Into the Heart of the Everglades
A fly-fishing expedition amid the tangled mangroves, rustic chickees, and blissful remoteness of the Everglades takes a writer deep into a rarely seen world
A fly-fishing expedition amid the tangled mangroves, rustic chickees, and blissful remoteness of the Everglades takes a writer deep into a rarely seen world
We teamed up with Orvis to create the completely re-envisioned Orvis Edition Package. This year’s Captains for Clean Water raffle skiff is the first of its kind, and you have a chance to win it!
With support from their partners in conservation, Captains for Clean Water has outfitted this 2020 Professional with a Mercury Racing 60R motor, a Raymarine Axiom 9, custom SeaDek flooring, Power-Pole shallow water anchor, Boatmaster aluminum trailer, extras from YETI and Traeger, plus a few more special additions.
Every donation supports the Captains for Clean Water mission to protect and restore Florida’s water resources for the enjoyment of all. Thank you for joining the fight!
In this episode of the Captains Collective podcast, Hunter sits down with our very own Chris Peterson. They spend some time discussing the early days of his childhood in Florida, beating cancer, the importance of listening to guides when building our skiffs, and how he went from being a kid exploring with a flat-back canoe to the head of the Hell’s Bay family today.
You can listen to this episode and more here.
These best practices are provided by our friends at Bonefish & Tarpon Trust.
This tarpon season, we strongly urge you to practice these recommendations for the health of the fish and the fisheries.
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust strives to conserve and restore bonefish, tarpon and permit fisheries and habitats through research, stewardship, education and advocacy.
Through science-based approaches, BTT is working to protect and enhance healthy, functioning flats fisheries and habitats in the Western Hemisphere, and restore those in decline. This work is being done in collaboration with other institutions and governments.
To learn more about BTT’s conservation efforts, click here.
To join, donate, or get involved, click here.
Tarpon season is here. We’ve all been waiting for it, and now more than ever, we’re ready to hit the water in chase of these silver kings.
This year, we want to see your tarpon pictures. Not just the trophy shots. We want it all. The pre-dawn boat launches, long open runs, looks of elation mixed with sunburn and exhaustion. The fly-tying, gear-organizing preparation shots, the boat-side celebratory shots, the mid-flight head-shaking jump shots. We want to see everything that makes tarpon fishing the great chase that it is.
To give us a hand selecting the winners, we’ve got three tarpon-fishing icons joining us this year:
Flip Pallot, Andy Mill, and David Mangum.
Entering gives you a shot at winning some awesome prizes. One Grand Prize winner will take home a new tarpon fishing setup, gear from Yeti and more. Each judge will select one photo to take home the Judge’s Pick Prize fit for a day on the water.
Additionally, we’ll select a handful of unique photos each week to take home a contest-exclusive Hell’s Bay Tarpon hat. You can’t buy these hats, you can only win them.
To enter the #HBtarpon Photo Contest, upload your photo(s) to Instagram, tag Hell’s Bay Boatworks (@hellsbayboatworks) in the photo, and add the hashtag #HBtarpon to the caption during the Submission Period. Each submission must include the tag and #HBtarpon to be eligible. Each new photo must be submitted as a separate post.
You may also submit photo(s) via email to email@example.com. The email must include “HB Tarpon” and your full name in the body of the email, and the photo submission as an attachment. Each new photo must be submitted as a separate email.
There is no limit to the number of photos an entrant may submit during the submission period, but each photo must be entered as an individual submission.
All photo entries must be submitted between May 4 and July 26, 2020. Photos do not need to be current and may be from past tarpon seasons but must be submitted within the submission period to be eligible.
Photos submitted via Instagram must tag Hell’s Bay Boatworks (@hellsbayboatworks) in the photo and must use the hashtag #HBtarpon in the photo caption to be eligible.
Photos submitted via email must include “HB Tarpon” and your full name in the body of the email to be eligible.
Photos do not need to include a Hell’s Bay skiff to be eligible, but photos that include competitor skiffs will not be considered.
Entrants are strongly urged to follow the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust guidelines for handling tarpon. Photos that are in clear and obvious violation of these guidelines may be considered ineligible, and the decision will be made at the sole discretion of Hell’s Bay Boatworks.
Submission Period: May 4 – July 26
Winner selection Period: July 27 – 30
Winners announced: July 31, 2020
By entering, you agree that the photo you submit is original and is your own, and does not infringe on the rights of any third party. You further warrant that your participation in this photo contest does not violate any agreement between you and a third party.
If your photograph(s) include a recognizable person or people, permission from each person (or in the case of a minor, the minor’s parent or guardian) to use his/her image in the photo contest must be presented to Hell’s Bay Boatworks if requested. Hell’s Bay Boatworks reserves the right to disqualify an entry if it finds, in its sole discretion, that an entrant has not secured a necessary release.
Any photos containing offensive content will be ineligible. All content must be appropriate for posting on a website that may be viewed by anyone. Obscene, provocative or otherwise questionable content will not be considered, and will result in disqualification of the photo. Hell’s Bay Boatworks retains sole discretion to determine what constitutes inappropriate content.
By entering the photo contest, you grant Hell’s Bay Boatworks the non-exclusive right to publish, use, distribute, reproduce and publicly display your photograph, and to create derivative works from your photograph, in perpetuity, in any of its online, print or other media publications, materials or exhibitions, for promotional purposes, including but not limited to for editorial, advertising, and publicity. You grant Hell’s Bay Boatworks permission to provide your name, and your city and state of residence, when publishing, reproducing or otherwise using your photo and when identifying you as an entrant or prize winner in the photo contest. While Hell’s Bay Boatworks will make every effort to credit photographers when using photos, there may be circumstances where it is not possible to do so. Subject to the rights granted to Hell’s Bay Boatworks, you retain all other copyrights and rights to future use of the photographs you enter into the contest. Hell’s Bay Boatworks reserves the right to modify any photo to fit spatial or branding requirements.
No purchase necessary to enter. Purchase will not improve chances of winning. This Promotion is open to all legal residents of the 50 United States and D.C. who are at least 18 years of age at time of entry. Employees of Hell’s Bay Boatworks, employees of prize suppliers, judges, and immediate family members of each are not eligible to win. Odds of winning depend on number and quality of eligible submissions during the Submission Period.
Up to 48 Unique Photo submissions will be selected throughout the submission period. Unique Photo selections will be shared via Instagram stories each Sunday following the first week. Each Unique Photo entrant will receive one Hell’s Bay hat and will be notified via email or Instagram Direct Message, respective of method of entry. Entrant must respond within the submission period to collect the prize. Unique Photo selections are at the discretion of Hell’s Bay Boatworks and all decisions are final.
Submissions will be reviewed and selected by Hell’s Bay Boatworks and a panel of three judges: Flip Pallot, Andy Mill, and David Mangum (The Panel).
Four Prize Packages will be awarded to the finalists. One photo submission will be selected by Hell’s Bay Boatworks and The Panel as the Grand Prize winner. One photo submission will be selected by each of the three judges as “Judge’s Pick” winners.
Winners will be notified by End of Day July 30, 2020 via email or Instagram Direct Message (based on submission method). Prizes must be claimed within seven days, by End of Day August 6, 2020. Prizes not claimed within seven days will be forfeited, and an alternate Winner will be selected by Hell’s Bay Boatworks if a sufficient number of eligible and qualified submissions remain. Prizes may not be returned or exchanged for cash.
Grand Prize winner is not eligible for the Judge’s Picks, and each judge will select a different photo, for a total of four different winners. Unique Photo winners are eligible for either prize.
All Entrants who submit photos via email consent to being added to the Hell’s Bay Boatworks email subscriber list.
All Entrants agree that Hell’s Bay Boatworks may publish, display, and otherwise use their name, likeness, and submitted photos for promotional purposes without further permission or additional compensation.
This Promotion is in no way sponsored, supported, promoted, or organized by Facebook or Instagram. Neither Facebook nor Instagram is responsible for any content published as entries to this Promotion.
Hell’s Bay Boatworks reserves the right to cancel or postpone the #HBtarpon Photo Contest in situations where the continuation of the contest can no longer be guaranteed due to technical, legal, or otherwise inhibiting reasons.
For a copy of these Official Rules and a list of the winners’ names, please mail your written request with a self-addressed and stamped envelope to:
Hell’s Bay Boatworks, Attn: Marketing
1520 Chaffee Dr
Titusville, FL 32780
More free time on your hands than usual? Daydreaming about fishing but can’t get on the water? Here’s a list of shows that are sure to help pass the time.
Follow along with Capt. Benny Blanco as he travels the state of Florida to highlight world-class fisheries and the water issues threatening them in these full-length episodes.
Once the lair of pirates, now a legendary paradise for anglers everywhere. See where flats fishing began while following Flip Pallot on his journeys from Walker’s Cay in The Walker’s Cay Chronicles.
Just over a year after we donated a brand new Waterman to Captains for Clean Water, this skiff has found its new home. We’re proud to welcome our newest owner, Tony Cate, into the the Hell’s Bay Family. We celebrated with food, drinks, music, and friends as we raffled away prizes and announced the winner of the 2019 Waterman.
