It was great to see Rupert Dury back in the Keys after years of trying to get him to come over it now seems he can hardly keep away. After now doing Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys for over 12 years we can now see and record changes in the fish and fishing. Take the African Pompano these used to be rare fish in the Keys and we caught them on the deeper wrecks near 200 ft in the Atlantic. I n recent years we are catching more and more on our distant wrecks in Florida Bay in just about 12 ft of water. Rupert’s party had great fishing for these AP’s as they are now being called even getting double headers not only are these hard fighting jacks but stunning table fare if you like me love eating what you catch. The strange thing about the AP’s they keep their long streamer fins which they are born with in the bay but lose them when they migrate to the Atlantic. In the past for a first timer you will hear the shout rooster fish no its just an African but how cool would it be if we had rooster in the keys.
They also had fun on our cuda wreck still not sure why but we have one distant wreck in the bay that has a very large population of Barracuda. The numbers can be so high that on a hot sunny day often the come over to the boat and seek shelter under the hulls. Talk about frustration to see near 40 lb fish just lying under the boat and not taking anything very annoying. Also hard to take is the fact they often follow lures right back to the boat and turn away at the last moment. Often the cause is the angler who slows down the lure as he sees the fish this will make the fish turn away rather than strike. It was taught to me many years ago why with the example if you are being chased by a lion would you slow down if he got closer, no its the natural thing to do to speed up and try to get away. Next time you are lure fishing and see a fish wind faster and move the rod tip and your strike rate will go up.
With the Florida Keys having their first deep ” cold ” front of the year yes the night temps this week could go down to just 72 and highs through the day 78 , the first lows lower than 80 brings out the locals in some very funny clothes just have to laugh. What it does bring on is the first autumn or fall as they say, runs of mackerel and early sailfish offshore. What the mackerel mean to our guys on Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys is fun fishing on so many levels and the taste if you like of stunning table fish and more important to us UK fisherman a ready supply of one of the best baits in the Florida Keys. Biggest numbers are the Spanish mackerel if you are very lucky up to 8 or 9 lbs but can be on huge numbers and they once you have them on the feed will take any thing you want. From dead baits or live to all sorts of artificial and if water conditions are right fly as well. Strange thing about fly fishing for mackerel we found a deadly method a few years ago by accident when an angler was sorting out a tangle and the fly was just left in the tidal stream bang fish on. We tried this method again this time with no tangles and sure enough fish on in no time I think its your fly looking like it is swimming against the tide and not winning that triggers a strike but hell it works.
Next is the cero mackerel a bit bigger than the Spanish and the biggest always come to live baits our ballyhoo being the number on bait by far. Once you have a good feeding school of ballyhoo behind the boat its game on with a live one fished just below the surface just behind the main school and looking like a lost fish just way to tempting for raiding cero. The biggest plus with the cero is that they are way at the top of table fare in the Keys from stunning sushi yes we always have the kit on the boat to any way you want them cooked at night at the many local restaurants.
Then we have our biggest and baddest mackerel the King Mackerel and it’s not called the King for any reason with the biggest well over 50 lbs and we have them both sides of the Keys and let me tell you a fight with a near 50 lb mackerel in just 8 ft of water will remain with you for a long time. One very special and productive method is kite fishing if the wind is right it is possible to keep a live bait just on the surface with no visible signs of trace or line. The take is spectacular to say the least with an explosion on the surface then the screaming drag of the rod which is just left in the rod holder, strange just how many fish the rod holders catch they always do just what we ask them to do. Nothing till the fish is on lesson learnt you hope so but alas often not the case the angler strikes on slack line and the fish spits the bait.
So there it is bring on the cold fronts and bring on the mackerel and long live the King.
Well with all the fun I had with my upgrade to Windows 10 my advice don’t it cost my a good laptop and a lot of lost files ect yes I know I should have backed up a lot more which I do now but you dont think an up grade will cause problems but my Windows 10 did. I did have nearly all my photos of over 12 years of doing Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys but some good underwater videos seemed to have gone for ever, however while going through some old memory sticks I had backed up and saved a lot of videos phew !
