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Archive of posts filed under the Fishing Holidays Florida Keys category.

The Keys on fire

Yes I know I have used that title before but after over 12 years of running fishing holidays in the Florida Keys and lack of sleep  (  thanks tarpon  ) sometimes at 5 am the brain is a little tired and guess what with the tarpon running, massive permit on the wrecks and the tuna grounds loaded I reckon it is.  The bridges are loaded with the annual migration of tarpon through the Keys and this year as most its not only the tarpon there but an ever increasing amount of big and I mean over 1000 lb sharks who let us poor anglers do all the hard work then take your fish.  Yes I know its all natural that big fish eat smaller fish but when you have worked your butt off and fought the fish all round the bridge and got it into open water its just not cricket ! Photo shows the end of poor George,s first tarpon of this trip its not the first and certainly will not be the last such is tapon fishing in the Florida Keys.

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Even lost a huge permit yesterday on the deep sea wrecks to a shark good news so far this week both Rodney ( an other Rodney ) and George have both had good permit to the boat.  There is this year enough tarpon at Bahia Honda bridge to fish and catch all day is you want and no crazy early starts in fact a first for me we had a tarpon the other day a long way away from the bridge in the open sea.  The strange thing about the fight was the fish went all the way back to the bridge much to the amusement of the captains fishing there with a  ” where the hell did you guys hook up ” my new secret spot.

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The good news about the Keys it is just a week to go to the end of our closed season for all grouper maybe four months is a long time but boy am I looking forwards to those big creamy white fillets its been to long for me.  Just to rub it in one of George’s first fish was a keeper black grouper bet he went back telling his mates  ” bet that pissed them off ” guess what it did try you luck again next week my ice box awaits.

My Bromley boys

Sorry yet again and it is still thanks to Windows 10 my blogging is way behind and a very short tip back yo UK to see my 34-year-old son get married on very proud and happy mum and dad but boy the weather up in the far north of the UK not good at all but back in the Keys nice and warm again.  So with the sage of Windows 10 and being told at a well know computer store to get the wrong new laptop  ( now on  number 2 ) it’s a shame that my oldest group of anglers My Bromley boys  Graham, Steve, John and Dave have missed out on web time sorry. As normal with them it’s so much more than the fishing and so it should be they are my number one banter crew and I just smile all the time.  Weather not perfect and our struggle with conditions but we fish ever day and Capt Mike even got them a four rod hook up at the Tuna grounds Mike is learning so fast cant praise enough.

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John even tried and had success with a UK pike float rig that takes the bait on wind drift away from the boat and even against the tide and photos to prove it.  If you take the time to think about it the wind does take all the smells and good stuff away as much as the tide so it makes sense to have the wind take away a bait away as well, well  done John. Still more than impressed with Dave’s battle with that monster bull shark at near 500 lbs Dave at over 70 yes 70 had it all under control from start to finish at boat side top marks and old guys rule.  Waiting on some more photos from the guys so hopefully there will be a Bromley boys part two and yes I am still smiling.

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One thing did happen on their trip species number 126 came to the boat but we are having to wait on an official ruling to see if it counts.  The problem yes the fish came to and on the boat but it was in the mouth of an other fish said poor pipe fish’s day was just not getting any better first eaten by a grouper and then dragged on to boat will keep the world informed.

Big baits big fish

The one thing I love about our sport is how it evolves over time in now 12 years of running Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys we are doing things we would never have done all those years ago. Take baits for instance one of our much-loved quarry is the goliath grouper reaching near 500 lb of raw power a feared opponent indeed.  Strange but true the bigger the bait the bigger the fish baits of over 5 lb are common and a few years ago we due to the lack of big baits we tried a small shark.  Now before all the tree huggers jump on me in the Florida Keys despite what you read we have huge amount of shark and two of the smaller species the blacknose and the sharpnose can reach plague numbers and the Florida regs say I can use them so we gave one a try.  Well just yards from the boat float under and massive grouper on in fact it is such a good bait it is now the number one go to bait if you want a truly big grouper.

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The way we fish for shark baits can also be a problem with all the chum, oil and blood over the side often we are surrounded by fish which just tear the baits apart before anything big will even see them most of these being small shark which destroy a bait a bite at a time.  So as Baldrick said a cunning plan not that cunning last year we started to use the small shark as bait and guess what it worked better than ever, here you have a bait that stays on the hook and is left alone by smaller shark and if you cut one in half the trailing guts send all the right smells out.  However at Fish the Dream it is all about the guests and before I kill and use a shark we always ask them if it is alright to do so and if they so no we dont.  My Bromely boys were more than happy to use half  shark and a few days ago had one of the biggest bull shark of the year an over 400 lb fish that took us on a near half mile trip before coming in for a photo shoot and well done Dave showing old guys still can get the job done.

