MIKE BRAUN Fishing vacations that cover the world

Mention "fishing vacation" to most people and they think of lazy afternoons spent with a rod and reel on an area lake looking for bass, crappie, walleye or catfish.
However, there are companies around that can provide the adventurous angler with a much more exotic and exciting fishing excursion.
One such company, Ohio-based Sportfishing Worldwide, has a slew of offbeat and near-fantasy fishing holidays to offer the angler with adventure in his or her veins.
Now heading into its fifth year of arranging fishing tours around the world, the company specializes in planning customized angling trips to such far-flung locales as Belize, Chile, Guatemala, New Zealand, the Seychelles, Russia, Iceland and Costa Rica as well as "regular" spots in Canada and the United States.
Sportfishing Worldwide will also set up fishing trips for personal or corporate groups.
"About 60 [percent] to 70 percent of our clients are fly-fishers," said Scott Ruprecht, president of the southern Ohio company. "We book about 45 programs around the globe and we own and operate a fishing program in Guatemala."
Ruprecht said SFWW also recently collaborated with North American Fisherman for 2 bonefishing shows airing on ESPN2, and the company's Sailfish Guatemala program recently completed 2 shows with Trevor Gowdy's ESPN2 show "Out There" fly-fishing with Stu Apte.
The company's offerings are so satisfying that many of its clients take two or more of its fishing trips each year.
Ruprecht said that there are quite a few doctors, entrepreneurs, dentists and lawyers among the company's clients.
"Most group sizes we book tend to be in the two-to-eight anglers range," he said, adding, "We also book lots of women, and we book two fly-fishing schools for those interested -- a freshwater program in Idaho and a saltwater program in Florida."
Male bonding
Dr. L. Dade Lunsford of Pittsburgh, a recent client of SFWW who went fishing to Crocodile Bay in Costa Rica, said, "My son and I do male bonding events annually; this was a great trip to a beautiful country."
Lunsford, the Lars Leksell Professor and chairman of the department of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, added, "We had excellent accommodations and some wonderful ecotour events."
The doctor explained that he and his son could only take the trip in July during school vacation. "Probably this is not the optimal fishing time, but on the other hand the Osa peninsula was not crowded. We spent three days fishing with great guides, all English-speaking and very attentive," he said.
Lunsford added that despite some bad weather, and fishing that, due to the time of the year, was not as great as it could have been, "It was one of our best trips; Iceland was a tie the year before." And he still felt that way even after he lost his wedding ring while swimming in heavy surf.
Very pleased
Another area resident who took part in the company's offerings, Robert Trapp of Middleburg Heights, said the accommodations on his trip to Florida were very good, clean and private -- "sort of a bed-and-breakfast atmosphere."
"Meals were outstanding, warranting a five-star rating in my book," Trapp said. "Each supper-time meal was a five-course dining delight."
The Cleveland-area resident said his trip included attending the company's saltwater fly-fishing school in October, "which was very good."
He said the teacher, Capt. Gene Zamba, "is a very capable fly-caster and teacher and readily shares his saltwater knowledge. I have fished with quite a number of fishing guides around the country, and Capt. Gene rates with the best."
Trapp said some tropical storms affected the fishing a bit, "but we did manage to catch a variety of species such as mackerel, cobia, ladyfish -- poor-man's tarpon -- bluefish, and sea trout."
He said he definitely plans to fish with Capt. Gene again.
In addition to fishing, SFWW also has some combined trips that include quail hunting in Florida.
For more information call (800) 638-7405.

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