On your Miami fly-fishing charter, you will join Capt. Dave aboard his 16.5-foot flats skiff, heading out from the dock at sunrise, or before, to ensure you are there for first bite. The skiff is on a trailer, allowing you to be very mobile in targeting your intended species. Keep in mind that sight fishing the flats is a thrilling and challenging endeavor that may lead to a lot of excitement. Capt. Dave's goal is to put you on the fish and provide you the best opportunity to catch them, but there will be no yelling and no stress (unless self-induced). You may fish anywhere from Biscayne Bay in the shadows of Miami, to deep in the Everglades, in Florida Bay, to the ocean side of the upper Florida Keyseach will provide some memorable fly-fishing experiences set against some beautiful natural backdrops.
Capt. Dave is, first and foremost, an avid fly fisherman in his own right, who looks forward to spending time on the water with you and sharing some of his vast knowledge. He is also a meticulous fly tier, equally obsessive about terminal tackle. He has caught well over 300 bonefish and over 95 different species of fish on fly. Dave is past president of the South Florida Fly Fishing Club and was a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Fla. Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers. In addition, he is a certified Florida Master Naturalist. He is a MultiEngine Commercial Instrument Licensed Pilot, holds a US Coast Guard: OUPV, and Master Capt. to 25 tons with a towing endorsement licenses. He holds a permit to guide in Everglades National Park, is commercially insured, and ready to take you fishing!
There is good fishing year-round in South Florida—the approach changes a bit depending on the season and the species being targeted—but redfish, snook, and bonefish can be found throughout the year. Tarpon and snook are around and fishable during all but the coldest of times, while bass in the Everglades is best in late winter/early spring. There’s a spring tarpon migration that can be off the charts as the tarpon follow the spring mullet run and head to the Keys for the famed palolo worm hatch.
All Miami fly-fishing trips with Capt. Dave Hunt, whether they are in Everglades National Park, Biscayne Bay, or the Florida Keys, include guiding service, all necessary licenses, and tackle—including any number of the 20+ fly rods and reels in Capt. Dave’s arsenal, leader material, custom flies, lures, and safety equipment as well as plenty of cold drinking water. On full-day charters a light lunch is provided as well.
Capt. Dave trailers his skill throughout the Miami/South Florida area, fishing different areas depending on seasonal changes and species targeted. The following is a sampling of some of the places fished:
Saltwater fly fishing/Everglades National Park/Florida Bay, launching in Flamingo “out front” on the Florida Bay side. Everglades National Park is a world treasure, just an hour’s drive from downtown Miami. You will have a totally unique experience just driving through the park to the boat ramp in the early morning light. Florida Bay, an integral part of Everglades National Park, is one of the most diverse fisheries on the planet, providing amazing saltwater fly-fishing opportunities. Where else will you have the chance to target tarpon, bonefish, permit, redfish, and snook, all on the same flat? Florida Bay is home to sight fishing at its best. Thousands of wading birds comb the flats during low tide as osprey dive for mullet in the channels. It's not uncommon to see crocodile, manatees, or big sharks. Tarpon, often weighing over 100 lbs, can be found laid up, tailing, or cruising the shallow-water flats. Redfish, snook, and sea trout offer great sight-fishing opportunities. A "slam" (tarpon/bonefish/permit or redfish/snook/tarpon) or a "grand slam" (four species) is a distinct possibility here.
Saltwater fly fishing/Everglades National Park/Whitewater Bay, launching in Flamingo on the Whitewater Bay side. The park's backcountry is made up of brackish water estuaries and lakes. It hosts several mangrove varieties whose root systems provide homes to saltwater game fish including snook, redfish, tarpon, snapper, grouper, a variety of sharks, as well as freshwater largemouth bass. One can blind cast or sight fish along the edges of the mangroves or various mud flats found scattered throughout the bay.
