Located on the west coast of Florida, Sarasota is around a 1 hour 50 minute drive from the popular holiday destination of Orlando and is home to some fabulous fishing opportunities.
Sarasota fishing charters come in all shapes and sizes to suite all sizes of groups. Prices are normally based on the number of guests, and usually include the hire of fishing rods, bait and refreshments.
The duration of the charters vary, as do the options of where to fish. The deeper waters of the Gulf of Mexico are home to the larger well known species of fish often seen on TV programmes, however fishing closer to the shore can be as rewarding for those who are less familiar with the sport.
My family and I have never experienced fishing anywhere, so were total amateurs, when we chartered a small boat on Lido Key, Sarasota. But little did we relalise as we each waded out to our awaiting charter in the warm shallow crystal clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico, that we were about to have one of the best family experiences that we have ever had in Florida.
Once on board, with our sun screen applied and hats securely on our heads, Captain Doug explained the various do’s and dont’s before setting off towards our first of many fishing spots. Casting off for the very first time was coupled with anticipation from us all, wondering what we would each catch, if anything.
We did not have to wait long before we landed our very first fish a stunning species called a sheeps head. This catch was quickly followed by more and more and more. This was amazing, and so easy right?……..Wrong.
En route to our next location, the boat sped along the inshore waters of the Gulf, passing water front properties, the likes of which the majority of us can only dream of visiting let alone owning.
With our new live bait in the water we waited. Within a matter of minutes the line suddenly tightened quickly followed by the feeling that the fishing rod was about to be pulled from my hands. What on earth had just taken my bait? After some assistance from Captain Doug, we got the first glimpse of our catch…..a hammer head shark!
Once aboard it was apparent that although this shark was relatively young, it had all of the necessary characteristics to allow it to cause my hands and fingers some real damage should it have the opportunity. Then the call came………..Come on let’s get a picture of you holding it. Okay, so it was hardly going to win any world records, but somehow it felt like we had just caught the biggest fish in the Gulf, and now I had to hold it.
With a little advice from our trusty Captain, I apprehensively took hold of this piece of pure muscle in the form of a shark. Its skin was amazing, smooth as I ran my hand one way along its body, yet barbed the other. Its strength too was impressive given the size.
To celebrate, some light refreshment was introduced in the form of a cold bottle of Yuengling. Yet another first, but boy was it tasty.
Our charter lasted four hours, during which we each caught a variety of fish of different shapes, sizes and appearances. As we approached the shore ready to disembark complete with our booty of freshly caught fish which had been kept on ice, Captain Doug was about to reveal yet another one of his talents. He was a fully trained and very accomplished chef.
Like many public beaches in the area of Sarasota, Lido Key provides free to use, standalone charcoal fired barbeques. Firing one up, Doug set to work preparing our feast of fresh fish and vegetables, and within 20 minutes we were enjoying an absolutely fabulous meal, whilst sitting on an almost deserted beach overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.
Needless to say that this was not our last time fishing in Sarasota with Captain Doug.