Islamorada Fishing Charter Information

Here are a list of frequently asked questions about my fishing charters, and a list of my best answers to them!

How do we go about booking a fishing trip?

If you have questions about fishing please feel free to contact me directly.  I’m more than happy to answer all of them.  If you are ready to book a fishing trip, then I’ll usually have you contact Bud n’ Mary’s Marina where I fish out of and they can take a deposit to set it up.  You can reach us at the following:

Capt. Rick Stanczyk


Bud n’ Mary’s Fishing Marina
305-664-2461 (Open 7 AM to 7 PM, 7 days a week)

Note: If you are driving a long distance to meet me for a fishing trip (from Key West, Miami, etc…) my policy is we always meet at the dock in the morning to decide if we go fishing, regardless of what weather forecasts say.  If you do not want to do this, then I will not take your booking – simple as that.

How can we pay for our fishing trip?

Cash or check is preferred, though I can take credit cards if necessary.   Venmo works too.  Credit cards/venmo are subject to a service fee of 4% so please keep that in mind.

How much do your fishing trips cost?

Contender Bay Boat pricing fishing with Capt. Rick Stanczyk

SEASONAL RATES (February through June)

FULL DAY (7-8 HOURS) BOOKING ONLY – $1535.00 All catch & release only, mostly tarpon fishing unless I feel conditions are no good then I may recommend something else.

OFF SEASON RATES (July through January) Off season we usually do more variety focused fishing, unless the tarpon fishing happens to be really good.

Half day (4 hours) up to 3 people $835.00

3/4 day (6 hours) up to 3 people – $1035.00 

Full day (8 hours) up to 3 people – $1235.00

3 people MAX on all trips, sorry no exceptions.


Contender Bay Boat pricing fishing with Capt. Stephen Byrd

Half day (4 hours) up to 3 people $835.00

3/4 day (6 hours) up to 3 people – $1035.00 

Full day (8 hours) up to 3 people – $1235.00

(Capt. Stephen is willing to take a 4th person occasionally for an extra $100.00)


Classic SeaCraft pricing fishing with Capt. Trentin Leary

Half day (4 hours) 1 to 3 people – $735.00

3/4 day (6 hours) 1 to 3 people – $935.00

Full Day (8 hours) 1 to 3 people – $1135.00

3 people MAX on all trips, sorry no exceptions.


What is standard gratuity for a fishing charter?

This is entirely up to you, but I tell most people for an enjoyable day on the water we usually get a 15% to 20% tip.  This doesn’t always necessarily mean that we caught tons of fish as we can’t always control that, but rather did I work hard for you and put in a good effort?  Was I courteous and pleasant to be around?  Was the boat and tackle well taken care of?  Did you have a good time regardless of what you caught?  Are you excited to come back and fish with me?  Of course catching a bunch of fish doesn’t hurt!

How many people do you take out on your charters?

3 people is the maximum amount of people on my charters currently.  For me I want people to have a good fishing experience and in a boat like mine, packing more than 3 people (plus myself) in it usually doesn’t give you that.  It’s harder to fish and move around, you are always bumping into somebody or someone is in the way when you need to move around fast, it weighs the boat down more so if we have to get into shallow areas to fish or catch bait it makes that tougher or impossible, and you make more noise which scares the fish.  Also it’s usually more tangling lines and frustration then it’s worth especially if everybody on board wants to fish.

How long of a fishing trip should I book?

Most of the time I recommend customers to book a full day (8 hours) of fishing if they are serious about it.  In my busy season (February through June) I am just fishing full days most of the time anyhow.  We usually depart around 7 AM and are back in around 3 PM, however I may change that opinion depending on tides or conditions.  Though some times conditions just aren’t very nice, and a half day trip sticking close to home makes the most sense.  For many of our trips, the areas we fish in the everglades and gulf you can only get to on a full day.  We often run an hour or more, and on a half day (4 hours) you are just very limited in terms of fishing time and being able to move around if things don’t work out on your first or second stop.  Though with the full day you’ll also have the time to fish the low water and the high water, and of course work more areas, and sometimes fishing may be much better being able to do that.  Of course this may change the day of the trip so I just recommend to be open to suggestion.  Some fishing grounds may not be accessible especially if we have 15-20+ mph winds, however my boat is big and comfortable enough to get you out somewhere and catch something on most any day!