Saltwater fly fishing Miami/North Biscayne Bay/city of Miami, launching in Key Biscayne, fishing Stiltsville to Elliott Key. The "bay" in Biscayne National Park is a vast, shallow, tub-shaped area which runs in a north/south direction. The northern tip, near downtown Miami, is an area of huge flats called the "safety valve." It is littered with small islands and flats and has a long stretch of mangroves along the western shoreline. This area is home to bonefish, tarpon, barracuda, sharks, and whatever else decides to cruise in from the ocean on any given day. Bonefish and/or permit can be found tailing and mudding on the flats while large tarpon skirt the edges. Barracuda and sharks, both opportunistic feeders, are often aggressive at taking a fly as well. The choice between fishing the North Bay and the South might depend on tide and weather conditions, time available for fishing, and many other factors.
Saltwater fly fishing Miami/North Biscayne Bay/night tarpon/city of Miami and Key Biscayne. Fly fishing in Miami for night tarpon can be totally addictive and is a great alternative if you are in town working during the day or have other commitments and can only get away for a few hours—plus, the fish are generally very cooperative. Many anglers catch their first tarpon at night, and it’s a great tune up for learning or remembering how to set the hook and fight the daytime bruisers. If you are fortunate enough to set the hook on a nice tarpon at night, get ready to do the “tarpon tango,” as you often have to aggressively fight the fish to keep it away from the nearby structures.
Saltwater fly fishing Miami/South Biscayne Bay, departing Homestead Bayfront Park, fishing Stiltsville to Ocean Reef. Biscayne National Park is a vast, shallow, tub-shaped area which runs in a north/south direction. It has a long stretch of mangroves along the western shoreline. In the Southern Bay, between the mainland and the ocean lie a number of islands (also known as Keys or Cays)—from Soldier’s Key to the north to the Ragged Keys, Boca Chita, Elliot Key to North Key Largo—the “top end” of the Florida Keys.
Miami, Florida is tropical/subtropical so generally warm throughout the year, although during the winter (December – March primarily), cold fronts may come through switching winds around and bringing cooler, drier air. Temperatures in the winter can reach into the 40s at night with highs in the high 50s after a cold front passage but generally run 60-80 during the winter season. The most important temperature to consider though is the water temperature, which can be the key to good fishing. Quick temperature changes affect the fish—if water temps get too low, fish will move off the flats to deeper, warmer water until the sun warms them again to acceptable levels. Once the temperature stabilizes, the fish go back to feeding.
During spring and fall, temperatures run from 70s into the high 80s. The difference between spring and fall is that in the spring, the temperatures are warming and seasonal fish migrations—both bait and game fish—have fish moving into the warmer waters. In the fall, the flats can sometimes be too warm (and so you fish in a bit deeper water) until the first few cold (cool) fronts move through and get the flats back to more moderate temps.
Summer can be downright hot, with lows in the high 70s to highs in the high 90s with high humidity as well. Not only are the temperatures and humidity hot, the fishing can be off the charts as well. Fishing is just generally in a little deeper water, as the water temperature highs on the flats can be scorching. There are still many good fishing opportunities and many say that August is the best time of year to target permit.
As outlined in the Region Section, there are a variety of fishing locales to choose from and that will be determined prior to the actual fishing day and will depend on your preferences and current weather conditions. Once the launching point has been determined, the fishing day will begin when the boat hits the water at the boat ramp and you board the skiff, which is ready with all necessary fly rods, flies, a light lunch, and cold bottled water on full-day trips as well as all necessary safety equipment and a SPOT emergency locator (which has never been used except for testing).
Of course you may bring your own gear but if you don’t feel like it, no worries, it’s covered.
