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Archive of entries posted in the year 2016

Weather gods again

Well it had to happen John’s week started just to good and we had  a right good spanking from the gods for the last few day of his Fishing Holiday in the Florida Keys but as I have said many times before one of the many pluses of a trip out here we can find some where to fish and fish on even the poorest day.  We have found some new marks in the many channels that run north to south north of Bahia Honda and some of these go as deep as 20 ft nearly twice the depth of the average in Florida Bay but some run just feet away from banks of less than 1 ft.  The resulting shelter always seems strange to fish in near 30 mph winds and some 15 miles into Florida Bay but waves less than 1 ft but it works and some very and I mean big fish live in these channels.  Take the other day we were having a reasonable day in said channel good mixed fishing macs, ladyfish, snapper and shark when I just had this feeling there might be something big under the boat so over went the grouper rod and straight away Dereck yes lucky Dereck as the boys now call him was into a fish.  This was no monster and Dereck soon had it all under control but as he had this I would say about 40 lb fish near the boat we had a  O M G  moment the water under Dereck fish went very dark as a monster maybe pushing 500 lb + came up from the bottom to have a look at Dereck’s fish.  Well true to say the whole crew went very quiet with a  ” did you see the size of that ” I know of one guy who comes in May who just might spend a day or two there.





Well the annoying wind turned for the last day a bit more to the south which made even these channels unfishable so we had to tuck in close to the island in the north shore to get any shelter which we found in my tarpon hole.  We found this a few years ago after having to hug the coast on a run to the tarpon when from no where the water dropped from 6 ft to 14 ft a hole about  50 yds across.  Now anywhere in Florida Bay that sort of depth change means fish and this hole always seem to produce and on John’s last day it was full of pompano.  Now these little fish a cousin of are beloved permit while they do no grow to the same size fight just as hard and on the dinner plate right up there near the top.




Have to say just how much Capt Mike and myself enjoyed fishing with  John, Ian, and Dereck way to much fun and despite for John’s first time in his many trips nothing big to his near 500 lb standard we all had fantastic time and they are all already booking next years trip see you soon.

Great start and no 126

When your local friends come from the UK it is a different kind of pressure I find myself under now John, Ian and Dereck are always happy with anything they catch but I am more happy if it is good as it can be.  Now my many regulars to our Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys know just how big a part the weather gods play so you can imagine just how happy I was to see the first few days it was going to be a case of go anywhere you want.  So the first day it was lets take it when we can and of the near 30 miles to the tuna grounds we went and for the first time in ages no tuna but we still had a fantastic day.  Fish of the day had to be a near 30 lb almaco jack that Dereck took on the jigging rod at well over 200 ft first thing the jack did was take an other 200 ft of the reel so started a long dogged fight but in the old experienced hands of Dereck the fish was never going to win.  Then on the way home we saw fish feeding on the small fish that live under the larger man “o ” war jelly fish so out with a lure and dorado on  yes it was turning out to be a Dereck day but that’s just fishing.


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Day two was again offshore but not so far and with over 50 ft water visibility stopped of on the reef for some barracuda fun and yellow jacks.  Not sure why but this year the yellow jack have been awesome and on the right light tackle fight like any jacks but a big plus on their side just as good on the diner plate. No apologies for taking about eating fish we only take enough for a meal and always follow the strict Florida fish regs and I just like eating fish end of rant.  So with the reef cover off a bit deeper and with the pick down in about 150 ft some fantastic bottom action the biggest jolthead porgy I have ever seen and poor John lost what would have been the biggest fish of the trip just unable to make any line that’s why its called fishing not catching.  Before we left the reef Ian had species no 126 to the boat in the 12 years we have been doing fishing holidays,a box fish mother nature was having a fun day when she came up with this on the hard skeleton is on the outside like a turtle and the fins poke out and not sue why but the skin has an amazing hexagonal pattern.

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box 2






Yesterday we went back to what this group likes rod bending in Florida bay wreck hopping with goliath grouper and shark on top of the list.  Well the bay did not disappoint and we went 2 for 4 on grouper and the biggest blacktip shark we have had for years so big we had to throw the anchor and chase but again with the steady hands of Ian on the rod it was soon fish to the boat and the now getting better all the time Capt Mike on the leader it was fish for the photo shots and then off to fight again.  So I think we all have to say a big thank you to the weather gods to fish with friends and have fun in the Florida Keys is more than I could ever ask for.




Yes by the way I do let my Captain fish and he is turning out to be an outstanding  Florida Keys fisherman it is just an other way of finding out what the fish our taking making it a better day for our guests our main job.