When is the best time to come fishing in the Keys?

Well that all depends on what you want to catch, and to be quite honest it can be best on any day of the year.  It really depends on the conditions of the day, and of course you can’t predict that very well ahead of time. Guides such as myself often book up months in advance especially in ‘busy season,’ February through July, so you can’t always just wait for that perfect day.  Though if you are here for a length of time in the off season, sometimes you do have that luxury.  If you e-mail or call me, I’m happy to give you a run-down of what you may expect to catch during any given time of year.  I can also check tides and moon phases for you. Those play a big role in how the fishing may be and you can predict those fairly accurately, though to be quite honest I’ve had great fishing at all times of day, on any given tide, and on any given wind direction… I can steer you towards a day that is more favorable for certain areas, but just because you can’t come that day doesn’t mean things will be good or bad necessarily.

What about inclement weather or extreme wind?

I always tell my customers to just show up in the morning and let’s see what it looks like at that time.  You can’t always trust the forecast days before.  I’ve gone out on days that you’d of thought would of been a total blowout and had great fishing.  Remember I have a larger style boat for the backcountry, so I can get out on a lot of days when you wouldn’t want to be there in a smaller skiff and still be comfortable.  As far as rain goes, I don’t mind going if it is drizzling on and off, though I usually will not go if it is torrential downpours (which are rare).  Lightning we do not go fishing.  As far as winds go, usually if it is 20 mph or less we are going fishing.  If is is 25-30+ mph, I leave it up to the customers.  We can find places that are close by to get our fishing day in, I know many people only have a particular day to be here and they want to make the most of it.  If it is unsafe for some reason, we will not go, though that is usually due to lightning or extreme winds from some type of storm.

Do you ever offer any discounts?

Occasionally in the off season if I have a long stretch of days I’m not booked and I’m getting bored at home, I do offer discounts for those who book early and before I get too many days filled in.  You can find my discounted trip rates and times here.  But don’t expect any, especially during our busy season.  I usually tell people I work very hard at fishing and just like with everything in life, you get what you pay for.  The guys who offer discounts are usually not going to be putting in the extra effort, burning the fuel, buying the extra bait/chum, throwing the cast net to catch plenty of bait, putting in the extra time, or running a top of the line boat with newer equipment/gear, to give you the best chance at catching fish.

What does ‘backcountry’ fishing mean?

Backcountry fishing, or inshore fishing, is kind of a loose term that is interchangeable.  In general when we say ‘backcountry’ fishing or inshore fishing in Islamorada most people are simply referring to fishing in a smaller boat usually on the gulf/bay side (though not always).  This may include fishing the flats (very skinny water), fishing the gulf, fishing the creeks and canals of the everglades, fishing around island moats, fishing around the bridges and channels near Islamorada, or even fishing the shallow patch reefs on the ocean side.  Some times we are fishing within a mile of the marina, other times we may be running close to 50 miles from the dock.

What styles of fishing do you offer?

There are different styles of fishing as well which include use of fly and spin gear, though I really am mostly a spinning gear fishermen though anglers are welcome to bring a fly rod if they choose.  We often blind cast around structure, trees, wrecks, or holes.  Sometimes we are sight fishing where you’ll actually see the fish and throw to it.  Sometimes we simply put baits out, either live or dead, and sit and wait.  We often use live bait (much of which I catch myself) such as shrimp, pilchards, mullet, crabs, pinfish, ballyhoo, or even stuff that we catch while fishing such as ladyfish.  I have all necessary gear that we will need.  You are welcome to bring your own, however I usually recommend people use mine.  It’s rigged with the proper line and is the right size for fish we will be targeting.  I also trust the knots are tied right and the reels are in good shape.  I’ve had people lose trophy-class fish on their tackle which we put hours into finding due to sticky drags and line that was in bad shape, or worse knots that came untied!