Every donation to enter the raffle for this skiff has helped support their mission of advancing education, awareness, and scientifically-supported solutions to restore and protect marine ecosystems and our way of life for future generations.
You can learn more about their mission and ways to support at https://captainsforcleanwater.org/.
The 2019 Texas Owners Tournament check-in was hosted Friday afternoon at Orvis Swan Point Landing in Rockport, Texas. Plans were made and beers were poured as anglers gathered for the captains’ meeting.
A cold front passing through made for a cool, windy morning that provided no shortage of fish for the 58 anglers hitting the water Saturday morning. The winds laid down and the temperature rose for the evening awards ceremony, hosted at Redfish Willie’s. Dinner was served as standings were finalized, and five anglers took home top prizes for their respective categories. Hand-painted fly boxes, as well as eight unique watercolor fly paintings, were generously contributed by William Townsend as prizes for top anglers, as well as standard trophies and bragging rights among the Texas Hell’s Bay owners.
Thank you to Orvis Swan Point Landing and Redfish Willie’s for hosting our event, and thank you to Mr. Townsend for the artistic contribution.
More of Mr. Townsend’s work can be found at lightandfly.com.
Friday evening, the angler check-in and cocktail party was held under blue skies and an impending wind that foreshadowed the conditions to come.
Saturday morning, anglers departed in the face of strong winds and intermittent rain. A bright sunrise yielded one respectable snook on the Estero with Chico Fernandez. However, the walls of rain and gusts of 30+ put boats, push poles, anglers, and rain gear to the test. The increasingly sporty conditions made for a tough day of fishing all around.
While some anglers opted not to fish the second day, the Hell’s Bay crew was back on the water early Sunday morning. Action was limited to a few redfish as the wind gusts picked up again. Three Hell’s Bay anglers took home prizes: the top guided angler went to Rob Preihs, the top unguided angler went to Dave Preston, and the top guide went to Dave Denkert.
Two weeks ago, Flood Tide Co. hosted a social gathering with us at their Charleston headquarters. Three skiffs made the three-hundred mile trip from Titusville, including the new Eldora, to be displayed at the HQ and tested the following morning at the demo day.
A permanent new addition also made its way to the Flood Tide Co. HQ: a Hell’s Bay deck. Now on display and decked out with Flood Tide Co. gear, this old front half fits its new home like it was meant to be there from the start.
What’s next? This is a question we are constantly attempting to answer. As we pride ourselves on having the most cutting edge laminate schedule in the industry, asking “what’s next” is a tough question at times. Our perpetual goal at Hell’s Bay Boatworks is to create a better boat with better materials with no costs spared.
We began testing the material Carbon Innegra in 2013 after much persuasion from our composite engineers. The testing process began with the basics: getting the material in hand, creating test panels and stringently testing these panels in house. The initial impact and strength evaluations surpassed our guidelines. The panels were then sent to composite labs for confirmation. The gleaming results immediately led us to begin real world implementation into our product offering. Over the past 5+ years we have built numerous Carbon Innegra skiffs which have been subjected to real-world testing by ourselves and our pro staff.
After proving successful in the field, our focus shifted to how best to include Carbon Innegra into our current lineup. We decided to give the material one final (larger than life) test in the form of the 2018 Skiff Challenge. If Carbon Innegra could hold up to 44 hours of constant running across less than ideal conditions, we knew it could check all the boxes. After the Skiff Challenge win it was clear that Carbon Innegra gave us the speed and ride we hoped for without a single sign of stress. This was the final confirmation of the material’s capability and deservingness of use in building the World’s Finest Shallow Water Skiffs.
Unlike other manufacturers we keep components of structural integrity and build quality separate from the “standards/options” game. We have determined Carbon Innegra to be an integral part the best laminate schedule available, therefore we have implemented it into our line-up as a standard feature going forward.
Innegra is the lightest fiber commercially available. The most common question when discussing a new material is: “What is the weight difference?” The range of weight savings differs slightly across models, but we can confidently say this generation of skiffs are lighter than the last.
In addition to having high UV resistance Innegra is not brittle and is able to withstand extreme wear and tear, improving the life of the part.
This is the most notable increase in performance we have seen in a single material change. Innegra dissipates and absorbs a tremendous amount of energy greatly reducing vibrations. This not only translates to a more solid feel under the feet in all water conditions, but further improves upon the silent hull that Hell’s Bay skiffs are known for when stalking fish.
In the extreme case where impact is made, unlike Kevlar, Innegra is water resistant. This stops further damage from occurring in the rare case a situation arises.
The list doesn’t end here, but these are the key benefits that led us to fully implement Innegra into our laminate schedule. At the end of the day, the decision was easy: Innegra has proven itself as the latest answer to our undying question of “what’s next?”
While the weather was not great, the annual Take an Airman Fishing event was still a success. The ability to give 20+ active duty Airman a day of fishing on Veteran’s Day is an honor every year!
The 2018 Herman Lucerne Memorial Backcountry Tournament is an entire weekend full of fishing, drinks, food and friends. The kick off party and Captain’s Meeting began Friday night with an event center full of silent auction items. Bote paddle boards, trips with Captains from around the state, fishing gear, art and many other items filled the room from wall to wall.
The tournament takes place on Saturday and Sunday. We were greeted with beautiful Florida Keys weather. The wind was light and skies blue, except for a few inevitable summer scattered storms. The great weather brought exceptional fishing. Four different individuals were able to catch all 7 available species within the two tournament days.
In addition to the fun and festivities, the reason why Hell’s Bay has been the longstanding presenting sponsor is because of the commitment the HLM has to preserving and protecting the Everglades and Florida Bay. The mission has always been the same, but with today’s heightened water quality issues, it is even more important that everyone remains involved with organizations like the HLM.
Under the leadership of Richard and Kellie Trotta, Dr. Lloyd Wruble and a mountain high list of board members and volunteers, the HLM is committed to the Everglades by raising money with this exuberant event. We are extremely grateful to be involved this year and for many years to come.
Congratulations to all of our Hell’s Bay teams who placed in their respective divisions!
Click here to learn more about the Herman Lucerne Memorial and see the full tournament results.
Held August 21-23 in Everglades National Park, the Project Healing Waters Backcountry Purple Heart/Disabled Veterans Slam III was a huge success.
This year, PHW–South Florida hosted 30 wounded and disabled veterans in Islamorada, Florida, and the community greeted them with open arms.
The Islamorada Fishing Club hosted the welcome reception, where Everglades National Park Superintendent Pedro Ramos welcomed the participating veterans to the Keys and ENP.
The veterans spent two days fishing the waters of Everglades National Park with some of the best guides in South Florida, all of whom volunteered their time to show the veterans the sport of flats fishing.
A special thank you to all the guides listed below:
Benny Blanco – HB Guide
Steve Friedman – HB Guide
Steve Thomas – HB Guide
Dave Denkert – HB Guide
Adam DeBruin – HB Guide
Randy Stallings – HB Guide
Ryan Booth – HB Guide
Mike Alfano – HB Guide
Carl Ball – HB Guide
Jason Sullivan – HB Guide
Jerry Perez – HB Guide
It was a life-changing experience for all the veterans, and many beautiful fish came to hand. There is nothing better to recharge the soul than spending time on the water.
To see all the photos from the event, follow this link to the PHW–South Florida Facebook page.
We are honored to support this great event, and extend a special thank you to all the veterans for their service and sacrifice to protect our freedom.
We would like to thank Col. Anthony Fernandez III USMCR and all the volunteers for making this a great event. A special thanks to Mangrove Mike’s Café and Allison Stattner for donating the food.
Capt. Benny Blanco pictured above receiving an award of appreciation from Project Healing Waters Major Ray Master, USMCR.
For more information and to donate to Project Healing Waters–South Florida, click here.
The Lowcountry never disappoints. Between great flood tide fishing, impeccable food and southern hospitality, it doesn’t get any better! Hell’s Bay is represented very well in South Carolina, and the goal for our visit to Charleston was to visit with our current customers, and allow new customers to experience why so many Hell’s Bay skiffs can be seen poling the marsh.
Friday night we spent the evening at Cooper River Brewing enjoying a beer and dinner with our current owners and friends. We appreciate everyone who attended in spite of the tailing tide! Thank you to The Charleston Angler for donating the Hardy Demon 8wt fly rod we raffled off!
Saturday and Sunday we spent the day at Toler’s Cove Marina for demo days on the water. We had an Estero, Professional and Marquesa with us. The Professional and Estero caught most of the attention as both offer an obvious advantage on both ends of the spectrum. The Professional is a great option for those primarily focusing on tide dependent fishing. The Professional poles quietly and effortlessly through the grass and allows for ample time during the tide before the water drops out. The open water fishing market has really grown in the Lowcountry. The Estero is the perfect solution allowing days offshore, while still drafting little enough to take advantage of the inshore fishing the region has to offer.
Thanks to everyone who came out to ride along, or just hang out in the Charleston heat! A big thanks to Toler’s Cover for their hospitality.
Till next year, Charleston!
Hell’s Bay Pro-Staff member Capt. C.A. Richardson shares his approach to inshore lure selection that will help you catch more fish on the flats. Enjoy!
Another ICAST in the books!
