About us ...

Gulf Breeze Fisheries is a family owned and operated commercial and charter crabbing business.

Rick Ulrich was born and raised in Daytona Beach, Florida where he spent a majority of his time fishing both inland and offshore waters in addition to surfing.

His wife, Dr. Melanie Ulrich, is a native of Cherry Hill, New Jersey and a professor of Biology and Microbiology at Florida SouthWestern State College, Fort Myers, Florida.  While not in the classroom she spends her time on the water with Rick helping with the daily operations of the business.

Rick and Melanie met in graduate school, at Clemson University (1990s), where they both obtained their PhDs in microbiology (Go Tigers)!  After more than a decade of biodefense research careers at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Dr. Melanie chose the classroom and Rick could never get away from his roots on the water and why he is a commercial crabber today.

The charter aspect of Gulf Breeze Fisheries began following the suggestions of guests we have taken out for a fun and laid back day of crabbing.

Our guests loved the trips and the hands on experience of commercial crabbing appealed to folks of all ages. The things we see (i.e. pelicans and dolphins) and catch each trip make every day on the water a unique experience, especially for children.

We soon realized that sharing these crabbing trips with both experienced and novice crabbers is a bundle of fun to say the very least.

Capt. Rick is patient, loves a good joke and is an experienced crabber that will provide your family with a safe and memorable day on the water.

Gulf Breeze Fisheries Recipes

Check back often for more recipes!

We are a commercial crabbing company located in Cape Coral, Fla. on the Caloosahatchee River, owned and operated by Captain Rick Ulrich and his wife, Melanie Ulrich.

Not only do we offer some of the best hard and soft-shell blue crabs on the west coast of Florida, we also provide custom blue crabbing charters throughout the year. This once in a lifetime experience lets you become a member of our crew while catching crab for various local restaurants and fish houses in the Lee county area. Most importantly, these blue crab charters will provide your family plentiful live blue crab for a delicious meal.

Experience what it’s like to be a crabber for the day!

Aboard the boat Rick will teach you about:

Not interested in being a crabbing mate?

How about sitting back while enjoying the scenery and wildlife of the Caloosahatchee River?
While relaxing and enjoying your charter you may see manatees (aka Seacows), osprey, egrets and herons. It’s not uncommon for dolphins to be playing in the boat’s wake or a pelican feeding off the boat deck. All of this while watching Rick catch your dinner fresh from the water.

Whether you are an experienced or novice crabber, Gulf Breeze Fisheries can plan a charter for your specific needs. Did we mention you are guaranteed to catch a delicious dinner?

Gulf Breeze Fisheries Capt. Rick Ulrich at the helm

Rick is a USCG licensed 100 TON master. Our commercial vessels are fully insured and USCG inspected.

Our contact info:

phone (239) 677-4113

Gulf Breeze Fisheries reef image by graphics@the creative flow
Gulf Breeze Fisheries Crab Pot Image by graphics@the creative flow
Gulf Breeze Fisheries Melanie Ulrich profile
Gulf Breeze Fisheries Capt. Rick Ulrich profile

Work boats:

The Gulf Breeze Fisheries commercial work boat “Mellie Bellie” is a 1988 25' C-Hawk powered with a 2008 Yamaha four stroke 250 hp engine. The vessel is USCG inspected and equipped with all safety provisions required by the USCG.

The boat contains a pilot house which helps to keep customers and crew out of the elements if need be and contains current electronics including a Garmin 740s GPS, Garmin 18 HD radar, two depth finders, and the Garmin GXM51 satellite weather and radio package.

The real-time weather on board adds an additional level of safety and the satellite radio allows for passengers to listen to any type of music, news (CNN/FOX/MSNBC), or sporting events (ESPN) they desire.  The boat also has a small head (port-a-potty) in the pilot house, but remember it is a commercial crab boat, not a luxury motor yacht.

New addition!

Gulf Breeze Fisheries has added an additional work boat to expand our crabbing capabilities.  All charters are carried out on the "Mellie Bellie" above for comfort. Along with the purchase of this new vessel came a blue crab soft shell license, also known as the Florida “VS” endorsement.

