My name is Captain Don Mathews, I have been a fisherman my entire life. I grew up in NE Ohio along the shores of Lake Erie. I was fortunate to grow up in a fishing family. As a youth my father took me to an endless list of fishing destinations and it didn’t take long to get me hooked on fishing. My guiding career started in the early 80’s. My uncle, Captain Pete Mathews ran walleye charters on lake Erie and lake Michigan.

I spent my summers first mating on his boat. I learned a lot about fishing and guiding from him. In the late 80’s my buddy bought a bear hunting camp in Quebec. I helped out guiding the hunters and fishermen each spring. I discovered that my true love was helping people learn to fish. My parents moved to Florida in the early 90’s and I got my first taste of the salt in Sarasota.

I loved the salt water fishing and debated moving but I was “stuck in Ohio” as they say. I still managed to spend three or four weeks each year fishing Florida. I can go on for hours about the experiences I have had towing boats across the country.



In 1997 I started guiding anglers full time in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. It was about this time the fly fishing bug hit me bad. I spent almost every day of the season on the water and my steelhead guiding business grew fast. I loved teaching guests how to catch huge steelhead on small flies. I started the Steelhead School in 1998. We offer three day all inclusive schools focusing on learning to catch steelhead in the Erie tributaries. We cover fly casting, reading the water, knot tying, and fly tying.

To date we have had over 800 anglers attend one of our three day fishing schools. I get great satisfaction when a former student calls me up all excited about how many steelhead they are catching. The Steelhead Alley Fly Shop and our guide business continued to grow through the years. This year we have five full time guides on staff in Ohio.



Four years ago I realized my dream and was able to have a second home in Florida. I have fished almost every day since. I really fell in love with the Florida lifestyle. We live in South Sarasota most of the year but I still have a lake house in Saybrook, Ohio and spend several months of the year there chasin steelhead and running the guide business.

To make a long story short if you are looking for a third generation native fishing guide I am not your guy. If your looking for a hard working professional full time guide who will go above and beyond to put you on the fish.

USCG Captain Don “Dfishinfool” Mathews is a full time fishing guide who is licensed to fish in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Florida. Don is Insured, and certified in CPR and water safety, Don on the Hyde boat pro staff and has worked for several rod manufactures designing fishing rods, including the popular Cortland Endura line of Float Rods. He founded the steelhead school in 1998. Don is master fly tyer. His patterns have been published in Fly Rod and Reel and several other magazines and books. Don is on the Scott Fly Rod, Hardy, Patagonia, frog hair, Sceintific anglers,TFO, and Cortland pro guide programs. Don has had many articles published on steelhead fishing and has been featured on several outdoors programs.






Come fish SW Florida and I am sure you will be hooked.




Feel free to call or text me anytime to discuss a trip.

Good Fishin..!!

Captain Don


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Please call, text, or email Capt Don to check availability.
Mobile phone (330)-565-5457 email
Note first time guests may be required to place a $50 deposit at time of booking.
Final payment will be in cash or Travelers Checks.
Sorry we do not accept personal checks or Credit Cards

Our Florida guide license covers our guests
Captain will call three days before the trip with a updated marine forecast and to arrange meeting place and time.
Safety is our number one priority. The Captain may cancel trip due to adverse weather conditions. If we are forced to cancel your reservation, we will give you the option of trying to rebook or a full immediate refund of your deposit.
*2019 update: Captain Don will not be offering trips in Florida Charter Trips August 15th thru October 15th