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With big fish you need a safe pair of hands at the boat and I have to say Capt Mike is proving yet again to be more than capable of handling these big fish I must admit he is turning out to be a very capable and able captain and an asset to Fish the Dream.  Not sure if it is the steely stare or just his power but the big fish just seem to give up well done.

Beware !

Sorry about the lack of blogs this time we have those kind guys at Microsoft to thank.  After their many pop ups and pressure from all around I gave up and did the free upgrade to Windows 10 well I have to say for a few days I was impressed and my old lap top was working great and for the first time in ages very fast indeed.  All was fine or a few days then for no reason it failed to start but with the help of Fish the Dreams tech support  (  Capt Mike ) I was up and running again.  However Capt Mike was worried and he backed up all my files on an external hard drive and boy was I a lucky bunny as the next day it crashed again this time Capt Mike decided to wipe it and take it back to complete reset.  Fine again but a pain to reload all my files ect but we were back running again then guess what down again and this time it would no longer allow a reset.  Many long calls to Microsoft who said I would need to get soft ware to take it back to pre Windows 10 so many days offline and all for nothing. I am on a short break back to UK so I decided just to get a new lap top and with all the Easter deals I think I have got what I want and most important back on-line and blogging again.

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Interesting last few days with the Jersey boys and did we break a State record, in all the years of doing Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys we have only come close to record once this was a very heavy and pregnant blacktip shark.  Both myself and the angler were not going to kill said fish which you still have to do to claim a record which still seems wrong but it is what you have to do to get the record both of us being more than happy to see the fish swim away and pup. The fish the Jersey boys caught was a blue runner a fish we use mostly for bait but they pull way above their weight and we once had a fly angler who was just trashed by blue runners in the near 2 lb bracket more fun then he had ever had on a fly rod.  It was Chris who had the big one unfortunately I was in my shut down mode due to my heavy heart attack meds I go into shut down and just have to sleep a pain but I have to.  So photos were taken and the fish put back again thanks to Capt Mike and he also took the very moody shot of Rob just at the start of our epic day on the tuna grounds.  Back to the huge blue runner state record is 8 lb 5 oz was this bigger was it a record we will never know you will just have to come back and catch it again, great to fish with you guys yet again and as to Rob  ” I don’t want to big ” enough said.

An other great start

Well its always welcome to see my boys from Jersey and this trip was trip down memory lane as Rob brought Chris, Glenn and Matthew who were the original crew who first came on one of our Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys over 12 years ago how time flies.  Over the years we have all changed Rob and Chris have now retired Glenn and Matthew have new jobs and me well lets not go down that route but one thing has not changed we all love to fish and the boat is a laughter factory as it should be.  Not only did they all bring their smiles from Jersey but a touch of good weather luck as well and just by chance I traded some wreck numbers so it was off to a new wreck in the bay.  Just as we were getting our bearings on the mark an other boat appeared but on very nice young captain said alongside its yours you were here first and left us to sett anchor going a good distance off.  What a day we had it all macs, grouper, jacks, bluefish and many more but best of all the first tiger shark to the boat for the Jersey boys and to round the day off  a hammerhead and the fattest black tip I have ever seen.

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Next day with a flat calm day forecast I suggested as I have an old school party how about an old school tuna trip by this I mean getting up at silly o clock 26 mile trip in the dark getting to the tuna grounds in the dark and being the first boat.  This was how we used to tuna fish and with no other boats it was always so much better so a group of older  guys with sleep very much in their eyes arrived at the tuna grounds but we were boat number 2 a long line boat was already working the deeps for amberjack a good sign.  Strange no birds or fish on the top so after a few trolls out came the jigs and boy did we find the tuna at about 200 ft they were thick and soon the crew was bent double and the wake up medicine was taken by all fun, fun, fun.

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Now as I have said before one of the reasons people come back time and time again is we let you the anglers make the call so the night before this trip I asked the boys does any one want to do big and deep meaning the famous humps amberjack in 500 ft and I got a NO been there done that years ago so the big rods were left at home.  So how shall I put it I was little surprised to see Rob with a monster shad he had used in Iceland going down to the bottom.  Guess what as it got down the 500 ft  BANG rod buckled over and this over 60-year-old was in a lot of pain but I have to say he played it like a pro and after a long time and heaps of abuse and mirth from the crew he had a near 80 lb amberjack on his lap unable to hold fish for photo well done that man.  Matthew on the other side of the boat let his jig go a little deep and guess what bang AJ number two the during the fight this very big fish got even bigger as a monster shark decide it wanted it to.  Not such a good out come snapped light jig rod and one of the most amazing things I have ever seen on my boat Capt Mike handline the fish and broken rod up 500 ft to save some very expensive line epic !

