Boats dance and glide over the crisscrossing wakes carved into Tampa Bay, each craft anxiously revving toward its respective dock to arrive before closing time. All the while, a handful of boats remain on the open water, swaying atop the undulating waves as its passengers continue to enjoy the fiery sunset reflecting off the bay's surface. These select aquatic vehicles carry Lotto Boat's boat club members, who have access to a slew of exclusive perks, such as extended marina hours. Stationed at Harborage Marina, Lotto Boat's 10 rental vessels include kayaks, WaveRunners, and power boats equipped with GPS navigation systems. After hopping aboard a vessel, landlubbers can go jet-skiing, drift over to nearby tiki bars for dinner and live music, or take in scenic views of downtown St. Petersburg. Once patrons make their way back to one of Lotto Boat's two docks, staffers thoroughly cleanse the boat of interior debris and exterior mermaid hitchhikers to prepare for the vessel's next excursion.
A seafood market stocked with fresh fish. A marina with direct access to the Weedon Island Preserve. Boat rentals. At I.C. Sharks, staff members sate clients’ hungers for both seafood and coastal exploration, specializing in these and other seashore exploits. The scent of steamed blue crabs lures visitors into the facility’s crab shanty, C.R. Crabs, or into the fish market, where I.C.'s crew works closely with local fishermen to source daily catches of fish, including grouper, tuna, and snapper. At the docks, boating experts teach customers to man deck boats and Boston Whalers before they launch for up to a day’s worth of boating recreation. Engines roar as these vessels follow charts through nearby islands, where fishermen plop lines into the water or sightseers marvel at dolphins as they sign autographs in their natural habitats.
Certified as a 100 Ton Master Captain by the U.S. Coast Guard, Red Devil Fishing Adventures’ Captain John Gibson leads near-shore reef-fishing excursions in Gulf waters from Venice to Tarpon Springs. Captain John's 24-foot motorized vessel disengages its seaworthy hull from shore to chase after undersea denizens such as cobia, grouper, snapper, and mackerel, offering aspiring anglers high-quality gear and lines with which to angle. Besides fishing expeditions, the captain regularly wanders away from the mainland to engage in bird watching, shelling, nature tours, and languid afternoons of sunbathing on West Florida's isolated islands. Excursions run seven days a week and are subject to weather conditions, availability, and favorable predictions from the captain’s magic 8 ball.
Fun Unlimited rents high-octane outdoor equipment to adventurers interested in waverunners, boats, and their own brand of standup paddleboards, among other items, and also leads jet-ski and paddleboard tours. Rental periods can last from one day to one week, so clients have enough time to whittle a whole family of mannequins out of balsa wood and take them on a cross-country road trip before returning the equipment to the stores conveniently located beach adjacent storefront.
Jesse Nofi is most at home on the open water. An experienced fisherman since his teenage years, Jesse learned early that the richest bounties often lie in the less-traveled depths out past the shore. Now the Coast Guard–licensed charter captain of 360 Fishing Charters, Jesse shares his affinity for exploration with passengers, running fishing excursions in and around Tampa Bay. Aboard his fleet of kayaks or a 22-foot Crestliner powerboat, passengers might undertake inshore pursuits of redfish, grouper, and catfish or lead deep-water chases for snapper and grouper through waters up to nine miles offshore. When he’s not helping anglers haul in their latest catch, Jesse can also be found writing up recaps of his time on the water as a contributing writer for the websites The Online Fisherman and Florida Marine Times.