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Sushi time

Joe and his friends have been very lucky and on their third day the weather gods let us go out to the tuna grounds. At nearly 30 miles out and in or about the gulf stream even a 10 mph can give 5 ft seas but with a 3 mph for cast off we all went. We left at 4 am just in case older seas made the going hard but at over 25 mph we got there well before sun up. I always like to get there first light it is normally the best time and sun rise on the tuna grounds will be a memory for a long time. In all fairness  fishing was slow we did have one double take on the trolling rods and Joe and Graham did get them on small lures as well. After watching a commercial boat haul up some big AJs young Mike went down to the bottom with a live bait and at 500 ft a very brave man. He had one on for a short time but mister sharky helped him by taking it off he will never know the full pain of a big fish in that depth. With the 3 mph wind now making over 10 mph and the seas getting big back with six small but tasty tuna on ice.

The other day with reports of big king mackerel back in the bay off we went. The only problem with king mackerel fishing in the bay you do tend to attract a lot of shark but on the right size rods as fun as it gets. We had on very big king nail a bait at the boat but they hit so hard to cut the bait they often miss the hooks. We had an other hit a spanish mackerel on Joes rod clean in half after talking to the skips at Key West this is how they feed. First strike is very fast and hard then they come back to feed on the bits.

Just an other couple of mad days fishing in the Florida Keys the one thing that blows away people on fishing holidays is the huge variety of fish and fishing styles please get in touch and let me make your dreams come true.

SKA the boats

Last weekend seems like a dream but yes I was there and yes I was doing over 62 mph in a fishing boat and yes I caught a near 40 lb king mackerel. The way the guys put on the whole show was just of the charts and a whole new meaning to professional fishing. The one thing however to me was the boats. I love my fishing and hope I always will but my next love is boats. Ever since my early days as a sea scout and the smell yes smell of my first new boat, boats have got under my skin. The days of trying to get my 10 ft boat on the top of my friends anglia car seem a long way away from the guys at the SKA but at the time were just as good. The love hate and more hate affair with my first engine a good old seagull to the fly by wire three three hundreds are a long way apart but they say you have to start somewhere. The one photo I am proud off is the one below of the race back to the scales we were both doing over 60 mph so not the best conditions and I dont have a mega camara but hope you get the feel of the speed awsome !

Yesterday we were lucky enough to get to the tuna grounds and had fun in the bay the day before will blog tomorrow. Keep a check on the SKA and Snowbees team Bandit all year and watch their live video streams at www.fishska.com

Mac on fly

We are very lucky in the Florida Keys as most bait shops have a fantastic range of live baits and I am sorry the best imitation of a shrimp is a live shrimp, crab a live crab and so on. Not only does a live bait look like the live thing because it is, but it smells like it and taste like it to. You can see where this is going that lovely band of fluff chuckers or fly fishermen. We at Fish the Dream fishing holidays get very few fly fishermen but they are all welcome. At the moment we have Joe and his friends and from what I have seen on his first day Joe is very proficient with the fly rod and in far from ideal conditions was rewarded with some fine fish on the fly.

Best today was a very hard fighting spanish mackerel the take and the runs are hard enough to control on normal rods so its no mean feat to do this on a fly rod. It was tough day but again its the magic of the Florida Keys that we can take shelter behind a bank some 15 miles out in the bay and put together a good day with mackerel, blue fish, snapper, grouper and small shark

SKA Tips

Still numb after my day out in the recent SKA comp more details to come. It did occur to me while out fishing there are a few things we did that would work and help UK boat anglers. First down riggers they work so well and how many times have you been boat fish when the bite was on fire but you just could not hold the bottom. Not only will a down rigger do this but when the fish is on you are just fighting the fish not a heavy lump of lead. Yes we used a fancy electric one with all the gizmo’s [ they are sponsored ] but back in the UK I even made one with a child’s bikes wheel and and old window weight and it worked.

Next was the mini out riggers when we were on  hot bite not enough time to put out the full out riggers but by having two rod holders at 90 degrees to the boat suddenly the boat was 15 ft wider. Think about it not just for trolling but working baits down tide you have a very wide boat less tangles and you can even work more rods and try different baits. What we always try to do out here is have a full range of baits down just to see what is working then change if you need to. Last pic yes an other big mackerel just how these guys come to the Florida Keys and target one species and catch trophy after trophy fish just leaves me shaking my head.

What a day

Its hard to know where to start very few days in my life have just left me numb as my day yesterday at the SKA comp out of Key West has done. The boats, the fish, the speed I just need to calm down. As this is a fishing blog lets start with the fishing then later in the  week the boats and the whole SKA event thing. I just cant say how good the fishing was just off the charts. The skill of our captain Capt Ron Mitchell just beyond belief he lives king mackerel and has been doing for over 20 years. He had been doing a few days pre fish and knew where he was going but to go right to fish just one species just amazing.  As we got aboard the boat in the dark he said I have a spot about 50 mile out it wont take to long. YES at 62mph it did not take to long and the sight of 76 fireing up nearly 65000 hp will live with me for a long time.

First spot there was a few boats fishing and yes we were picking up a few fish in the 30 lb region but this comp is a one big fish comp so all these fish were just released at the boat and a new trace put on and back fishing so quick it seemed like a blur. On a pro boat very little is said and everyone has a job to do and with many thousands of dollars at stake you can see why. The Snowbee rods all performed fantastically I am so proud of a rod I have helped to develop and all at Snowbee this rod is amazing. They use big live baits mainly slow trolling three at a time and sometimes two on the down-riggers but we were getting so many takes the down-riggers were hardly used.