Capt. Dave will take you to a number of different fishing spots throughout the day, targeting species such as bonefish, redfish, snook, tarpon, permit, or anything else you’ve decided to target. He will run the boat until you get near a flat, he’ll shut the engine down, and pick up his push pole—a 21-foot carbon fiber pole—that he will then use to propel the boat stealthily on the flat in water as skinny as 10 inches. You might be looking for tailing fish (redfish or bonefish depending on the flat); or looking in a little deeper water for cruising or laid-up tarpon; or for permit or snook. If conditions are overcast or the tide is high, you may go and cast to mangrove shorelines for snook and redfish or look for big sharks moving onto the flats. Your day will be filled with a variety of fishing opportunities and everything will be discussed with you as the day progresses. Be sure to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated throughout the day. At midday, you and Capt. Dave will take a break and stake out on a flat and enjoy a light lunch that he will provide. After that, it’s right back on the casting deck for you and the poling platform for him and you’ll resume fishing and hopefully catching until the day’s end.
If you’ve booked multiple days with Dave, you’ll discuss the next day’s itinerary on the way back to the ramp so you are all ready to go the next day.
There are some seasonal differences in fishing here in the Miami/South Florida area but we don’t have the huge temperature changes experienced in the northern climates so there is almost always something going on.
Redfish are generally around most of the year. They move to different areas and are fished differently but can usually be found. In the spring, summer, and fall they can be found feeding near mullet muds or working their way high onto flats to eat shrimp, crabs, and other crustaceans that inhabit the mud and grass flats. In winter, when the flats are cooler, the fish might be found in deeper, warmer water in the backcountry during the cool hours of the day and, as the sun warms the flats on the lower parts of the tides midday, the reds and the bait they are looking for may seek the warmth on shallow, dark flats.
Snook, like reds, are generally around year-round but they also move, following bait schools to the beaches or flats in the spring/summer and seeking warmer water deep in the backcountry in the colder weather. Snook are very sensitive to cold water—requiring 45+ degree water to survive—so on the coldest fishing days, we won’t be looking for them, we’ll respect their need to survive first and foremost.
There is a definite tarpon season; historically it’s been known to be May – July, when the migrations of large pods of big fish move oceanside along the deeper edges of the flats. This is knee-knocking, heart-stopping fishing—when you see pods of 100+ fish all weighing more than 100 lbs coming at you, it’s hard to concentrate on getting the fly in the right place! But, in addition to tarpon season, there can be good fishing for tarpon at many other times throughout the year and some of the best is definitely not during the season. In the winter, the fish move in and out of the backcountry and in early spring may flood certain areas and provide great sight fishing opportunities in many other places besides those oceanside flats. Like snook, they are usually not found during the coldest days of the year, but as soon as a good warming trend comes along, watch out—it’s tarpon time again!
Bonefish can be found year-round but, like other species that haunt the flats, will move and can be found in different areas depending on the season, water conditions, and baitfish migrations. In spring and fall, they can be found high on skinny flats; during summer and winter, they may be found in deeper water—which can be cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
Permit: late February and March is known as Permit time, but anglers catch them July – Sept as well. They can be found on the flats at other times but, again, water conditions and bait movement can be factors.
Other species: sharks, ladyfish, jacks, seatrout, grouper, bluefish, pompano, cobia, snapper—some or all of these can be found throughout the year. There’s always something going on!
Bass: freshwater bass fishing in the Everglades can be good year-round, but my preferred “season” for them is late February – early June, depending on water conditions.
Customers only need to bring sunscreen of their choice (Capt. Dave will have some aboard but customers may have their own preference), long-sleeved shirt and pants (light fabric), polarized sunglasses (preferably amber), hat with long bill (baseball type is best), any drinks you might want besides the cold bottled water Capt. Hunt will provide, and a lot of enthusiasm.
Q. How many anglers can fish on this Miami fly-fishing charter?
A. The skiff can accommodate two anglers comfortably; however, please keep in mind that when sight fishing with a fly rod, only one angler can fish at a time but when anglers are blind casting, two can fish. If you don’t mind sharing fishing time, the price is the same for 1 or 2 anglers.
