On father-son fishing trips, Bart Swab’s dad taught him not only how to cast his line but also how to treat the aquatic ecosystem surrounding him with respect. Now a licensed and insured guide, Swab helps other fisherman appreciate the open water’s beauty, helming kayak trips through Florida’s pristine saltwater marshes. After arming prospective kayakers with safety tips and familiarizing them with their fishing equipment, Swab guides lead paddlers into the water. They maintain a 3-inch draft that allows students in kayaks to sneak up on fish without having to glue sequins to their skin to look like scales. Kayakers can also gaze through binoculars at the diverse fauna roaming the area’s shores. Trips range from a half day to a full day, and for a more structured route, participants can opt for destination trips to seasonal hot spots, where they can search out fish such as black drum, sheepshead, and tarpon.
Paradise Power Sports sailing-savvy team deploys patrons onto New Smyrna Beach's waterways atop boat and jet-ski rentals. Aquatic adventurers can board 18-foot bay scouts, 14-foot flat boats, and 16-foot speed boats, or Yamaha and Sea-Doo jet skis, and skim through the causeways past green wetlands and out onto the Atlantic. Vessels such as the 25-foot Sea Fox—equipped with fish-finder technology and GPS—are ideal for fishing excursions, while the 18-foot Sweetwater Pontoon and 24-foot Fisher Pontoon provide slower-paced aquatic recreation. Patrons can embark on trips solo or under the guidance of experienced captains, many of who are fluent in tuna.
Seven generations ago, Doug Hicks's ancestors settled near the waters of New Smyrna Beach. Today, Hicks captains his own boat throughout his family's splashing grounds, leading fishing trips through Mosquito Lagoon, Tomoka Basin, and other native waters. With nearly 20 years of experience under his life preserver, Captain Hicks helps his passengers sniff out schools of tarpon, redfish, snook, and trout disguised as ordinary sea bass. The captain also helms chartered outings for activities ranging from tubing and wakeboarding to bar-hopping along the shore.
As the sun dips below moss-cloaked oaks, Fun Cat Sailing’s gleaming white catamarans glide slowly down the coast of Ponce Inlet. Crews settle into benches that circle around open decks and salute the sunset with a glass of wine, while more industrious sailors help the captain trim the sails. The sunset cruise is one of Fun Cat Sailing’s three leisurely itineraries. During the day cruises, passengers and curious submarine captains can scour the sunlit surface of the calm waters, taking in the picturesque beauty of the sea or searching for dolphins. Catamarans can accommodate up to 30 passengers at a time, and small cabins provide a break from the sunshine.