Catching, catching , and catching thats the story here. This week we crushed them. Drifting in the grass flats was the key. It didn't matter what bait you put out you were getting a bite. We caught on popping corks with bait and artificial, jigs and live bait hooks. You never knew what you were going to catch. The variety was endless, Snapper, Trout, Ladyfish, Bluefish, Spanish Mackerel all mixed in together. Even Sharks got in on the action. This was a fun and exciting experience for my Anglers from Illinois that only get to catch blue gill and the occasional bass in their home lakes. In my opinion fast and furious action is the key to creating new anglers whether that be children or adults just starting to understand the allure of our wonderful sport!
This weekend marked the second consecutive year that I have fished in the Casting for Cats charity backcountry tournament here in Islamorada. The tournament benefits the large feral cat population we have here in the Upper Florida Keys. The tournament raises money to help catch spay and neuter these wild cats and every year has a large turnout. This year I believe their were in the range of 60 to 70 boats. Species included are Tarpon, Permit, Bonefish, Snook, and Redfish as well as minimal points going toward Jacks, Ladyfish, Sharks, and Trout. Our strategy was to focus on the highest point species, Permit, Tarpon, and Bonefish. On tournament day of course it was 100 percent cloud cover, winds in excess of 20 kts and thunderstorms. My Angler and friend Ashley wasn't going to let that deter us. We stuck to our guns and within the first hour had hooked and jumped 5 Tarpon. Unfortunately she only landed 1, but our spirits were high and we moved on to the next spot. We trolling motored around the flat looking for fish, but the thickest gnarliest clouds moved in and it started raining. So sight fishing was just taken out of the equation. On to the next. So after taking a bit of a break avoiding the massive storm we evaluate the weather and tides and make way to our final destination. Knowing that it should hold a school of Bonefish I had previously located. Their we proceeded to hook 7 bonefish and landing 4. One fish was short of the 20 in minimum length requirement. So we ended up back at the Lor-e-lei bar for a drink and to turn our score sheets in. We were in the lead!!! Later that night at the awards ceremony we anxiously awaited the announcements. We had a wonderful dinner of Prime Rib, BBQ Chicken, and Fish and all the side dishes you could want. Perused all the wonderful silent auction items and made a few bids. Time came for the awards ceremony part of the evening to begin. They called Ashley's name and she won the Award for Largest Bonefish. She received a beautiful painting of a Bonefish to go along with the Largest Permit award that she won the previous year. I am very proud of Ashley for sticking it out through absolutely horrendous weather and coming up with a W!
The extremely high water on the flats this past week caused by the blood moon, super moon, eclipse event allowed us to get to some places that we aren't usually privy to in the Bay Boat and it paid off in Spades. (please excuse me while I pat myself on the back!) I went exploring some new areas with my good friend Capt. Mike and boy did we have a heck of a day. We started the day off on a flat we had never been and within less than 10 minutes POW, a double hook up on bonefish, on that flat alone we ended up with 4 bones, an amazing feet in 8 hours much less one. So on to the next spot, in this area we saw 4 or 5 bigger bones but they were a little wary of our presence. We decided to make a run and look at another spot we hadn't fished before. We start moving down the edge with the Motor Guide and boom 3 Permit. I made my cast and to my disbelief he chased it down and devoured it. That only left the Tarpon to complete the slam. We decided to keep working the same flat rather than go to where we knew they would be, and the decision payed off big time. Twenty Minutes or so later we had 2 juvenile Tarpon with the fly rod. If you fish regularly in South Florida or even watch the many TV shows or read the magazines you know what a momentous moment this was in my career. It is so so so good to see Bonefish in the kinds of numbers we are seeing them. Sorry about the post that was all about me. Hope to see you soon!
Check back frequently for new inshore Islamorada fishing reports!