Q. Can I bring a non-fishing friend or friend who fishes with spin gear?
A. Yes you can—it’s your day, after all! The boat can accommodate two people comfortably, in addition to the guide; however, keep in mind that 8 hours in a boat can be a long day for someone unless they are fully engaged in the day. If you want a complete fishing experience, it’s best to keep things focused on fishing. If a friend comes along with spin gear, again, keep in mind that this means switching gears and approaching fish differently, so it will definitely impact the quality of your fishing time.
If you are bringing along a non-angler and want to combine fishing with some sightseeing, birding, or photography just let me know ahead of time and we’ll set that up.
Q. Can we start later in the morning?
A. Again, the answer is yes, but there are many reasons why an early start is advisable. It’s generally in your best interest to stick as closely as possible to the recommended start time. This is something that should be discussed directly with Capt. Dave.
Q. What’s the most important thing I can do to be ready for the Miami fly-fishing trip?
A. Practice casting or even take a casting lesson for a tune up. Many of my anglers are trout fishermen, most accustomed to casting a 2- to 5-weight rod. On our trip, we’ll be using rods from 6- to 12-weights; often there will be wind of some sort and we won’t always know the direction until we’re out on the water. Having already casted heavier rods, in some wind, can make the first few hours of your trip a lot more enjoyable. Also, being able to get a cast of 30-40’ out with only 1-2 back casts will really improve your results.
The other important thing is to come with real expectations. I can’t make you promises. Your trip will be affected by weather (good or bad), and the mood of the fish (again, good or bad). I can only promise you that we’ll go out fishing and I’ll give you everything I have to make sure you have the best day possible.
Q. What’s the best time to come to Miami fly fishing?
A. I get asked this question all the time! Anglers want me to pick a time for them to come and target a specific species. I can help with this, generally, based on prior years’ experience, patterns etc., but keep in mind that weather fluctuations, especially lately, greatly impact fishing. For instance, the winter/spring of 2010 was one of the coldest times we’ve had in South Florida in years. We had a major fish kill and all “patterns” were behind by almost a month, or were completely gone. This past winter/spring of 2012 was one of the warmest I can remember, and all “patterns” were early by 3-4 weeks. I can help by letting you know when the best projected tides are, and the best times of year, but because we usually have some kind of good fishing year round, it’s best to come when it’s good for you. We’ll go out and give it our best shot. Again, it’s fishing—there are many variables and the main thing is to have fun. It’s amazing how many more fish are caught when that’s the approach.
Overall: 4.9 / 5 based on 24 reviews
24 of 24 reviewers would recommend this product to a friend.
Great fishing -
By: MartinR from Switzerland
I had the pleasure to fish with Dave for 4 days in May. The fishing was really difficult sometimes but we still managed to hook and land a few nice fish. Thanks again Dave for the enjoyable days on the water.
