Best of Gulf Fishing: Charters Worth Booking

A top-rate captain can be the difference between a great catch (or at least a great tale) and a frustrating day at sea.



There may be plenty of fish in the sea, but if you can’t find ’em, you can’t catch ’em. That’s why a top-rate captain is as important as the gear and bait you’re using — and can be the difference between a great catch (or at least a great tale) and a frustrating day at sea. The Gulf is rife with worthy charters, but for our Best of Gulf Fishing series, our experts think that these captains really stand out.

CHRIS WOODWARD, Editor, Sport Fishing: I've fished with a number of excellent Gulf Coast guides, but one of the standouts has to be Capt. Sonny Schindler and Shore Thing Fishing Charters out of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Like most good guides, Sonny knows the area and has patterned the fish so well that he's very successful. He's very friendly and upbeat and clearly enjoys what he's doing.

DAVE FERRELL, Editor, Marlin: Capt. Pan Dineen of Flyliner Charters in Fort Walton Beach has the Gulf Coast of Florida covered, both inshore and offshore. Dineen's a great redfish and trout fisherman and loves to get folks who like to fly fish into the meat! He also knows all the good red snapper holes and can take you offshore to chase wahoo, sails and blue marlin.

DOUG OLANDER, Editor-in-Chief, Sport Fishing: I've fished many times over many years out of Venice, Louisiana, with Capt. Rimmer Covington and his associates, and he rocks. Some of my best memories are of catching 6- to 10-pound gray snapper all around the boat near the surface.

JOHN FRAZIER, Editor, Fly Fishing in Salt Waters: Capt. Greg Dini, who is based out of New Orleans, is one of the most talented guides in fly-fishing. He's just "fishy" — wherever the fish are, he'll get you there. He puts in long days and guides anywhere from Hopedale down to Venice. In addition, he also guides in Florida's Panhandle for tarpon during the summer months. Greg put me on my largest redfish to date: around 35 pounds, taken off a beach in Venice. It was a fish I'll never forget.

MIKE MAZUR, Senior Editor, Sport Fishing: Capt. Rimmer Covington's Mexican Gulf Fishing Company is pretty tough to beat for offshore fishing. We had a particularly great trip several years back, highlighted by a 60-pound yellowfin tuna on 12-weight fly gear, caught by Mustad Hooks' Jeff Pierce. A very fine catch.