The show was well attended, and the demo Hell’s Bay Marquesa on display garnered lots of attention. The versatility of the Marquesa for shallow water sight fishing and beachside for tarpon is hard to beat. We talked with many anglers about this skiff and the complete line of Hell’s Bay skiffs.
One of the highlights of this year’s show was hosting a happy hour for the Herman Lucerne Memorial Foundation on Day 1. Members of the HLM Board of Directors shared their 2018 mission and commitment to supporting clean-water initiatives in the state of Florida.
Captains for Clean Water was also on hand to discuss the current clean-water fight and its progress. Hell’s Bay Boatworks is committed to supporting the efforts of both of these nonprofit organizations, and we are encouraged by the successes they’ve seen so far this year.
HB Pro Staff members Flip Pallot, Chico Fernandez and Capt. C.A. Richardson joined us throughout the show. These legendary anglers shook a lot of hands and were available for several photos. It is always a pleasure to spend time with these gentlemen and to hear their many fishing stories.
We would like to thank all of our professional guides for stopping by to see us and for sharing their passion for Hell’s Bay and clean water. A special thanks to Capt. Buddy Kirkhart and New Wave Taxidermy for lending us the beautiful tarpon mount for our booth.
ICAST 2018 was a huge success for Team Hell’s Bay, and we will be back in 2019 for sure.
Fight for clean water and good fishing!
It is always a treat to have members of the Hell’s Bay Family back at the factory — and especially the legendary Chico Fernandez. The 5thAnnual Central Florida HB Owners Tournament was a fantastic day filled with good laughs, great food and challenging fishing
The day started early here at the factory with a 6 a.m. check-in, donuts, hot coffee and some killer HB swag for all the anglers.
The tournament kicked off with the official lines-in at 7:15 a.m. Everyone was greeted with slick, calm waters and plenty of tailing redfish. Getting them to eat a fly or even a live shrimp was another story — the fishing was just downright tough.
As the day progressed, the temps climbed and made the time on the water even more challenging, especially for the guy on the poling tower! Everyone fished hard to the bitter end, and all lines were out at 2:30 p.m.
As the anglers and their skiffs arrived back at HB headquarters, they were rewarded with cold beverages and fresh oysters ready to shuck. What a wonderful treat after a hot day on the water!
Everyone shared their fishing stories with old and new friends alike. The camaraderie is by far one of the best things about our HB gatherings.
Our good friends from Captains for Clean Water prepared another amazing Lowcountry boil for everyone. We cannot thank Capt. Chris Wittman and Capt. Daniel Andrews enough for making the trip up to the factory and for all their hard work.
After dinner, Capt. Chris and Capt. Daniel shared Captains for Clean Water’s latest news and their recent mission to Washington, D.C. They are making great progress on our water issues in Florida and asked for everyone’s support to continue the fight. (Want to help the cause? Donate today.)
Last but not least, it was time for the awards ceremony. It was a tough day of fishing for most anglers, but Capt. Shannon McNally and his fishing partner, George Ricks, took home hardware.
Capt. Shannon had the most total spots with 2 fish and 6 spots. George claimed the prize for most spots on one fish with 3 spots. And this year’s Junior Angler award went to Maxwell Scott for landing several fish during the day.
All the winners had a chance to sign the new perpetual trophy featuring the amazing artwork of Paul Puckett.
We would also like to thank all the HB craftsmen who joined us for the day. Without these guys, the fine skiffs we love to fish would never exist.
South Florida offers some of the most diverse fisheries in the country and it’s this diversity that attracts so many anglers to the Sunshine State. You can target tailing redfish, bonefish and permit on shallow flats, snook and tarpon in the passes and along beaches and everything from bottom fish to pelagic on the numerous costal reefs and wrecks. One of the challenges that comes with fishing such a variety of habitats is finding a boat that can do all of these things well, thus the ever-growing demand in the bay boat market. As a guide in Southwest Florida for nearly 20 years, I have had the opportunity to run almost every well known bay boat out there. While versatility is what they are designed for it seems none of them excel in these diverse applications but are rather mediocre in all of them, ultimately sacrificing one quality or another in order to be “versatile.” When the crew at Hell’s Bay offered to let me put the Estero through its paces in real world conditions guiding on my home waters, I was skeptical that this boat would be any different than the others. Knowing Hell’s Bay’s rich history of skiff innovation and my affection for the smell of fresh fiberglass I figured testing the Estero was a great idea.
At first glance the Estero appears larger and roomier than other bay boats, yet still carries the classic lines of a Hells Bay. It looks like a Marquesa on steroids. The interior layout is spacious and uncluttered. Operating the boat felt natural, the location of controls and features were second nature, meaning I could keep my eyes on the water in search of fish instead of searching for switches. At almost 25 feet I wasn’t surprised at how stable the boat is or how well it handles rough water. What I didn’t expect was how light the boat felt floating high in the water, how effortlessly it got on its running pad in less than its length and how nimbly it maneuvered and carved through turns. Moving from the bow to stern with a loaded cast-net around clients was no problem on the wide walkable gunnels. The cavernous rear live-well is able to keep a pile of bait frisky and using the front pitch-well I was able to keep my tarpon and permit crabs separate from the bait fish.
But it was the first time I came off plane, powered down and dropped the trolling motor to set up on a school of approaching Tarpon that I was really blown away. The hull was dead silent. It had no hull slap and no pressure wake, a characteristic I have come to expect from Hell’s Bay’s skiffs but did not expect out of a boat of this size. The stealthiness of the Estero is what truly sets it apart from other boats in its class.
Over the course of two weeks I was able to really get a feel of everything the Estero had to offer. The Estero easily navigated through the shallow backcountry flats catching bait, pursuing tarpon in the bays of Pine Island Sound, along the beaches of the barrier islands and covering miles of open water fishing for Permit on coastal reefs. Not only did the Estero perform well beyond my expectations, it proved to be excellent in a wide variety of scenarios making the Estero a truly versatile all-purpose boat, but most of all this boat is just strait up fun to fish!
Thanks to the crew at Hell’s Bay for letting me fish this awesome boat and changing my opinion of how a bay boat should perform. I didn’t want to give this one back!
Chris Keig and the crew at the Fly Fishing Film Tour raised the bar again. What an exciting evening of films, all in the name of raising money for conservation.
Dr. Aaron Adams joined us and shared BTT’s conservation initiatives, as well as the latest information on the Tarpon Acoustic Tagging Project. Dr. Adams and his team are making great progress with this research project, and they are busy tagging tarpon throughout the Southeastern U.S.
Capt. Chris Wittman and Capt. Daniel Andrews from Captains for Clean Water were also in attendance and updated the record crowd on their clean-water initiatives. They also talked about their recent trip to Washington, D.C., to fight for Everglades restoration funding. It has been an exciting couple of years for Captains for Clean Water, and they are making great progress at the state and national levels.
As for the films, they were fantastic! From catching giant rainbows in Alaska to chasing the Silver King around the world, there was a great mix of fresh and saltwater fly fishing. In case you missed the event, here’s a link to the F3T trailers: flyfilmtour.com/watch-trailers.
We would like to thank everyone who attended this special evening and helped us raise over $4,500 for conservation! A special thank you to Orlando Outfitters, TBA Outdoors, Nautilus Reels and Fish Hippie for the raffle prize donations.
Good fishing, and we will see you at the 2019 F3T!
Capt. C.A. shares three of his top soft plastic baits for saltwater fishing…Enjoy.
There’s no smoke, no mirrors and no mystery. It’s really just high school physics and good old common sense. As simple as it is, many manufacturers and even more boat owners have trouble putting GOOD RIDE together with a good fishing package.
Good (comfortable) ride can be generated by either of two hull design characteristics……
ENTRY or DEADRISE.
Achieving good ride from entry involves designing some vee or sharpness into the front portion of the bottom of a hull. Having this sharpness forward in a hull bottom allows the forward portion of the hull to cleave rough water thus providing good (smooth) ride. Sharp or deep entry as it is sometimes called, allows the designer to build a flatter running surface toward the rear of the hull. Flatter running surfaces are more “correct” and require less horsepower to achieve the same speed as steeper running surfaces. Flatter rear running surfaces also provide more displacement so such designs float is less water than steeper designs. The design challenge is to build enough entry into the front of the hull so that the entry cleaves rough water before it reaches the flatter running surface yet rides high enough to remain out of the water in calm conditions allowing the hull to run on the flatter rear surface without drag from the entry.
Sounds impossible. A great concept which would never work in real life. Basically true except for hydraulic or electric trim tabs. Sharp hull designers in this day and age build enough rocker into the bottom of hulls so that with trim tabs in the neutral position the hull will ride bow up (entry out of the water). Some designers even allow their hulls to porpoise with tabs in neutral but all designers realize the benefits offered by adjustable trim tabs.
My belief is that virtually ALL BOATS can benefit from adjustable tabs properly used.
The term DEADRISE refers to the angle of a hulls bottom as measured from the bottom of the hull at the transom to an imaginary line drawn from chine to chine:
Here a drawing of the deadrise measurement:
Hulls having deadrise greater than approximately 12 degrees (generally found in many skiffs) up to approximately 25 degrees (found in many offshore fishing and racing boats) tend to use hull angle further aft to achieve smooth ride. This also allows less of the hull bottom to be in contact with the water causing less drag and often dryer ride.