Brook Trout of Biscayne Bay -
I boarded Dave’s skiff just before 9pm. 15-20 kt winds. Choppy seas. Threat of rain, but comfortably warm. While I have only been in the fly fishing game for a bit more than 4 years, I’ve been around the block with freshwater fishing. Trout in the Sierra Nevadas, Yellowstone, and the Scotland lochs. Pike in the NW Territories and Jasper NP. Heck, even the whitebass run in Indiana. But saltwater was something new to me, and heading out into the darkness of the bay was truly different. Up ahead, Dave pointed to the lighted corner of a distant seawall with a caddis hatch that was attracting occasional brook trout rises. But as we approached, these were neither caddis nor brook trout. They were shrimp feeding near the lighted surface and ghosts of 20-40 lb tarpon sliding out from the shadows. Dave recommended starting with my lightweight 9 and tied on a shrimp pattern. He also cautioned on the likelihood of breaking the rod. Repeated casts produced nothing but rejections. We moved down the seawall to another lighted location with similar surface action. A few casts later, I got a savage hit and a quick reprimand from Dave for raising the rod tip and missing the fish. I knew better. We made another pass and I cast into the shadows. A slow strip back produced an explosive strike. While I went through the motion of a strip set, doing so triggered a split-second 10-20’ run that printed a line-burn on my hand. As soon as I went into “hold-on” mode, the fish jumped 4 ft out of the water onto the seawall. May have been a record for landing a 40 lb tarpon within 5 seconds. Youtube worthy for sure! I kept fighting it (really just trying to pull it off the seawall), but the hook soon came out. It took about 20 more seconds flopping to find its way back in the water. Wow. I asked Dave what I should have done better. He said “I don’t know. That’s never happened before.” Time for Dave’s heavyweight 12. We headed a couple miles down the bay to a lighted bridge with a strong current and known for larger fish. Dave instructed a cast slightly cross-current and then allowing the fly to swing into the shadow. Huge hit! No strip-set required. I just held on. Solid hook-up. Dave steered toward open water for the fight and gave repeated instructions. “Pull hard!” “Reel!” “Pull right!” “Keep the tip down!” “Reel!” “Pull left!” “Relax tension during the jumps!” “Reel!” “Don’t let him rest!” Several visits to the boat were followed by long runs into the backing. EXHAUSTING 35 minute fight that produced a four foot 60 lb tarpon and a trophy four inch bruise from having the fighting butt planted in my hip. Exciting is an understatement! I was also relieved that the fish gave up shortly before I did. We took a rest, had a drink, and Dave tied on another fly. Deep breath. Two casts later, I got another massive strike and hookup. Easy four footer, but it quickly broke-off. On our way back, we passed by the seawall and it yielded several more bites, and a brief hookup. Amazing action given that many on-line reports speak of anglers getting little more than a one shot at a tarpon in a week.
Giant Tarpon Glittering in Miami's Night Skyline -
By: BillinDurham from Biscayne Bay, Florida, USA
Looking for some fly fishing excitement on very short notice with a very limited window, I looked up Dave Hunt on a Sunday afternoon and gave him a call. He sized the situation up and gave me the fishing experience of my new saltwater life. He suggested a 3:30am launch into Biscayne Bay for Tarpon. He promised the timing was perfect, we would catch fish and that we wouldn't see another fisherman. Six bites and five hookups later I cried 'uncle' and was able to return at sunrise with my first Tarpon experience. The first fish battled he estimated to be a 150 pounder, the largest he had ever hooked up on that particular boat. Fortunately, Dave had setup a 12wt for that battle after giving me some pointers using a 10wt. Nonetheless, after 30 or 40 minutes, the battle ended without touching the leader though the monster soaked us with a head shaking jump 20 feet from the boat. I've never seen a fish that size anywhere. Asking for mercy, I suggested that we look for smaller fish (!!!). Dave changed locations and pattern as we sight casted my 8wt to visible fish around a sea wall. It was like dry fly fishing for trout. They'll take it right at the surface, jump like crazy, but the 8wt isn't enough for the little 40 pounders we got into. What a night! Dave is enthusiastic and energetic. He works hard to make you successful and is just plain fun to be on the boat with. Night fishing for Tarpon in Biscayne Bay is not really as dark as one might think. Lights from highways, docks and that beautiful Miami skyline make it a game of shadows and glitter. We maneuvered around cruise ships, tugs, shrimpers and celebrity yachts. Despite the traffic and the urban settings, we were the only sport fishermen out there. As Dave said, most guides won't come out for the right tides when they come at 4:00 in the morning. Dave will do it and did do it and I'm awfully glad I did too. Share a boat with Capt Dave Hunt and let him share with you the respect and enthusiasm he has for the fish and the fishery.