Where do we meet you for our fishing day?

I dock at Bud n’ Mary’s Marina in Islamorada, Florida which my family owns and operates.  It is located at 79851 Overseas Highway, Islamorada, FL 33036.  If you are familiar with the Mile Marker system, it is at MM 79.8 (just south of 80) on the ocean side.  You can usually just pull in and check in at the front office and have them find me, or if you are meeting me off hours just email/text me and I’ll find you.

Can you pick us up at our hotel via boat?

No I don’t do hotel pickups via boat.  Unfortunately additional insurance is required for every possible pick up location I could go to.  Also it is not always convenient as if it is windy it’s not always easy to get to where your dock may be.  Lastly all my gear, bait, fuel, etc… is at my dock so I am usually busy handling all those things in the morning, and sometimes even going and catching bait before you get to there.  It’s just easiest to meet me at Bud n’ Mary’s.

Do I need to have any prior experience to go fishing?

Most backcountry fishing trips are much more ‘hands on’ for the customers, so it helps to have some fishing experience – though it isn’t a necessity and I have people with 0 experience regularly.  Actually many of the people that catch the most fish on my boats have little to no experience, and this is because they usually listen to the captain!  You’ll be doing lots of casting most of the time, so that is always something that I encourage people to try on their own if possible and is probably the most important skill as far as being able to get bites out of fish.  Being able to cast fairly accurately to present your bait or lure to a fish will increase your chances of catching a fish, it’s as simple as that.  Aside from casting their is also working your bait – this may include jigging an artificial, or just knowing how long to let a bait sink depending on current, wind, etc…  This is hard to practice on your own but listen to the captain and they will explain or show you little subtleties that can make a huge difference.  You’ll also be the one hooking and landing your fish, so having some practice doing this also helps though obviously you have to go fishing to do this.  It’s really not that hard – just listen to the captain as depending on the hook and style of fishing we are doing, you may do different things.  You’ll need to know how to properly fight your fish and keep ample pressure on it.  Luckily we mostly fish spinning tackle where the drags are already set, though being able to adjust it may save you catching a fish or two especially if something gets tangled or for some other reason we need to quickly increase or decrease the drag on the reel.  Knowing how to do this helps (as well as when to do it) and is very easy to do.  You’ll need to be able to maneuver around the boat and keep your line away from the boat/prop/structure that may cut you off.  This may depend on your level of fitness and comfort on a boat, but don’t worry we work with all levels of people and some times you just need to hand the rod off for a little assistance from somebody more nimble.  There are also other things you’ll need to do.  I’m more than happy to give instruction and it’s not really as hard as it sounds, but one thing I recommend is just remain teachable!  I’ll usually fish along side you from time to time, and can show you techniques and subtleties you may overlook.  Now of course we can sometimes make the fishing a little bit easier by changing what we are targeting or allowing me to set baits out on the bottom if you are worried about snagging trees, etc…  We catch a variety of fish here in the Florida Keys.  Some of them are very easy to catch and even young children can do it who have never fished before.  Others are very difficult that even frustrate someone like myself who fishes 300 days a year!

What type of fishing should I be trying to do?

Well it depends on the conditions when you are here and your experience level, though I’m happy to give you different options on the day of.  Often times I may suggest mixing things up.  For instance, it may be viable to catch some trout, snapper, ladyfish, etc… then maybe fish for redfish while the tide is right, and then try for a big tarpon, shark, or something like this.  It gives anglers a taste of different things, maybe gives them the opportunity to bring some fish back for dinner, and catch a large fish that they’ll likely remember for a long time to come.  If one thing doesn’t work out at least you can go try something else, and there are some days where conditions may just not be good enough for what you want to try to catch.  That being said, fish such as tarpon can be very picky, and it usually takes putting a couple hours in at least to have a decent shot at getting a bite, hooking one, and landing one of these magnificent fish.  Now I have no problem fishing for one thing all day if that’s what you so choose, remember it’s your day on the water and I’ll give a 100% effort on whatever you want to do.

Can we keep our fish for dinner?

