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Fun on Fly

While most of you who know me know my feelings about fly fishing in salt water I do admire the likes of John Aplin and Nick Hart, use the banner links on this web page to see what I mean.  John runs a stunning fly fishery in the SW of England doing what it says on the tin getting trout to take an artificial  fly when they are eating natural flies as does Nick on his many lakes and ponds.  So why try to get a fish to try to eat an artificial bait when I can reach over to my live well and put the reel thing on a much better rod and reel with a good drag and I think do a better job. How ever since we have been doing fishing holidays in the Florida Keys we have had one golden rule that is the angler makes the choice not the skipper and if he wants to fly fish then we fly fish.  Last week when young Ash from New Zealand found out we had fly rods in the rod room his eyes light up so game on and on the coolest day of Bills trip he was having a ball with our mackerel on the pure fly and I have to say he was chucking the fluff as good as I have seen on my boat.

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Went down last Sunday to see the guys at the SKA king mackerel tournament in Key West unfortunately Snowbee’s team did not get their new boat finished in time and I bet Capt Ron was spitting bullets fair seas and lots of big mackerel 5 over 50 lbs and the winning fish was 70.68 lbs.  God knows what went through the gaff mens minds when that puppy was by the boat.  Capt Ron has gone for a 37 ft Seahunter with 900 hp on the back and more toys than I have ever seen full pics when it is at the Miami boat show, price if you had to buy one well over  $300,000 just to catch one mackerel !

Father and son

The one thing that was really nice about last week was to see Bill and his son have some quality time fishing I was very jealous.  The only thing I regret about my long fishing life now over 50 years is that non of my children shared my passion with rod and line.  I remember people telling my not to force them and just wait, but sadly it never happened and when they left home for uni it was lost.  My father never fished but maybe it is a generation thing as both my grandsons love to fish so all is not lost.  Last week was not the best weather  Bill  has had better but in all fairness we fished on the tuna grounds and had days on the wrecks in the bay I have had a lot worse but we fished ever day and had fish ever day.

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The one thing that always seems to come as a surprise to guys on our fishing holidays in the Florida Keys is rain and yes last week we had one just one wet day, in all fairness we have more rain here in the Florida Keys than the UK but most comes in the summer.  The one thing I have noticed in doing our holidays for over 10 years the cold fronts seem to last longer and last week we saw nearly a 10 degree drop in sea temps that does put some fish off in the bay as they move to find warmer water.  The macs and blue fish are more happy in cooler water in fact when it warms up they go north to find cold water.  To show the difference last week we had water temps in the low 60’s in Florida Bay but on the tuna grounds nearly 30 miles out it was 74.  What ever the weather wind, rain, cool or warm we are so lucky here in the Keys I will still put a bend in your rod and pull your string.

Offshore fun !

Well Patrick’s learning curve in the gentle art of fishing was about to take one large leap forwards as day two dawned flat calm and when it is like that the humps and tuna grounds are just crying come play.  So with Patrick not realy knowing what was in store we fueled up and pointed the boat south and headed the 28 miles into the Atlantic where the ground comes up very steeply from nearly 1000 ft to just 490 ft on our fabled humps.  We had decided to do the afternoon bite as dragging guys up at 4 am to do the sunrise bite after a long haul flight a bit hard and with a newbie in the dark not a good idea.  In doing fishing holidays in the Florida Keys we have found the tuna not as good in the afternoon but for the last few months but plenty of fun and we have had more shark so its swings and roundabouts.

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Well when we got there the Gulf Steam was in full action and at some times we had over 4 mph of current no fish busting on the top but a take nearly every drift so we were ticking the box then as a shark man just what I want we lost our first fish to a shark.  None of the locals seem to understand the Brits love of shark especialy on the tuna grounds but I say you can only catch whats there and in my books fishing is about having your string pulled and a bend in your rod and boy do the shark on the humps tick those boxes.  So with the fighting belt strapped round his waist Patrick was about to get into big game fish with a bang the look on his face said it all, strangely on the first run nothing had the boys in grey coats let me down but on the second drift that fantastic click, click of a shark.

