Fishing with the Pros
Fish Tale Marina, located at the south end of Fort Myers Beach, offers fishing charters by appointment that are led by an expert team of captains, some of the island's best inshore and offshore guides. Now that area waters are back to normal in the wake of Hurricane Isaac, the captains are back to doing what they love, including Captains Rob Modys and Brad Brown.
Captain Rob is a full-time backcountry guide with over 45 years of experience fishing the waters of Southwest Florida. His lifelong love of the sport began when he was just five years old. Growing up in the Clearwater area, Captain Rob became familiar with fishing the Gulf of Mexico, bay waters and inlets. He became a full-time guide in 2001, turning his recreational pastime into his profession, though he doesn't get to fish when guiding charters. At the time he started, he was guiding other anglers around the bay waters near Matlacha and Pine Island.
Modys began fishing Estero Bay around 1979 and eventually moved to the area 20 years later. He's been a fixture at Fish Tale Marina since 2008. "This winter, I'll be starting my fifth year at Fish Tale,” he says. "I focus on the whole bay, from top to bottom.” His favorite places to take customers are creeks in what he calls "the backcountry.” His favorite catch is Redfish, but he says that reeling Tarpon out of the Gulf - in season - is the most challenging.
September is typically the slowest time for fishing charters, so Captain Rob finds himself attending conferences and trade shows and performing routine maintenance. "We usually have four to six weeks of down time,” says Modys. "That gives us a chance to do maintenance on everything from rods and reels to our boats. I go over my boat from bow-to-stern to get it ready for season.”
During season, he stays busy all day, every day, sometimes taking two fishing charter trips per day. "[Fish Tale is] now up to eight or nine captains and we all stay pretty busy,” he says. In fact, Modys stays booked most of the time and refers "the overflow” to his fellow charter captains at the marina. Captain Rob specializes in guiding both novice and advanced fly and spin anglers. He serves as the President of the Lee County Professional Guides Association, Pro Staff member of Bass Pro Shops and host of ESPN's Reel Talk radio Show. He also contributes a weekly fishing report to the Sand Paper.
When asked if he still fishes for pleasure, Modys says, "I love getting out there, especially with my wife. With my job, she never gets to go fishing.”
Captain Brad Brown has also been fishing since he was boy, noting family photographs from when he was aged three or four with a rod in his hand. Growing up in Maryland, he loved to fish the waters of Chesapeake Bay. It was the warm Gulf waters that brought him to southwest Florida 16 years ago. Captain Brad has been fishing Estero Bay for over 10 years, seven of those as a professional guide with Moonlight Charters.
For the past four years, he has been part of the fishing charter business at Fish Tale Marina. "It is absolutely a top notch marina,” said Brown. "They have great people there. It is the best thing that ever happened to me and my business.”
When the Island Sand Paper caught up with him Wednesday, he was busy helping customers chase Redfish in the Back Bay, where he is quite knowledgeable. Asked where his favorite spots are in the bay, he responded, "It's not so much spots. It just depends on tides, wind and how much water you have to fish in.” His favorite bayside catches are Redfish and Snook.
Captain Brad has been a part of several Fishing Tournament circuits, making a name for himself as "Team of the Year" in the local Flats Masters Series for 2008. That same year, Brown and his two teammates won a boat and a sizeable trophy as the Flats Masters Series Champions.
"I started out in tournament fishing and really loved it,” added Brown. "That led me to becoming a guide and I love my ‘outdoor office.'”
While his personal fishing time is limited, he still loves the challenge of pulling Tarpon out of the Gulf in season.
Some of the other, experienced charter captains at Fish Tale Marina are Captains Greg Smith, Mike Denegre, Phil Pica and Jon Fetter.
Captain Greg Smith specializes in offshore fishing targeting grouper, snapper, and shark. A 4th generation Fort Myers native, he has been fishing the Gulf of Mexico since he could hold a pole.
Specializing in family charters, Captain Mike Denegre will put the youngest to the most seasoned anglers on the best fish Southwest Florida has to offer. Fishing up to six at a time, Captain Mike's open deck pontoon boat is ideal for backcountry fishing along the bay. His boat is handicap accessible and has a restroom onboard. Mike has a vast knowledge of Estero Bay and is anxious to share it with everyone no matter their level of experience.
Captain Phil Pica is a full time guide and has been fishing the Southwest Florida waters from Boca Grande to the Keys since 1980. He specializes in offshore light tackle sport fishing for Tarpon, permit, Cobia and Snook, as well as Grouper and Snapper. Captain Phil's tower boat lets him see schools of fish and that gives his anglers the advantage of sight fishing big fish in the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Captain Jon Fetter has spent 30 years fishing with experience ranging from farm ponds in Ohio to bone fishing in the Abaco Islands of the Bahamas. He now calls Southwest Florida home where he hunts the flats and mangroves in search of monster Snook, Redfish, and Tarpon. Captain Jon is the current Secretary of the Lee County Professional Guides Association and a Pro Staff member of Bass Pro Shops.
Anglers of any skill level are welcome to take advantage of the expert guides at Fish Tale Marina. Those interested, should inquire at the Ship Store, call 239-463-3600 or visit thefishtalemarina.com/fishing-charters.html.