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Catch-and-release fishing at Walt Disney World: Guided Bass Fishing Excursions

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As often as I visit Walt Disney World Resort, I keep finding new things to try. Disney resorts offer a variety of recreational activities that take me beyond the theme parks. A recent trip promised the opportunity – you may call it bait - to try a Guided Bass Fishing Excursion presented by Take Me Fishing.

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The experience was part of a media trip organized by the non-profit Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF). Those intended were invited to learn more about Take Me Fishing and its partnership with the Walt Disney World Resort (WDW). With their co-branded fishing and boating opportunities, the two organizations are working to promote both outdoor activities for families, both at WDW and at home, and conservation through participation.

What better way to see this partnership in action to actually fish…on a boat? Make that a 21-foot Sun Tracker pontoon, the type of boat used for these guided catch-and-release fishing experiences and one of several rental options at WDW.

Take Me Fishing helped me, a novice angler, became one of thousands of Disney guests each year who experience some of the boating and fishing activities available at WDW – and the more than 47 million Americans who participate in the activity. As someone used to the hustle and bustle of theme-park crowds and the feel of cement under her feet, I found time on the water offers a different kind of Disney fun.

WDW’s Guided Bass Fishing Excursions: Outdoor fun for families and novices

We set off for our two-hour Guided Bass Fishing Excursion from Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, one of several locations providing excursions. It was a sunny afternoon, a challenging time of day for fishing. Never one to trust in beginner’s luck, I was afraid I would come home with tall tales instead of actual fish stories.

Luckily, our guide was knowledgeable about Disney lakes and familiar with their best fishing spots. Kevin also knew his group included four newbies, and was eager we should each catch multiple fish. He was even a bit competitive with the other Take Me Fishing excursion running at the same time. That pontoon was filled with experienced anglers, so the pressure was on.

Kevin is used to working with novices and families. He was fairly patient in helping us learn the basics and in answering our questions. (Bonus: Guests can learn more about fishing basics on Take Me Fishing.org.) He helped bait our hooks and helped us with our first casts. Once all lines were in the water, he offered more individualized instruction. He showed each of us how to cast, close the bail, set the hook, and reel in our fish. Kevin also would help us land fish, as necessary, and keep the net handy for the ones that would try to get away.

First came my moments of fishing Zen, the useful practice of patience while waiting for a bite. With the Sun Tracker top up, we could enjoy some shade to complement a slight breeze. Waiting for luck to strike set a relaxed tone for the boating part of the trip.

Not just another tall tale: Take Me Fishing helps Disney guests land a fish story

Still, we were there to fish. There was the sense of waiting for something. Something big, hopefully. We didn’t need to wait long at all. As Cristina Arreola of Latina.com was reeling in her first fish, my first fish struck. Then another person caught her first fish. And so on. The fish were biting regularly and we were reeling most of them in.

Within an hour or so, I’d caught four fish and everyone caught at least one that day. Between the two boats and 10 people, we caught 24 fish in two hours. In the middle in the sunny afternoon, and even this newbie recognizes that as a good afternoon of fishing. While I’d like to think it was beginner’s luck or that I was some kind of savant fish whisperer, there were other (Disney) factors at play.

WDW keeps its waters well stocked with large mouth bass, bluegill, catfish and sunfish. Stacia Wake, Disney alliance management marketing manager, noted that a recent survey (Jan. – March 2014) reveals the average catch rate for WDW waters was between 1.6 (Bay Lake) and 2.5 (Caribbean Beach) fish per hour per person, an average of 10 fish per excursion. In addition, our fishing guides were very familiar with where the fish liked to be at different parts of the day; they moved the boats to help give us the best chance of success.

Take Me Fishing fun includes boating: Seing WDW from the water

Have proven ourselves natural anglers (with a little help from Disney), our guide offered our boat yet another perk of a Guided Bass Fishing Excursion at WDW. He took us on a brief water tour of Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon. The bonus trip, a reward for a lake well fished, provided some breeze and a picturesque look at Magic Kingdom, its resorts, and the monorail.

During the tour, Kevin mentioned some of the wildlife that can be seen from Disney’s waters and along its shores, including many bird species, otters, alligators and deer. We saw some the wildlife he motioned – alas, no gators on the whirlwind tour. But seeing such variety confirmed my impression that simply boating around WDW to see the sights can offer as much fun as bringing home fish stories. (Not that I’ve been keeping silent about my success.)

Take Me Fishing presents Guided Bass Fishing Excursions at Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World and Take Me Fishing offer two- and four-hour Guided Bass Fishing Excursions in the morning, midday and afternoon. The outings can accommodates up to 5 people. Experienced anglers may also enjoy Bass Nitro Fishing, for one or two people, in a Nitro Bass boat. An extra hour may be added in person, if available, and solo anglers can book at an afternoon excursion at a reduced rate.

Current price for the two-hour Guided Bass Fishing Excursion is $270. This price includes boat, guide, fishing equipment (guests may bring their own, but the price is the same), bait, and non-alcoholic beverages. Guests also receive a one-year membership to B.A.S.S., or the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, which includes 11 issues of Bassmaster Magazine. Guests need not buy a fishing license to participate in the experience; WDW pays fees to the state of Florida.

Reservations for these Take Me Fishing experiences may be made up to 180 days in advance by calling Walt Disney World Resort at 407-939-BASS (939-2277) or by submitting a BASS Reservation Request Form.

DISCLOSURE: As part of the Take Me Fishing media trip, Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation provided transportation, accommodations, meals and excursions. I was not required to write this article and all opinions are my own.

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