There is something very special of a shark in deep water and this puppy was letting Patrick know all about it but I have to say he did a stunning job and in what seemed not to long a very unhappy near 200 lb silky shark was at the boat.  I just love these shark the true speedsters of the deeps so job done, prime tuna for tea and one very happy new angler with leason two ticked off with full marks.

First ever fish !

Well we have had a lot of firsts here at Fish the dream fishing holidays in the Florida Keys but even for us this week was a new one.  My dentist Bill and his son Chris are one of our many regulars who have now been coming for many years but this year Bill has brought along his brother-in-law Patrick.  Now despite being on this planet for many years and even owning and using pleasure craft had until this week never caught a fish on rod and line.  I know I am pretty hardcore but even for me having a boat in the sea and not fishing, well we will have to sort this out and of course in my opinion the Florida Keys are just the place to sort this out.  So first day head the boat some 12 miles north into Florida Bay where I hope my mackerels will put a bend in the newbie’s rod and put him on the right road concerning boats and the sea.

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No problem we soon had a good bend in Patrick’s rod and yet an other first for me a fisherman all to my self to teach with no bad habits, the trouble with a lot of the float fishing we do is most UK anglers love to strike when a float goes under.  Now that is just fine if your line is tight but here nine times out of ten there is a lot of loose line and all an instant strike will do is just tell the fish to let go of the bait.  Now all my regulars now my cries of   ” wind wind wind as fast as you can ” and as nearly all of my rods are braid the no stretch of the line does the rest wind soon turns into fish on !  Patrick is turning into a star pupil and despite very un Floridian weather  (  we are yet again in an other cold front ) I hope is having fun.

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Also along for the first time is Chris’s friend Ash a New Zealander who has now lived for six years in the UK and to put it mildly is just nailing the fish he must have a long history of fishing.  Next blog is about Patrick’s first big and I mean very big fish a shark on the tuna grounds.

The Keating boys

Its been a long time since Alan and Tim Keating came on their first fishing holiday in the Florida Keys and I now hope I can call them true fishing friends and look forwards to their now annual trip to the Keys.  Last week was their trip for 2014 and for many years now Alan has wanted to tick the swordfish box and this year we came very close Alan has had boats in the med and due to the very deep water invested in some electric reels which are just the job for fishing here where the swords are found up to 1500 ft  The first two days of his trip it was to windy to due the trip the first stop is some 35 miles out in the Atlantic so it was fun on the wrecks in the bay and some of the best cobia fishing I have ever had see video at the end but on the middle day of Alan’s trip it was saying 8 mph so game on.

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We all worked hard late into the night making the 25 lb concrete weights to get the baits down and getting all the very special gear needed ready so bed at last and fingers crossed.  Well guess what the 8 mph had gone and we woke to 18 + mph cr** the cold front that has been taking over mainland USA had made it down to the Keys game over.  As I have said before the cold fronts in the keys may suck if you want a tan but fire up the fish with the mackerel loving it.  So the last two days we stayed close in to the lee of the island but had great fishing and one of the biggest gag grouper we have had for a long time and a very lucky grouper as well as this is thew start of our 4 month grouper closed season.

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It’s a shame Alan only gets 5 days to fish he runs a very successful company and now employs nearly 300 people so only limited time off but one day it will come together.  It just goes to show how long we have been doing this as next year he is taking about bringing his son to catch the Florida Keys bug and if you ever want your child to catch the fishing bug then this is the place to do it.

More room at the Inn

Due to us having to change our travel plans this year we now have two-week opening in what was a fully booked six months of 2014,  March 3rd to March 17th is now available to book.  So what will you catch here in the sunny Florida Keys  ( sorry it was 84  yesterday ) well March can be a very exciting time of the year it is the start of the annual tarpon run.  For the last ten years of doing fishing holidays here in the Florida Keys we have always had our first 100 lb + tarpon in March, yes to see the lighted float go under then the 100 lb bar of silver jump clear and the shout of fish on very special.  Yes they are not in the same numbers as in April and May but as they have done since T Rex was stomping around on the land they pass through the Florida Keys ever March.

