When Captain Chris Williams is not on the boat with Fish Happens Charters, you can catch him on the tournament trail … or on your television in The HT Redfish Series on Discovery Channel’s Destination America network.
Williams has been fishing in Pensacola since he was a little boy, but it wasn’t until 2010 that he cast his line into the charter business. After graduating from University of West Florida, he decided to take a risk and try to make money as a professional angler. He got his feet wet in the corporate world, but ultimately decided he was more comfortable on deck than behind a desk.
Hey, Fish Happens.
“I’m fairly young in the game, but I’ve been fishing here my whole life,” Williams says. “I was born and raised on this water.”
While he still fishes tournaments, he is proud of the lessons he teaches – and grateful for those he learns – during chartered trips. “Guiding is something I love to do because I like to share my passion by teaching people how to fish,” he says. “And you never know what you might learn from a client … I try to learn something new every day.”
Williams tells us what’s biting throughout the year – or, when to fish for what:
March to April – “Back to Basics”: Sheepshead make for simple fishing that doesn’t require extensive knowledge, geared toward families.
May – Inshore Season: A good time for inshore, or “flats” fishing – you’ll catch speckled trout and redfish.
June to July – Offshore Season: This is the time to head offshore, in search of grouper, red snapper, king mackerel, blue marlin and tuna.
August to September – Inshore Season: Like the late spring, early fall is a good time to stay in the bay.
October – Slot Season: Expect to catch the slot (edible) redfish or big trout.
November to December – “Big Breeders”: Schools of breeding redfish come here to make new redfish. The Captain likens it to fishing in a bathtub.
“I just want to be a nice guy who people book because they know they’ll have a good time on the boat,” Williams says.
A lot of captains won’t take young children out, but Fish Happens Charters likes to gear their trips toward families.
“To see kids’ faces light up when they catch a fish and learn the sport … if I can teach a child anything, that’s everything to me,” says Williams.
He’s also an honest fisherman. What you see is what you get, in terms of fees. Everything at Fish Happens is all-inclusive, covering your license, bait and gear. You just show up with food, drinks and sunscreen. Tips for the deckhand are customary, but not required.
Fish cleaning is also free. But if you’re looking to fill your freezer, this may not float your boat. Williams aims for conservation trips, pushing catch and release – or at least not taking home more than you need.
That way, the fish will still be here when you come back next year. Because once you go fishing with Captain Chris, you’ll be back next year.