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Walkin' the Dog Charters offers flats fishing

August 19, 2015
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

Southwest Florida is known for its fishing and one of the best ways to fish local waters is with a charter boat captain. Chuck Downes, co-owner of Walkin' the Dog Charters, offers "flats" fishing to amateur and skilled fishermen.

As a native of South New Jersey (North Wildwood), Downes grew up fishing off of the Jersey Shore.

"Growing up on the eastern seaboard, I did a lot of backwater fishing and then 'graduated' to offshore fishing from New Jersey down to North Carolina," Downes said. "After 35 or 40 years of offshore fishing, you get beaten up pretty bad and when we came here to Southwest Florida the first time, I fell in love with the calm water.

Article Photos

Chuck Downes


"I have family over on the east coast of Florida and on a trip to the east coast my wife Pat and I decided to come over to see what the west coast is all about," Downes said. "I spotted this little town called Matlacha on the map and thought we'd check it out. The minute we drove into town we thought, 'wow we want to live here.'"

Downes brings a lifetime of knowledge to the waters of Pine Island.

"We do a lot of fishing in Matlacha Pass," Downes said. "When I first came down here, I had a boat that wouldn't get me into the shallowest water. A local charter captain, Gregg McKee, suggested I look into a 'Beavertail' skiff. They run in really shallow water.

"Then my wife encouraged me to get my captain's license," Downes continued. "I completed the course work in December and received my license in March. I've been booked ever since and right now I am scheduling charters for October.

The name of the business, "Walkin' the Dog," came from two places, Downes said.

"First, we have two Labs that we walk all the time," he said. "The second comes from a maneuver that you use with a lure that you cast. You cast the lure into a strike zone and then when you twitch your rod the lure skips back and forth sort of like walking. That's called walkin' the dog.

"This is one of the most beautiful, tropical, places on Earth," Downes said. "We have some of the best beaches and the wildlife is unbelievable. From sea turtles to manatee to dolphin. And here you can even see the fish.

"Everyone agrees the fishing is great," Downes said. "If you have real light tackle, and have a 32 or 34-inch redfish on the line, you have a real battle on your hands. We have some of the most exciting fishing anywhere"

Walkin' the Dog Charters departs from Matlacha Park. Call Downes at 606-412-7328 or 609-335-8520.



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