Fishing

Hungry anglers take gourmet trip

 

Chef Anthony Hunt offers a combination of cooking and fishing.

scocking@MiamiHerald.com

Rarely do South Florida fishing guides prepare lunch for their customers; if they have any food on board at all, it is usually a stale grab-and-go from the local convenience store or a can of Vienna sausages that must be carbon-dated.

But Anthony Hunt is not a typical South Florida fishing guide. The 36-year-old Tamarac resident is a five-star chef who recently helped open Fort Lauderdale hotspot S3 on the beach and also prepares gourmet meals at A-listers’ homes. When he is not baking, sautéing or flash-frying, he is competing on the FLW bass tour or guiding anglers to big catches in lakes, rivers and canals from the Everglades to Central Florida. Recently, Hunt decided to combine cooking and fishing into a single enterprise called BoatAppetite.com — guided freshwater fishing with a fresh, gourmet lunch included.

“One thing the guide industry is missing is hospitality,” Hunt said. “And being the only chef on tour, who better to do it?”

Click on his website to book a trip and tell him where you want to go, what you want to fish for, and what you want to eat for lunch. He offers full-, half- and three-quarter day and nighttime excursions for up to three anglers aboard his tricked-out 20-foot Ranger bass boat. For larger groups, he draws from a cadre of trusted guides to handle the overflow.

“I’m really trying to target people who want a different experience and love good food,” he said.

Before water levels began rising in April and May, Hunt and his customers were enjoying 60-bass days in several of the Everglades canals, casting everything from plastic frogs to swimbaits to topwater plugs. These days, the fish are spreading out into their expanded wet-season habitat, but there are still plenty of postspawn lunkers in the 5- to 8-pound class ready to take a bait.

On a recent trip to the canals around Sawgrass Recreation Area in west Broward, Hunt and a customer caught and released some 30 bass to about 3 pounds using mainly brown/tan Live Target Frogs. Casting to lily pads and deadfalls, guide and angler watched breathlessly as the larger fish crashed the lively, jumping plastic baits at the surface.

They paused from fishing at midday to munch on curried chicken salad accompanied by a tart cole slaw and a dessert of fresh strawberries soaked in red wine — hardly a typical Florida bass outing. Then they resumed casting and pitching baits until thunderstorms chased them back to the boat ramp.

Afterward, Hunt’s customer was hard-pressed to decide which was better — the food or the fishing. It was just too close to call.

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