Deep Sea Fishing with Hooked Charters
While this may be sacrilege for those that regularly visit St. George Island, I’m not much of a fisherman. Honestly, growing up, when we’d go fishing, I always thought it was boring. However, we recently had a guest at Sand Dollar, Doug and his family , that went on an offshore fishing trip with Hooked Charters and couldn’t speak more highly of his trip. Doug told us, “I have been fishing inshore and offshore for the past 20 years and [Captain Dwayne from Hooked Charters] is by far the best captain I have ever had. You’re very lucky to have access to him in your area!” That’s some very high praise, so I gave Captain Dwayne a call and set up a charter during our trip to St. George Island.
As I mentioned, I’m not much of a fisherman, so for this blog we called in the fishing experts, David and Ashley Beigle (David is Jonathan’s brother). David, Ashley and their two girls live in the fishing community of Keaton Beach and are very knowledgeable about all things fishing.
Hooked Charters is captained by Dwayne Coulter, who is licensed through the US Coast Guard. The Hooked Charters Facebook page says, “Dwayne is a 4th generation fisherman who has been charter fishing since 2010 and offers bay and off shore fishing, sightseeing trips, pirate trips for kids, island hopping, and cruises up the Apalachicola River.” Dwayne says that all you need to bring for your trip are snacks, drinks, and sunscreen, and he will provide the rest.
Jonathan booked this charter for us, and we were originally scheduled to fish on a Monday. Dwayne called Sunday night and said the seas were going to be a little too rough so we rescheduled for later in the week. We appreciated the concern for the high winds and seas and the ability to reschedule. We loaded up and drove to Apalachicola, which is only a short 20 minute drive, and met Dwayne at 7:30am at the boat dock.
Dwayne is very friendly and personable. Dwayne’s Facebook page says he is “family friendly - you will have no smoking, no drinking and no cussing from this Captain”. That is absolutely the truth. We greatly appreciated the light-hearted, family-friendly atmosphere.
A small side note here about preparing for the trip. We were given advice from a friend to take Bonine® which is a non-drowsy sea sick medication. The friend recommended taking one dose the night before and one the morning of the trip. It was well worth it to take the motion sickness pills. Whether you have been on a boat all of your life or never before, you will never regret taking it just to be on the safe side. You never know what the wind will do during your trip. For example, our 1-2 foot seas became closer to 3-foot seas at times. Trust us, just take the medicine!
Ok…back to the trip. Dwayne has a 25-foot SeaFox that has plenty of seating and storage. It has a private area for women to use the bathroom. Dwayne carries multiple kinds of bait and fishing poles to help you get the best fish you can.
We went off shore in September so we were not targeting red snapper, but we tried to catch just about anything else that was legal. The first spot we landed on, Jonathan and David’s dad hooked an 8ft 200+lb hammerhead shark. It was fun for them to fight it to get it to the boat even though we couldn’t keep it.
Jonathan also hooked a nice red snapper in the same spot. Once again, even though it wasn’t snapper season it was fun to catch. We also caught strawberry grouper, red grouper, and mangrove snapper.
One thing, we really enjoyed about the trip is that if we weren’t catching, we didn’t stay on that spot long. We moved to several different spots and would even back track over a spot if we got off course by chasing a fish. If the fish were there, we stayed and fished it as much as we could, but if there wasn’t any action we moved on.
Another thing we enjoyed was Dwayne’s wide variety of bait. We used anything from live pin fish, frozen mullet, dead pin fish, mackerel, and even squid. Overall, Dwayne kept us on the fish. Even if they weren’t all keepers, the thrill of a big fish fighting is always fun.
Here are just a few tips from us for your fishing charter. Like Dwayne said on his Facebook page, bring drinks, snacks, and sunscreen. Drink plenty of water. You really should wear and re-apply sunscreen, there isn’t much shade on the boat. The smoothest ride on the boat is sitting in the back fold up seats. So anyone prone to being sea sick needs to plan on sitting in the back.
Even though it wasn’t red snapper season (which typically covers 60 days in June and July) it was very clear that Dwayne knew the spots for red snapper. If you are in the area during red snapper season, set up a trip with Dwayne. You won’t regret it! Also, according to an executive order issued today, the governor of Florida issued an executive order adding red snapper days to the fall calendar for each of the last three weekends in October. So book a trip with Dwayne today!