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Calm Morning Redfish Fly Fishing Tarpon Happy Redfish Angler

Customer Testimony

Captain Ned Small is your friendly, professional fishing guide in Everglades City, Florida. We invite you to take some time to read what our past clients have had to say about their experiences.

Purple Tarpon Fly

"You should have been there...

Let me start off by saying that he is the single most patient and persistent fisherman and guide that I have ever met. He is a hunter of fish... BIG fish. Not only does he fish his favorite spots, but he is also willing, if you are, to explore new territory, to find the shallow water, and to discover its secrets.

Another thing about Captain Ned, he is always up for a challenge, at least he's up to challenging you. I remember a pod of rolling tarpon, stationed in one spot, they were rolling in the current at the edge of a point every thirty seconds. I kept saying, "Ned, get me closer." He said, "Cal, if I get you any closer, we're going to spook them, you can reach them from here." He was right, and the result was a hundred pound tarpon, with about a hundred feet of fly line out, caught on the swing. I've landed lots of other tarpon with Ned but that moment was the most memorable experience that I've ever had in the Everglades."

- Calvin Fuller

"Good fortune...

I have been fortunate to fish with many top guides, in many great fishing destinations during the last several years. I can say, without hesitation, that Captain Ned is one of the best guides that I have ever fished with, and I make it a point to get back down to the 'Glades at least once a year to fish with him. He approaches his task, (finding fish,) with seriousness and substantial experience, but he also brings a friendly, "let's have fun," attitude. He is extremely knowledgeable about the ecology and history of the Everglades, and he is eager to share his knowledge and love of this great fishery. I always catch fish when I'm on Ned's boat and I always learn something interesting about the 'Glades, most importantly, I always feel that I've shared a great day on the water, with a great guy, and I've had fun. This is one fishing trip I recommend to everyone, - It is a trip that YOU SHOULD NOT MISS!"

- Keith Calhoun


going way back...

 I've known Ned for over forty years, and ever since our first trip to the Bahamian out islands, back in the early seventies, before there were guides and lodges, I've known he's the man you want to have at your back. We explored deep into the Bahamian backcountry, at a time when it was virtually unexplored, and we got back safely. In those days you didn't take the, 'getting back part,' casually. His lateral thinking and unerring sense of direction, and his desire to push the envelope, combined into an experience that's still vivid in my memory, thirty years later.

 When Ned was guiding in Upstate New York, in the Delaware Valley, fishing the West Branch for trout and the Susquehanna for smallmouth, we always caught fish, they were challenging to say the least, they were difficult and BIG.

 The most rewarding time for me though, was roaming the Catskill mountain ridges and abandoned farms in search of grouse and woodcock. He had a case with topo maps covering three hundred square miles that he kept in his truck. This guy is as dedicated to the sport as you will find. Those heart thumping treks, with his bird dogs, and his cat Jeekers riding shotgun, are among my fondest memories.

 Then came the Everglades. Twenty years have gone by since then, and I've been with him all the way. Now, when we fish together, we go everywhere, and then a little bit farther. Even on the most demanding winter days, when no one else is even going out, I always get a chance at a big fish, a fish of a lifetime.

Lateral thinking, a natural born GPS in his head, the confidence that he's 'got your back,' that we're going 'way out there,' and we're going to get back, these are the things I like about fishing with Ned. Book him if you can, Get the Everglades experience before it's too late, you won't find a more dedicated and professional guide.

 - John Frohnhoeffer


some are rotten and confrontational....

 When I was recently asked to suggest a fishing guide in the 10,000 Islands, I thought first of Ned Small. Ned lives and guides out of Everglades City and has explored and fished the 10,000 for many years.

 I’ve fished with a variety of guides in both fresh and saltwater from Newfoundland, Canada, to the Amazon basin of Peru, and up and down the East Coast from Maine to South Florida. A handfull of guides have been inspirational and a joy to fish with, sadly, more than I would have expected have been rotten and confrontational while the majority were more or less O.K. Capt. Ned Small tops the list of the first group.

 As an example, a lot of guides will nonchalantly tell you to meet at “such and such location around 6:00 in the morning” then show up sometime between 6:15 and 6:30. Nothing starts a trip off on a more sour note than standing on a dock in the dark, rigged and ready to go, swatting at mosquitoes and watching skiffs heading out while you wonder where your guide is. Trust me, if Ned says 6:00, he’ll be there at 6:00 with a well-thought out plan for the day, rigged and ready to go.

 One week last year, a friend and I booked Ned for 3 days in the middle of the summer. Each morning he showed up at 5:30 with a strategy to take advantage of the tide and the movement of the fish. The first morning, in spite of being covered by a virtual blanket of no-seeums, Ned hung in on the poling platform and guided us through two hours of exceptional snook fishing until we finally gave up and begged him to push us into open water, away from the shore and hungry insects. The next morning we carved and chopped our way in the dark through an overgrown mangrove-clogged creek to get to a chain of remote open-water lagoons whose surfaces were steadily broken by feeding and rolling tarpon. Before the sun was high enough slow down the bite, we jumped about 15 tarpon up to 20lbs and brought 4 to the boat for release. The highlight of the final day was a nearly twenty pound snook that ate a small rabbit strip fly within ten feet of mangroves. With good boatsmanship, a fair amount of coaching and a little luck, I was able to keep the snook away from the mangroves, guide him into open water and safely release him.

 To fish as hard as you can and still have fun is characteristic of a day spent on the water with Ned; he guides with a high level of intensity and balances it with a relaxed, non-judgemental style.

 - Farrow Allen


snook and reds...

