We had the good fortune of connecting with Hai Truong and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Hai, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Taking risks is always uncharted territory, especially for a small business. But, no risk. No reward. Some businesses gamble on advertising & marketing. They hire social media managers & influencers. Some collaborate with other professionals in their field. Although these are great avenues depending on your company or brand. They all have risks involved.

What is my return on investment (ROI)? The answer to this question may answer the initial one. Knowing your market & potential return may allow you decide which risks to take. But, these are monetary risks associated with any business.

I decided to go a slightly different route with my guide service. I took a huge risk on people over the last decade. My clients & guests alike. I’ve always recommended checking out your guide or charter captain’s website and/or social media pages, get references & referrals from people you actually know.

I have been very fortunate to be able to screen my clients over the last ten years & have hand picked the ones I have made deeper connections with. People with similar ideologies of animals & life in general. It’s not about left or right, or anything like that. It’s about surrounding myself with down to earth people.

I don’t mind losing money today & avoid spending a second with a jerk, none-the-less four to eight hours. And hopefully make up for it tomorrow. It’s probably not the best business decision but it sure soothes the soul. And that is priceless.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My Story has been told in a nutshell in previous responses. In fact, it’s no secret to social media followers.

I quickly realized that my fishing had power through social media. It gave me a platform to not only showcase my local fishery, but it also gave me a way to educate those that wanted to learn more.

I realized that most people want to learn but not many want to be taught. This presented an interesting dilemma. How do I make social media posts showcasing knowledge & keep it interesting, fun & interactive? This question still applies today.

My point is to not let social media dictate who you are as a person. Never allow your social media numbers to reflect your self worth. I see it very often with younger generations today.

I’m proud to say that all of my social media pages are 100% organic since day one & always will be. I spent zero dollars to date. This allows genuine people to communicate with you one-on-one. They can ask questions relating to fishing, boating, photography & more.

Another side of my business is developing products for the fishing industry globally. And social media is a huge part of this. But, a focus of mine over the years is to educate people on my local fishery. There is a fine line to being a responsible outdoorsman & exploiting the fishery. Social media allows this connection.

Educating & teaching fish identification, proper handling, reviving & release techniques are key to being a great guide & angler. And I’ve used these platforms over the years to help spread the word about the peacock bass. A specific species that has gained popularity amongst fishermen from around the world, due to their aggressive nature, hard runs & aerobic leaps.

South Florida is the only continental state to offer peacock bass, introduced by the state in 1984 to help reduce the number of other non native or invasive species. Peacock bass originally come from South America & targeting them in Florida can save you a costly trip to the Amazon.

I feel with proper education & handling, we can responsibly target these brutes for many to enjoy. Hopefully the state will recognize the millions of dollars this one species attracts & will help to protect them as they should. They are recognized by the state as a game fish but have little to no table fare value. And not protected accordingly, especially during their spawn.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Florida is the fishing capital of the world & for great reason. Miami has literally a ton of things to do & fishing is just one of them. Most people think “Magic City” or South Beach when Miami is mentioned. We picture concrete jungles & seemingly endless asphalt roads. We picture clubs, restaurants & fancy hotels lining the beaches.

But, Miami is so much more. There are hidden gems & secrets to unlock through the city. For some, it’s discovering the Keys just south of Miami, or the vast Everglades. Both are amazing destinations one has to have on their list when visiting south Florida. Not to mention Everglades National Park located in the southwest of Florida. Home to hundreds of birds, reptiles, crocodiles & some of the world’s best fishing.

Miami also offers a long list of restaurants, reflecting our diverse inhabitants from around the globe. And having worked in the hospitality business definitely helps getting a table or choosing which delicious dish to order.

Just to the north of Miami is Ft Lauderdale, the Yachting Capital of the World & about an hour drive pending from where in Miami. And Florida is definitely no stranger to boats. Home to almost every kind of personal water craft one can imagine. Jump back into the Everglades on an airboat with a group or book a personal guide off famous State Road 41 or Alligator Alley.

Forget about the shopping & don’t tell the wife, like they don’t already know. South Florida has infinite malls. One for every type of person & wallet, from high end chain stores to your Dollar Stores. Shop til you drop!

Are you into cars or motorcycles? Visit one of many places to rent the super car of your dreams. Or take a ride south into the Florida Keys on a Harley. Don’t forget to check out all the new toys legal to drive on the road like the T-Rex or Sling Shot.

Travel a few hours north across Florida & visit one of many natural springs with gin clear water year round.

But, make no mistake. It’s the fishing for me & the further south you travel in Florida, the more clear the water becomes. And all fishermen know, the more clear the water. The more challenging it can be. Just let me know what you’d like to do, how you want to do it & I’ll make it happen.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are many people I’d like to give a shout out to, especially in the beginning over ten years ago. There is one specific person that comes to mind & he is the younger of my two older brothers: Phong Truong.

My brother comes over the house to bring Christmas gifts & my birthday present, which is December 23rd. He realized what many people saw on social media, where my guiding simultaneously spawned out of public demand through my angling & photography of it. My brother shows up with some papers. These papers were the registration of my first company; Urban Angler Miami, registered through SunBiz. He also secured my domain name & several others to protect it. And he also secured the hosting for my new website & business. Talk about being thrown in the fire!

I might not have become a fishing guide if it wasn’t for my brother. I left a successful career in VIP Hospitality, where I ran fine dining restaurants, high end bars, clubs & hotels throughout south Florida. And I haven’t looked back in ten years.

There were many ups & downs. I had to change my business name due to a trademark infringement. I’ve had to learn that not all people want to see you thrive & how to navigate them. I’ve learned to be a travel agent, a booking agent, an accountant, social media management, public speaking & so much more. But, I wouldn’t have experienced any of it if it weren’t for my brother, Phong.

The next person that comes to mind is Peter Miller, which needs no introduction. At the time, he was the host to Bass 2 Billfish TV Show. A popular fishing show based out of south Florida. I believe to date, it is the only fishing show ever to be syndicated. His show brought the best of both worlds, fresh & saltwater fishing with actual viewers as his guests. One day, I sent Mr Miller a private message on Facebook. Asking him what he thought of me becoming a fishing guide & if he had any advice. I honestly didn’t even think he would reply since I had not personally met him yet. But, to my surprise, he did. He actually took the time out of his busy schedule & replied a lengthy response. He gave sincere advice as if I knew him since grade school. He told me how much hard work it takes to be a fishing guide. How little money they may make & pretty much prepared me for the challenge I now take daily & have absolutely zero regret.

In fact, I am in debt to these two specific people for changing the course of my life. At one point, I was working as a General Manager for a fine dinning restaurant. I was averaging 112 hours a week with only Sundays off, which I spent sleeping. I quickly realized this was no way to live. And here I am, just over a decade into guiding people from all over the globe, playing in my backyard, passing the knowledge to those wishing to learn more about the amazing fishery that south Florida has to offer.

Website: www.SoFloCichlids.com

Instagram: @soflocichlids & @haitruongfishing

Twitter: SoFlo Cichlids

Facebook: SoFlo Cichlids

Youtube: Hai Truong Fishing

Other: TikTok – SoFlo Cichlids

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