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Windy last day

Again sorry about the lack of blogs blame the tarpon this year they have just been mad after a 3 am start then a full days fishing just cant even see the puter screen but this week guys Rodney ( yes the boat has two Rodney’s this week ) and George are having a morning off.  Lee’s last day was a very windy one but after the tarpon which Lee had to sit out again with a bad back we went north and tucked in behind a bank to fish the calm water. If you look at a map of the Florida Keys you will see north of the Keys for nearly 25 miles banks and islands which all offer shelter, the wind in the photo is blowing nearly 20 mph but we have seas only 1 ft and very fishable.

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So what do you catch in this shallow water well a lot and there is a saying here if there is enough water to cover the fishes back it could be there. Soon we had bait in the chum then the mackerel and trout came to the party then the shark came to eat the mackerel and trout what you would call a predator chain. So as they say match the hatch with the catch enjoy the small stuff with light rods or go bigger a wait for a shark.

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So not the week Lee had planed but some very big tarpon and that is the main reason people come in May and it is called fishing not catching but as you can see from the smiles on the photos we did a lot of catching as well. Video clip is from this week George having fun on what we call sporty shark on a fly rod and an other one come up to see if he can get the bait very cool.

Offshore at last

When guys have been here more than once they tend to want to try to repeat a very special trip unfortunately that very rarely happens. Fishing is very much about being in the right place at the right time and having the fish you want feeding as well. The last time Lee was here we had one of those very special days offshore tuna, shark and Lee has had some of the biggest amberjack I have ever seen. This trip the weather gods have not been very kind but the other day it calmed out and in the dark we headed out the 26 miles to the tuna grounds with very high hopes.  We were the first boat there well before the more horse power than brain cells guys but as it got light very few birds not good. Try as we might not a sniff of a tuna, top water, mid water jigs Lee even put a live bait some 500 ft down. So as we often do in the Florida Keys plan B being a long way out means we can cover a lot of ground on the way back and we are in the hight of dorado season. Some one saw a lone small bird sitting on an old paddle ( hope the guy got back with the other one ) and sure enough the long rod went off and  just for compensation it was Lee’s. A fish that size has a one way trip with Lee and soon a very colourful and tasty dorado was in the cool box. Then just one more small fish on the way back to the permit wrecks and a sight I have never seen before a near 70 ft big game boat at anchor right in the middle of the permit grounds just where we wanted to drift. Again it was Lee who managed by his standards a small amberjack  not the day we had hoped for but that’s why they call it fishing not catching.

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Trying some underwater stuff with the Go Pro and what better than a good old nurse shark, why o why did I not try it out on Lee’s dorado don’t you just like getting old brain cells just slip away.

Tarpon research

The 2013 tarpon season still continues on very strong indeed we have had tarpon every morning now for over a month still wish they took better in the day hitting my alarm at 3 am is starting to tell then when you have a 100 lb + fish in the air it is all worth while. This year we have a  near 200 lb year class at 7 mile bridge all about 170 to 180 and very strong fish even played as hard as you can on 30 lb line fights are all over an hour. Alan had one of these fish a few days ago, hook up was on a bank a long way from the bridge but as most tarpon seem to know lots of bridge concrete is the way to get off a hook so after half an hour we were between the bridges with a very big angry tarpon. After an other half an hour of going through both bridges many times and making hard unstoppable runs at the concrete the fish was ours by the boat and leader touched with an audience from the old 7 mile bridge one very happy and tired Alan.

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This year we have been asked by the Florida Wildlife Commission to take part in the tarpon genetic recapture study, if you are interested in tarpon research go to www.myfwc.com then to tarpon research and see what it is all about.  In basic terms we take a DNA sample from the tarpon and send to FWC  with basic information then if that fish is ever recaptured they can compare the two and learn more about tarpon. We also had a long talk to the officer from the FWC who told us that at the next meeting the hope to change the rules on taking photos of tarpon and allow a quick picture to be taken of the fish out of the water. Their research has shown that if a tarpon is out of the water for no longer than 60 seconds it comes to no harm as it does have the ability to get oxygen from air as well as water. What they have found the most important thing is to revive the fish after capture and many fish which have just been to the boat after a fight die with not being revived this can take over 10 mins or longer by swimming the fish with a moving boat.

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We also had our smallest tarpon ever the other day a fish barely over 20 lbs, very strange must have decided to follow the thousands of fish early in its life a very cool pic.

Not just tarpon take two

Tarpon still on fire 3 am starts still suck but last three mornings 2 for 3 , 3 for 3 , and 1 for 3 may be the best for 10 years and no sign of it slowing down. More pictures from Daves two weeks serious fun in the bay the wrecks have been on fire all grouper over 200 lbs are fun. Every year Leslie comes she continues to impress I think she is now our top lady angler more than a match for any fish.