We currently have 235 soft shell traps and 4 shedding tanks up and running.  The boat, "Fish-Bone", is a 1998 22’ C-Hawk with a 2013 Yamaha 115 which is extremely fuel efficient.

 The boat contains a small pilot house, livewell, raw water wash down, pot rack, an Electra-Dyne trap puller and all of the electronics that our larger work boat contains. The ability to harvest and produce soft shell blue crab greatly adds to our ability to supply blue crab to the Cape Coral and Fort Myers areas.

Gulf BReeze Fisheries Fish-Bone workboat
Gulf BReeze Fisheries workboat Mellie Bellie

Ask any crabber on the water who has the best quality crabs and they all say that they do. Don't take our word for it though, here's what our customers have to say:

What our customers think:

Gulf Breeze Fisheries will customize charters for your pleasure as well as education.
Become a member of the crew for the day or just sit back and enjoy the beauty we've come to love during a 'work' day on the Caloosahatchee River.

Personalized Charter info:

Capt. Rick is back on the water
We've resumed our charters. Please contact us for more information.

Some of our favorite images that have captured the unique life of being a crabber

These are our most favorite pictures and you can view them just click on the thumbnails below to see them.

Use these links to see hundreds of pictures that we've taken over the years.

Come back often for new images:

Now that you have some excellent seafood, here are some of our favorite recipes that you may enjoy. Click the link for a printable file with all the recipes you see below from our kitchen and some of our customer kitchens:

Soft and hard shell Blue Crabs
How to identify peeler crabs i.e pink versus red signs
How to haul and bait crab traps
How the crabs are graded for the seafood market

Welcome to

Gulf Breeze Fisheries Text Logo

A useful forum for anyone whether you a Crab Boat Captain or just want to learn more about crabs. Friendly forum where you can ask any crabbing question.

This Florida distributor stocks everything you need to fish/crab on a recreational or commercial scale.

For ease, this is the puller installed on our work boat.  It is slower, but does a great job.  The boom keeps the hull of the boat from getting beat up by crab traps in rough weather.

Phil at Chesapeake Winder builds a trotline winder that is plug and play.  It is more for the recreational crabber but his winder works great on those hot summer days when you just do not have the energy to pull in a 1000 feet or more of trotline.

Trailer parts aren't the only things they stock but also provide a range of crabbing supplies. 
I have one of their propsticks for trotlining and it works great.

Pressure washer turbo head adapter.  For the commercial crabber this company sells great products.  The turbo nozzle sells for $79.00 and helps clean a dirty trap in minutes, literally.

A crabbing supplier located in North East, MD and provides a diverse range of recreational and commercial crabbing supplies, including bait.

A Florida supplier of commercial crabbing supplies and is located in Jacksonville, Florida.

These pullers are more high-end and are work horses.  Requires more thought for the install, but are super.

A Florida supplier of commercial crabbing supplies and is located in Jacksonville, Florida.

A supplier of extensive products for the commercial fisherman.

A great boating and fishing forum that contains a diverse range of subscribers that can answer any of your boating questions.  It is free to join the forum and well worth it.

These folks are a Tampa Bay and Central Florida specialized food service purveyor servicing the Gulf Coast.  You can purchase chicken necks by the case which makes for great crab bait for recreational crabbing.

Gulf Breeze Fisheries Logo
Gulf Breeze Fisheries Blue Crab image two by graphics@the creative flow

When threatened, a blue crab
will use its claws for protection while moving sideways to
escape the predator

The scientific name of
a blue crab is Callinecttes sapidue, which is Latin for 'beautiful Savory Swimmer'. Female blue crabs have red tipped claws.

The bottom dwelling blue crab will use beds of aquatic grass as a source of food, a nursery for their young and shelter when they molt or mate.

Gulf Breeze Fisheries Blue Crab image by graphics@the creative flow

Crabbing Charter

Sunset Charter

Property Survey

What to bring?

Payment & Terms

Crabbing Charter

A flat rate of $300.00 for a 4-6 hour crabbing charter accommodating up to 6 passengers is our standard trip.  A $50.00 deposit is required.  From our experience a 6 hour charter provides ample time for plenty of pictures and boat running time to the crabbing locations.  A 6 hour trip will entail ~4 hours of actual crabbing which means pulling and baiting traps, sorting crabs, sightseeing and catching your dinner.  If Rick gets into the crabs while on a charter, which normally happens, trips can be extended at no charge for the avid waterman up to 8 hours, however this is at the customer's request.  This is your custom charter and Rick will tailor it to your desires and needs.

