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Back on bait

While the last two parties fly fishing has been fun, loads of fish and broken fly rods and I have learnt a lot, deep down I am a bait man. Here in the Florida Keys we are spoilt rotten for bait all the local shops have tanks of live bait shrimp, crabs, pinfish and more and a bag of chum brings bait to the boat in no time. I am sorry fly men the best imitation of a shrimp is a shrimp it looks like a shrimp, tastes like a shrimp and swims like a shrimp. I do totally get the rod and reel thing and I own a few fly rods but here in the Keys and doing what I do with up to four anglers on the boat bait just gives more bang for your buck. Also by using live baits on the kite and long rod it like having two more anglers on the boat and Roddy rod holder has had some fantastic fish.

Keith, Mike and Steve are on their first fishing holiday in the Florida Keys and we have started with a bang and the weather gods have been more than kind so far. Lots of fish, screaming reels and OMG moments and yes the big nasty rods back on board. The antics on the big grouper rod and a fish near 200 by the boat had comments ” I have never seen anything like that before ” well that’s just like a normal day for me. Best fish so far a near 100 blacktip and a very light spinning rod, we had to up sticks and follow and get the line of a few pots but Mike did a fantastic job and after about 30 mins the fish was by the boat. Much to light line to do my normal shark lift for the money shot but some cool pics under the water.

New toy a GoPro camera so a lot to learn for the Luddite again so bear with me first video ( I hope ) is to check roof mounts then all I have to do is learn how to edit, why o why do I do this to myself !

Number 111

Well what did I learn from last weeks pure fly fishing trip two main things three guys if there is no wind can all fish fly at the same time and it does not have to be big to have fun.  Again and I have said it before I think that is why our fishing holiday are so successful the anglers decide what to do and when to do it I just try to put them on fish. Well it was offshore when number 111 species came to the boat, here in the Florida Keys you just never know and over the 9 years of doing fishing holidays we have had some very rare and strange fish to the boat. It was a bluestripe lizardfish  not huge but as you can see in the photo a very unique fish. They are members of the Synodus family of fish and we catch a lot of the inshore lizard back in the bay and they are normally small.

We did have an hour or so trolling for sailfish but there was no bait or birds so it was back to the reef for fun on a shallow wreck with the small yellow tail who were just nailing the small fly. Ron even had a black grouper on a bigger fly near the bottom and that pulled good and proper. What I did see whilst we were trolling was a new mark in just 90 feet a load of structure and fish just all over it watch this space as we will be back to mark number 154 offshore I hope next week. Next guys come tomorrow and I think it will be back to bait and me on 200 lb leader battling with the big boys of the Florida Keys bring it on !

What a fish !

The one fish that has come as a surprise to me over the last two weeks fly fishing has been our humble blue runner. Here in the Florida Keys this hardy little fish is our number one large live bait. So much so I have seen them make over $3 at sailfish and king mackerel comps they just last so long on the kite or being trolled.  The fly rods have certainly found some bigger ones and Peter had one well over a pound the other day and on his 9 wt his string was well and truly pulled. So much fun and they always bring the comment ” if only they grew to 10 lb you would not want to fish for anything else ” well they do. In fact the world record is 11 lb 2 oz and even the Florida record is an amazing 8 lb 5 oz now that must have been some fish, but one guy said these fish put our trout to shame.

Fish of the week so far was taken the other day by Ron a stunning cero mackerel that went 7 lbs 8 oz what a fish !  The fish was taken on the edge of a flat in just 5 ft of water and pulled Ron all round the boat even under the anchor . These fish are just built for speed and the runs were awesome and in less than perfect conditions Ron won the battle and the fish was in and yes straight into the ice box these fish are very tasty. This fish just proves my point about the Florida Keys, a bad day winds gusting to 20 mph but we found very sheltered water behind a bank and had a good day.

More fun on fly

Well a bit of a dajavue week Peter, Ron and Ted all new to our fishing holidays here in the Florida Keys are all mad fly fisherman a bit like buses none for a long time then two one after an other. Must quickly say if you are thinking of a fishing holiday please book as soon as you can we are completely full for 2013 and booking very fast for 2014 so he who snoozes loses. Back to my new fly men two are new to Florida but Ron has a house up state but I still remeber my first trip and this place just blows you away and then it gets under your skin and there is no cure. Just have a look at some of yesterday’s photos and you will see what I mean.

The boys don’t want to do big and that is fine by me in fact I think it is why we have become so successful its is the anglers who make the game play not the skipper they just tell me what they want to catch and how and I try to put the boat in the right place at the right time. What has surprised me over the last two weeks we have fish who seem to prefer the fly yes I just said that me an old bait guy. One fish that just loves the fly is our lookdown a very strange fish that is the most shiny fish you will every see and Ron had the biggest one I have ever seen and on the fly just amazing.

All good things

As the saying goes all good things have to come to an end, just sucks when it is a fishing holiday and even more when it is in the Florida Keys, but alas it happens. What a trip Geoff, Robin and Simon have had this time nearly breaking the base record catching 53 species of fish but this trip will be remembered for fun on the fly rods not the norm for me. The sound of Geoff’s knuckles having yet an other smacking will last for a long time or him shouting ” I am running out of backing and this fish is not stopping ” just classic.

Last day was going to be a run to the tuna grounds but maybe the weather gods were on my side and said not this trip you boys will just have to come back again. So we turn round and did sunrise on a wreck in the bay as the sun came up we were surrounded by jacks and this time a bit bigger and soon all the bendy things were well bent. Then Robin was into a fish that did not want to come in just charging all over the place with long fast runs but Robin won and soon a nice stingray was in the boat. It’s always sad to see a fun party go but these guys just do it so right and more than once I was reduced to tears of laughter so much so I could not even do a knot. As an other saying goes ” haste ye back ” and thanks for a very good trip.

