Website Created by Keith Kalbfleisch
Saltwater Fishing Near Orlando
By Captain Keith Kalbfleisch
Saltwater Adventures of Central Florida
The reel screams, and the game is on! It may be a Redfish, Tarpon, Sea Trout, King Mackerel, Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) or other Florida gamefish, but no matter what, it is a blast! Many people don’t realize that there is spectacular saltwater fishing less than an hour from Orlando. This article is for you to understand what type of saltwater fishing is available near Orlando, what to expect, and how to select a good captain.
We are fortunate to have three kinds of world-class saltwater fishing only an hour away from Orlando on the East Coast—what we call the Space Coast area. Our first kind of fishing, and the most popular, is on our fabled flats near Titusville for primarily Redfish, Sea Trout, and the occasional other gamefish like Snook, Black Drum, Ladyfish, and Tarpon. Many people have seen this type of fishing on television, and would like to have the chance to experience it for themselves.
If you are not familiar with redfish, they are a beautiful copper-colored gamester known for their bulldog-tenacity fights, and they can grow quite large with 10-15 pound fish fairly common, and “bulls” going over 30 lbs! Captain Keith pursues his big redfish on the famous Indian River Lagoon. This is not a true river at all, but is a beautiful estuariy with not only fish, but manatees, dolphin, and an amazing amount of unusual bird life. This is calm-water fishing (no seasickness!), rarely gets “weathered out”, and is available year round.
Most of our flats fish are caught on light gear (spinning or fly) and are an extreme challenge. These fish are very spooky and must be approached in shallow water quietly (we use a long pushpole), sneaking up on them to cast a lure or fly, or waiting quietly for them to approach us. Things really get exciting when they are hooked! Using their powerful tail, they can pull many yards of line off the reel as they try to escape. Top-of-the-line specialized boats and gear are required, with a captain that has the experience to put you on these fish.
This shallow-water inshore fishing is available year-round, and you can get more information about this great type of fishing on my website www.capt-keith.com. Especially check out the “Information” and "Types of Fish" pages.
Another type of fishing is available during the late spring, summer and fall months, and it can be exciting! We call it Nearshore, and it is your chance to catch a real monster. When the water warms up, and the Atlantic settles into the quiet summer wind pattern, we fish within 10 miles of the beach for large fish like Tarpon, King Mackerel, Cobia, Monster Jack Crevalle, Barracuda, Sharks and more. This is radical fishing for big fish on a small boat! We use light gear that gives you the opportunity to experience the most these great fish have to offer. Usually this is live-bait fishing, with big fish crashing the party at any time. If you get the chance to fish here during the summer, make sure you have a Captain that understands the ins-and-outs of this challenging type of fishing, and has the top-notch gear required to handle the demands of these monster fish! Again see pictures and get more information about this type of fishing on my website, www.capt-keith.com .
The third type of fishing available is true “deep sea” fishing out of Port Canaveral or Ponce Inlet (Daytona area) to the north. This is typical bottom fishing and trolling, and can be great at times. The offshore fishing is weather dependent and seasonal, and plan for long runs and big seas if the weather is acting up. There are a variety of fish, and the fishing varies throughout the year. I have a network of captains (including myself) that can handle small to large parties, and give you the quality experience you are looking for when you fish our ocean.
What kind of captain should you look for when you come fishing in our area? One with gear, experience, and credentials. Unfortunately, many captains do not have these three factors, and it seems that they tend to go together—when one factor is missing, the others are likely to be substandard also. When a captain is well established he provides excellent gear, has a top-of-the-line boat, and has many years of experience in the area. He is also happy to show you his credentials.
Two types of captains to be cautious of are those that guide part-time, and those without at least 10 ADULT years of experience in the local area (I have over 30 years experience on Florida waters, with over 20 in the local area). I would also pick a captain that specializes in saltwater fishing only. A guide who fishes for bass cannot spend the time on the flats consistently enough to give you a quality experience on our challenging saltwater flats. Also remember that a truly discounted rate is probably not a reputable captain, and it is a "Buyer Beware" market where you have to be careful that you get the captain that will give you the experience you expect.
Another factor to be wary of are those captains that advertise "No fish, No Pay". The few that do advertise this way are often desperate for charters, and will "fudge" by either fishing themselves or putting you on smaller fish. If a captain is doing all the casting for you, especially when you want to be the one to catch fish, then it is not the experience that you desire.
What about credentials? You will find that most good captains have some type of sponsorship, are featured in other parts of the industry, and have some media credits indicating their prowess. Don’t use tournament experience as an indicator—too often they are easily entered and give no real indication of how well the captain can put YOU on fish—not just himself. To use myself as an example, I am on Bass Pro Shops national PRO staff, Mercury Motors sponsored, am a national staff captain for TTI Industries (Daiichi, X-point, and True-turn hooks), an Action Craft boats featured Captain, on the Florida State Mako Boats team, a Coastal Conservation Association guide, and an IGFA Certified Captain. I also have plenty of media credits in both television and written media.
If you are a fly fisherman, then credentials are even more important for our wary fish. Go with a Federation of Fly Fishers guide in the minimum, and even better a Certified Casting Instructor, like I have, to ensure you have a quality trip.
If I were to recommend some secondary considerations, it would be personality and involvement with the local fishing and conservation community. A captain who respects the environment that provides his or her living is more likely to know the waters and give you a pleasant fishing experience.
My Promise to You! If you call me for a booking and I cannot take care or your trip, I will personally find you a great captain that will give you the trip you are looking for!
Of course I would love to take you fishing, and am happy to have you see my credentials on my website, www.capt-keith.com (check out the “Captain” page), along with plenty of photographic evidence of my ability to get you on fish!
If you want to sample some of Central Florida's famous bass fishing, then contact me also. I don't do this type of fishing, but I know who the good guides are and will be happy to refer you to them--I want you to have a great fishing experience!
Good luck on your trip to Orlando—it is a fabulous place, and if you get the chance, LET’S GO FISHING!