/s I pencil them into my fishing calendar. Upon receiving a deposit, your booking is secured. I then will email or mail you a confirmation with details such as directions, map, etc.
On the day of your charter, payment should be made in full by PayPal, cash, check, travelers check, money order. Please note that I do not accept credit cards.
For information please email me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (727) 459-3896 or (727) 343-1957.
For further information on rates, cancellations, and/or refunds please see:
13- What are your rates?
14- What is your cancellation policy and do you give refunds?
3. What fish are available when I visit?
First, let me tell you that we fish 12 months of the year. Of those 12 months we have some species of fish around all year. Some seasons are better than others, and some species are available only in certain seasons. As with most fishing, water and/or weather conditions can dictate or change what we’ll fish for and what chance you’ll have of catching.
Also, if you want a certain species of fish, it may require you to have the appropriate skills needed. Examples of this are Tarpon on fly, and many times Redfish on fly. Even casting to Redfish with light tackle gear may require you to be a proficient caster. Most fish don’t like to be hit on the head or attacked by your offering. I will help you with your angling skills if you need or want. Just be realistic in your expectations and limitations. “The more skill you bring on board, the more luck you’ll have and that’s exponential”. To see what fish are available throughout the year please see the following table:
4. Where do you fish and when?
We fish Tampa Bay, including Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Bradenton and Sarasota.
Other than tarpon season (in May and June), when we fly fish for the world record-size tarpon from St. Petersburg to Sarasota, most of our fishing is around the Tampa Bay area. I usually fish an area in Pinellas County known as the “Fort De Soto Wetlands and Aquatic Management Area” which is located at the southern end of St. Petersburg.
From Clearwater beach it’s about a 30 minute beach drive down Gulf blvd. (very nice.) From St. Petersburg it’s just a few minutes drive to our launch site ramp. And, from Tampa it’s approximately 20 minutes via interstate 275 south. The reasons I fish this area are numerous.
No-Motor zones protect many flats (only electric or poling) which not only protects the grasses but also keeps the fish from being run over all the time.
There are numerous keys, causeways & flats to hide from wind/weather, especially during the months when fronts blow in from the north and/or northwest.
Located at the mouth of Florida’s largest estuary (Tampa Bay), this area has greater tide flow than most and is a natural fish highway and feeding station.
We have many types of fishing environments. Mangrove shorelines, miles of prime grass flats, swash channels, oyster beds, gulf passes and inlets, sand flats and bars, residential dock canals for night snook fishing and beautiful beaches.
Regarding when to book for tarpon. I start booking as soon as my anglers step off the boat, as they usually want the same slot for the following year. I wouldn’t delay if this is your concern as all of us are booked pretty solidly by January at the latest.
Don’t just take my word it. If sight fishing in shallow clear waters on fly is your game, then please do yourself a favor and investigate this great, prehistoric and what’s considered, the ultimate gamefish – The Silver King!
If you’d like to see what tarpon fly fishing looks like it may be worth your time to check out my video “Florida
West Coast Tarpon Fly Fishing.” I spent a few years and many miles making the this video.
Please note that the rates for tarpon season are different as well as the deposit requirements and charter trip timelines (less half day trips). For information contact me at email@example.com or call 727-343-1957.
5. What do I need to bring?
In order of importance there are a few items you will need for most of our fishing. They are:
Polarized sunglasses. Best colors for flats and shallow water fishing are amber, brown, vermilion, bronze. Side shields are always a plus as they cut down on the amount of wind and light entering from the back of your glasses. They also reduce the amount of reflection coming from the inside of your glasses off of your face. Note: If you do not wear prescription glasses and need to borrow a pair of quality sunglasses, I can provide them thanks to the people of Ocean Waves sunglasses.
Hat. Not only for keeping the sun off your face and cutting down on sunburn probabilities, but a hat also helps with your vision when spotting fish, etc. It will probably keep the top of your head from sunburning too. For hot season fishing in Florida it’s wise to own a wide brimmed hat with ventilation, you’d be surprised how much better you feel if your scalp and brains are in the shade with air circulating for coolness.
Sunscreen. It is my experience and well advised to apply your sunscreen before getting dressed therefor allowing it to soak in thoroughly. Don’t skimp on quantity when applying, especially to areas hit directly by the sun ie. ears, nose, tops of arms, etc. Once you’ve applied your sunscreen, wash the palms of your hands and your set for the day. By doing this before fishing you may not have to apply throughout the day. You also keep a better grip on rods especially cork-handled types. Over time this is not good for cork, thank you. NOTE: Do Not Place On Forehead Area! (You will go blind once the sweat starts running down in your eyes). It can ruin a good day on the water.
