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!
This weeks catch forecasts whats to come. With some cooler temps and a good amount of much needed rain for our area the fish have become happy and hungry. With Redfish, Snook, juvenile Tarpon being the stars of the show. However let's not forget about the lesser talked about species. Strong pushes of fish have started happening and we have been capitalizing. Trout, Jacks, and Pompano have been stealing the show. With the occasional Spanish Mackeral and Cobia highlighting the day!
The fishing was on fire this week even with the looming threat of Tropical Storm/hurricane Erika. Erika broke up and just caused a little rain and we went fishing. In the expansive Florida bay and Everglades National Park we can see these storms coming and usually with no or minimal impact go around them and continue fishing. So that is exactly what we did. The large Mangroves are still biting as well as the Snook and Redfish in the mangroves. The Sharks were as about as hungry as I have ever seen them with the average size being 6-8 ft.
Mangrove Snappers are where it's at in Islamorada this week! Many of the fish we've gotten to the boat have consistently been 3-4 pounds. Yesterday, using the trolling motor we found Redfish and Snook in a foot of water fishing the islands between Islamorada and Flamingo. The evening bite has been going strong with Jacks and Sharks - this is a great way to bend the rods and not get stuck in the mid-day heat!
Call today for August and September openings 813-230-3040!
It's summer in Florida. Which means it's HOT! Guess what if you are hot then the water is hot, if the water is hot, the fish are hot. If you want to have the best chance at catching fish in the summer think Early or Late. All the charters I have been doing lately are in the morning and evening. Leaving the hottest part of the day to relax chill and cool off. I like to head out in the mornings around 7am and be off the water by 11 or 11:30 and then revisit the fishing around 4:30 or 5 to 8:30 or 9. This pattern seems to be working and the fish seem to be moving, eating and cooperating more during these times. So in conclusion you are more comfortable the fishing is better and the guide is happy. Sounds like a win win win.
The Mangrove Snappers are fired up right now on the deeper grass flats. If you know where to find them ( and I do) all you need is a couple blocks of chum and your bait of choice. Before you know it they will be in the slick and you will be looking forward to dinner. Mangrove or Mangos or Mangs or Grey Snapper which ever you want to call them are one of my favorite fish to eat. So when they are biting good I like to take advantage of it. Don't get me wrong though I only like to keep enough for a dinner or two. The average fish right now that I'm catching is in the 14 to 18 inch range which to me is about the best size for the table.
I guess they didn't get enough the first time. The Brown family and I head out for another evening adventure. This time focusing on rod bending action. We just wanted to have a little fun. So we loaded up the boat with drinks and ice and bait and headed out. We took a short 5 mile run and got at it. Catching Jack Crevalle and big Blue runners on almost every cast. These fish pull hard on light tackle. I don't care who you are you can't help but smile and maybe giggle a little when you have any jack species making your drag clicker scream. We also chummed up some sharks on the flat. Their is just something cool about watching a shark swim up the chum line in clear shallow water and pitching a bait out and watching him devour it before he turns and runs and your rod doubles over. We stayed with these fish for the entire trip and had a blast, then we watched the sun set over the flat mirror like water.
The ride home was great. It really is very beautiful right before dark when the sky is lit up with so many colors.
Often I am asked the question. What do you do when you aren't working. And ALWAYS my answer is FISH. Some people don't understand, and I get this look of curiosity and amazement. Those who are like me know. lol Yes it is my career (I don't like to call it a Job). More like something that I get to do and just happen to get paid for. A job to me is something that you wake up in the morning and dread going to. I wake up and look forward to and am excited about my day. Anyway so this post is about one of those days. I think that a good guide and a good angler is never satisfied. He is always trying to learn more. New techniques, new areas, new ways to fish the areas you already know and on and on and on.
So even the majority of days I'm off from guiding I am still out there usually with other guide friends trying to become a better guide and angler. On this day we decided to cover a lot of water looking for fish in areas that we don't frequent. We went a lot of places some of which were productive and a lot of them weren't, BUT we learned and even managed a few fish. Like this Redfish that I tricked in to eating a fly.
Check back frequently for new inshore Islamorada fishing reports!