Take the Dare, and Fish in Florida

By: Terry Gibson


Thanks go to Lantana-based Capt. Danny Barrow, one of the top inshore fishing guides in Palm Beach County. Danny posted this John Steinbeck quote on Facebook:

"It has always been my private conviction that any man who pits his intelligence against a fish and loses has it coming."

I'll take that as a dare.

Florida is unique in its diversity of fishing options. In single day, an angler can test his or her mettle against the smartest tarpon, bonefish, permit or bass, among many other challenging species, and take a youngster to catch a mess of panfish that afternoon.

But if you're up for a really rewarding challenge, here's what I recommend:

Go for a 10-pound bass in Lake Okeechobee, the Harris Chain of Lakes or Lake Toho. Using live shiners is the best bet, but the real challenge is catching one of these wise old fish on artificials. You've got a shot no matter the season.

Go for a 100-pound-plus tarpon on the oceanside flats of the Florida Keys. In the late spring, these fish begin migrating through clear azure waters in large schools. They swim quickly, have keen eyesight, and they live plenty long to get wary about boats, flies and lures. It's an angling challenge if there ever was one.

Go for a 10-pound bonefish in Biscayne Bay. Most bonefish in this area are big -- six pounds and up. Live shrimp or small live crabs are the best bait. But these fish will take jigs and flies as well. No matter what you throw at them, the cast must be spot-on. The fish are present year-round.

Go for a marlin off Jupiter or Key West. Blue and white marlin catch numbers are up, and the months of May and September tend to offer the most shots. Eat your Wheaties -- these powerful fish range from 200 to more than 1,000 pounds.

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