Sure we can keep some fish for lunch or dinner for your party.  However for our inshore fishing we are usually not ‘filling the coolers’ as they do more so on offshore fishing trips.  You can usually expect to catch enough to feed the people that are on the trip, and perhaps a couple others if we have a good day.  Obviously there are certain seasons for some fish and size limits which we always abide by.  There are also certain fish which I do not like to kill even though it may be legal to do so.  Snook, redfish, permit, and bonefish particularly I do not like to kill as they are considered sportfish for us and just are not as plentiful as say snapper – and they are no better to eat anyhow!

What do you provide on the trip for your customers?

I provide all licenses, bait, tackle, and a cooler with ice for my customers.  I have all necessary safety gear including life jackets, flares, whistles, and a fire extinguisher. I also have some light rain jackets I keep on board that you are welcome to use if necessary.  You are welcome to bring your own rod and reel if you like, though I will have all tackle required.  You’ll need to bring your own food and drink, that I do not provide.

What should I bring for food and drink?

As far as food and drinks go bring what you want for lunch, maybe a snack, and whatever you need to drink.  For snacks I encourage people to bring stuff that is ‘clean’ to it, i.e. bar food or something solid, as opposed to chips that get crunched and can spill making a mess.  I recommend water or powerade to drink, though a few beers are fine if you like. Remember our boats are of a limited size, so please try not to bring your entire refrigerator worth of food – it’s only a 4, 6, or 8 hour trip.  If you think you have a lot of stuff please bring your own cooler we can make room for it if necessary.  No hard liquor on my boat please that usually never leads to good things.  I always do tell people fishing is something you have to have respect for.  There are lots of things with sharp teeth, sharp hooks flying around, knives cutting things, wild animals, and you are many miles away from anything – so please don’t over indulge and try to pay attention.

Anything else specific I need to bring?

I recommend having a good pair of polarized sunglasses and a good hat, they will allow you to see better in the water as well as protect your eyes from the sun and hooks that may be flying around.  Dress accordingly, most of the time this would be in light pants or shorts, tennis shoes (white sole bottoms, no black please), and a light long sleeve shirt – which can also help with bugs if they are a problem.  Sandals are not really recommended, though of course people wear them all the time.  A fishing boat isn’t the best place for bare feet, I usually am always wearing sneakers or fishing boots to protect my feet when fishing.  I also suggest bringing a sun buff, which helps protect your face from the sun and again if bugs are bad can help keep them off of you.  I try to protect myself from the sun as much as possible, you are welcome to enjoy it more but just remember you’ll be in it all day long so protect yourself.  It may be chilly or down right cold, so check the time of year and temperatures and make sure to bring jackets or long pants if necessary.  I have some rain jackets on board that you may use, however if it’s forecast to be rainy I recommend bringing your own rain suit.  It’s not often we have torrential rain for the whole day, but rather an occasional passing shower.  You never can know for sure though.  This is about all I can think of right now, please e-mail me or call me if you have any other questions or if you are thinking about booking a trip.  I look forward to fishing with you soon!

Do I have to worry about getting sea sick?

Usually this is not a problem for most people on our backcountry fishing trips.  I’ve only ever had a handful of people actually get sick when it was very rough, and this is when we were fishing in more open water areas.  If it becomes an issue we can always move to calm, protected water where there are no waves, and eliminate that threat entirely.  I usually tell people not to worry about it, but if you are really concerned then take some seasickness medication the night before, and again the morning of the trip.

Are there any bathrooms available near where we are fishing?

Sometimes.  There is no bathroom on my boat so usually people must just hang it over the side to go.  However there are certain areas where we can stop for a bathroom break if necessary, but it really depends if we are fishing in that area.  Of course I don’t like to fish an area that may not be good fishing just because it’s near a bathroom, but if you really have to use one let me know and we will work it out.

Do you allow smoking on your boat?

As long as it’s legal you may smoke on the boat.  But please be careful when you do so and bring a receptacle for your butts.

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
Instagram: @richardstanczyk
Facebook: Islamorada Tarpon Fishing