At this point, even if you’re not reading between the lines, you’re beginning to see that there are areas of trade off and compromise in the arena of hull design. Each angler must determine what it is that he or she will be asking their boat to do during most fishing situations and select a hull design that will accommodate the broadest range of fishing situations.
Forgetting about the interior layout of a fishing boat (which we will discuss at great length in future columns) here are some things to consider when deciding what features in a particular hull design will fit in with your fishing plans.
There is a term which I love to use and hear used…… It is “Wretched Excess”. This term applies very nicely to the width dimension designed into many shallow water fishing boats these days. To qualify as a great fishing boat a hull doesn’t have to be as wide as an aircraft carrier. You do not need to be able to walk around the gunwale of a skiff without it tipping to one side or another. Tipping is a perfectly normal attitude for a skiff. In fact, there are certain situations where tipping can be a big help.
Some years ago when we used to fish for very large jewfish (giant sea bass) we would often catch fish as large as several hundred pounds. To put such fish in the skiff we would actually tilt the skiff until a rear corner of the gunwale or covering board was at or just under the surface of the water and slide the large jewfish, shark or tarpon into the boat.
Being able to tilt a skiff can often allow you to get into or out of shallower water than the boat could float in at normal attitude. Tilting can also help to get a boat on plane in very shallow water. Narrower hull designs normally produce better rides and certainly pole better than wider designs. The fact is that if most hulls were narrower , had less deadrise, some entry in front and some more displacement in the rear, they would draw less (float higher in the water), answer better at idle speeds and pole better. The trade off might be that the boat would be slightly more “tippy” (not much because of the increased displacement aft)……… who cares, that’s what boats are!
In the 1960’s the concept of deadrise or deep vee hull design found it’s way into the off-shore ocean racing scene. It was very successful in that world and allowed highly powered race boats to go very fast through very rough seas, actually leave the water and land on the heavier (because of engine weight) rear end of the boat yet land softly because of the vee or deadrise in the hull. Deep vee hulls dominated offshore ocean racing in those years.
It didn’t take very long for this technology to find it’s way into the offshore fishing boat market and before long companies such as Sea Craft, Bertram, Sea Bird, Wellcraft, Speedcraft, Formula and others were introducing fishing machines which incorporated the deep vee concept. It made perfect sense……. Folks were traveling further over rougher seas to get to remote fishing locations. Greater speed and better ride were needed and so the concept was embraced by the offshore market. Unfortunately, deadrise found it’s way into the inshore market as well. Small boat manufacturers discovered that they could make their boats ride better if they incorporated some deadrise into their hull designs. To float the additional deadrise they had to build in more hull width to gain some displacement…….so boats got wider. As they got wider they got heavier and required more horsepower to make them go……bigger motors made them heavier still and harder to pole and fish. The size/weight/power pyramid developed a life of it’s own and instead of people learning how to properly drive and use smaller, better fishing boats many just settled into bigger, smoother, faster less efficient fishing skiffs.
The average shallow water production fishing skiff on the market today draws in excess of nine inches, weighs well over one thousand pounds and is wider than it needs to be.
Many excellent anglers that I know begin fishing for bonefish, redfish and snook in five or six inches of water. Areas unreachable by 99% of so called flats skiffs. All this so that folks can speed in complete comfort across choppy water to great fishing spots in boats that cannot get there until the tide is halfway in and the fish are spread from here to Key Largo. Forget about the fuel that their 150 H.P. Engine burned getting them there or the total outfit weight that they will have to pole around the flat all day.
So What’s my point? It’s merely this……… If you’re fishing offshore and speed and really rough water are considerations, a hull with serious deadrise may be what you need for most of your fishing situations. But, if most of your fishing will be done in very shallow water you may want to rethink the party line regarding skiff dimensions and bottom configuration bearing in mind that a fishing boat should above all FISH WELL! Getting there in a true fishing boat may require you to tune up your seamanship and boat handling skills, but once you’re in the fishes house you’ll be needing a boat that will get you in and out of the neighborhood.
Stay tuned for more……Flip
It’s that time of year here in the Sunshine State, and Capt. C.A. Richardson is ready to grind it out with his clients on his home waters of Tampa Bay. For C.A., prep for tarpon season starts months before the fish arrive. “I put new line on my reels, purchase fresh leader materials, and replace all the hooks on my hard baits,” he says. “My Hell’s Bay Marquesa goes in for service, and I make sure my skiff’s trolling-motor system and batteries are in top condition.”
Here are a few tips C.A. shared with us to make your tarpon season a good one!
When presenting a lure or even a free-lined crab to a school of tarpon, be sure to lead them by a good 30 feet. You’ll need that cushion (distance) to allow the lure or crab to sink to eye level with the tarpon as they swim by your position. Never twitch or abruptly move the lure or crab as fish swim into zone, and you’ll have a hookup!
Looking for a lure color that tarpon tune into? Choose either purple or root beer, because they silhouette so well and draw strikes from tarpon in low light. If you want to know what I use, try the MirrOlure TTR Purple Demon or the 5″ Z-Man Jerk ShadZ in the Rootbeer/Gold color.
If you are live baiting, try a small live crab, about 2.5″- 3.5″ across the carapace, free-lined on a 5/0 Mustad Circle Hook. I use a 40# to 50# fluorocarbon leader in a 4′ length to attach to the 40# braid (main line). Small crabs presented perfectly always draw a strike.
Rod and reel recommendations for beach tarpon fishing:
– Spinning: 6000 PENN Clash and an 8′ XH 30lb to 50lb Falcon Tarpon Rod
– Casting: Daiwa Lexa 400HS and a 7′ XH 15lb to 30lb casting rod
When fighting fish, keep your skiff or bay boat within 20 yards of the hooked tarpon. This is so you can keep maximum pressure on the tarpon and utilize the butt of the rod to stress fish even faster! Also, always lean forward and bow to a jumping tarpon to avoid losing the fish … this is important.
Hope you enjoyed these tips, and good fishing!
HB pro-staff member Capt. C.A. Richardson shares some great tips for tarpon season…Enjoy!
Against a backdrop of a partial moon and stars, plus a throng of cheering fans, a tired but triumphant Team Hell’s Bay was the first skiff to idle to the dock at the Cabin Bluff Lodge late Wednesday night, April 4, after a punishing 1,600-mile run circumnavigating the state of Florida.
Capt. Chris Peterson, of Hell’s Bay Boatworks and his son, JC Peterson, were defending their title in the 2018 Florida Skiff Challenge, a charity endurance race benefitting Captains for Clean Water.
The pair ran a custom 16-foot Hell’s Bay Biscayne powered by a 70-horsepower Yamaha outboard and completed the grueling marathon in 38 hours. Dan Hunt and Steven Hobbs provided logistical ground support throughout the race. Teams Yellowfin, Chittum and Panga Marine finished second through fourth, respectively, early Thursday morning.
“We had a great team and a plan and everything came together,” Chris Peterson said afterwards. “We learn a lot every year and made some adjustments, but I never thought we’d be here on Wednesday night.”
“We were definitely able to go faster this year, averaging 38 to 39 miles per hour inside,” added JC Peterson. “Along the beach and the heaviest chop we could do about 35. The Marco Island to Key West stretch was pretty rough. There are so many variables. You start to feel everything in the boat and as cliche as it sounds, it starts to feel like it’s a part of you.”
The 16-foot skiff was built using special resins and an infused carbon fiber layup. The Challenge rules cap entries at 18 feet or less. According to Hunt, this year’s model weighed 100 pounds less than the 2017 version. Since the rules also stipulate a maximum fuel capacity of 23 gallons, every ounce counts. Hunt said a custom enclosed electronics pod at the helm also protected the team’s Raymarine displays from salt spray.
All four teams competing finished this year’s race. Team Yellowfin, with Heath Daughtry and Chase Daniel aboard the 17-foot production entry, also with 70-hp Yamaha power, finished second again at 41 hours. Yellowfin’s support team includes Guillermo Nazario, Yellowfin’s inshore rigging manager and Ty Nelson, owner of Florida Fishing Products. Team Yellowfin reached the finish line around 1:30 a.m. Thursday, April 5.
“Our strategy was to run outside the whole way,” Daughtry said after reaching dry land. “That’s the best way to make time. The waves weren’t the worst we’ve encountered, but it was just pounding, pounding, pounding for 1,600 miles. It feels like walking out of McDonald’s after midnight and getting jumped by five bad dudes.”
First-time Challenge contestant Team Chittum finished a few hours later, followed by Team Panga Marine, which completed the race after coming up short in two previous tries. The Chittum team was running a Islamorada 18 (Snake Bight edition) carbon fiber custom skiff with a 70-hp Honda, while Panga Marine raced in a production 18 EVO with a 70 Suzuki outboard.
Hal Chittum and George Sawley, the main partners of Chittum Boatworks, started the race together at dawn from Pensacola. When Chittum developed a medical issue, however, he was replaced by support team member Mike Casey in Key West to complete the Atlantic coast leg. Shane Casey was the other member of the ground team.
“We wanted to get involved to support Captains for Clean Water,” Sawley explained. “We liked the competition of going up against the other builders and thought it would be a lot of fun. We didn’t realize how hard it would be though.”