Great Guide -
By: VanessaOR from Portland, OR, USA
This is the second time out with Dave for 2 days each trip (I went with him last year by myself and this year with my husband). Dave is one of the best guides I ever had. Not only is he very knowledgeable in terms of fishing and the tides, he is also an ecological and birding guide and I learned tons about the area in regards to fish (and everything else). Dave is friendly and an all around pleasure to be around. He is also an avid fly fisherman (some guides aren't) and knows his way around many waters. Highly recommended!
Stalking Predators in the Dark -
By: IdahoZeke from Boise, ID
I went out with Dave on short notice, in difficult conditions (VERY WINDY), and we still had a blast. Found a tarpon (my 2nd on the fly), and I had a smile on all day. Thanks to Dave for his accommodation, knowledge, and flexibility in getting me some much-needed fishing time after a long stint of nothing but work! I can't wait to join him on the water again.
Fly Fishing -
By: MartinR from Switzerland
I had the pleasure to fish with Dave for 3 days. Even the weather was horrible Dave managed to put me on some interesting fishing for many different species. Dave knows every single fishing spot in the Biscayne bay and the Everglades and he is able to find the fish even in the worst weather conditions. I have never seen a fishing guide so good equipped as Dave, top end reels, rods and lines and all well balanced which helps a lot when casting all day long. I had a fantastic time fishing the bay and the glades and I hope that I can do another fly fishing trip with Dave in the future. Thanks again
Best fishing in Florida -
By: Gazza1967 from London, England
Anyone thinking of using Captain Dave should not have any hesitation. He is a fly fishermans dream guide. He has a wealth of experience and local knowledge of locations, tides and methods. He works tirelessly to locate fish, never clock watching or concerned about costs He makes it possible for you to optimise your chances of catching by providing a selection of rods, lines/reels and flies, often making the necessary changes which make the difference between catching or not. If you like your fly fishing in Florida, he’s your captain
Biscayne Bay Trip -
Had a short time in Miami but was able to get a day on the water. I found Dave and leading up to the trip he was always open for questions. Although I didn't land anything it was a great day, especially for my first time on the flats. We found some bones (one huge one), I had one chase my fly but he didn't eat it. Found a cool cow fish. We looked for tarpon but only saw two way out on the flat. If I make it back I'll definitely use him again. Easy to get along with and super knowledgeable.
Exciting off-road tarpon -
If you don't Hire David Hunt to take you at least on one trip for night time tarpon in Biscayne Bay. You are missing out on a ton of easy fun. David's knowledge experience and equipment are top notch. He is an expert in traditional sight casting and night time fishing for Tarpon. Hands down night time tarpon fishing is the best deal in town with David. Within two casts I had a 55lb Tarpon landed and got smoked by a triple digit "PIG" not 20 minutes later. Thanks David
Highly Recommended -
By: PRodio from Everglades, FL, USA
It is without hesitation that I recommend Captain Dave for anyone thinking of Fly Fishing the Everglades. My buddy and I went fishing with Captain Dave on April 14th. We are avid Trout Fly Fisherman having spent a lot of time in our native Colorado streams. That said, we have never Fly Fished the Everglades for big fish. We found Captain Dave was very excited and eager to help us catch our first Tarpon. He was extremely patient with us and was a great "Teacher". Captain Dave put us on fish time and time again. As the conditions changed throughout the day, he modified the tactics. At one point, he pulled the boat out and we re-launched in another area. I couldn't imagine him trying any harder. He always suggested different tactics and ideas to us, never dictating…he wanted to make sure we were comfortable and that we were enjoying ourselves. The equipment was top notch, top of the line Orvis Helios Rods. Everything was in perfect condition and neatly organized including the boat. In the end, we caught Tarpon, Snook, and various other Salt Water fish. We saw lots of wildlife including crocodiles, Bottlenose Dolphins, manatees...and giant 7' Tarpon! Oh, and make sure you know how to perform a Double Haul Fly Cast. The action happens very fast and you will likely need to cast in some stronger wind. Knowing this cast can make a big difference in your success rate. I will be booking with Captain Dave in the near future.