The first one a good release of a tarpon at the boat no matter how good the fight is and with tarpon is not just hooking the fish, it has to stay on during the many jumps you have the fun of getting it out from the bridges then there is always the worry of it being a snack for a 1000 lb shark. So with all that in mind it is the best feeling to see it swim away to maybe do it all again with an other angler.
Next video shows the power of one of our goliath grouper such a fun fish and watching the video you can see with that huge power house tail and boy does it use it. The first few seconds are the most important we used locked drags and just drag the fish out of the dangers of the wrecks if it turns its head flaps that tail its game over.
Last video is one of the Keys many hammerhead shark we have had them to well over 1000 lbs and they are nothing but a pain during tarpon season but have to be one of the best looking shark in the sea. Many times when we have lost a tarpon the angler says ” that was a pain but just awesome ” and the ease that they just bite a 100 lb fish in half just amazing.
Now there’s a word that sparks a whole host of emotions for different people in different situations around the world. From pure panic for the surfers and swimmers on warm water beaches, to utter disappointment and frustration for an angler who has done everything right for over an hour to see his trophy tarpon devoured in seconds by a fish well over 1000 lbs. To the utter delight of an angler who knows he is about to start the spectacular fight with the fish of his choice and his bait and tackle has proved right. Well over the more than 12 years of running Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys we have been more than lucky with our shark fishing having fish to over 1000 lbs, 12 different species and one stunning day when four very tired anglers boated 63 shark. Bangs for your buck as they say the shark in the Florida Keys tick all the boxes, you get them to come to you plenty of chum and oil you don’t have to get up at 3 am they run and jump to give you a very full on fight. Take freely and very rarely pull the hook and are more than happy to take just about any fresh or frozen bait doing all this all year-long no high or low season.
Over 12 years the way we fish has not changed much and the very cool thing about shark fishing in the Keys most of our fish come from very shallow, less than 12 ft water which mean long instant runs. It is often the case we will run two long rods well back in the tide which look after themselves allowing anglers to fish for other fish and have plenty of time to change rods. Often it is the case with the bigger fish 300 lb plus we have to follow to get line back again this can be very exciting and a challenge having to go round some of the thousands of pot markers that seem to litter Florida Bay. The one thing that has changed over the years is our bait of choice whilst mackerel and jack will always catch shark often it will be demolished by smaller fish. Dont get me wrong blacknose and sharpnose shark along with smaller blacktip on the right light rod and reel are as much fun as you want but if they are hungry it takes then no time to devour any size bait. Not sure why bit in recent years we have lost lots of these smaller shark to guess what bigger shark so why not use these smaller shark as bait as we do for grouper. Game on as they say and when the rod goes with a 10 lb shark on as bait on you know its going to be into a monster, we have no problem using shark as bait it is all legal and there are days when these small shark are in plague numbers.
Just finished the Facebook challenge of 10 fish or fishy moments in 10 days having run our Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys for over 12 years and fishing for 55 years guess it was more about the fish to leave out rather than the ones to post. Despite Windows 10 ” Upgrade ” costing me many photos, yes I should have done more back ups, still fantastic fun going back through old photos. Still amazes me just how much our fishing in the Keys has changed in just 12 years, methods, baits and tackle just goes to show you can teach an old dog new tricks. None more so how one of our favorite targets the goliath grouper has changed now reliably giving us fish to 500 lbs and I still have to give the credit for this to one man Jim Whippy. When Jim first came out to do a magazine article on us the way we used to fish for goliath was to drift across the wrecks which were nearly all in very shallow water and with the power of these fish most just turned and went straight back to the wreck and game over. Jim came up with a plan this being to anchor up tide get the fish to come out of the wreck then with no drag just locked up use the full length of the boat to drag the fish back never letting off, no pump and wind so the fish never could turn and get back to the wreck.
Also the hooks have changed we now use massive 24 / 0 circle hooks all debarbed you can see just how well these work from the photos. As has the bait now our number one bait is one of the numerous small shark in the keys we have three species we can use not sure why but again have a look at the photos they just love them. We have to say we were the first in the Keys to start the swim with grouper way back in 2011 young Kevin jumped in and started a craze that is spreading to other charter boats for that photo of a life time a bit mad maybe but one of my top photos.