Weather gods again

Well it had to happen John’s week started just to good and we had  a right good spanking from the gods for the last few day of his Fishing Holiday in the Florida Keys but as I have said many times before one of the many pluses of a trip out here we can find some where to fish and fish on even the poorest day.  We have found some new marks in the many channels that run north to south north of Bahia Honda and some of these go as deep as 20 ft nearly twice the depth of the average in Florida Bay but some run just feet away from banks of less than 1 ft.  The resulting shelter always seems strange to fish in near 30 mph winds and some 15 miles into Florida Bay but waves less than 1 ft but it works and some very and I mean big fish live in these channels.  Take the other day we were having a reasonable day in said channel good mixed fishing macs, ladyfish, snapper and shark when I just had this feeling there might be something big under the boat so over went the grouper rod and straight away Dereck yes lucky Dereck as the boys now call him was into a fish.  This was no monster and Dereck soon had it all under control but as he had this I would say about 40 lb fish near the boat we had a  O M G  moment the water under Dereck fish went very dark as a monster maybe pushing 500 lb + came up from the bottom to have a look at Dereck’s fish.  Well true to say the whole crew went very quiet with a  ” did you see the size of that ” I know of one guy who comes in May who just might spend a day or two there.

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Well the annoying wind turned for the last day a bit more to the south which made even these channels unfishable so we had to tuck in close to the island in the north shore to get any shelter which we found in my tarpon hole.  We found this a few years ago after having to hug the coast on a run to the tarpon when from no where the water dropped from 6 ft to 14 ft a hole about  50 yds across.  Now anywhere in Florida Bay that sort of depth change means fish and this hole always seem to produce and on John’s last day it was full of pompano.  Now these little fish a cousin of are beloved permit while they do no grow to the same size fight just as hard and on the dinner plate right up there near the top.

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Have to say just how much Capt Mike and myself enjoyed fishing with  John, Ian, and Dereck way to much fun and despite for John’s first time in his many trips nothing big to his near 500 lb standard we all had fantastic time and they are all already booking next years trip see you soon.

Great start and no 126

When your local friends come from the UK it is a different kind of pressure I find myself under now John, Ian and Dereck are always happy with anything they catch but I am more happy if it is good as it can be.  Now my many regulars to our Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys know just how big a part the weather gods play so you can imagine just how happy I was to see the first few days it was going to be a case of go anywhere you want.  So the first day it was lets take it when we can and of the near 30 miles to the tuna grounds we went and for the first time in ages no tuna but we still had a fantastic day.  Fish of the day had to be a near 30 lb almaco jack that Dereck took on the jigging rod at well over 200 ft first thing the jack did was take an other 200 ft of the reel so started a long dogged fight but in the old experienced hands of Dereck the fish was never going to win.  Then on the way home we saw fish feeding on the small fish that live under the larger man “o ” war jelly fish so out with a lure and dorado on  yes it was turning out to be a Dereck day but that’s just fishing.

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Day two was again offshore but not so far and with over 50 ft water visibility stopped of on the reef for some barracuda fun and yellow jacks.  Not sure why but this year the yellow jack have been awesome and on the right light tackle fight like any jacks but a big plus on their side just as good on the diner plate. No apologies for taking about eating fish we only take enough for a meal and always follow the strict Florida fish regs and I just like eating fish end of rant.  So with the reef cover off a bit deeper and with the pick down in about 150 ft some fantastic bottom action the biggest jolthead porgy I have ever seen and poor John lost what would have been the biggest fish of the trip just unable to make any line that’s why its called fishing not catching.  Before we left the reef Ian had species no 126 to the boat in the 12 years we have been doing fishing holidays,a box fish mother nature was having a fun day when she came up with this on the hard skeleton is on the outside like a turtle and the fins poke out and not sue why but the skin has an amazing hexagonal pattern.

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Yesterday we went back to what this group likes rod bending in Florida bay wreck hopping with goliath grouper and shark on top of the list.  Well the bay did not disappoint and we went 2 for 4 on grouper and the biggest blacktip shark we have had for years so big we had to throw the anchor and chase but again with the steady hands of Ian on the rod it was soon fish to the boat and the now getting better all the time Capt Mike on the leader it was fish for the photo shots and then off to fight again.  So I think we all have to say a big thank you to the weather gods to fish with friends and have fun in the Florida Keys is more than I could ever ask for.

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Yes by the way I do let my Captain fish and he is turning out to be an outstanding  Florida Keys fisherman it is just an other way of finding out what the fish our taking making it a better day for our guests our main job.

