I can take 4 to 7 days around Christmas to go for a great trip, anywhere in Florida. I have Hobie 12' Pro Angler with outrigger, 2.5 Suzuki, Motorguide spot lock electric and a Hummingbird 360/sidescan. On a trailer. It went together a little more each year, or I might have bought a boat, ha ha...
I need a place to stay (rustically is fine), keep my stuff secure at night and recharge my batteries, etc. Tarpon are my favorite, anything else big comes in second. Not interested in small stuff, except to turn it back out for bait. I'm usually flexible on when but not this time, going both sides of and including Christmas Day. This is a real question, I'm going somewhere but not settled on where. Here I am scrambling since I just discovered the access to my warm water discharge spot has changed.
Thanks for your input.
On the Flamingo side of things - all that's there for places to stay are the campgrounds or yurts... No restaurants, etc - but they do have a marina store, fuel and ice (and right now the big tarpon are in the interior - don't tell anyone..). Most stay in motels or hotels in the Homestead / Florida City area and commute in fifty miles each day... Yes, it's a national park so there are extra rules and regs to follow if you want to access the fishing there. An added bonus is that the motels, etc are only 18 miles from Key Largo -so you're only a short drive to all the restaurants in the upper Keys area each night... One more bit of good news is that Homestead Bayfront Park is only a few miles from anywhere you're staying in that area - and its launch ramps provide access to the south end of Biscayne Bay as well as the extreme north end of Key Largo where there's bonefish, permit, etc. - as well as miles and miles of very clear shallow flats and shorelines if the backountry of the Everglades gets old (not something I've ever found...).
On the Chokoloskee / Everglades City side of the Park you're only 30 miles west of the Naples / Marco Island area. Both the island (Choko) and the nearby small town (Everglades City) have places to stay and local restaurants. Boat ramps are only minutes away wherever you are and that whole area is a shallow water angler's dream... The downside - lots of bugs, lots of oyster patches, bars, and reefs - and so much fishy looking water that some find it intimidating...
As you can guess -the entire Park is my favorite place in this world.... I've been guiding there now for almost 26 years at last count. For anyone wanting a list of places to stay on the Flamingo side of things... I will send it to you if requested no charge and every place listed is where my anglers have stayed in years past... send an email to [email protected] You can also get a brochure if you ask... No such thing as too many bookings for this guy... Since it is that time of year I'm also doing gift certificates for that special angler in your life... A trip to either side of the 'glades would be my idea of a great gift...
Less intimidating than the glades for a first-timer too, although you'll surely have better chances at tarpon down there.
I launch my AI/2.5 suzuki either at the E.C. ENP HQ (for gulfside access) or roadside just shy of Choko to go up the Turner or Lopez.
It is not terribly intimidating with a decent GPS/map chip. I've got navionics.
I like a mix of fishing while I'm in the area but one day last year jumped two mature tarpon casting paddletails for "whatever bites". Wasn't prepared for big fish in small water.
I've had other wardens check over my rig the past few years. Got tags,flares,running lights,etc. Totally legal. I thought. Except nobody told me - and I hadn't thought of - the dam fire extinguisher. No,I didn't get a ticket.
I picked one up on the way back. But the only place I could put it is zip-tied in the milk crate in back...I'd have to reach past any potential fire to get it.
Like everyone else, I keep all of the needed (and required ) safety gear on my skiff -but I pray that any fire is a tiny one and I catch it quick enough to shut it down before the glass gets cooking... and I end up swimming... and if any fire gets to your fuel tank we're talking viral video - and you won't want to be anywhere near it...