“It’s not just the boat, it’s the people,” says Team Panga Tom Biller, the general manager of Panga Marine. He shared the helm with Ryan Till. “You really have to be committed. At some point you know you’re going to get into the rough stuff and get beat up. I really came to appreciate the blow-up donut the guys bought me from the drug store and was sad when it blew overboard.” Rex Sutherland and Chelsea Matheson served as the Panga Marine’s ground crew.
The Florida Skiff Challenge, a concept Daughtry developed “on a cocktail napkin,” is open to Florida boat builders meeting the length and horsepower stipulations. Daughtry said several other companies were invited to participate but declined. Followers of the race could pledge donations to Captains for Clean Water to raise awareness about the serious water quality issues facing the Sunshine State.
Cabin Bluff Lodge, a historic resort on the Intracoastal Waterway across from Georgia’s Cumberland Island, was the host facility. The other 2018 sponsors included Raymarine, Yeti, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Justin Boots, Saved by Spot and Costa.
A Classic Time at a Treasured American Sporting Retreat
The 2018 Southern Sporting Classic at Cabin Bluff was another amazing experience for all of our guests — and one that will remain in our memories forever.
Cabin Bluff is nestled among the oaks on the banks of the Cumberland River in coastal Georgia. It’s one of the oldest hunting and fishing lodges in the United States, and the perfect location for this very special event.
Guests arrived on Thursday afternoon and were welcomed by presenting sponsors Hell’s Bay Boatworks and Beretta USA, as well as a gift bag from Fish Hippie, Costa, Hook & Gaff and Williams Knife Co.
The first evening started with a cocktail hour, followed by the legendary Cabin Bluff oyster roast and seafood dinner. The service was truly five-star, and the food never disappoints at the Bluff! The evening was topped off with a few after-dinner drinks and great conversation around the fire.
The next two days were filled with quail hunting, sporting clays, Beretta’s long-range shooting, and inshore fishing. The Hell’s Bay Professional and Marquesa demo skiffs were on display and available for demo rides all weekend.
When it comes to sporting tradition in the South, this event is hard to beat. There are not many other places, if any, where you can do all of these activities in one location. Cabin Bluff is one of the true sporting treasures left in this country!
We would like to thank everyone who attended this year’s Southern Sporting Classic. Plans are already in the works for 2019. If you are interested in more information on this event, feel free to give Cabin Bluff a call at 912-729-5960.
Last week, the Hell’s Bay crew packed up the trucks and headed west to one of the most beautiful spots in Florida for the 2018 Hell’s Bay Boatworks Professional Guide Rendezvous. Our destination was Florida Outdoor Experience in Chiefland — the perfect location for this year’s event, provided courtesy of our hosts and HB Professional Guides Capt. Gray Drummond and Capt. Lacey Kelly.
The day started out with some fine Cuban sandwiches, beverages and an introduction to our 2018 plans here at Hell’s Bay. Capt. Mike Holliday from Costa Sunglasses joined us and showcased all of their new products for 2018. A special thank you goes out to Costa for all the years of support at our Guide Rendezvous.
The “Guide Games” were next on the agenda, and this year was a blast. Fly fishing for bass and shooting clay targets — how can you beat that? Everyone had a great time, and there were lots of laughs!
We finished up the day with a Lowcountry boil by Capt. Chris Wittman and Capt. Daniel Andrews with Captains for Clean Water under the live oaks!
We would like to thank all of our HB Professional guides who attended this event, and a special thanks to Capt. Gray and Capt. Lacey for hosting us! We are already looking forward to 2019!
Hell’s Bay Boatworks manufactures tailor made skiffs allowing owners to explore wild and beautiful places. In addition to boat builders, we are fisherman, adventure seekers, and lovers of our natural environment. Our business relies on clean healthy estuaries, as does the livelihood of our professional guides. We recognize the perils of our South Florida waterways and are excited to partner with Captains for Clean Water in using long-term science based solutions to achieve a common goal.
Please consider joining Captains for Clean Water, so you too can have a hand in the battle for our beloved Everglades.
Official Press Release:
Just like the rest of the Southeast, the marshes of Lousiana had an abnormally cold winter. This didn’t stop the giant redfish from showing up, but it sure made use of some extra layers of clothing. Our arrival to Baton Rouge was right on par with the rest of winter. We were greeted with cold blowing rain. Though we had to sport some rain jackets throughout the day, the crowd was not affected. The skiff and travel show was held at the Baton Rouge Orvis, right around the corner from LSU. We had the Estero, Professional and Capt. Al Keller’s Marquesa on display. The Lousiana marsh is an extremely diverse fishery making the interest in boat models diverse as well. Some anglers fish primarily the large open water for bull redfish, which yields the daily challenge of crossing big open bays. This style of fishing makes the Marquesa or Estero the ideal option. There is also a large number of anglers who would rather a smaller skiff, like the Professional, which gives them them capability to fish the shallower lakes, full of slot sized redfish. The Professional is very capable of handling the bigger water, but has a shallower draft for those who focus more on the lakes. We are glad we brought the 3 different skiffs, because the interest was all over the board. We want to thank Alex with Orvis for his hospitality and invitation to the event. We are grateful to have met everyone at Orvis, and all those who attended.
The following day, we were up early and had the quintessential breakfast at Penny’s in Hopedale. Then we made the short trek down to Hopedale Marina for a demo day. Running around the marsh, it became even more clear how diverse the area is. The Estero performed great in the big water, at the “end of the world,” while the Marquesa and Professional were right at home poling the shallow lakes and the edge of the marsh. We were even greeted with a few slot redfish while on a demo ride with a customer.
We are already looking forward to coming back next season and spending more time in Lousiana. Thank you to everyone we met and the hospitality we received while in the Bayou.
Hell’s Bay skiffs at Surf Expo? Yes indeed!
The first Hell’s Bay skiff every built was featured in the new Bluewater section of Surf Expo. This three-day show was held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fl.
The “Fish Hippie” HB Professional was on display and featured the latest options available on our skiffs. Hell’s Bay enjoyed being a part of new Bluewater category of the Surf Expo, and we are already looking forward to the Fall show in September. For more information on Surf Expo click HERE!
The 2nd Annual Shallow Water Expo was a huge success! Charleston is one of our favorite stops on the annual show schedule, and once again we had a great time. We showcased the Fish Hippie Co. HB Professional this year, as well as the new 2018 Tower Edition HB Estero.
HB Pro-Staff member Capt. C.A. Richardson was the headline speaker at this year’s expo, and provided lots of tips for catching inshore species on artificial lures. If you did not get a chance to see one of his sessions, follow this link to his latest video on “Cold Weather Tactics“.
We would to thank everyone that made the trip out to see us. A very special thanks to the crew from Hadderell’s Point Tackle for putting on another awesome show! We are already looking forward to next year’s event.
If you would like more information/demo ride on the HB Professional or the HB Estero 24 Bay Boat, please contact our Sales Department at 321-383-8223.
Hell’s Bay Pro Guide, Captain Al Keller, was born in Miami, Fl and spent his early years in Tampa. As a South Florida native, he has become one of the most recognized and respected names in fly fishing the 10,000 Islands, Everglades National Park and the marshes around New Orleans. In 1996 he received his U.S. Coast Guards License and started what he and many others dream about, fly fishing for a living. Captain Al now spends close to 300 days a year sharing what the mangroves and marshes around the Gulf of Mexico has to offer the fly fisherman.
Captain Al operates a Hell’s Bay Marquesa because of its ability to navigate large open bays and still be poled efficiently all day. The Marquesa allows him to fish the open water outer edges of the marsh on days a smaller skiff would be outgunned. The added stability provides comfort to Al and his clients all day long.
Don’t take our word for it, book a day with Capt. Al Keller and his Marquesa today!
One of our favorite end-of-summer traditions has come and gone, leaving us with fond memories and anticipation for next year. As usual, Cabin Bluff was an incredible host to this year’s Tarpon Cup, which was held August 24-26. This year marked the 4th annual recurrence of the Tarpon Cup, and it has grown in popularity each year. Not only do anglers get to enjoy the comforts and amazing cuisine at Cabin Bluff, but the tarpon fishing can also be second to none during the late-summer months. This year’s event all went according to plan, aside from showers and wind on Saturday. The first fishing day of the event, Friday, brought absolutely perfect tarpon-fishing weather for this area. There was a mix of fly anglers and bait fishermen alike, and for the first time in Tarpon Cup history, we had a second-time event winner – Captain Allen Mills.
Dr. Aaron Adams and Luke Griffin of the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust were also present and orchestrated acoustic-tagging efforts during this year’s Tarpon Cup. This special weekend also saw the 50th acoustic tag placed in a mature tarpon – very exciting news for the future of tarpon research!
Hell’s Bay was in fine company alongside sponsors Fish Hippie, Simms, Tito’s Vodka, Release Ruler and, of course, Cabin Bluff. We are certainly looking forward to next year’s event, and we’d like to offer a special thanks to all of you who participated and helped put on this tournament!