Tears and smiles

The one thing I say with a big fish it is better to see it than loose in not even knowing what it was and this nearly happened to us the other day. We have found a spot nearly 20 into the bay where there are some very big blacktip shark some well over 100 lb and in just 12 ft water they only go one way. Simon had had a very good one so Geoff said his favorite words of the fishing holiday ” time for the chicken ” well it had to happen he hooked a big one on his 12 wt gear. Soon all the fly line had gone and the 300 yds off backing was going the same way so throw the pick and follow. Both Geoff and Simon are used to this on their last trip both had 3 hr fights with tarpon and followed for miles but a big shark on a fly rod a very different fight.

We had to miss many a pot marker float, at this time of year the bay is covered with them but we were slowly getting line back but then the fun started. With all the backing back on the reel Geoff was giving the shark a bit more, then it happened near the boat as Geoff was pulling up the shark gave one last run and BANG the 12 wt suddenly became a two piece rod. So Geoff had to finish the fight with a very short rod but I have to say very well done and the smiles say it all we won and had the fish in the boat. We also found out why this fish had fought so hard it was hooked in the pectral fin and they always go so much harder. Well the chicken had done the goods again and at the  end of the trip Geoff donated the fly to me and it will bring back some very special memories of this trip.

Offshore at last

This week the weather gods have made us work for fish we have found plenty and big ones but these boys have been just waiting to go offshore and the other day the winds calmed enough to just nose a few miles int the Atlantic. Not calm enough to allow us to go the 20 odd miles to the tuna grounds but a very doable day on the reef. The reef extends so 4  to 5 miles south of the Florida Keys with depths of 15 to 40 ft very fishy waters and this time of year the territory of big bad king mackerel. As the A team used to say I love it when a plan comes together and very soon after arriving at a large coral head in 40 ft Robin said the words fish on and boy was he on. Rod bent like a bendy thing and drag just screaming its no wonder the locals call these fish smokers that’s just what they do to a drag. I love the move to modern lure fishing but some times old school still works and all Robin was using was a silver spoon and they just work and god knows what damage these fish would do to a new plastic lure.

Best fish was to Robin a solid 21 lb fun fishing and just what my guys wanted then with the winds easing a bit more we were able to do a few wrecks in about 100 ft and put a few more fish on the species count now over 50, amberjack and and spadefish coming to the boat. Then Geoff shouted god this is a good fish, tearing line from his reel the line was going of so fast I thought Mr shark wanted the fish more than him but Geoff had other ideas and soon deep in the clear blue waters we all saw a tuna. Not my beloved blackfin but a very hard fighting skipjack, I know some people eat them but to me they are to bloody but as a shark bait top class. So one day the plan A worked and now we had the bait to go after my now number on the shark the silky.

Fun on fly

Well the boys are certainly having fun on the fly rods and will have the scars to show for a few weeks. What has surprised me this week some fish out here in the Florida Keys even seem to prefer the fly. On a wreck the other day Simon was having a Lookdown a cast not a massive sport fish but the brightest fish in the sea and a very strange shape and by being so reflective hard for predators to see. The fun fish this week on the fly has been our blacknose shark long hard runs and at near 30 lb just the right size. Geoff even had a grouper of 28 lb on the fly now this certainly did pull back on very bent rod for a very long time.

The fly that has done the damage this week has been tied by Geoff himself and we have all called it the chicken and you can see why. What always comes as a bit of a surprise it the sharks blind spot they cannot see directly in front and the no see zone is about 45 degrees. Often when they are hunting you will see them go from side to side, first they follow any sent trail then turn the head to go in for the kill.

On a sad note for me and all other fish eaters we have started our 4 month grouper ban those creamy white flakes have to wait till May before we can enjoy again. Guess what Robin had the other day a stunning and very lucky red grouper back it went come May it will be a different story straight into an ice box. It sucks at the time but this is why the Florida Keys are one of the very special fisheries in the world, look after your fish before it is a problem and I have no trouble with putting fish back, I still eat more fish than meat and make no apologies for that. The species count continues to rise and all the 43 so far bar one have come from the bay and yes it seems the weather gods are going to let us play on the ocean to day at last !!

Shark on fly

As I said before all the guys on this fishing holiday are avid fly fishermen, fly fishing is not my thing but to see the fun these guys are having I might think again. The weather gods are still not being kind but the joy of the Florida Keys there is always somewhere to put the boat and fish. The other day we had to go north 15 miles to find shelter and soon had fish in the chum slick and the species count keeps rising now over 30 with rabbitfish, pompano,and a lizard fish. Then Geoff who has been the fly fish king said oh dear this feel big, well it was and so started a long hard  fight it is so much harder on a fly rod and he was using a 12 wt. After what seemed like an age we had the fish to the boat a nurse shark about 125 lb not the hardest fighting shark in the world but this one was camera-shy and beat up Geoff good and proper then the fun started. I should know better after one long hernia op I said the daft words would you like it in for a pic then the fun started but after some hilarity we had it in and you can still see Geoff’s fly in the mouth.

High five’s all round Fish the Dream’s first shark over 100 lb on the fly well done Geoff and all the wrestling team who helped get the fish in. Then off to an other mark and soon what I had wanted all week for the fly guys very hard fighting black tip shark and just the right size about 20 lb now these fish know how to put a bend in a fly rod. Many a long hard fight and a very interesting photo of just how a shark can dislocate its jaw to get a forwards bite of a fish. When you see a shark bite it is so fast but this is how they feed with an under the body jaw and those teeth, beware even shark of this size can give you a very nasty bite. Well Geoff is all ready now for the big offshore silky shark me thinks a  new ball game fingers crossed we will see.