Due to finances, my saltwater excursions have been a mostly DIY process or research, tying, and finding fish-able water.
On a recent trip to Florida, I was fortunate enough to be invited on a couple of Everglades backcountry trips on a 20' flats boat.
Lots of firsts were had.
1st red on fly, 1st trout on fly, 1st mackerel on fly (offshore wreck on fly!), a pompano, lots of jacks, ladyfish, barracuda, and even a weird parrotfish and some assorted snapper. Even managed my first 2 snook (on a spin rod) in 25+ knot winds from a jetty.
Here is what I have learned about saltwater fishing in Florida. Public fish-able shoreline is at a minimum.
1. You need a boat
2. If #1 fails, you need a friend with a boat
3. If #1 and 2 fail, you need to hire a guide with a boat.
4. If #1,2, and 3 fail, you need to rent a kayak.
5. If #1-4 fail, you can fish from a jetty, pier, or bridge like the [less affluent] locals. I can almost guarantee you will the only fly rod out there. You'll get some respect for catching fish while the locals use bait.
6. There are a couple of wade-able flats off highway 1 in the keys, but none were very productive when I tried.
7. You can fish public Miami beaches before 8am.
8. If the whole boat is throwing live bait, your flies will be less productive
9. When you finally catch a nice fish on fly, your bait throwing friends will be impressed
10. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. i.e. pick up a spin or bait rod when the fishing is slow, the boat is crowded, or the wind is up (vacation is short!)
11. They call it the silver king
for a reason, 3 trips in, still no tarpon for me. Saw a bunch under bridges in the keys (see rule #1). Hooking one from a bridge would be a great way to get spooled and lose a whole fly line.
12. Unless you're in a tournament, use heavy bite tippet. I ran 40lb. fluoro bite leader with a 20lb. fluoro break section above it. Oysters, rocks, barnacles, toothy fish, and mangrove roots will destroy lighter leader with quickness. Everglades water is tannic and off color, fish are not leader shy. I used lighter leader for fishing off jetties in clear water.
First red on fly, #2 shrimp pattern (I was getting pretty jealous of my bait casting friends and their catch rate... but I persevered for the biggest red of the day at 24.5")
Plenty of toothy little buggers, bring pliers and steel leader! (flies will not survive long, so offer up your least favorites when the cudas are around)
Backcountry camping in Everglades National Park. Waiting for the full moon tide to put the boat back in! We found a lot of cool sea life on the tidal flat while waiting to get back to fishing.
Fishing with bait anglers, we did take our limit of a couple species. Nothing finer than fresh ceviche while camping... I released all the fish they would let me!