Fishin' GirlMeet Cathy Sanders, owner of Fishin' Girl, a beach surf-fishing charter in Flagler County. Sanders began fishing at an early age and is now sharing her love for the sport with her guided excursions. 

What made you want to start Fishin’ Girl Surf Fishing Charters?

Once I became successful on the beach with catching fish, I wanted to teach my lady friends how to fish too, and got several of them addicted to it! Anyone I showed how to fish was also starting to have success with surf fishing. I started teaching my friends so I would have people to fish with and not have to go alone. Then one day my husband asked me to consider teaching people and getting paid to do it, and that sounded a lot better than sitting at home behind a computer all day (I’m still a book designer, have created over 450 books for clients over the last 15 years, but have scaled back the number of projects I work on now). So we started Fishin’ Girl, LLC with a 3-fold purpose: to run surf-fishing charters; to gather women who love to fish so they can connect with each other; to develop branded fishing tackle and clothing that makes it easier for women (or any angler) to fish.

How did you become interested in fishing and surf fishing?

I honestly don’t know who taught me to fish. I don’t have any family members that I remember teaching me how to fish. My earliest memories are as a young girl in Syracuse, NY, catching goldfish and bullheads from neighborhood ponds, then fishing ponds for bluegill and bass and a teenager, and then fishing for catfish and bass with my husband in South West Missouri while we were in college. Hobbies took a back burner while our kids were growing up, but when we moved to Florida I saw people fishing on the beach (and I really love the beach!) so the concept of those two things I love so much married together was all it took for me to spend hours learning about surf fishing and getting out there and putting tactics and techniques into practice and developing what works for me.

For those who aren’t familiar, explain beach surf fishing and how it differs from other types of fishing?

Surf fishing is when you are standing on the beach and casting into the ocean. It is very different from other forms of fishing because the equipment needed, tackle, and bait are all different, especially from freshwater fishing.

What can customers expect when booking an excursion with you? Length of time, typical experience?

Our trips are 3 hours and depending on my client’s flexibility and desires, I will choose the best beach to fish based on the tide conditions that day and reports I’m seeing of water clarity and fish being caught. I try to book early morning, if possible, to be off the beach before it gets too hot or it gets too crowded.

How much does it cost?

$250.00 for the first 2 people, and $75.00 for each additional people, up to 12 people max.

What skill level do you need, if any?

None at all! I will tailor the experience to any skill level, and teach however much my customers/clients want to learn. If they want to just have fun reeling fish in while I bait and cast them out, that’s fine too!

What do customers need to bring for their excursion?

They just need to bring what they need to have a fun day at the beach (hat, polarized sunglasses, sunscreen, beach chairs, beach towels, bug spray, camera, water shoes, drinks and snacks) and make sure you have a Florida Saltwater Shoreline Fishing License(Free for FL residents, $17 for a 3-day pass for non-residents). Bring a cooler and ice to take your fish home. We supply surf-fishing instructions from a professional guide, all the bait, tackle, and equipment needed to catch fish!

What are some tips for those anglers who are just getting started surf fishing?

  • Hire a professional guide (not trying to plug charters here). I spent MONTHS not catching anything while I tried things, made mistakes, experimented with what I saw in YouTube videos, etc. It would have saved me a lot of time (and money) if I had learned from someone who knew what they were doing right from the start.
  • Learn how to “read the beach” to be able to tell what the underwater structure looks like from the waves and shoreline. 90% of the fish are in 10% of the water, so you can be doing everything right, but if you’re in the wrong spot, you won’t be catching much but a sunburn!
  • Learn fish identification and regulations. It’s easy to spend a lot of time, money, and effort, just to reel in a fish you have no clue what it is and not know if you are allowed to keep it or not! You aren’t guaranteed a good cell phone signal out on the beach either, and by the time you look it up, it could suffocate and then you might have a dead illegal fish on your hands. Fines are expensive and that will sap the joy out of your fishing experience!

What types of fish can customers expect to catch on Flagler County beaches?

It depends on the season, but year-round we can be catching various sharks, whiting, black drum, bluefish, seatrout, and in season: pompano, redfish, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, and the possibility of flounder if the conditions are right. And of course there are always smaller baitfish like spotfish, croaker, and more.

How many people are typically on an excursion?

Normally 1-5, but we have accommodated up to 10 people and can handle up to 12.

What makes fishing in Flagler County unique?

We have some really great fisheries here, not just on the beach, but also inshore too. Our beaches have structure you won’t find very many places with the coquina rock formations from Marineland beach all the way down through Jungle Hut Park beach in the Hammock area. These rocks attract fish that you would not typically find on most beaches: reef fish, sharks, redfish, sheephead, and more, if you can find a way to fish without losing all your tackle getting caught on the rocks. Then we have all the way from Beverly Beach area down to the southernmost part of Flagler County that is high-impact beaches with a deep trough that holds fish no matter what the tide situation is, so it’s a wonderful place for beginners and kids to fish and be able to catch. Plus our cinnamon-colored sand is unique to our area.