Boating shoes. Most anglers learn through trial and error what works for them and what doesn’t. If you’re new to boating rules and want to keep your Captain happy, don’t bring shoes that scuff the fiberglass deck! Whatever you’re planning on using try rubbing the side of the sole on a light surface such as linoleum or tile to see if it leaves a mark. Many newer (non-boating type) sandals and some shoes have a black sole that makes it extremely hard to clean if not impossible. Not all black soles scuff, but a lot of them do. You also want a shoe with good grabbing capabilities. If you’re looking to buy a new pair, check out what’s available from Columbia and New Balance. You can also go barefoot if you want but watch the sunburn.
Food and drinks. I do supply bottled waters along with the boat cooler and ice. If you want something other than water please bring it. If you’d like me to provide lunch for you, that is usually not a problem. Just keep this in mind when a gratuity is paid, as it is not the norm for the Captain to provide lunch. In fact, when fishing in the Florida Keys and some other destinations, it is the customer who supply’s lunch and drinks. Tarpon season is the only exception to this on my boat. Please ask if this is a concern so plans can be made prior to your trip.
Wet weather gear. Although I do keep some items on board, you may want to bring your own along.
6. How many people can we bring on the boat?
Two (2) anglers are usually the maximum, depending on size and weight and type of fishing. If it’s a child or smaller person we may fit three (3). If you do have more anglers than can fit on my boat, I can usually find another qualified Captain to fish if given enough advanced notice. Please note that there is an additional charge for a third passenger, fishing or not. The exception to this is children under 12. Why? It’s very simple. It’s more work and harder work. More weight to pole, more tackle to use and break, etc.
7. Will I need a license when fishing on your boat?
No. Anglers are covered under my yearly “Vessel Fishing License”. For Florida fishing license information: http://floridafisheries.com/license.html
8. Can I bring my own tackle?
The answer is yes, as long as you check with me first so that I can advise you of its setup, saltwater limitations, etc. Whether you are using spinning, bait casting or fly fishing equipment, it must be able to perform up to the requirements needed for our type of fish and fishing.
9. What tackle do you have available to use?
What type of fishing we’re doing and current fishing conditions usually determines the tackle we use. Regarding rods, if we’re fly fishing, line weights, etc. I carry 3 to 4 nine wt. to seven wt. fly rods (Temple Fork Outfitters, G-Loomis) loaded with different type Scientific Angler Mastery Textured Series fly lines to be able to handle different conditions and depths. Most of the time floating is appropriate for the shallow flats but sometimes the fish are located just off the flats in 3 – 5 feet of water. That’s when we usually switch to Mastery “Striper” intermediate sinking or their “Mastery Textured Saltwater Clear Tip” lines. If you have a favorite rod and don’t mind travelling with it than by all means bring it. If you want to use my equipment than that’s what it’s for! If bringing one line I’d say make it a weight forward floating, then you have mine for the others.
For rigging purposes, most of my leaders are constructed of 7′ butt sections looped to looped to a bite leader of approximately 3 feet of fluorocarbon or mono. Flies, well I do provide them too. All are my hand-tied, custom versions of the many popular saltwater types such as chartreuse & white clousers, minnow-like deceivers, glass minnows and various crabs and shrimps in browns.
Regarding light tackle spinning gear. I use Quantum 2500 & 3000 & 60 size reels with 10 lb.-braided lines. Rods are 7 1/2 – 8 ft. St. Croix Tidemaster series rods matched for the species we’re fishing for. For larger fish such as tarpon and kingfish I use Quantum Cabo 60 and/or Penn 8500 spinning reels with 50 lb.-braided lines and 8 ft. G-Loomis Tidemaster or St. Croix rods.
Regarding tackle for tarpon fly fishing, you can bring yours if you like but know that I may also bring the following:
Tibor Gulfstream reels (w/ 300 yards backing), G-Loomis (NEW) Cross Current Pro 1 (12 wt. – one piece) rods, various Mastery Lines, all professionally set up with the right 30 LB backing, correct knots, and custom tied leaders and flies, everything rigged and appropriate for this area’s tarpon!
10. Can I bring beer or alcoholic beverages?
Alcohol in moderation is allowed but for safety reasons, intoxication can and will terminate your trip. This is determined by the Captain and is non-negotiable due to safety and liability reasons. If for some reason you don’t understand this, please do us both a favor and find another boat and captain.
11. Is there anything else I should not bring on the boat?
Please do not bring drugs, firearms or any type of GPS unit.