We at Fish the Dream as proud and honoured to announce that our Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys have been chosen by Sportsquest holidays to be their chosen Florida destination. After over 12 years of making people’s dreams come true its fantastic to now be linked with one of the UK’s top sporting holiday companies. It will not mean any thing different if you book a holiday direct through us just as normal and yes my new website should be up and running very soon but if you want some one to do it all flights and transfers then they can do it all. The really good news is with their massive 113 different fishing destinations after your trip to us in Florida you will get a discount on any of their trips by booking through me. While we have a massive species list now 127 to the boat I know a lot of you still want a massive cod or a ton up halibut not to be found in the Keys and also long haul flights can be a pain. So why not have a look at www.sportsquestholidays.com and pick you new destination and tick a few more boxes.
Back in the Keys summer fishing is in full flow and whilst the tarpon is our iconic spring fish the dorado, mahi-mahi, dolphinfish is the true fish of the summer. Interesting that mahimahi means very strong in Hawiian, dorado comes from the spainish for gold and of course I still smile at newbies getting worried about the amount of fresh dolphin on the menus in the Keys. The facts around dorado still blow me away after all these years. They seldom live over 4 years reach up to 40 in just 12 months, mature at just 3 months, spawn up to 3 times a year up to 1,000,000 eggs and top out at over 100 lbs. Over the years we have had some very special ones and I still remember an angler telling me that I had ruin all his fly fish the sight of nearly 20 multi coloured fish chasing his fly in crystal clear water will live with him forever. Also one of our stranger fights was when we sight fished a group of larger fish we ended up with two anglers fighting the same 28 lb fish just goes to show even with a hook in it the fish still had to feed or as one Capt said those fish feed 25 / 8 .
Sorry yet again for the lack of blogs my somewhat strange health life has just become even stranger. After last years three heart attacks I have been waiting for open heart surgery to replace a valve and an artery to get life back on track. However the last few months I have been getting weaker thinking this was just heart problems living with it. My doctors had other thoughts as the heart was not that bad so it had to be something else and it looks more than likely that I have contracted LEMS a rare autoimmune disease. Not all bad however as it is treatable and hoping I become well enough to at last have the surgery to get back to full and fishy life. Enough of my life I have to say once more a massive thanks to Capt Mike Sovay for keeping our Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys bang on track and for the last week has been fishing with Arron Standing, a regular at Fish the Dream and his friend Jake Casson.
The one big advantage fishing in the Florida Keys this time of year is the water temp of mid 80’s 30 centigrade is the water is just so inviting and many times a quick dip is just so refreshing. I will have to ask Arron about the photo of a truly massive lady fish they are so much fun on light tackle and are often called the poor man’s tarpon I hope they weighed it. Also Capt Mike sent photos of the latest craze in the Keys, swimming with grouper, for a few years now it has been illegal to take a goliath grouper out of the water. There never seems a good way to show just how big these fish are however if you swim with one you see just how big they are very cool boys and great photo Mike who also took all the photos in this blog.
So if you find yourself in Florida this summer come on down to the Keys and let us Fish your Dream.
After nearly 14 years of running Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys circumstances beyond my control have forced us to make some changes and big rethink in how we run the holidays. Firstly as all my regulars now must know after last years 3 heart attacks and being left a broken man on heavy and debilitating medication and waiting for open heart surgery I can no longer run the boat. Also after 7 years we have lost our villa and operating base so as you can say a double whammy. So what to do, an understandable and justified course of action would have been just to shut down but with such a large and loyal customer based we thought it was our duty to keep on going and still make those dreams come true. With over 400 marks in the GPS, 127 different species to the boat, engines still under warranty and a very full next two years of bookings the only course of action I think you will agree.
The last two sessions in the Keys we have had the help of Capt Mike Sovay and what an excellent job he had done as you would say ” like a duck to water ” so I have no worries about running the boat. What we have decided to do and change is the costs of the holidays this change has been brought about by suggestions by customers and losing our villa base. So from now on the boat will be run like a normal charter boat with an all-inclusive price to included guiding, fuel, bait and all tackle. With the exception to carry on beyond the normal 8 hour day if the fishing is good and the bite is hot, the charge for this will be per hour pro rata to the normal day rate. If you have booked for 2016 or 2017 you can choose which rate you want the old paying separately for the costs or the new all in package.
