I grew up in Florida on the intercostal waterway and Gulf of Mexico right out my front and back door. During the ’70s and ’80s as a child, my friends and I watched as a combination of red tide, blackened fish recipes from famous chefs, cold fronts, and gill netting depleted our sea trout, snook, mullet and redfish populations to virtual extinction. Add to that the catch and keep Tarpon-Roundup events we participated annually and sport fish – in my experience – declined rapidly in my youth in Florida. But that has all changed for the better.
If ever there was a tale of success, it is the Florida coastlines in 2020. Today, when visiting my mother, I can wander down to the dock and see huge snook rafting in the dock light up and down the intercostal. Sea trout and redfish are again abundant on the flats around the many islands and mangrove swamps minutes from our front door. My “secret” juvenile tarpon spot again has fish thrashing school of mullet among the mangroves behind my high school alma mater, and big tarpon can be seen rolling off the beautiful white sand Gulf Coast beaches. The Florida fisheries are being protected and producing a quality of fishing that well exceeds what I experienced as a child in my makeshift flats skiff (a camo 17-foot johnboat with a plywood deck and 9.9 HSP Johnson motor) that I would cruise in before and after school.
Of particular note – and often receiving little praise – are the mighty Florida Everglades that team with each of the species above and offer one of the most unrecognized remote saltwater experiences in our domestic lower 48. Complementing this “Florida” experience, the red fishing in Louisiana is another success story receiving little notice from some but producing a fishing experience that dwarfs many just a short travel from your home city east or west of the Mississippi. What to travel further and more remote without the need of a passport? Few anglers have ever heard of – and much less seen – the Marquesas Keys off the Florida Keys’ southern tip. What do these all have in common? Frontiers Travel and The Eleven Experience stable of live-aboard mothership experiences. Dates are limited, and fish are waiting, and you’re not getting any younger.
Click here for more information on the Eleven Experience Fall Program
Give us a call, and let’s get you flats fishing in the lower 48.
Hank Ingram Jr.