Affordable Offshore Charter Fishing near Englewood Beach, Florida

  • 5 hour Offshore Fishing Trip, we caught more than 50 fish!
  • Cost was so affordable, all gear and bait was provided
  • Enjoyable day, the captain cleaned all the fish!

By Bob Holzhei

Dave Barus with one of the many fish we hooked up with and released. we caught so many hard-fighting fish in such a short time. Was such fun! Bob Holzhei Photo

The fishing action in the Gulf of Mexico was like playing pinball. It was non-stop action baiting the hook and dropping the baited hook down to bottom, then reeling the line in three full turns. Bang! Boom! Hang on to the rod!

Live shrimp were among the baits we used to fool so many fish in such a short time. These were hooked up with a size 3 hook below a 2-ounce slide sinker using 40-pound mono tied to 40-pound braid. Forrest Fisher Photo

Dave Barus, an outdoor writer from western New York and I booked a charter with Captain Terry Heller.  The boat was launched out of Placida, FL and we fished about 8-1/2 miles off shore, far beyond the sight of land.  There were no other boats in sight as three-foot waves grew in intensity to about five feet.  We were alone in the Gulf of Mexico and became part of the natural world that day, bobbing and bouncing around like a little cork for a few hours. The chop didn’t hurt the fishing.

A Lowrance GPS guided us to Heller’s many hotspots where he has been successful before.  In each, a small buoy was dropped to mark the area and the anchor was released to hold the boat where fish showed up on the fish finder.

Captain Terry Heller drops a special buoy that allows him to mobilize his boat position in relation to this known marker spot and navigate his fishing clients over tiny rock beds that hold giant and plentiful fish on the bottom. Forrest Fisher Photo

The bait was dropped in 50-57 feet of water, then pulled up from the bottom three full turns on the reel.

“Fish-on!” I yelled as the hook was set.

“Fish-On!” Yelled Barus.

After my first Key West Grunt was boated, Heller hurried to the other side of the boat to assist Barus with battling the fish.  Ocean fish fight much harder than expected and a couple of times Captain Heller had to hold onto the rod as I lifted the rod up and reeled line in on the down stroke.  “I gotta start a harder workout each day (note to myself).” The rod tip jumped again and again, and setting the hook hard was advised by Heller because the various saltwater fish out there have such tough mouths.

Captain Terry Heller baited the Eagle Claw size 3 hook with a variety of baits including shrimp, cut squid and sardines.  A 7-1/2 foot Sussex rod with a 300-400 series Penn Reel had 20-pound braid line on it.

The fishing reels were 300-400 series saltwater models with tough, durable braided line. Forrest Fisher Photo

Heller started fishing with his father at 65 years ago when he was 5 years old and has been a full-time professional fishing guide for 5 years in Florida.

The center console walk-around 24-foot Polar boat was equipped with a 225 horsepower Yamaha four-stroke outboard and also had an 80-pound torque Minn Kota trolling motor on the bow.

Red and Gag Grouper were caught, Snapper, Sea Bass, Trigger fish, Tom Toms and Key West Grunts. Wow! Many fish were released back in the water because the season had not opened yet, but we caught more than 50 fish in 3 short hours of bottom dipping with bait in the right places. Caption Heller cleaned, filleted and bagged the fish for us, all part of the trip cost.

“When you like to do something you love, it’s not hard.  I like taking 10-year old’s fishing, especially my grandkids.  No only do they learn fast, but they also have patience.  They really like catching big Groupers,” concluded Heller.

We fished for $165 apiece. A great value and a fun trip. For additional information, Captain Heller says you can call him at 941-587-4460.

The 24′ boat was so tough out there, very durable, I felt safe the entire trip. Forrest Fisher Photo