Fishing Days & Introductions
to Fishing Basics
Bonnies love to FISH – anytime, anywhere, for anything! And we are blessed to live in the midst of what are arguably the widest variety of fishing grounds in the world: flats and backcountry for bonefish, tarpon, permit, snook and redfish; reefs for a seemingly endless supply of snapper, grouper and other “food” fish; offshore for sailfish, tuna, king mackerel, amberjack, swordfish, marlin, and dolphin (mahi mahi).
It is important to fish legally, either with a licensed guide or carrying a license of your own and observe the law with regard to what is in season, catch sizes and limits. All Bonnies are reminded if you are fishing to catch and release, to please ”keep’em wet” (click here for best practices). Remember, the longer a fish is out of the water, the likelier it is to die or become prey. This one small step helps to protect our fishery.
Often Bonnies are able to organize fishing opportunities for members. They are announced at our monthly meetings; via our e-newsletter, Tight Lines and here on the website. Also, introductory fishing classes and talks are occasionally arranged by and for the Bonnies. This is a perfect way to learn fishing fundamentals. If you would like to take part in such a class, reservations are a must. See our Events page for details.
Fishing with a Guide
Orvis has several flats guides and reef/offshore captains on its roster as well as access to other guides off-property. You can reach their Booking Desk at 305-367-2227. Other guides are based throughout the Keys, including at Key Largo Anglers Club. In a bind, ask a Bonnie Board member for help.
On fishing days, the guides provide all the gear (rods, hooks, bait, fly rods, flies) and extra drinking water. They also teach fishing to anyone nervous about how to do it. Be sure to glance at “Useful Fishing Items” below for what to wear/bring for the day.
If you booked through Orvis, plan to arrive 15 minutes early to take care of billing. Boats for reef and off-shore fishing dock right outside Orvis; the flats boats dock behind the Raw Bar. Anglers signing up through the Bonnies will be notified as to where to meet their captain and boat.
For those unfamiliar with the routine for fishing with our local guides, here’s the drill: The boats are guided with a maximum of two anglers per boat for flats, or four (sometimes more, depending on the boat/captain) for reef or offshore, for either half-day or full-day outings. The cost of the guide is split between/among the anglers; the usual tip of 19 percent (optional, of course) can be added to the bill (charged to your account), or you may pay the guide/captain in cash; the guides/captains are accustomed to either payment method. (Please keep in mind, if there’s a mate, you’ll likely want to tip him or her, too.)
Guided Fishing Cancellation Policy
If you’ve made a reservation and a guide/captain has been booked on your behalf, you’re “on the hook” to pay up to the full amount if you cancel within seven days of your reservation; the cost is forgiven, however, for a true emergency or if the guide/captain judges the fishing conditions pose a physical hazard or are not conducive to seeing and catching fish.
Fishing as a Guest
What fun! You’ve been invited by a friend to join her on her boat for a day of fishing. What‘s the etiquette? Pretty much the same as if you were invited to her home or vacation getaway. Ask ahead of time what you can bring … food, beverages, fishing gear. Ask if you can share expenses for fuel and/or paid crew. If the answer is no, ask if you can tip the paid crew. Bring everything that you might need for your comfort. Don’t forget the anti-nausea meds and /or crackers if you are prone to motion sickness. And, most important if you’d like to be asked back, show up on time and be a good sport.
Useful Fishing Items
While the guide/captain will provide all you need for actual fishing, you will need to bring the following:
- Polarized sunglasses
- A hat with a brim and a way to secure it (it can get windy!)
- Long-sleeved shirt and slacks or shorts of quick-drying fabric
- Rain gear (a hood can be critical)
- Tissue for a variety of needs… a baggie for used tissues
- Camera (email photos to firstname.lastname@example.org so all can share in your fun!)
- Optional: sun gloves, bandana or gator, bug spray, snack(s), a journal
- A proper catch-and-release attitude: Please “Keep ‘em wet” – fish removed from the water, even just for 20 second photo ops, have much higher mortality rates. This one small step can help protect our fishery for another day.