The next spot we were on our own just a couple of commercial boats. The king mackerel are one of the few fish in the Florida Keys there is a very small commercial fishery only hand line and very strictly controlled. As these guys are doing it for a living  a good place to stop. Fish a plenty many double headers and skipping like I have never seen, how so many fish got back to the boat I will never know. They run hard and long many runs well over 100 yds and more than once with two fish going in opposite direction one line had to be cut. At the scales our best fish was just over 42 lb not bad but not a winning fish will have all the comp details later in the week. Just need a dark room and a lye down.

That big red

The one thing that you can be sure about in the Florida Keys is that if there is enough water to cover its back it might be there. That was the case with Tim’s big redfish the other day it was miles from where it should be and had probably come from the Everglades. That is a swim of nearly 20 miles to where we were but it was probably on its spawn and they like wrecks like the ones we were fishing. I remember the other year we were deep in the mangroves when one guy decided to sit it out with a big bait and was rewarded with a 100 lb + stingray. Why was that there well the simple answer is that it could so why not, the beauty of the Keys. Even our record shark a 1000 lb + hammerhead was taken in only 8 ft of water some 25 miles from any deep water. People still shake their heads when fishing our top grouper wreck with fish over 500 lb in just 10 ft of water welcome to the Florida Keys.

Sorry about the quality of the redfish photo I have had to scan a print but at 21 lb you can see it is as they say here a true trophy fish just what dreams are made of . Bookings for fishing holidays coming in fast not much left this year so get in touch as soon as you can, don’t wait to get four guys I have a lot of names who will make up numbers. This time of year I think is the Florida Keys are at their best, very dry and sunny highs in the mid to high 70 s  and nights in the mid to high 60 s as good as it gets. Yes we don’t have the monster tarpon but it was in Jan that the base record of 55 species caught was taken.

Plan B again

On this trip Alan was hoping to get a sailfish for his brother Tim. The first two days of their four day stay it was far to rough to go out on the Atlantic so we had fun in the bay. On the third day we went out on the Atlantic and tried but again to rough. Their last full day we woke to flat calm seas so with high hopes of we went. We tried hard for three hours trolling only having one small hit and after talking to other guides on the dock we all came up with the conclusion that it was to calm. Sails always like a bit of wave action and with the rough seas of the previous days had probably been feeding hard and were just not on the feed. After many years of doing fishing holidays in the Florida Keys I always have a plan B, C, D and so on just the magic of the Keys so we went drift fishing with large prawn on the edge of the reef in about 110 ft. It just takes a few drifts then bang fish on using the right rods we were all soon having fun just what it is all about. The main fish were hard fighting margates one of those fish that seem to fight harder than their weight.

Also in the mix were cobia and in 110 ft they certainly put up a good fight. We also put the pick down on some very rough ground in about 120 ft and got absolutely trashed by grouper. They certainly know how not to play fair we should have moved but the runs were amazing we just could not stop them getting back to their cover. On the way back Alan said to me if we had only landed half the fish we lost it would have been an amazing day, my reply thats why they call it fishing not catching.

Fish eyes

Had a blast in the bay yesterday and playing with new camera I am always fascinated by fish eyes. From the massive eyes on a lady fish to the completely camo eyes on a shark sucker see what you think.

Running out of space for fishing holidays this autumn and winter so don’t delay you don’t need four just get in touch and I am sure I can help.

The ban starts

Back to a new year of making dreams come true in the Florida Keys and the start of the long four month grouper ban. It has made a difference but to a foodie like me it still sucks. I will have to wait till the 1 st May to enjoy the creamy white flakes of grouper. But no problem in the Keys we have a massive larder out there and the spanish mackerel smoked the other day were amazing. Weather a bit cool for us but fishing still good a boat PB the other day a 21 lb redfish for Tim and he made sure with an other 20 lb one as well. Alan got to skip buy catching my favorite grouper the gag and yes it had to go back.

We also had our 108 species and I have no idea what it is but the photo has been sent off to the people who know so will keep you all informed. Perfect day today for sails so with a live full of frisky blue runners we are off at first light with fingers crossed. Photos of red fish will have to wait not on digetal so will scan hard prints when they come out.

Tuna time

Yes I am back in the Florida Keys, yes it is nice to get back home for Christmas and see all the children and grandchildren and help the Chinese economy but just to feel warm again. I must admit on the first morning back at crazy o’clock in the dark I just went on a short walk in shorts and tee shirt just because I could. Picked the boat up from storage yesterday and a quick sea trial all ok had to stop and get some fish just to see if the rods still worked and they did a spanish mackerel a chuck . Smoked some mackerel and put some nice snapper and blue fish in the fridge am I lucky or what. First fishing holiday is tomorrow and is regulars the Keating boys weather permitting Alan want to tick the wahoo box so pressure on, I love it. This time of year our winter temps in the high 70s and much less rain, little or no rain here for a month, it is prime blackfin tuna time. Stunning hard fighting fish that never give up and with the record at around 50 lb can be taken on light tackle.

Most are probably taken trolling but in recent years more and more are caught on jigs. The last time I was on the Marathon humps an area of underwater mountains coming up from 1000 ft to just 500 and our top tuna spot some boats were just jigging and no trolling at all. Last year we started to use the depth indicator line coloured every 10 ft what a difference. Now if we see tuna on the screens at 120 we can go straight to them and fish and if a guy catches one just count the line back and everyone can fish the correct depth. My favorite method is chunking this involves dropping chucks over the side at regular spaces normally about 30 ft then number 30 chunk has a hook in it.  The take is mind blowing from near slack line to express train just bail arm over and hang on. The one very big bonus with tuna is until you have eaten tuna less than 1 hr old you have not lived. Even people who don’t like fish can not believe just how good they are, just seared on the barbie some people say they are just like fine steak. The other bonus is the lucky guy, normally me , who is filleting gets to eat them raw out of this world.