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If water temps are still a bit low we will still have all our winter fish around the main  ones are all of our mackerel, sailfish and tunas.  If you included all our residents, grouper, cobia, barracuda, or any of the 124 species we have so far had to the boat and all of the sharks just trying to eat what you have on your line a fun week or two.  As this has come out of the blue and as a bit of a way to celebrate our 10 years of doing fishing holidays in the Florida Keys we have decided to put the clocks back and charge just for the two weeks what we did in 2004 just £ 85 a day to included B + B, rental car and the fishing.  Now I am sure we will not do this again so if you have a bucket list and the airlines still have their January sales on you know what you have to do.

 

 

Swordfish

The one fish missing from our impressive 124 species list in over 10 years of doing fishing holidays in the Florida Keys is the impressive swordfish and this might change very shortly.  Our first guests in 2014 will be the Keating brothers Alan and Tim,  Alan used to have a boat in the med and due to the very deep water has a couple of electric reels loaded with enough line to fish near 2000 ft  yes  2000 ft.  In recent years how people fish for swords has changed local Capt Richard Stanczyk decided to as they say think out of the box and came up with a new method and boy does it work.  Swords live and feed about 35 miles offshore where depths drop to 2000 ft coming up  to the surface at night to feed so all the swordfish fishing was done at night on fairly normal gear.

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Richard’s thinking was well most fish feed all day and swords have huge eyes which they must use to see fish in the deep water so all you had to do was get a bait down to them.  He also came up with the idea to attach a very heavy weight sometimes up to 20 lb to the hook bait tying this directly to the hook to keep all the gear in a straight line on the way down.  Then when it reaches the bottom the heavy weight is broken off being tied with just 12 lb line and you have a perfect rig in nearly 2000 ft where the daylight sends all the feeding fish.  The electric are mainly used to check baits and recover line if the fish runs hard to the boat just to give the angler a bit of a break and avoid loose braid on the reel.  These fish can get very big and there are many over 1000 lbs and in 2012 a huge eye was found on a beach in Florida which was later found to be a sword fish eye from a very big fish !

 

Irish eyes

The one thing this old Luddite likes about all the new web stuff is my ability to see where visitors to this website come from and I have to say we have a lot of guys from the emerald isle. Ever since  Cian O Halloran came on what I even have to admit was a very successful fishing holiday in the Florida Keys to quote his words ” It was the best fishing experience of my life ” his loyal following from his business  Absolute Fishing in Waterford have been regulars looking at my website.  If you ever end up in that part or Ireland look him up as he now must be Mr Irish Bass and will ship to the UK any thing from his shop or his online shop at www.absolutefishing.ie.  It did occur to me the other day watching rain hit the windows at 60 mph  (  back in the keys next week  ) that most of his punters are lure men and the Florida Keys is just lure heaven.

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Cian ticking a box !!

Personally I think the number one lure fish is the good old barracuda, if ever a fish looked like a predator then it is the barracuda with its amazing sett of teeth.  They tend to be more an ambush feeder waiting for bait to pass but soon learn a boat at anchor is an easy meal, why chase a fish when an angler will bring one to you. I shallow water an other trick they do is jump and at one of are wrecks we have even had them jump in the boat fun to see how fast anglers can move to get out of the way of teeth.  Small ones are very good shark bait but now I like to put all big ones back they are just so much fun on light lure rods.

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The other predator that just nails any lure is the bully boy of the Keys the jack crevelle these guys are not fussy and hunt in packs pushing bait fish to places for an easy kill.  I still remember the day we found over 100 jacks in a feeding frenzy near Bahia Honda the guys that day were even casting poppers away from them just to watch fish surfing to get the lures.  On an other day during an other feeding frenzy we even had two jacks on the same lure as the other jack was trying to get the bait out of the first fishes mouth strange but true.

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So if you are a lure fisherman who wants some full on action get in touch, remeber if there are not four of you I will try to make up a party and out of tarpon season will give you a good discount.