The lady get’s it so right

Not sure why or how but females on our Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys do rather well maybe its the special female pheromones or the  Ballantyne effect  ” the young lady who caught the UK record salmon ” but they just do.  Last week it was a pleasure yet again to fish with Paul and Carol Constable both have a UK background of freshwater competition fishing and this trip Paul proudly told me of a recent match where Carol was placed right next to top UK Match angler Bob Nudd and soundly beat him.  The weather gods still not on our side this year making it harder than it should be but we found and caught fish every day and yes most days Carol did best.  After many years of watching Carol fish, she came to fishing late in life not to be left at home decided to join Paul on his weekend trips, I think its the female style that brings in the fish not the male  ” battle ” more of slowly, slowly, catchy monkey well what ever it is it works and Carol is one of the best.


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So half way through our now annual four-month Grouper ban and as an avid fish eater the original organic good for you food I tell you it sucks having to put back fish that taste so good.  Just like you guys in the UK having your first bass ban its tough going and I have to ask my self have the boffins got it right and are total ban the way to go. personal I think it’s better to alter the slot take zone always putting back the large egg bearing female fish and maybe altering the keep number one nice fish for the pot seems to be the way to go.  Nearly all large fish are female and on the cooking side of fish biggest is not best anyway and over here in the US the use of the slot system has worked so well on bass and snook its got to be the way to go to keep all sides happy in the mean time roll on May and grilled grouper.

So it’s all his fault

So when your best friend at primary school say  ” hey want to catch some fish after school ” and with nothing better to do I was taken by Martin Arnold to a road run off ditch near his home where by just tying worms to cotton on and with hazel sticks and letting sticklebacks swallow the worm we caught fish.  So started some 54 years ago my love, no passion, OK wife my obsession with fishing yes lately I have had some sett backs but having my best friend Martin back out in the Keys has got the blood flowing again.  What I have always liked about fishing with Martin it’s so much more than the fishing, the silly and I mean silly jokes and the flash backs to our many and some times crazy past fishing adventures but most of all its just his joy of catching fish.  They don’t have to be monsters or do massive jumps or searing runs as long as they take the bait and pull the string its OK by Martin yes the weather was more than trying for his recent last trip but with long time customer Brian Ironman did we all fun you bet !





Our new Capt Mike was more than impressed with Brian’s angling ability it makes a change when you have a guy who is more than capably and willing to do the death roll under the anchor to save a fish what Capt Mike did not know over the years Brian has done this many times and I hope he will come back and do many more.  Found a new mark close in while taking shelter from the strong winds the joy of the Florida Keys and had fun with smooth puffer fish even had one taking bites out of a pelican.  Always good to find new  ” shelter marks ” must break a habit and try them on good days we might be missing out and as they say you never know till you go.




Highlight of Martin and Brian’s week had to be Brian’s epic battle with a 100 lb plus lemon shark on a very light spinning rod this was a classic case of elephants eat pea nuts or rugby plays like prawns but with light hands and Brian’s fishing ability this was only going to end one way and fish to the boat a joy to watch.  So an other week with old buddy and fishing mate and enough fishing good mojo to keep this old and partly broken guy in a good place for an other year thanks Martin see you soon.

Still ticking boxes

Sorry, sorry for the lack of blogs lets just say the new house has been a bit of a challenge but at last we are seeing the light so to speak the problem in the Florida Keys years ago when you wanted so more room you or your friends just added an other room taking power and water as needed and lets say permits and codes were not high on any lists. The down side is that when it goes wrong unless you are the guy who did the work you have no idea on how to put right any problems as we have been having so on Tuesday we have contractors coming in and starting again from source.  Less of my problems and back to the big question how is it fishing ? well despite one of our toughest starts to a year we are still ticking boxes with some stunning fish.





The one thing I love about our Capt Mike is how well he is fitting in and whilst some days my heart meds make me very low it is more than compensated by the highs of Capt Mike but last week even he had a reality check.  Capt Mike likes to ask our new guests as he did with Dylan, Bruce and Brian  ” what is you biggest fish ever  ”  and then he says  “no problem we can do way better than that ”  however this was not the case last week.  The reply from our new boys was  500 lb , 600 lb and near 800 lb they were a seasoned marlin crew which even makes our goliath grouper seem small. However they all had a desire to tick a few boxes grouper and bull shark being two and so for Capt Mike and myself it was game on and the Florida Keys did not disappoint.



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I always say you can tell true fishermen and this was very much the case with Dylan’s party yes the weather did not play ball ever day and when it is not perfect you can only catch what is there but hell have fun and enjoy as the saying goes a less than perfect day’s fishing beats any day working.  Over the 12 years of doing Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys people often ask have you seen any changes and the answer is yes the water is not as clear as it used to be, we have fish we never used to have and yes despite global warming it is a lot colder in winter.  Does this affect the fishing well no the fish just adapt and some of the new ones are fun take the large puffer fish they pull more than you think and as they also say it’s all about having fun with a rod in your hand.

El Nino ?

