Thanks to Hook'um Charters, the name "Hot Rod" has become synonymous with fishing. The 32-foot blackfin sportfish yacht floats the Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico in search of prize catches. Redfish, snook, snapper, and trout swim just beneath the surface of the area's Intracoastal Waterway, while even bigger prizes?including grouper, shark, sailfish, and giant bottles of tartar sauce?populate offshore waters. "Hot Rod," and more specifically its fishing guide Harry, float ready to catch them all. Harry has fished the area for nearly four decades, and he channels this experience during fishing trips. On these expeditions, he supplies anglers with all the necessary rods, lures, and know-how to reel in fish after fish.
In the evening, Hook'um Charters shifts focus to sightseeing. The setting sun casts a warm glow over Tampa Bay and its natural scenery, which serves as the backdrop for cruises. For a bit of dinner, captains can also ferry passengers to the area's many waterfront restaurants.
Siesta Key Watersports specializes in a variety of aquatic pastimes, each of which utilizes a Coast Guard–certified captain. The two-hour parasailing expedition allows flight enthusiasts and H2O lovers alike a chance to take in sweeping views of Siesta Key Beach, Sarasota Beach, Lido Key, and Longboat Key from a sky perch. The airborne adventure begins after being gently lifted upward in a high-quality parachute from the back deck of the boat until reaching heights of up to 1,200 feet above the sea level. Up to three people (depending on weight; each Groupon covers one person) can parasail at once, giving friends some airtime to gossip about the very noticeable bald spot on every dolphin's head before descending gently back to solid boatland.
Sarasota Wind and Water Adventures gives adventurers the vessels and knowledge to plunge boldly into the surf, providing paddleboard, kayak, and waterski rentals as well as lessons. Fishing trips set sail for open water with a Coast Guard-certified captain and all of the tackle necessary to hunt for kingfish, triggerfish, and the vengeful ghosts of scuba divers, while sunset cruises let passengers experience the wonder of voyaging directly into the heart of the sun.
Trips with Second Wind Marine are all about gaining a new perspective; mainly of Florida's western coast. Commanding a 25-foot Bennington pontoon boat, Captain Charlie leads groups of up to six out onto the waters of the Gulf of Mexico as they relax, sightsee, or even fish. The vessel comes equipped with a Bluetooth connection as well as a WiFi hotspot?small creature comforts for folks to enjoy as they cruise the waves and enjoy any drinks or snacks they brought aboard. For a more immersive experience, Captain Charlie ferries passengers to snorkel sites in the Gulf, and leads charters to deep waters for those fishing for the really big boots.
Fish Galore's team of captains lead angling expeditions along Florida’s Gulf Coast, taking parties to fishing destinations such as Tarpon Springs and 10,000 Islands. Trips range from guided inshore and near-shore journeys to excursions that head between 30 and 40 miles offshore. With experience hauling catches including grouper, sailfish, and shark, the team has garnered praise from clients for keeping groups “always on fish” and seeing that everyone onboard feels “welcome and comfortable.” The team also furnishes equipment for independent fishing, renting out canoes and tackle so anglers can explore the area’s backwaters, canals, and the Intracoastal Waterway for redfish and trout. Alternatively, canoes give paddlers access to Midnight Pass Beach and Oscar Scherer State Park. Family-friendly eco tours are also available, with ample viewing of shore birds, shelling, and riding dolphins like rodeo broncos.
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.