Backcountry fishing charters out of Stock Island are definitely very popular. Most backcountry charters fish out of bay boats or flats boats. The bay boats are your more hybrid style boats that can handle bigger chop yet fish in the shallows. Bay boats typically handle up to 4 people max and are usually under 25 feet. Flats boats are the more traditional backcountry fishing vessels ranging up to 20 feet and taking two passengers max. These are the boats that you would likely be fly fishing on and primarily sight fishing on the flats with.

What is the backcountry?

The “backcountry” is a term used to describe a very wide area including mangrove islands, flats, sandbars, shallow grass basins, shallow structures or wrecks, and channels that cut between the flats. Typically all the areas in the backcountry are in the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge. On a typical day of backcountry fishing in a bay boat, you could fish all aspects of the backcountry. Species could include:

  • Jacks (yellow jacks & jack crevalle)
  • Barracuda
  • Tarpon
  • Sharks (black tip, bonnet head, lemon, bull)
  • Ladyfish
  • Sea trout
  • Pompano
  • Permit
  • Bonefish
  • Mackerel (spanish and cero)
  • Grouper (red, gag, black)
  • Snapper (mangrove, mutton, lane)
  • And more!

You would spend a little bit of time in each type of environment depending on what you were fishing for and how good the bite is in each certain area. Sometimes we only fish on the flats and/or only fish the channels. If it is a bit windy sometimes we try and get up close to some mangrove islands to hide out in calmer water.

The flats boats typically fish up on top of the flats and sight fish. Species that they are primarily targeting include:

  • Bonefish
  • Tarpon
  • Permit
  • Barracudas

A lot of the more hardcore anglers go on flats fishing adventures because of the difficulty of sight fishing or fly fishing.

Depending on the time of year and the weather, you could get into a wide range of species fishing the backcountry. Also another good note to backcountry fishing is that very few days get canceled due to weather, unlike offshore and deep sea fishing. This is because the backcountry is very shallow and takes a lot of wind power to make it un-fishable and unsafe.