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I had a long chat today with a lady from the tarpon trust who gave me a lot of new information about the fish a bit of homework and a long blog will be next.

First pic Brian doing what he loves big fish back to the boat 200 lb + grouper

Second pic a nice shark which made the mistake of taking Leslie’s rod no chance !

Third pic a fine barracuda from a wreck for Brian

Fourth pic yet another cobia from the bay

Video clip a fine jumping tarpon for Leslie

Not just tarpon

While at this time of year it is mainly about tarpon most of my guys do like to experience the full offerings the Florida Keys has. We are very lucky to have a boat that is just as happy 30 miles offshore as it is in less than 2 ft of water on the flats. Dave, Leslie and Brian certainly had some stunning fish on their two-week fishing holiday I think it is best just to let you see some pictures with brief descriptions.

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The stingray you see with Brian was kept for bait, a fantastic shark bait and I have seen more than one hammerhead with stings in its head. They were also used for mock scallops years ago and from this one I cut scallops from the wings and had them for breakfast and I must say they were very good nothing like scallops but a very tasty meal.

First pic a good dorado taken about 20 offshore on a live pinfish poor old pinfish everyone likes to eat you.

Second pic Leslie doing what she is good at on a wreck in the Gulf a hard fighting cobia.

Third pic Brian ( stingray ) Ironman with his regular stingray for the holiday

Dave with one of the finest eating fish we have a yellow jack.

Tarpon by catch

Sorry about the lack of blogs from the as we are here for two weeks we will only do tarpon every other day to it is so good can we go every morning. Well at Fish the Dream fishing holidays you make the agenda so every day I sett my alarm for 3 am and off we go, in all fairness it has been so good so far this year I can see why. Tarpon fishing certainly has its highs and lows yes we have had fish every day bar one and fish back to the boat as well but we have had sad mornings as well. One morning we had one of the strangest tarpon fights I have every had we hooked up on a very large fish just as it got light and this puppy knew all the tricks in the book. First it went in and out of the bridge piles both old and new at 7 mile bridge as it was on a training run, then it went under an other boats anchor as it was still on it decided to do the shallow water bit just to scare the boatman and off to the bone fish flats we went. In less than two feet of water all I could do was trim the motors right up and pray. Then it tried the moral support bit and was joined by up to an other 20 tarpon, it was just amazing in very shallow water to have a mass of tarpon in front of the boat and one hooked up. All this action brought the attention of the shark and a massive shark went into the fish I don’t know how but it missed ours but it did then we went into deep water. Well after 2 hrs 29 mins and taking us nearly 7 yes 7 miles and towing my boat at over 2 miles an hour the line broke I think went the shark attacked it hit our line but it all ended in tears.

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Now is than one happy angler from the lows to the highs Brian has been after a big permit for years so it was very fitting to tick his box on the last morning and what a fish a solid 24 lb a true trophy fish. As you all know by now I am a crab man when it comes to tarpon and we do very well with them and one of the other fish that likes crab is permit. At this time of year they are making their way offshore to spawn and they all have to go past the bridges so if they see a tasty snack on the way why not.

Lady luck smiles

The 2013 tarpon season is turning out to be one of the best I have ever had in the Florida Keys we have had fish to the boat every day bar one crab is the killing bait yesterday was 2 for 3 and the day before 2 for 5  big  100 lb plus fish and most fights over an hour. New comer to our fishing holidays Steve joined regulars Dave Leslie and Brian and a ton plus tarpon on his lap was number one on his wish list. So we all sat down and went through just how mad this tarpon fishing is, fish on then rest of the guys have to wind in, rods out of the way, start the boat, throw the pick, back down to the bridge, spin the boat, get the angler with the fish on to the bow, spare angler to get the torch, keep the rod high but not to high, bow to the king when it jumps and all this goes on in the dark at 4 am. To say Steve looked a little worried was an understatement but day one came and we were at 7 mile bridge and Steve had a tarpon rod in his hand then guess what his float went under and it was fish on. Well he did very, very well it helped to have all the crew seasoned anglers and may be not perfect and he missed a few bows but in about 1 hr 20 mins the fish was in the boat and on one very happy anglers lap.

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At 68 in long with a girth 39 in it came out at 136 lb what a first ever tarpon and at 1 for 1 as we say you cant get any better I still dont think just how lucky Steve knows how he has been. I still think ever angler should have one money shot of his first tarpon and I slide the fish over the side, hook out, quick pic, measure for an accurate weight then back and swim fish for as lonce ng as it takes to get it fully recovered. Since 2008 to do this in Florida you must have a kill tag I would never kill a tarpon and buy swimming the fish I think it might even have a better chance than just the hook out. Video clip sorry an other tarpon at the boat Brian with yet an other 100 lb it will play not sure what is going on with Vimeo will try and sort out.