The lady get’s it so right

Not sure why or how but females on our Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys do rather well maybe its the special female pheromones or the  Ballantyne effect  ” the young lady who caught the UK record salmon ” but they just do.  Last week it was a pleasure yet again to fish with Paul and Carol Constable both have a UK background of freshwater competition fishing and this trip Paul proudly told me of a recent match where Carol was placed right next to top UK Match angler Bob Nudd and soundly beat him.  The weather gods still not on our side this year making it harder than it should be but we found and caught fish every day and yes most days Carol did best.  After many years of watching Carol fish, she came to fishing late in life not to be left at home decided to join Paul on his weekend trips, I think its the female style that brings in the fish not the male  ” battle ” more of slowly, slowly, catchy monkey well what ever it is it works and Carol is one of the best.

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So half way through our now annual four-month Grouper ban and as an avid fish eater the original organic good for you food I tell you it sucks having to put back fish that taste so good.  Just like you guys in the UK having your first bass ban its tough going and I have to ask my self have the boffins got it right and are total ban the way to go. personal I think it’s better to alter the slot take zone always putting back the large egg bearing female fish and maybe altering the keep number one nice fish for the pot seems to be the way to go.  Nearly all large fish are female and on the cooking side of fish biggest is not best anyway and over here in the US the use of the slot system has worked so well on bass and snook its got to be the way to go to keep all sides happy in the mean time roll on May and grilled grouper.

So it’s all his fault

So when your best friend at primary school say  ” hey want to catch some fish after school ” and with nothing better to do I was taken by Martin Arnold to a road run off ditch near his home where by just tying worms to cotton on and with hazel sticks and letting sticklebacks swallow the worm we caught fish.  So started some 54 years ago my love, no passion, OK wife my obsession with fishing yes lately I have had some sett backs but having my best friend Martin back out in the Keys has got the blood flowing again.  What I have always liked about fishing with Martin it’s so much more than the fishing, the silly and I mean silly jokes and the flash backs to our many and some times crazy past fishing adventures but most of all its just his joy of catching fish.  They don’t have to be monsters or do massive jumps or searing runs as long as they take the bait and pull the string its OK by Martin yes the weather was more than trying for his recent last trip but with long time customer Brian Ironman did we all fun you bet !

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Our new Capt Mike was more than impressed with Brian’s angling ability it makes a change when you have a guy who is more than capably and willing to do the death roll under the anchor to save a fish what Capt Mike did not know over the years Brian has done this many times and I hope he will come back and do many more.  Found a new mark close in while taking shelter from the strong winds the joy of the Florida Keys and had fun with smooth puffer fish even had one taking bites out of a pelican.  Always good to find new  ” shelter marks ” must break a habit and try them on good days we might be missing out and as they say you never know till you go.

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Highlight of Martin and Brian’s week had to be Brian’s epic battle with a 100 lb plus lemon shark on a very light spinning rod this was a classic case of elephants eat pea nuts or rugby plays like prawns but with light hands and Brian’s fishing ability this was only going to end one way and fish to the boat a joy to watch.  So an other week with old buddy and fishing mate and enough fishing good mojo to keep this old and partly broken guy in a good place for an other year thanks Martin see you soon.

Still ticking boxes

Sorry, sorry for the lack of blogs lets just say the new house has been a bit of a challenge but at last we are seeing the light so to speak the problem in the Florida Keys years ago when you wanted so more room you or your friends just added an other room taking power and water as needed and lets say permits and codes were not high on any lists. The down side is that when it goes wrong unless you are the guy who did the work you have no idea on how to put right any problems as we have been having so on Tuesday we have contractors coming in and starting again from source.  Less of my problems and back to the big question how is it fishing ? well despite one of our toughest starts to a year we are still ticking boxes with some stunning fish.

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The one thing I love about our Capt Mike is how well he is fitting in and whilst some days my heart meds make me very low it is more than compensated by the highs of Capt Mike but last week even he had a reality check.  Capt Mike likes to ask our new guests as he did with Dylan, Bruce and Brian  ” what is you biggest fish ever  ”  and then he says  “no problem we can do way better than that ”  however this was not the case last week.  The reply from our new boys was  500 lb , 600 lb and near 800 lb they were a seasoned marlin crew which even makes our goliath grouper seem small. However they all had a desire to tick a few boxes grouper and bull shark being two and so for Capt Mike and myself it was game on and the Florida Keys did not disappoint.

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I always say you can tell true fishermen and this was very much the case with Dylan’s party yes the weather did not play ball ever day and when it is not perfect you can only catch what is there but hell have fun and enjoy as the saying goes a less than perfect day’s fishing beats any day working.  Over the 12 years of doing Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys people often ask have you seen any changes and the answer is yes the water is not as clear as it used to be, we have fish we never used to have and yes despite global warming it is a lot colder in winter.  Does this affect the fishing well no the fish just adapt and some of the new ones are fun take the large puffer fish they pull more than you think and as they also say it’s all about having fun with a rod in your hand.