Orlando Outfitters first opened its doors in January of 2005. Since then, Tim and TJ Bettis, along with shop manager Chris Barco, have shown that Orlando has much more than just the Magic Kingdom. With three full-time employees and a couple of part-timers, the shop always has someone ready to talk fishing. Redfish and seatrout are the primary targets for the guys at the shop, but they also fish for warmwater species like bass and sunfish, as well as snook, tarpon and black drum.
“One of my favorite ways to spend a day in the colder months is chasing tailing black drum,” says TJ. “We have tarpon in summer—the juveniles are actually here all ear—though they aren’t nearly as thick as down south. And we get a spring run of shad up the St. Johns River that starts in January.”
But one of the best-known fisheries near Orlando is the famous Mosquito Lagoon. “A great place to cast to tailing redfish,” TJ says. “We can potentially sight-fish 365 days a year here, and we also have access to a wide variety of freshwater rivers and lakes, plus a large estuary—the Indian River Lagoon System—as well as inlets beaches and open ocean.
Orlando Outfitters carries many top-name brands in the shop, including Scott and Winston fly rods, Abel, Tibor, and Hatch reels, Rio and Airflo lines, and Patagonia, Simms, and William Joseph. Not surprisingly, they also sell a lot of Buff sun protective gear.
“The fact that there is great fishing in Orlando surprises a lot of people,” TJ says. “We have folks come by regularly who are at Disney with family, and whenever possible we try to get them out on a boat with a guide. This isn’t just to show off the fishing, it’s that there’s also a lot of birds, manatees, alligators etc. around that can keep a non-fishing spouse happy for a day on the water.”
Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.