A day in the life of a crabber

For your charter, Rick will thaw bait and fuel the boat the day before your trip.  It is recommended that your party meets at the dock by
8:00 am or so, especially in the summer months as it gets hot early.  This is your charter and we can even cater to afternoon trips if needed.  The Southwest Florida sunsets are just amazing.

Sunset Charter

Gulf Breeze Fisheries also provides sunset cruises on the Caloosahatchee River.

Enjoy a relaxing 3 hour cruise while taking in the breathtaking Southwest Florida sunsets.  Depending on the time of year we will either travel north of the Veterans Memorial Bridge towards downtown Fort Myers or south of the Cape Coral Bridge in the direction of the Gulf of Mexico.  These areas of the Caloosahatchee River provide beautiful locations to take in sunsets.

Bring your choice of snacks, drinks and, most importantly, a camera and you will be sure to have a relaxing and fantastic evening on the water.  Boat departure times vary and depend on the time of year, generally 1 hour before sunset.

 A flat rate for up to six people is $180.00 for a sunset cruise.  A $25.00 deposit is required.  Times are flexible and we are never in a rush to get back to the dock, our goal is making sure you have a pleasurable and safe evening taking in the Southwest Florida sunset as well as the marine life of the Caloosahatchee River.

Property Survey

The Cape Coral and Fort Myers, Florida area provides residents and visitors a laid-back lifestyle, year-round boating, world renowned fishing and crabbing locations, in addition to endless sandy beaches and gorgeous sunsets.  Both cities are known for amazing waterfront homes with the Caloosahatchee River splitting the two cities.

Captain Rick also provides private charters for customers who are contemplating purchasing a waterfront property in Lee County.  He will teach you how to navigate the canals out to the Caloosahatchee River and provide hands-on experience regarding what to look for if you intend to purchase a home where you will dock a boat.  While searching for our home in Cape Coral we conducted a "drive by" via water for any property we were considering to determine the time to the Caloosahatchee River/Gulf access and the condition of the surrounding waterways and waterfront homes.  Doing this we quickly eliminated several properties that looked great from the street but didn't have the characteristics we were looking for from the water.

What we provide:

Ice and bottled water

All crabbing gear and licenses

For a nominal fee and with advance notice we will cook your crab for you

Basic snacks such as fruit, cheese, crackers, granola bars, etc.

Knowledge of the local crabbing grounds

What to bring:

Sun protection is important including lotion (no spray-makes the boat deck slippery), sun glasses, a hat, etc.  We always carry extra supplies on the boat but bringing your choice of lotions and personal gear makes your trip more pleasurable.

A camera is a must and the boat has two DC camera and cell phone chargers for your convenience.

A few sandwiches are always a good idea, especially if the charter is extended.

Mosquito repellent.

Feel free to bring along your choice of juices, soda, beer and wine.

Slip on shoes are a good choice as the boat deck tends to get wet.

If it seems chilly on land it will be much cooler on the water.  We suggest wearing warmer clothing, you can always take warmer clothing off as the day progresses.

Do bring some older clothes if you intend on being a hands-on mate on the work boat, as it tends to be muddy.

What not to bring:

No coolers, we have a large cooler that fits on the boat deck nicely and provides adequate storage.

We have a no tolerance policy for drugs and firearms on board the work boat and our property.  We are fortunate to have our docks located at our home and respect for that is more than appreciated.

Our terms and conditions:

Due to the fluctuating weather in Southwest Florida, charters may be canceled or rescheduled at the discretion of Capt. Rick.  Your safety is of the utmost importance and we want to create a pleasurable adventure for you, your family and friends.

It is rare that this occurs, but if it does happen you will be refunded the full amount you have paid for any deposits.  We will provide notice to you as soon as a trip is determined to be canceled, normally within two hours of departure time.

We understand unforeseen circumstances arise but a 24 hour notice is appreciated for customer cancellations.  If fair notice is given your deposit will be refunded in full.