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Tarpon time plus

Well it’s that time of year the old dinosaurs fish make their way through the Florida Keys on migration and the spawning run as they have done for over 200 million years still blows me away and always will. This year there have been two changes, one the fish have been concentrated at Bahia Honda bridge and much fewer fish at our home bridge 7 mile so a longer run but you can fish for them all day and there is the State Cafe we can tie up outside. The other is the guys who have already had a 100 lb tarpon seem to want now to fish for other fish and are not so up for the 3 am starts.  The major problem is at Bahia Hona a  lot more concrete and the home of very hungry shark, in fact this has been the first year we have ever seen 1000 lb + shark killing tarpon and just leaving them. The other day with Lee and the boys we had a float plan to tarpon till the bite or tided slowed then as we had the best hammerhead bait,  stingray, fish for shark so off we went.

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Soon the cry was  ”  tarpon on  ”  now the norm at Bahia Honda is then  ” tarpon off  ” but as the tide was slow when this fish went between the concrete mid bridge I decided to give chase and in over 10 years of doing fishing holidays in the Florida Keys a first for me.  Yes all the crew thought I was mad but by doing this with just inches to spare we unwrapped the fish and soon had a 150 lb + tarpon to the boat one for one as they say.  Next tarpon had not read the Bahia Honda book and just went straight out to sea so after a fairly long fight we had this one to the boat as well so two for two good anywhere but at Bahia Honda unheard off.  After a shore breakfast, so cool to take the boat to a cafe it was shark mode and see if we could find the puppy that nailed one of our fish last week.  Soon it was fish on and newbie Ben was getting the full Fish the Dream treatment the pain of a big shark and after nearly an hour not the 1000 lb one but I would give this fish a solid 500 lb just look at the tail he is holding.

A very special day

I am sorry this blog is out of the true time line of what is happening this week but the other day had to be one of my top ten days in doing fishing holiday in the Florida Keys.  So what was so special, firstly the people, as I have blogged before I now have a large number of guys who have moved from the customer to the good friend page and I hope that  this includes Lee Jasper and John Aplin and the two guys they have with them Ben, John’s friend and Steve Lee’s brother make a top crew.  Secondly as long last the weather gods said go where you want and the guys wanted permit and I have a wreck in the bay where we have often seen permit and conditions could not be better so load up with crabs and off we went.  Also I had one big personal box to tick that has taken me over 10 years get my friend Lee his TIGER SHARK and this year we have had a lot near this wreck and it is the massive barracuda wreck as well.

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On a scale of fishing 1 to 10 this was about 11 on arriving soon we were surrounded by barracuda they take a bit of work but we had two over 20 lb in the boat and Ben’s had the longest jump and fastest run I have ever seen nearly jumping over the boat.  The as the tide changed the permit showed up not easy sight fishing but I have to give it to John he stayed at the task and first fish well over 30 lbs ended in tears as the line touched the wreck and fish gone as did the second one but the third near 20 lb came into the boat and it was high fives all round my first permit in the bay.  Then Lee and Ben joined the permit club, the sight of a permit braking off from the shoal and taking a bait just mind-blowing, then from nowhere John shouted tiger and from where he had just been swimming  ( it was that hot ) a stunning tiger shark was on the top just behind the boat.  Not an instant take and the gods had even made it Lee’s turn on the shark rod and no way was this one getting away box ticked at last, final rights was Steve who nailed a 30 lb cobia so we could all dine to celebrate,  what a day.

1000 lb on a bad day

This weather is beginning to get to me this week it is my big fish crew and the weather gods still say no, first few day have been tough but as the norm with our fishing holidays in the Florida Keys we have fished ever day and had some fantastic fishing but not just again where this crew want to be.  The first day was one of the windiest I have fished well over 30 mph but with a ride down wind we found shelter behind some small islands and had fun with grouper and blacktip shark to near 100 lb.  Lee has brought over a newbie Ben so all this is coming as a shock to the system one that we fish in these conditions but catch as well.

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Second day a bit better and the crew desperately wanted to get Ben on a bay wreck so with fingers crossed we headed north hoping that we would get there and no one would be on my number one wreck.  Well the answer was we got there and there was no one on it so started a short but very special day not sure of the time frame ( the joys of now being 60 ) but everyone was nailing grouper over 300 lb , shark near 200 lb, massive stingray, keeper cobia that we turn into a feast fit for a king.  The one thing I am sure about is that we blew Ben away yes the Whippy walk looks good on video with a 300 lb grouper but to feel the power is some thing else. Sad story of the day Steve Lee’s brother lost an African pompano which I would have put at near 50 lbs it dragged him all over the place but after a long fight the leader broke so that one lives to fight an other day.  After for me a short 6 hr trip the seas were now over 5 ft not safe for big fish so a long run home with Lee saying  ” guys do you realize that if you added it all up we have had well over 1000 lbs of fish on a short day ”  oh yes but it is the Florida Keys.