After all the days of number crunching and looking back on all the many years of costs the deal will be as below based on four people sharing and pro rata for less than four and all-inclusive deal
£ 143.75 per day full charter to include free rental car for duration of stay
Next to the accommodation over the years we have been doing this we have noticed as regulars have been getting older and retired with a bit more disposable income would prefer a bit more in the accommodation. However we still have hard-working guys who are hardcore fisherman and fishing is more important than where you stay one guy saying ” I would stay in a garage if it meant an extra days fishing “. So with this in mind each party’s accommodation will be sourced individually from basic twin room motel to 3 or more star hotels up to private villas with pools. I will check out all accommodations will try to get the best deal possible passing on all savings to customers.
So big changes but all out of my control but still my main job to make people’s fishing dreams come true which I will carry on trying to do with my best ability.
Sorry yet again for lack of blogs back in the UK and it has been a constant round of doctors tests more doctors and more tests. As many of you will know my three hearts attacks last year has left me a very broken man and on heavy meds any fish over 1 yes 1 lb a no go, very hard after 50 years of chasing and catch big fish all over the world. Pushing very hard for the open heart surgery that should put me back on track and having it sooner than later. Sorry about that personal rant but it is pissing me of more than you can realise so back to Neil’s week.
Neil and Doug were back on their second trip and this time bring Keith who just seemed to fit in and after all the years of doing Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys ticking boxes for newbies still gives me a fantastic kick. Well glad to report the permit were still on the wrecks while Neil and Doug both had fantastic fish poor Keith lost out to the shark. What did make up for it was yet again fantastic barracuda fish and thanks to Capt Mike’s northern pike trick , very sort and noisy figure of eight action on less than a foot of line, right by the boat fish nearly every time. Neil had one of the bluest fish in the Keys a blue parrot fish and we all had a laugh he had a very blue shirt on at the time.
Tarpon on the other hand not sure why maybe the very big tides but more likely the massive full moon proved a bit harder than normal. The numbers of fish at Bahia Honda just of the charts but even with up to 30 boats just a few fish caught not in my opinion bangs for bucks. So it was back to old school up at silly o’clock and back to 7 mile and yes the same channels I have fished for over 15 years. Guess what fish every morning what do they say if it aint broke don’t fix it, first boat there and 2 for 2 before an other boat even turns up works for me any day. The biggest kick I always get Neil booking for his next trip on his last day, rebooking always keeps me going in these dark days of my personal life.
I suppose it is still a bit surreal for me to sit here in the Florida Keys and do this blog on my 62 nd birthday. As they say old age is a privilege not enjoyed by everyone and many a dark night during my three heart attacks wired up to god knows what and trying to sleep with all the monitors bleeping this all seemed that it would never happen again. Well it did and yes I am back doing what I love hosting Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys OK I can not reel in a big fish again or run my beloved boat but I can still watch people fish their dreams and with the excellent help of Capt Mike running the boat it’s not a bad option.
The other thing that kept me going during those dark days was the memories of fishing with the like’s of Lee and John who a long time ago went from customers to true friends giving me so much to look back on. Will never forget Lee’s epic 2 hr 23 min fight with a 1000 lb plus shark or him dragging a monster bull shark up from over 500 ft on the tuna grounds. John’s near 100 lb grouper on a fly rod or his lesson thanks to Skype putting a new starter on the boat when he was running my holidays. This years fight with that 45 lb permit will also be a memory that will last for a very long time.
As is the norm with Lee’s weeks we have so many high points Ben’s fight with an over 800 lb 14 ft hammerhead. That shark attack on Steve’s high 100’s tarpon and all on video just so cool. Lee being shown the figure of eight way to catch barracuda and yes it does work they just go on and on.
Just have to say a massive thanks to the likes of Lee and John and all my customers for giving me the reason to fight and carry on.