The 2017 Slack Tide Guide Gathering had a grim start. Hurricane Irma unfortunately interfered with the original planned date of the event, but like all of those affected by this year’s storms, we prevailed. Though the usual two day event was rescheduled to one day, it was still a great time. This event is special to Hell’s Bay because it allows us to stay connected with the heartbeat of the company, our guide community. The Slack Tide Guide Gathering is designed to give the guides a fun relaxing day off and the ability to network with others within the industry.
Thank you to Captains for Clean Water, Costa Del Mar, Yeti, G Loomis, SIMMS, Nautilus Reels and most of all, the guides, for taking a day out of their busy schedules and allowing us to participate. We are really looking forward to 2018!
Capt. C.A. Richardson shares a proven technique for cold weather…Enjoy!
Hell’s Bay Boatworks and Flats Class partnered with Strike-Zone Fishing to hold a unique fishing school in Jacksonville, Florida on December 2. Over 30 avid inshore fishing enthusiasts joined us for this very special event.
This class was a little different than most, as it focused on artificial baits, rigs and tactics … and nothing else! There was no covering the basics or regional species, just the good stuff, some might say. The students enjoyed two hours of professional instruction on the technical aspects of the inshore game from HB Pro Staffer Capt. C.A. Richardson in the classroom. Capt. C.A. also passed around some of the actual tackle setups he uses on the Flats Class TV show. The students really enjoyed the chance to get a closer look at this gear and ask questions. Capt. C.A. even allotted some time to demonstrate some knots and to do some hands-on rigging, as well.
After a short break, the group moved outside and settled in around the 15’x100′ custom casting pond to watch Capt. C.A. demonstrate some of the lures discussed during the classroom session. He also taught the students the finer points of casting both spinning and casting gear. Everyone enjoyed the “casting pond” session, especially the “bow and arrow” cast technique for access under docks!
If you weren’t able to make it to this school, here is a link to one of Capt. C.A.’s latest tips.
Another tackle tip from Capt. C.A. Richardson…Enjoy!
Here’s a quick tip from Flip Pallot to help you keep your dock lines more organized!
There are very few times in flats fishing history when a collection of the most acclaimed saltwater-fishing pioneers and companies have gotten together under the same roof. Then, of course, there are few events like the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust International Science Symposium, which occurs only once every three years. With a mission and common goal in mind – to conserve and restore bonefish, tarpon and permit fisheries and habitats through research, stewardship, education and advocacy – the Symposium brings together a collection of the best of the best in saltwater angling.
The BTT’s 6th International Science Symposium took place November 10-11, 2017, at the Bonaventure Resort and Spa in Weston, Florida. Hundreds of people came from all over to support and learn more about efforts to preserve these precious habitats, which are so important to us as anglers and stewards of the water. The Symposium’s schedule was jam-packed with seminars from some of the world’s top anglers, including Hell’s Bay pros Stu Apte, Capt. C.A. Richardson and Andy Mill (to name a few), who shared some of their techniques for targeting game fish of the flats. In addition to angling and casting seminars, there were dozens of other planned sessions such as fly-tying clinics, a photography clinic with Pat Ford, and expert discussion panels on tarpon, bonefish and permit – and much more!
In addition to having our tower Estero, Biscayne, Professional and Marquesa models on display at the event, the Hell’s Bay team was able to attend some of the planned sessions, the Art and Film Festival, and the Saturday night banquet. Nearly 600 people were in attendance at the banquet that honored conservation leaders and raised funds during a live auction of bucket-list destination trips, fine art and top-of-the-line fishing gear.
Possibly the most memorable part of the weekend was sharing a room with the Angling Legends panel. Here, a collection of some of saltwater fishing’s true pioneers and champions of conservation drew from over 300 years of collective guiding and fishing experience to share reminiscences and stories.
“We are proud to support BTT. Its diligence in conservation and restoration of critical game-fish habitat is something that Hell’s Bay is deeply invested in. We’re honored to have been a part of this year’s Symposium and look forward to a continued relationship with the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust.”
-Chris Peterson, President & Owner of Hell’s Bay Boatworks
If you’d like to learn more about the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust’s mission and current initiatives or would like to become a member of this great non-profit organization, head over to their website.
Capt. C.A. shares this top three soft plastic baits….Enjoy!
The Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show is one of our favorite events, and this year did not disappoint. We proudly showcased the new 2018 HB Estero 24 Bay Boat with a beautiful second station design, as well as our HB Marquesa, Professional, and Biscayne.
HB Pro-Staff members Capt. C.A. Richardson and Chico Fernandez talked skiffs and shared their favorite fishing tips. Special thanks to Professional Guides Capt. Benny Blanco, Capt. Carl Ball, and Capt. Alonzo Sotillo for joining us!
The HB “Boat Show” t-shirts were a huge hit, and a show favorite for many. It was a pleasure meeting new skiff enthusiasts, and catching up with members of our HB Family! We really enjoyed hearing about all the adventures our owners have experienced in their HB skiffs.
We would like to thank everyone that stopped by the booth to see us! If you would like more information on the boats we featured at the show or would like to schedule a test ride, give our sales department a call at 321-383-8223.
Our most recent demo boat is making its way across the Southeast visiting various events and boat shows, and it’s a worthy addition to our head-turning lineup. For the first time, we’ve equipped one of our Estero 24 Bay Boats with a second station tower featuring full controls, and the response has been overwhelming! Here are a few photos and an introduction to our new tower Estero
The first of its kind we’ve created, this Estero is sporting an Aristo Blue hull with a tan interior. While the color scheme has been a big hit, the most noticeable feature on this boat is the tower – complete with full controls, Raymarine Axiom and radar. The fully powder-coated aluminum makes this boat even easier on the eyes, while the Mercury Verado 350 pushes her at speeds in the high 50s.
A few of the custom features include an eight-speaker JL Audio marine sound system, two 10’ Power-Pole blades and a raw/fresh water wash-down – but the possibilities for this boat are endless. Give us a call to schedule a demo, or to learn more about the Hell’s Bay Estero. Phone: 321-383-8223
We are very excited to announce the addition of Capt. Al Keller to the team here at Hell’s Bay Boatworks. Capt. Al spends most of his time guiding in the “Louisiana March”, as well as chasing tarpon along the Gulf Coast. A long-time professional angler and guide, Capt. Al will be representing Hell’s Bay Boatworks at boat shows, fly shop days, and showcasing his new Marquesa from Florida to Texas. He will also be speaking at several fly fishing events throughout the year, and we will be sure to pass along those dates as they near. Here are a few photos of his new skiff…Enjoy!
Delivery day at Hell’s Bay!
First test ride in Indian River Lagoon.
First fish on Capt. Al’s new Marquesa!
Home base for Capt. Al Keller.
Tired of having your fly line tangled before you even get ready to fish? Flip’s solution to this problem!
Please support your favorite Hell’s Bay Guide in the Florida Keys! Book a trip today and keep these talented professionals moving forward through these challenging times. Here is a list of all of our HB Professional Guides to make contacting them easy.
Hurricane Irma took a Category Four shot at the Keys. And the Keys stood up to it. But they need our help. Hell’s Bay Boatworks and The Herman Lucerne Memorial are raising relief funds specifically to help support the businesses and guides that have given us their support over the years. So click here to lend a hand to help the recovery of our friends in Florida. Donate here: http://www.hermanlucernememorial.com/donate/
From all of us at Hell’s Bay, we hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well on your way to bouncing back from the recent hurricanes. Hell’s Bay was very fortunate in regards to Hurricane Irma and our facility sustained no major damage. We are open and operating as of Wednesday, September 13th, but ask that you bear with us as we work to restore our internet and the many business functions that come with it.
We understand that the devastation throughout Texas and the entire Southeast has left many of our families, friends, customers, and vendors far from whole. Our thoughts and prayers are with those most affected, and we are committed to figuring out the best ways to leverage our resources toward the relief efforts throughout our market.
If we can be of assistance in any way, please call the factory at (321) 383 – 8223.
“Here is a photo of my skiff in the garage. It has about a foot and a half in the back and maybe six inches in the front – without tilting it! So, yes it fits. And by the way, I think it is one of the most beautiful Hell’s Bays out there. … I’m just saying.”
“This Sunday I went out with friend Rob Munoz to Flamingo with my Professional. The boat poled better, tracked better and easier than even my old 16’ Waterman, it’s light. And with Rob and I in it, 160 and 185 pounds, the boat got on a redfish flat that was scary shallow, with a few blades of grass out of the water. All great.”
“With the 2 1/2 pound Stiffy Extreme and my super light Professional it felt like I was poling a feather. Easier to pole than my old 16’ Waterman.”
“Went to Whitewater Bay with Rob Munoz on a low tide stage. Not many fish, had a pair of reds chase and try to eat a surface lure but did not hook up, finally, I got this red in a little back bay… saw him chase the lure and open his mouth and eat it. It’s always beautiful back there. Did not use more than a 1/4 tank of fuel. Love my 17.8 Pro.”
“This week I fished with son Stephen and friend Capt. Rob Munoz, during extremely low tides. Often in 6” of water, with three anglers, lots of tackle, lots of food and ice. It was tough fishing at times, but we still took several nice redfish. It was flat calm and sunny during the morning, but coming back around 4:30pm it was very windy. Still, we were still cruising at 30 mph. It was dark by the time we got home, long but wonderful day.”