 Thanks to a friends reccommendation, I've had a chance to fish the 10,000 Islands with Ned on two occassions at different times of the year. The first trip was in January, a difficult time by any measure, the conditions were bright and windy. Ned told us that snook would be tough, but if things went right, we had a chance for a great day. Well, things went right for my aforementioned friend. After watching me blow multiple shots at several nice redfish, he got his turn on the bow. Ned poled him into some calm, shallow water, and pointed out two snook laid up next to each other, about 40 feet away. My friend put the fly in the right spot, both snook reacted, but the bigger one was quicker, and a few minutes later Ned was taking a couple of quick photo's of a 34 inch snook before she was released. Several more fish were caught that day and I even managed to get a couple in the boat.

My next trip with Ned was in November, again we had a great day. We found snook and redfish in almost every location. My best memory of that day will be trying to shake off a ten inch snook, while Ned pointed to a snook well over thirty inches swimming slowly away from the mangroves in front of us. I got the fly to her, the snook turned and opened it's huge mouth as it sucked in the fly. As Ned calmly said, "Hit 'em," I must have been a little late on the strike, because the fly came away clean and the snook swam away. Sure it was dissapointing, but a great memory nonetheless.

 On both occassions I've fished with Ned he has worked like a dog to put us on fish in windy conditions. I also think, with Ned's coaching and guidance, I've come away from both trips a better fly fisherman. What more can you ask of your guide?

 - Kevin Chase


the fall migration...

 I recently enjoyed a very pleasant and successful fly fishing trip with Captain Ned, out of Everglades City. It was my first trip to this area in the fall, and I was anxious to try for snook as they are starting their fall migration to the backcountry.

 I could not have been more pleased, both with the fishing and the company of Captain Ned. Ned had spot after spot for us to try and we did not linger if there was no action. We caught snook every day with a beautiful thirty three incher as the topper. I plan on being back there next fall.

 - Terry Rusthoven

eight days...

I'm up to eight days a year with Captain Ned and wish I could find time for more days on one of the most beautiful and rewarding bodies of water I have ever fished, especially with a first class guide like Ned.

- Mike Colt


scarey snook...

Capt. Ned has been taking me fly fishing in the Everglades for the past 10+ years, and we have had adventures from the open ocean to the smallest mangrove creeks. I can truthfully say that each one has been successful and special in its own way. Numerous fish have been boated along the way including tarpon, redfish, snook, largemouth bass and others, but much of the success has been in experiencing the beauty which is the Everglades. Capt. Ned is the perfect person to lead you on this adventure. He was patient with me when I was a newcomer to the sport, and has worked tirelessly to find me fish. 

I recently fished with Capt. Ned and had one of my best days fly fishing the Everglades. We came upon a concentration of fish that is the stuff of dreams, with nearly nonstop action. Final tally, 11 snook, 2 reds, and a couple of mangrove snappers to the boat, with many other missed fish, including a scarily big snook that was sighted, ate, but not hooked and will haunt my dreams for a long time. This day was exceptional, but I have had consistent success with Capt. Ned and you can rest assured that he will do everything in his power to get you fish.

Chuck Kenney

 - Chuck Kenney


"Hold your fire..."

 All I could think was 'is he kidding?' as a double digit class snook lurked along the mangroves, oblivious to us just thirty feet from the bow of the boat.

 Ned said, "He'll spook the tarpon when you catch him."

 Sure enough, just a few minutes later, and a hundred feet down the bank, Ned pointed out a laid up tarpon that was quite interested in our fly and provided us with a flurry of mudsplattering jumps and tremendous runs into the mazes of mangroves. After landing that first tarpon on the fly with Captain Ned, I knew I was with a truly dedicated tarpon hunting guide.

 Before that first trip with Ned, I had watched dozens of fly fishing shows, read an assortment of fishing reports, and heard repeatedly how special the sight fishing in the Everglades could be. All I wanted to do was to just have an opportunity to see and have a chance at a laid up tarpon. After a number of reccommendations from fellow fly fishermen, (and even several guides,) I knew Captain Ned was the guide for me. Now after several trips with Ned, I can honestly say that he has provided the most spectacular days of sight fishing for tarpon I could ever imagine. We've seen hundreds of rolling tarpon in back lakes, cruising tarpon around points and bars, and, of course, all the laid up tarpon in and around the mangroves I could ever have hoped for. All I can say is you've got to see it to believe it. What is even more amazing to me than the sheer number of fish Ned has put me on, is the fact that every spot we tried had tarpon! Clearly Captain Ned has spent his time tracking these fish, understands their habits, and more importantly, knows their whereabouts throughout the season. All of his hard work and time on the water means more opportunities for you to succeed.

If you are interested in a quality, low stress, tarpon hunting and sight fishing trip, I can highly reccommend Captain Ned. I can't wait until next year.....

 - Russell D. Briggs, M.D


...a lot of reasons

  Fly fishing, (or do I mean "hunting,") with Captain Ned in the Everglades backcountry is as good as it gets. My son Cal and I like Ned for a lot of reasons but one of the most important ones is the time he spends on the water. Even when he doesn't have clients he's out there exploring new areas and finding fish. There's very little wasted time on Ned's boat, he'll keep you moving if an area isn't productive. He also has the knack for silently searching for and then stalking laid up tarpon along the mangroves. His maverick is very quiet, there is no bow slap, and he can get you really close to the fish.

 Some of our best times have been night fishing with him, precision fly casting in the dark around the docks and snook lights, 'no better word to describe it other than 'explosive.' If I am ever getting too old to handle these fish on a fly rod, I hope one of my last casts is with Ned in the backcountry.

 - Jim Fuller

Yellow Black Tarpon Style