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South Florida Trifecta

By on March 1, 2018

Fantastic Fishing Variety in the Florida Keys

Winter was the perfect time to escape Utah’s cold and head south to the Florida Keys for a holiday visit with family members who live there. I fished Florida a lot growing up, and try to visit there a couple times each year. The Sunshine State provides outstanding opportunities to engage hungry fish in both the freshwater and saltwater environments. There’s no better place to test your skills and try your luck in a variety of fishing habitats.

On-Fire Freshwater Fishing

Florida is the only state in the U.S. where you can catch the mysteriously beautiful Peacock Bass. They originate in the South American Amazon and were brought to Florida to control the cichlid and tilapia populations in South Florida’s lakes and canals. They are an extremely desirable fish to catch for sport, because of their aggression and beautiful colors. I fished for Peacock Bass two ways this winter, by land and by boat. By land, I caught them on live shiners with J hooks and 12-lb. test fluorocarbon fishing line. My favorite way to catch them, which I do more often, is on a 6wt fly rod with 0x tippet and shiner streamers. Both methods will bring you success in the South Florida canals. You can find peacocks EVERYWHERE!

Fabel-florida2I was also able to connect with Captain Bill Lepree of South Florida Bass Charters and his famous “Lunker Limo,” a fully equipped, 24-foot Carolina skiff, which provides all the comfort and fish-ability you’ll need. He can comfortably accommodate up to four anglers, and children are always welcome. Captain Bill is a South Florida native with over 30 years of experience fishing area waters. He operates in the Lake Ida and Osbourne chain, conveniently located in Delray Beach. The fishing with Captain Bill is always on fire. What could be better than landing fish nearly all day long?

The fishing with Captain Bill is always on fire. What could be better than landing fish nearly all day long?


South Florida Bass Charters specializes in fishing the fresh waters of Southeast Florida for the biggest largemouth bass in the Northern hemisphere. In addition to largemouth bass, Captain Bill knows where to find species that are not native to North America, such as Clown Knifefish and Snakeheads from Southeast Asia, as well as massive Peacock Bass from South America. Book a trip with Captain Bill, and you’ll have a chance to catch some of the most exciting, hardest-fighting freshwater fish in the world, southfloridabasscharters.com.

Reef Fishing Variety

Every time I visit Florida, I make it a point to catch some fish near the reefs. Reef fishing is so fun, because you can catch a ton of fish throughout the day, and you never know what you’re going to reel in. Bring chum to a grassy or rocky area of the ocean and wait for the baitfish, like ballyhoo and sardines, to come in. Once they arrive, the bigger fish like snapper, grouper, sharks, and barracudas will come in to see what the commotion is about. On one crystal-clear day with barely any chop, I caught some large grouper, a shark, yellowtail, and snapper. The fishing was HOT!Fabel-florida4

Deep Sea Sailfish Charter

Saltwater fishing has always been one of my favorites, because it’s completely different from the trout fishing I typically do in Utah. It’s extremely challenging. The fish, rods, reels, and boats are all BIG. It requires patience, the expertise of a great charter team, and some luck. Winter fishing is popular in the Florida Keys. Charters are booked solid.

I called a bunch of boat captains in the hopes of getting aboard a charter. No luck; I was discouraged, but hopeful. Then I got a break. I received a call the day after Christmas from one of the charters I had contacted regarding an opening on a boat for the next morning. I was in.

On December 27, I set out with Captain Alex Adler aboard his boat, the Kalex, in pursuit of sailfish, out of world famous Bud N’ Mary’s Marina in Islamorada, Florida. Captain Alex has over 35 years of sportfishing experience. He’s won many tournaments as a captain, mate, and angler since starting in 1971. In 2013, Salt Water Sportsman magazine named Captain Alex one of its Top 50 Captains. Sailfishing out of Islamorada is one of the most exciting types of fishing in all of the Florida Keys. We used Frigate 8000-Series spinning reels with 15-lb. test and a 40-lb. fluorocarbon leader, and fished three to five miles offshore near the edge of the reef at depths from 20 to 150 feet.


First, we chummed the waters by throwing a cast net to catch live ballyhoo to use as bait. Once we had enough ballyhoo in the live well, we started trolling, looking for sailfish. During winter and spring, the sailfish are easy to spot because they move into shallower waters than they normally inhabit, upping our chances to catch one. Captain Alex sat atop the boat’s tower and scoured the ocean. Within a few hours, he located four sailfish. After some lengthy battles, we caught all four!

Sailfish are thought to be the fastest fish in the entire ocean, reaching speeds up to 68 mph, so when you hook one, you’re going to have a great fight on your hands! They take hundreds of yards of line and fight for at least 20 minutes, sometimes much longer. Cast placement with the live ballyhoo is key to catching a sailfish. After that, hang on tight and don’t be too aggressive. Let them run, because it is not worth them breaking-off. They will jump in the air and pull you all around the ocean. It’s quite the spectacle. I can now say that sailfish are my favorite ocean fish to catch. If you’ve never done something like this, I highly recommend that you book a charter in the Florida Keys, and see what it’s like. You won’t regret it.



Bud N’ Mary’s Marina is located in Islamorada, the Sportfishing Capital of The World! Established in 1944, it’s home to over 40 of the finest offshore captains and backcountry guides. Bud N’ Mary’s welcomes families, inexperienced anglers, children, and professionals as well. Captain Alex’s boat, The Kalex, has been featured on Bass Pro Shops’ Outdoor World, Fishing with Roland Martin, Reel Adventures, TNN, FOX Sports, and ESPN. Contact Captain Alex today to set up your Florida Keys sportfishing charter at (305) 522-1984.



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One Comment

  1. Phil Stanley

    April 7, 2018 at 3:02 am

    As a native Floridian, I grew up fly fishing in the Kissimmee chain of lakes. Have caught many a large mouth bass there and speckled perch. Camp Mack was always my home base. I moved to NC in 1998 and really mis fishing in FL.

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