“My Professional floated higher than I ever expected, actually looked to be 6”, with the three of us. Tip of some grass out of water and like that. It also poles very easy and tracks real well which is a big plus not having to correct yourself while poling.”
“We sight cast a little against the shoreline and saw a few snook, but most of the fishing we did was live bait fishing with pilchards. The live-well worked great, not only keeping the pilchards alive, but also keeping some of the mangrove snapper we threw in the live well when action was too fast and furious and it was quicker than going to the big cooler. We took many nice size mangroves; and yes we kept a few for dinner.
And by the way, after Thanksgiving we went out, loaded with turkey, dressing, Cuban bread, deserts and many other “necessary lunch items”, lots of ice, sodas, beer, water, pastelists, empanadas, … anyway, a real big lunch for three, and in the afternoon a snack of course, … and there was more than enough room in the cooler for all that food and drinks, and still, plenty of room for the dozen or so big mangroves we kept too. I have Señor Cooler, ha.
Keep up the good work guys, and see you soon.
One of the most important sight fishing techniques with the fly rod!
ICAST 2017 has officially wrapped up, and we are pleased to share that we had another great show this year! ICAST by nature is a show that attracts industry professionals and passionate outdoorsmen, which makes it a great place for us to showcase our products and have a presence. It is always great seeing familiar faces and meeting new folks every year!
This year, we showcased multiple skiffs in various locations within the Orange County Convention Center. Displayed in one of the main breezeways leading into the show were Flip Pallot’s Marquesa promoting the Herman Lucerne Memorial tournament, a Bonefish & Tarpon Trust tunnel-hull Professional and the Skiff Challenge Biscayne. In the booth, we had a new Marquesa on display as well.
We had quite a few well-known fishermen in our booth over the duration of the show. Among them, of course, were Flip Pallot and Chico Fernandez, in addition to visits from Al Keller, C.A. Richardson and countless others. We even had the Florida Governor swing by and say hello! It could have been the social-hour event we hosted with Swamp Head Brewery that brought them all to our booth!
July is typically a very busy time of year for us, but we always carve out some time to have a presence at the ICAST show, which is held basically right here in our backyard. Thanks to everyone who came by to see us at the show — and we are looking forward to next year!
July 13, 2017
Hell’s Bay Boatworks celebrates 20 years of revolutionizing the shallow-water angling universe.
(Titusville, FL) This month marks 20 years since Hell’s Bay Boatworks was founded under an oak tree in northern Florida. And throughout those 20 years, it has led the entire shallow water industry by engineering and building the most advanced technical poling skiffs on earth.
Hell’s Bay grew from the dreams of hardcore inshore anglers who searched for the perfect skiff. Led by the experience of renowned waterman, guide and TV personality Flip Pallot and the intuitive engineering and boatbuilding of Chris Morejohn, they created the original Whipray prototype, a 16-foot skiff specifically engineered for the unmet demand of the South Florida backcountry. Designed to float in as little as four inches of water, while at the same time providing the stability and seaworthiness to cross vast bodies of water, this prototype was unlike anything that came before it.
The unprecedented abilities of the Whipray spawned a number of innovative branches on the Hell’s Bay family tree, and today they custom build nine separate models, each optimized for a certain environment and angler. Owned today by Chris and Wendi Peterson, Hell’s Bay continues to be known for its yacht-grade fit and finish, extreme stealth, and expedition-grade durability. Through all of these qualities, a Hell’s Bay skiff is the one indispensable tool in the expert inshore angler’s arsenal.
In 2017, Hell’s Bay took their inshore expertise to even greater lengths, introducing the 24’ Estero bay boat- providing the same level of quality and performance in a package that can stretch a wide variety of conditions and activities.
Still custom made by hand at their facility in Titusville, Florida, Hell’s Bay continues to gently evolve and optimize their skiffs through the input they receive from the members of their Pro Staff such as Chico Fernandez, Andy Mill, CA Richardson, and Flip Pallot as well as the world-class anglers comprise their Owner’s Group.
ABOUT HELL’S BAY BOATWORKS
Hell’s Bay Boatworks , based in Titusville Florida manufactures the world’s finest shallow-water skiffs. Founded in 1997, their skiffs are famous for their technical performance, fit, finish, durability, stealth and innovative design. Owned by Chris and Wendi Peterson, Hell’s Bay is a longtime sponsor and supporter of conservation, with a long history of involvement with the Coastal Conservation Association, the International Game Fish Association, the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, and the Herman Lucerne Memorial Backcountry Championships, as well as sponsor of innumerable inshore tournaments, educational and scientific initiatives.
For more information, please contact Wendi Peterson at 321.383.8223
Just about the time I got to thinking about building a new Hells Bay skiff, I got to thinking about Walkers Cay, in the northern Bahamas…and all the folks, fishes and high adventure that it presented to me during 16 seasons of filming thereabouts. Unbidden, the thought; why not build a skiff with the pedigree to cross the Gulfstream on her own bottom, make it to Walkers, and relive some of the most shining times I’ve known?
Lay her out, “Old School”, like the skiffs of my younghood. Wait for a calm, September 4:00 AM, enlist my old Compadre, John “Dozer” Donnell, and strike for Walkers. Many of the places he and I fished 27 years ago may not have been fished since! Heck, in my mind, I was there!
All boat dreams begin with a mission, and now I had one. “Dozer” said, “Yes…Of course yes!” I was ready to build a boat.
I chose the Marquesa hull, the largest of Hells Bay’s technical poling skiffs. Built light enough I reckoned she would draw 8 inches or so and provide a good ride, on a good day, across the Stream to the Bahamas. I also reckoned the Marquesa would work along the Florida Keys, the Everglades and Mosquito Lagoon.
The layout was the easy part. It was all in my head…even the most minute detail was ready to go on paper, and so it did…and when Hells Bay Boatworks owner, Chris Peterson, let the process out of the starting gate, it didn’t take long to blend skiff guide green gel coat with state of the art materials and produce the skiff that had rattled around my brain just six weeks before.
With the slightest wiggle, she slid off the trailer, shattering the greasy, calm, watery surface at the ramp and the maiden voyage began. A single step off the trailer onto her bow cap let me know how level and corky she was. The clutch of the Levorsi controls slid into gear…the stern crouched from the torque of the 115 Merc XS Sport and she readily answered the helm through the pilings and out into the Indian River. ‘Not even on plane yet and I was shot full of love!
North along the River and east through Haulover Cut into Mosquito Lagoon and north again along the Intercoastal Waterway … Diane and I found ourselves tying up to an eatery overlooking the Lagoon. The skiff drew a crowd before the painters were cleated! Inside I fielded a number of questions about the skiff before and during dinner and couldn’t help but brag about the 52mph top end with Diane and I aboard!
The next morning, a fishing buddy and I got the Marquesa up in the shallows to see how she fished. I was pleasantly surprised with her draft, how easily she poled and how her bow found the breeze…not to mention, she was a lucky boat, first time out. We released a number of redfish and trout and have done well on several trips since.
“Dozer” and I haven’t fished the Marquesa together yet but the Walkers Cay trip is still fomenting each time we speak, and those calm, September nights are not that far away. It could happen!
Flip Pallot shares his wisdom on fly selection. Enjoy!
Tarpon In Tampa Sweepstakes winner Ryan and Dave from Iowa, have the day of their lives with Capt. C.A. Richardson. What an epic tarpon fishing adventure…Enjoy!
The Trash Tour stop in Jacksonville, FL on June 10th was an overwhelming success. Hell’s Bay Boatworks teamed up again with the Coastal Conservation Association of Florida, and Swamp Head Brewery. Tons of trash was collected and everyone had a great time! Thanks to the over 80 volunteers that registered to help, we were able to clean up the waterways of Jacksonville.
The Coastal Conservation Association of Florida had two large dumpsters on site, and both of the dumpsters were filled with trash by the end of the cleanup. The most impressive part of the event was the volunteers! A couple traveled all the way from the Tampa Bay area to help make a difference in Jacksonville. Thanks to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, they had two officers cleaning up the waterway. A big shout out to the Jacksonville community, they did a fantastic job contributing their time and energy for this great cause – with and without boats.
The Jacksonville event was held at Jim King Park and Boat Ramp at Sisters Creek. This venue provided enough room for us to host a momentous event. We are looking forward to the next Trash Tour stop in Steinhatchee, FL, on Saturday, August 26th. For more information or to register – click here.
-Bill Co-Sponsors Include Six U.S. Representatives from Florida-
(TITUSVILLE, Fla.) –Hell’s Bay Boatworks praised the unveiling of a bill by U.S. Rep. Brian Mast (FL-18) that will expedite the federal timeline for the completion of reports required before Everglades restoration projects can move forward. Bill co-sponsors include U.S. Reps. Francis Rooney (FL-19), Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), Bill Posey (FL-8), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), John Rutherford (FL-4) and Claudia Tenney (NY-22). The press release announcing the federal legislation is shown below.
The Everglades FIRST (Flow Increases Rely on Storage and Treatment) Act instructs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to accelerate completion of required reports and construction for the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir, Loxahatchee River Watershed Restoration Project, Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project and the Western Everglades Restoration Project.
