What’s better than fishing out of Flamingo in the Florida Everglades? Staying on a houseboat to fish out of Flamingo in the Florida Everglades.
Magnus Gunnarsson and Jose Chavez from Savage Gear lures had always booked a hotel room in Homestead and slogged the daily 48-mile drive between that town and the remote Flamingo Visitor Center in Everglades National Park — the jumping-off point for backcountry fishing. But one week in late January, Gunnarsson decided to try renting a houseboat from Flamingo Adventures.
According to the outfitter’s website, each 42-foot houseboat sleeps four adults and two children, with prices starting at $350. However, Chavez — Savage Gear’s head of product development — invited Sport Fishing’s Doug Olander along as well as photographer Adrian Gray and Savage Gear head of digital assets Sam Root.
Root, Chavez and Gray all brought skiffs so they could leave the houseboat tied to the marina dock to run out front for snook and redfish. To better reach tarpon on the backside of Flamingo, they took the houseboat and the skiffs to an anchorage overnight.
They also took aboard a FireDisc Cooker, a lightweight portable propane-powered unit, to prepare outdoor meals as weather permitted.
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Chavez says their larger group of five adult males felt a little snug in the accommodations, but “it’s just so much of a timesaver not to go back and forth to Homestead,” Chavez says.
Judging by the photos, the group got into a variety of species, all on Savage Gear baits such as the Pulse Tail Mullet, Twitch Reaper, 3D Shrimp, and Baitfish.
Floating in the backcountry aboard a rental houseboat puts you right on the water when you need to be. It’s easy to tie up several skiffs, although to move the mothership, the skiffs must be piloted separately.
A Hell’s Bay snook caught on a floating Savage Gear Twitch Reaper, a sub-surface twitchbait with 4X hooks and through-wire construction. An apt small-profile lure for targeting big fish.
The best kind of dawn wakeup call — sizzling bacon on the FireDisc Cooker. Root took the chef honors
This Flamingo redfish was caught on a Pulse Tail Mullet, a weedless loose-body lure fished with a wide-gap hook. The tail design imparts a realistic swimming action and excels at drawing strikes from pressured fish, Chavez says.
To fish the backcountry, the group anchored the houseboat and ran to fish optimal locations with the three skiffs they brought. The water was a bit cold for tarpon, though they did manage to score.
Gray hooked up to a backcountry ‘poon. The fish ate a Twitch Reaper.
The trip’s arsenal included weedless and ready-to-fish Pulse Tail Mullet (left), Baitfish (which resemble scaled sardines), and Mud Minnows as well as Twitch Reapers, in floating and suspending versions, which work well for shallow flats or deeper potholes.
Chavez prepares to release a redfish caught on a weedless Pulse Tail Mullet as Gunnarsson clears the gear.
A juvenile Goliath grouper that fell prey to a weedless 3D Shrimp rounded out the multispecies trip.
There’s nothing wrong with adding a little beef to the plate once the catch-and-release is done. Root tends to the steaks and vegetables in the FireDisc Cooker back at the marina dock.