12. How much fish can I take home or keep?
Most anglers these days practice catch and release. If you are looking to fill your freezer, I may not be the guide for you. Please allow me to explain further. If all the guides and anglers kept all their fish, even if only the limits allowed by law, we would deplete our fisheries very quickly, as has happened in the past many times. Within reason, I will however allow you to keep enough fish for a fresh fish dinner. Please note that there are recreational fishing regulations governing the limits on most of our marine species. To view the latest regulations go to: http://marinefisheries.org/FWC68B.htm#regs
13. What are your rates?
Please go to my page RATES • INFO for pricing info. I will tell you that my rates are competitively priced. If you are looking for the cheapest price for chartering, remember that you may get what you pay for. There are many people offering guide services, some ethical and some not. Please choose your captain carefully, especially for fly fishing.
For information on rates please contact me personally at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 727-343-1957.
14. What is your cancellation policy and do you give refunds?
I have two (2) different cancellation/deposit/refund policies.
July through April
The required deposit is:
$100 per day of fishing.
Please note: If multiple boats are booked the deposit is 50% per day and per boat.
Please remit deposit check/s to:
Capt. Russ Shirley
7111 3rd Ave. S
St. Petersburg, FL 33707-1227
Please be advised that the deposit (in full) is non-refundable unless notice is given with more than thirty (60) days’ notice. We will try to accommodate any changes to a booking prior to (60 days) if possible, but changes cannot be guaranteed due to possible scheduling conflicts. Due to the nature of our business we ask that on the day/s of fishing, a daily balance payment be paid by cash and/or American Express Travel Checks in U.S. Currency.*
Deposit refunds due to bad weather or otherwise are at the discretion of the captain. Please note that we will not fish if the trip may be dangerous or unsafe and, if this is the condition the deposit is normally refunded or used for a later booking.
May and June (Tarpon Season)
The required deposit is:
Fifty percent (50%) of each day’s fishing rate.
Please note: If multiple boats are booked this is per day and per boat.
Please remit deposit check/s to:
Capt. Russ Shirley
7111 3rd Ave. S
St. Petersburg, FL 33707-1227
Bookings are held temporarily and only confirmed once a deposit is received. Once the deposit requirements are met, the dates are reserved and will not be changed with regards to other client’s needs. If a deposit is not sent and received in time, other customers with deposits may book the date/s you are requesting.
Please be advised that the deposit (in full) is non-refundable unless notice is given within a minimum of one-hundred-twenty (120) day’s notice. We will try to accommodate any changes to a booking after (120 days) if possible, but changes cannot be guaranteed due to possible scheduling and itinerary conflicts.
Cancellations received 90-120 days prior to the booking will be assessed a penalty equal to 50% of the total booking. Cancellations received within 60 days of the booking are subject to 100% cancellation penalties (total booking’s rate).
CREDIT CARDS ARE NOT ACCEPTED AT THIS TIME.
Due to the nature of our business we ask that on the day/s of fishing, a daily balance payment be paid by cash and/or American Express Travel Checks in U.S. Currency.* Deposit refunds due to bad weather or otherwise are at the discretion of the captain. Please note that we will not fish if the trip may be dangerous or unsafe and, if this is the condition, the deposit is transferred to the next possible date if available or next year’s date/s.
15. What is Trip Insurance and do you offer it?
Trip insurance is available through http://www.travelguard.com/
TOP 10 REASONS TO PURCHASE TRAVEL INSURANCE
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It’s 10 p.m. and your family arrives at the airport for a connecting flight, only to find that your flight has been cancelled. How do you get your family home?
Your traveling companion’s bag was lost with his insulin inside. He needs help to locate his bag as soon as possible and his emergency prescription filled. Who do you call?
Your first visit to Europe, and your passport and wallet are stolen. Where do you turn for emergency cash, and how will you get your passport replaced?
Your spouse is involved in an accident and adequate medical treatment is not available. Who will help arrange and pay for a medical evacuation?
If your sister-in-law becomes seriously ill and you choose to cancel your trip, what happens to your non-refundable deposits or pre-payments?
You arrive in Jamaica and your luggage doesn’t. If it’s lost, who will help you find it? If it’s delayed, who will pay for your necessities? If it’s stolen, who will pay to replace it?
Your cruise line, airline or tour operator goes bankrupt. Who will pay for your non-refundable expenses? Who will help get you to your destination?
You’re walking down a street in Rio and twist your ankle. Who can help you find an English-speaking physician?
Three weeks before your scheduled arrival, a terrorist incident occurs in the city to which you are planning to visit. Who will pay if you want to cancel your trip?
You are at a beach resort in North Carolina, and you are forced to evacuate due to an approaching hurricane. Who will help you evacuate and who will reimburse your lost vacation?
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Medical bills in Miami $876
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Extra seats to lie down on flight home $828
TOTAL $10, 204
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