Whatever else you may know about Walt Disney World, you probably did not know this: You can go fishing there.
Fishing tours have been offered on Walt Disney World’s natural and man-made lakes for decades, but few guests know about them, according to recent news accounts.
Fishing is — perhaps also surprisingly — found in a variety of unexpected places.
Downtown Disney is a high-traffic shopping area, for example, and one of the last places you might expect to hook a live fish. But it also offers two-hour guided fishing trips at 7:00 a.m., 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
A surprising activity for Disney World
Surprised? Many are (more on that later).
The first question fishermen and would-be anglers might ask: Can you really throw out a line and fish at a lot of places and not just a few isolated ponds at Walt Disney World?
The second question might be: what kinds of equipment are provided?
A third question if you are really a fisherman might be: what kind of bait do they use? Mickey Mouse ears or worms?
Actually, there are guided catch and release outings available all over Disney. And the bait can be either live or artificial.
Disney tries to lure fisherman with bait of their own.
Another perhaps surprising fact is that fishing is available not only for adults but for kids as well.
A sport for all ages
All Walt Disney World Resort fishing excursions include:
- An experienced guide
- Rod and reel
- Artificial and/or live bait
- Non-alcoholic beverages (Guests may not bring beverages, food or coolers aboard.)
- One year BASS (Bass Anglers Sportsman Society) membership, which includes 11 issues of Bassmaster Magazine (one membership per excursion).
It’s also not generally known but but restrictions are few, no fishing licenses are required, and you can fish all year round.
Guided fishing excursions include renting a 21-foot Tracker pontoon boat that can accommodate up to five people, or a Bass Nitro boat which holds one or two people.
Both 2-hour and 4-hour excursions are offered, and if available, an extra hour may be added in person at the Marina.
There’s also fishing on shore
But you don’t have to get in a boat to fish, either.
There’s also cane fishing.
Perhaps a typical reaction to this fishy news: from Terry Tomalin, an outdoor writer.
“I’ve never been a fan of theme parks,” he writes in the Tampa Bay Times.
He isn’t usually found at Disney, either.
But “Walt Disney World, the Mother Of All Theme Parks, has some of the best largemouth bass fishing in Florida,” he writes.
He found the people at Disney are smart. “They teamed up with takemefishing.org to develop a top-notch bass fishery right in the shadow of Cinderella’s castle. What a stroke of genius … put a grumpy dad on a lake brimming with bass for a couple of hours and you’ll have him smiling for the rest of the day,” he writes.
Fishing options include:
—Solo anglers may book an afternoon excursion at a reduced rate.
Locations include Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon, Village Lake or cruise Crescent Lake and World Showcase Lagoon.
—For traditional cane-pole fishing, visitors can try the Fishin’ Hole at Old Man Island at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort—Riverside. Fishing equipment can be rented there with various plans, including a family offer for up to six guests for $13.32 for every 30 minutes, to a per person rate of $4.02 per one. For those who can handle it, worms are also available. Hours are from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
—Guided Bass Fishing excursions serving the Magic Kingdom resort area in the Bay Lake & Seven Seas Lagoon area but also include Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the Polynesian Resort, the Contemporary, the Wilderness Lodge, Old Key West, Coronado Springs, the Caribbean Beach and others. Prices are $270 to $455.
—Casting-rod fishing gear can be rented from the Bike Barn at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.
Along with bass, the lakes are home to catfish, crappie, bluegill, longnose gar and the occasional chain pickerel. It’s not uncommon to witness a bald eagle snatching a fish from the water and carrying it off in its talons.
This is often the first time
For many guests, a Disney excursion is their first time fishing. Many of the newbies get hooked on the pastime here, according to news accounts.
All fishing is catch and release, which Disney empathizes (which seems appropriate, because while it may be easy to come back from Disney with a Mickey Mouse set of ears, it’s a little hard to imagine leaving there with a dead fish to cook for your dinner).
Our writer guide in the Tampa Bay Tribune was among those who reported that all members of his family enjoyed fishing about as much as they did visiting the park.
Did they catch any big ones?
The outdoors writer and his family immediately caught several fish, though the ten-pounders reported by others did get away. But as the fishing guide said, the event entertained both adults and children.
It was pure Disney: entertainment for the entire family.
If you go
For charters, call (407) 939-2277. To learn more about other fishing opportunities with children, go to takemefishing.org.