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A lot of reports that come across our desks here at The Angling Report consist of what most people would deem “bucket-list trips.” While the formula for what people would consider being a bucket-list trip varies from angler to angler, the basic rule of thumb is to catch exotic species in exotic locations. The following report is by no means a bucket-list trip, but it is undoubtedly one of the most interesting that we have seen in some time. And it does involve an exotic species, although we would not describe St. Cloud, Florida, as an exotic location. However, we do give credit where credit is due, and reader James Ovelmen gets extra credit for creativity and making the best of a small window of opportunity.
James and his family were recently visiting Universal Studios in Orlando when he and his father split off from the pack to check out Osceola Outback Adventures. This outfit is likely unfamiliar to Angling Report subscribers, as fly-fishing is not something that they specialize in. Their specialty is bass fishing on local lakes, airboat fishing, bow fishing and, oh yeah, breeding barramundi! James had this to say about their experience:
“The barramundi fishing was a great add-on/break from going to the Orlando theme parks. I could see it also working great for someone in town for a conference or work. There is nothing challenging about the fishing; it’s just nonstop fun. My dad and I had smiles on our faces the whole time.
“We fished from the shore at three different ponds, two of which are stocked with barramundi. The areas around both ponds were cleared, flat, and mowed. My dad was only casting about 20 feet off the shoreline and caught fish nonstop for three hours straight. We caught more barramundi than we could count. Most fish were around four to six pounds and great fighters. I also made one cast into the other pond on the property and caught a three-pound largemouth bass.
“Six-, 7-, and 8-weight fly rods with floating lines were perfect for this type of fishing. Deer-hair poppers like a Snookaroo, foam poppers, Clouser minnows, and other streamers did the trick. The guide can also provide spinning rods if need be.
“It was simply a fantastic quick trip, and everything was so easy. We drove about an hour southeast of Orlando to Osceola Outback Adventures’ property. The guide had texted us in the morning with specific driving instructions, including where to park, and let us know he was going to be about 30 minutes early, so we could start whenever we got there.
“We were only interested in fly fishing, so we did not use their equipment, but what they had seemed to be of good quality. We basically only fished the main pond, which is heavily stocked with barramundi from Australia. It is apparently the only place in the Western Hemisphere where you can fish for Barramundi. They are very aggressive, hard-fighting, and aerobatic fish and are related to snook, but they reminded me of peacock bass in the way they fought. While all of our barramundi ranged from about four to six pounds, the guide said some would grow to over 10 pounds in eight months and the over 20 pounds in a couple of years.
“I used a fast-action 6-weight and reel with a good drag, which worked fine, but an 8-weight is probably more appropriate. These are stocked fish and in manmade ponds, but for three hours it is a total blast. My dad had to keep taking breaks, as he was exhausted from catching so many hard-fighting fish.”
Postscript: James listed the price tag at $275 per person for three hours, and said that they run three sessions per day. For more information, or to try your hand at catching barramundi in Florida, go to https://www.osceolaoutback.com/