“Congressman Mast has demonstrated impressive leadership for America’s Everglades and all Florida’s waters. The Everglades FIRST Act will help ensure Everglades restoration is a priority as it should be. Congressman Mast is proving in his first term to be a decisive leader on many issues that face our nation that need action now” said Hell’s Bay Boatworks President, Chris Peterson.
Congressman Brian Mast is in his first term representing the 18th Congressional District of Florida. Prior to his election to Congress, Brian followed in his father’s footsteps by serving in the U.S. Army for more than 12 years, earning medals including The Bronze Star Medal, The Army Commendation Medal for Valor, The Purple Heart Medal, and The Defense Meritorious Service Medal. While deployed in Afghanistan, he worked as a bomb disposal expert under the elite Joint Special Operations Command. The last improvised explosive device that he found resulted in catastrophic injuries, which included the loss of both of his legs.
In Congress, Brian strives to serve as he did on the battlefield: without regard for personal gain or personal sacrifice. He is a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where his priorities include fixing the pressing water quality issues stemming from Lake Okeechobee, and the Foreign Affairs Committee, where he uses his military expertise to help strengthen the safety and security of the United States.
On April 22, The Coastal Conservation Association Florida ‘s Trash Tour stopped in Titusville, Florida, to clean up the waters of the Indian River Lagoon. CCA, Swamp Head Brewery and Hell’s Bay employee’s joined over 70 local volunteers to make a difference on Earth Day.
The event was based out of Parrish Park boat ramp, and it was the perfect location for everyone to start the day. Volunteers used skiffs, bay boats, canoes and even headed out on foot to pick up trash.
All the trash was returned to Parrish Park, where CCA staff loaded it all into giant dumpsters donated by Waste Pro. Thousands of pounds of trash were collected during the day! The event finished with Sonny’s BBQ, beer from Swamp Head Brewery, raffle prizes and an awards ceremony for the largest and most unique piece of trash. Check out this video from CCA Florida showcasing the event.
Thank you to all who came out to support the Swamp Head Brewery, Hell's Bay Boatworks, CCA Trash Tour on Saturday! With over 70 volunteers and thousands of pounds of trash collected, the event was a huge success! Click here to register for our Jacksonville tour stop on June 10th:https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07edx6chp333b48725&oseq&c&ch
Posted by Coastal Conservation Association Florida on Thursday, April 27, 2017
This year’s event was a huge success, and we are looking forward to the next stop in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday, June 10. For more information and to register for the Jacksonville Trash Tour stop – click here
The 2017 Florida Skiff Challenge was a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness and funds for the Coastal Conservation Association of Florida’s Clean Water Initiatives. Hell’s Bay Boatworks, Yellowfin, and Panga Marine collectively entered the Challenge with one goal in mind: to raise money and have fun while doing it. Of course, it wouldn’t have been a real challenge without a little bit of friendly competition! The rules required each manufacturer’s skiff to be under 18 feet long, have a 22 gallon or smaller fuel tank, and a 70 horsepower or less outboard engine. Panga Marine and Yellowfin elected to save weight by choosing the tiller option, while Hell’s Bay chose to use a standard center console in their Biscayne model. Each boat had a chase team that followed them around the state of Florida and met them at several strategically chosen stops along the way with fuel, food, drinks, and dry clothes. The locations were selected to make each pit stop between legs of the race as quick and efficient as possible. The trek began at the Northwestern tip of Florida in the city of Gulfbreeze, with the end goal of navigating the skiff all the way around the State of Florida up to historic Cabin Bluff in Southern Georgia. The journey of over 1350 miles was to be completed within 56 consecutive hours.
On Thursday, April 6th, the teams gathered at the Gulfbreeze Boat Ramp to kick off the Challenge. Because of a cold front that passed through during the night, the wind was gusting up to 35 miles per hour and the temperature had dipped down into the low 50’s. The conditions were far from ideal, but that is part of what makes the Challenge what it is. The teams prepared their vessels and set off on the journey to Georgia around 7:00 that morning.
Each team designated their own route and made their way to the first stop in Panama City. The following stops on the first day were in the Apalachicola region and Steinhatchee/Cedar Key. The gentlemen continued on through the darkness of the night and made a stop in Tampa Bay. Unfortunately, the team from Panga Marine had to drop out around 3:00am on Friday morning in Southern Tampa Bay due to some issues with their hull. Teams Hell’s Bay and Yellowfin continued on to Venice and had both made their pit stop in Marco Island by 8:00am. Both teams elected to make their next stop at Gilbert’s Resort in Key Largo. Although Yellowfin went into the pit with a 20 minute lead, their slow fuel stop allowed Hell’s Bay the opportunity to catch up. From there, the stops that remained were West Palm Beach, Melbourne, New Smyrna Beach and Crescent City Beach/St. Augustine. The final leg to Georgia was all that remained for the teams.
The team from Hell’s Bay Boatworks reached Cabin Bluff first around 3:00 on Saturday morning. Yellowfin came in shortly behind them around 4:00am. Your calculations are correct- both teams finished the race with more than 12 hours of the allotted time to spare! Laughs and stories were shared, loved ones were hugged, and pictures were taken, but the most exciting thing for both teams was that they were officially back on land! Each manufacturer’s team reminisced on the pros and the cons of their journey, things that worked well and things that they would have done differently. After their whirlwind trek around the state of Florida, Cabin Bluff was the perfect place to end their journey, with their accommodations, food and hospitality exceeding expectations. The teams are looking forward to next year’s Skiff Challenge ending in the same location!
Thanks to all of the followers and people who jumped on board to cheer for, watch, and donate to Team Hell’s Bay, we were proud to raise $9,300 for CCA Florida’s Clean Water Initiatives. We were honored to be a part of such a successful event and we are definitely looking forward to participating again next year!
On Saturday April 1, we had the pleasure of hosting Flip Pallot, Lefty Kreh, and their fly fishing school students here at Hell’s Bay Boatworks. This was the second year in a row that they joined us for lunch and a tour of the Factory.
The fishing stories and life lessons on the water were shared with the students and a great time was had by all. Here is one discussion on fly fishing leaders we captured on video. Enjoy!
Live from the HB Factory with Lefty Kreh and Flip Pallot!
Posted by Hell's Bay Boatworks on Saturday, April 1, 2017
Exciting news from Bonefish & Tarpon Trust’s Acoustic Tagging Project! A tarpon that was tagged by team Hell’s Bay during the Cabin Bluff “Tarpon Cup” off the beaches of Woodbine, Georgia on August 20th, 2016, was detected for the first time by an acoustic receiver off the beaches of Palm Beach Shores October 4-7, 2016 . At approximately 60 pounds, this particular fish traveled over 300 miles in less than two months!
The tarpon being tagged off the HB Estero.
Dr. Aaron Adams, Director of Science & Conservation at BTT had this to say about the Tarpon Acoustic Tagging Project: “So far, the tarpon tracking study is revealing two primary patterns: some fish are making seasonal migrations, like this tarpon; other tarpon are sticking in a small area. Many of the tarpon we are tagging are in the 60 pound range – a size for which we have very little data. Now that we’ve tracked this tarpon migrating south from Georgia to Florida, we’ll keep an eye out for it next year – will it return to Georgia, stay in Florida, go to the Gulf of Mexico? That is one of the most exciting aspects of this tarpon tracking study – the tags will last 5 to 7 years, so we will learn a lot about tarpon behavior that we’ve never been able to learn before.”
To learn more about the project, CLICK HERE
Flip and Chico’s “Most Excellent” Fly Fishing School an awesome time had by all!
The event started out on the evening of Friday, December 9th, here at the HB Factory. Fresh Texas Oysters, cold beverages, and Sonny’s Barbeque were provided for the students as they arrived. The night started out with a wonderful meet & greet with legends, a run down on the school, and a great raffle of HB gear. The night continued outside where the cool air and warm bonfire was the perfect setting for all the fishing stories shared.
Saturday began at 8 am with a breakfast and more fishing stories. Flip and Chico began with an open forum style of teaching. They talked about everything from fly line, to rods, and even leader construction! The students asked so many great questions and we all learned something new. That was quickly followed by one on one fly casting lessons from the two legends of the sport. Everything about casting was taught. From backcasts, to forming loops, and even the best casters loops. Flip and Chico made sure everyone was given tips on improving their casts. When the class returned back inside the factory, they were greeted by a catered lunch. The stories told by Flip and Chico during lunch were amazing and worth the price of admission alone.
The afternoon began with a full tour of the HB Factory. Everyone learned how our craftsmen build and test each skiff before being delivered to its new owner.
Then it was back to the “drawing board” in the classroom where more tips and fly fishing techniques were shared.
The last session of the day was back outside to ensure that everyone who attended felt comfortable casting a fly, Flip and Chico gave everyone the last few tips to improve their casting.
Everyone returned back to the factory expecting to leave, but the two legends of Fly Fishing had other plans. The group gathered around Flip and Chico for almost two hours as they recalled different stories about their childhood. Stories about fly fishing the world, Hell’s Bay, and the early days of saltwater fly fishing. Laughs were had and memories were made!
We can’t wait to host the next year’s “Most Excellent” Fly Fishing School!