Wrecking at last

What a week and what a year I have never been sure about global warming  (  I am in the cycle camp ) but I am sure in the climate change camp, this year we have had thew calmest week lucky Bromley boys to the windiest week sorry Ian.  In fact in over 10 years of doing fishing holidays in the Florida Keys last week was the toughest I can remember.  Dont get me wrong we still fished every day and caught every day but tuna and dorado were never going to happen even the big 60 to 70 ft boats were blogging we should not be out here.  So last day the weather forecasters said 8 to 11 mph and spirits were very high and a big grouper and a decent shark were on the list so load the boat to the gunnels and head north and yes sods law guys on my best wreck so find an other one close by and keep the eyes open to see if they move.  At this time of year most Americans are what I call cooler fishermen and if after a couple of hours no keepers they will move on as was the case with these guys but just as we went to move Scott started a long  ( we had to chase )  shark battle.

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This was a strange fight as we all saw the fish jump a good 100 lb + blacktip but by this fish was fighting hard way above its weight the first run was way over 300 yds in fact more than once I checked the drag.  When at last  Scott got the fish to the boat all became clear the fish was hook in the tip of is tail if you have ever caught a large fish in the tail they fight so much harder pulling straight against the angler not being pull back by the mouth.  So off to number one wreck but now the winds were over 20 mph and on these deeper wrecks not nice we had a few grouper on but the seas were just to bad so not before Paul had a near 10 lb jack off to a calmer wreck.  At last a grouper well over 300 to the boat a cracking fish to end a very tough week but it was Prime Rib night so a few beers and wine and a very nice bunch of guys, next time a bit more praying to the weather gods.

Tarpon tears

We are having a very windy week in the Keys it gets to me more than my anglers as the wind in the palm trees just goes on all night even the bay wrecks have been off-limits so far this week.  We are still fishing and catching but just not were regulars want to go but the weather is the one thing I can’t control in all fairness if this was the guys first trip it would blow them away.  Despite the wind yesterday we made the long run to Bahia Honda which stuffed with tarpon and yes you can catch during daylight hours as it is deeper and the wide bridges offer shade for the fish.  As soon as the tide started to run we missed two then a monster stuck and a long hard fight was on in fact for Bahia Honda it went very well through the first bridge then fun between the bridges then past the old bridge into the Atlantic happy days.  This was one very strong fish I would say in the high hundreds and the first hour of the fight came and went with not slowing down then after 1 hr 17 mins  a hammerhead nailed it and big way bigger than the 1200 lb we caught some time ago this was just scary big so after all the sterling work game over.

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On a more positive note the other day while sheltering behind a bank we had a stunning tiger shark they just tick so many boxes.  Getting back to the monster at Bahia Honda my friend over the canal had the same fish last week even had it on for a few seconds.  Next week we have my big fish friend Lee Jasper who I know when he reads this will have a few more sleepless night and watch out shark it could be game on.

As good as it gets

At this time of year  (  Tarpon and Permit  )  season  most guys give me a pretty clear wish list  ”  A 100 lb tarpon then a good permit then you can just bend our rods ” so no pressure on me then.   Well weather gods on my side and shark already full for me this can be not to hard, lots can and will go wrong but some days as the other day it all goes just right.  Steve started the day off with a very strange tarpon the take was just awesome the lighted float just scream away , Steve did his job and stuck this one then a few jumps and straight out into the ocean very cool. Then what happened was very strange after nearly an hour the fish turned and came straight back to the shore and we were fighting a fish out side a local restaurant in just 2 ft of water.  Released the fish boatside, unfortunately none of the Go pro footage is any good, lesson learnt Go Pros need good light shame.

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So as the sun started to rise a blast out to the permit grounds and this time it was Nick making the Girly noises and yes we have it all on video, still after all these years of doing fishing holidays in the Florida Keys this is as the blog title says  ” As good as it gets  ”  Well permit done so just down to bending rods and who better than my local wreck donkeys the amberjack and again it was lucky Nick who showed the way to go.  So after a quick breakfast  ( so cool docking at the restaurant )  of into the bay for some shallow water wrecking and after being beat up with 100 lb grouper the guys asked any chance of finishing the day with their lure rods on the barracuda no problem and just for good measure Brian had a stunning mackerel for tea job done.

Yes indeedy !

Well its that time of year that my guys on fishing holidays in the Florida Keys arrive with the boxes and I just have to tick them.  Now as some of you know it is permit spawn time and after a 100 lb tarpon a trophy permit over 20 lbs  has now become the next box.  Well this year I was a little worried as the spawn had started about 3 weeks early and only goes on for about a month so fingers crossed for this week.  This weeks guys are regulars from Ireland and on this trip they had a newbie Brian who for over a year had been told all the tarpon stories and told of the power of permit so I guess was on a massive high.  Still the real thing is so much better and even though we have had 100 lb tarpon to the boat ever day even I was worried about the permit as the weather has not been good and the fish are some 8 miles offshore fingers crossed.  I like to get there first light so after the tarpon the other day not in a good sea off we went down to just 15 mph but half a chance was going to be better than nothing.

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Well I have to say even for me a dream start, ran through it all with Brian but first cast fish on and what a fish during what was a long and hard fight that left Brian shaking his head Neil also joined in also with a massive fish so they are still here and still feeding.   I would put Brian fish a solid 30 lbs and Neil’s a bit bigger about 35 lbs trophy fish with a capital T more pics to come.  Also on this trip Neil had asked any chance of some action on his new spinning rod  (  thanks Cian and yes he did break it not on a fish but in the landing net )  but my friends the barracuda ticked all his boxes.