Florida Keys Business
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Early Bird charter catches the fish

ISLAMORADA -- South Carolina native Ross Early says that customers will get a trip to remember aboard his new offshore fishing charter, Early Bird, which he began operating out of the Postcard Inn marina on Nov. 1.

"I'm young and aggressive, affordable, fast and hardworking," Early, 35, said on the Postcard Inn dock after completing a day on the water one afternoon last week.

An Islamorada resident with wife Natasha since 2009, Early has spent the past few years learning the local waters as a mate for captains Mel Walker, Butch Green and Bruce Andersen, all of whom operate charters out of Postcard Inn. He also did salmon and halibut charters in Ketchikan, Alaska in the summers of 2010 and 2011. And though Early only became a full-time Islamoradan less than four years ago, he said he began fishing the Upper Keys waters with his dad in boyhood.

"I've been here my whole life, off and on," Early said.

He bought the Early Bird, an air-conditioned 43-foot Alex Willis vessel, for the bargain price of $69,000 in September. After putting in $20,000 to ready the boat, he had it in the water in November.

Early said he particularly likes to target sailfish, dolphin, tuna and swordfish. He's also happy to put his customers on grouper, snapper, cobia and whatever else they're interested in.

Last Thursday he described the day's haul of six dolphin, one blackfin tuna, six barracuda and a yellowtail snapper as an ordinary one.

"There's nothing like the satisfaction when a fish is biting the line," he said, describing his passion for offshore fishing and guiding. "No drug in the world can compare to that high. Also, seeing the look on other people's faces when they get the fish of a lifetime on."

Full day trips on the Early Bird cost $1,050. A half day costs $750. A three-quarter day trip costs $875.

Early said his single 660-horsepower Caterpillar engine keeps his fuel prices lower than much of his competition, who operate with two engines. That allows him to pass the savings along to customers.

"For a 43-foot air-conditioned boat, I'm probably the best deal in town," he said.

Visit www.fishearlybird.com or call 305-942-3618 to book a trip or for more information.

rsilk@keysnews.com

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