A massive sorry for the lack of blogs but with the toughest start of the year weather wise since the frost of  09  yes we had a frost in the Keys and the move to the new Villa not as smooth as I hoped, but we are getting there but more to the point we are still catching and ticking boxes.  So is it El Nino or global warming or climate change not made my mind up yet but one thing is that it sucks.  Have to feel for poor Karen and Sam our first guys of 2016 they had to put up with rain, thunder and lightning, wind and cold in fact over their week the sea temps dropped a full 12 degrees on the coldest day the sea was just 56.  I have to give a full 10 out of 10 to the both of them they stuck at it and had some great fishing most of all I had to admire the lets just enjoy what we can catch, as fishing should be.


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I think the best day they had was when Capt Mike put them on a mess of Bluefish these are one group of fish that winter in the Keys from up north and dont mind the cold water at all.  Looking very like are UK bass but the difference is sett of teeth any piranha would be proud of best of all when you find them they are on the 24/7 feeding frenzy so it is smiles all round and a fish a chuck as a guy once said  ” just like UK lure fishing but with fish “.  Karen also up her PB from 100 lb to over 150 lb a stunning black tip shark and well done yet again Capt Mike this one was for an anchor rope wrap but with the Capt mike body roll  (  will have to get it on video  ) it was only ever coming to the boat.  So once again sorry for the weather but hope you have some good memories and please come back with a case of warm calm days.

Mac attack

Well as we start an other year of Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys there were many dark days and nights when I was in main cardiac unit rigged up to god knows how many heart monitors thinking that my personal fish the dream was over.  However thanks to a stunning Scottish heart unit and team I am, with a list of not to do’s and 5 million health insurance and the stirling help of Capt Mike who I still cant thank enough go to go for 2016.  The start of the year is such a special time in the Florida Keys one of my personal best times ok we dont have the 100 lb  plus tarpon but if you like your rod bent and the sound of a screaming drag we have more than enough toothy critters to do just that.  Top of my favorite winter fish are all the mackerel from the fish a cast Spanish and Cero to the  ” will the run ever end I am running out of line ” King Mackerel.




mikes crew

During the winter months of course we have our run of seasonal sailfish nearly as iconic as our tarpon a site that will live with you for ever the first jump then the please dont get off stage to the sight of a lighted up fish by the boat and the colours are just amazing.  Then the money shot of you holding your first sailfish and many many years of bragging rights go on bore people you have earned it.  With all the mackerel in the bay the shark are on fire all over the place and it was at this time of year we sett our shark to the boat record some 63 fish for 4 fishermen they could have had more but could hardly talk let alone fish.



So grime reaper you missed me last year its going to take a lot more than three heart attacks to put this old sea dog down I have far to many people’s dreams to make come true and boy do I love it.

Review of the year part two A. H. A.

First a massive Happy New Year to all our past present and future customers at Fish the Dream Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys.  Why A. H. A well for all of you out there it stands for after heart attacks of which during the summer of 2015 I had not one but three and each time dodged the grime reaper this old sea dog was not going down with out a fight.  There was a time lying in the cardiac unit connected to god knows how many monitors that 2016 seemed a long way off and my fishing the dream even a longer way off.  However the good news ticker under control with a mix of meds and a long list of no goes and not to do’s but mainly due the help of Capt Mike the holidays are going from strength to strength.  So back on the boat strange that is less than a year I can no longer even do the anchor or ever leader a big one and even I will not say no to Mike and under orders from my wife he is now my keeper, well at least for the next year.  Great to see Lolly and Richard back this autumn these two in my opinion certainly have got it so right not good weather but they both just love catching fish which to me is all it is about.





The one thing the second half of the year had special was the amount of big african pompano way more than in past years and just an other fish to enjoy on the gulf wrecks looking more like rooster fish than pompano with all there streamers.  Ever year we get more wrecks to fish in the gulf and they all have our favorite O. M. G fish the goliath grouper its only a matter of time and I am sure we will get one of the granders  1000 lbs  back to the boat I am more than sure there are some down there.  Not sure why but we have just one wreck that always has a good stock of very large barracuda which seem to think they are marlin with some of the biggest jumps you will ever see and along with some very large jacks way more fun than you should ever have with a spinning rod.






So my highs of the year number one with out a doubt finding Capt Mike he has just fitted in so well way more than my expectations and all of my crews have said the same, well done and the deepest thanks from Helen my wife and me.  Also a high was the week with friend and local fishing buddy from the north of England Rupert Dury and friends after all my trips on his boat and all my Florida stories the pressure was on but the Keys lived up to their name as the Sport Fishing Capital of the World.  Boxes were ticked even the bull shark came to say high on just mono traces and I lost count of the words of amazement as yet an other monster came to the boat and screaming reels just screaming job done.


We have a very special opportunity this year we have had a single angler drop out of a holiday  4 th Feb to 10 th Feb as we have taken payments we can offer this trip at a very low price.  I am often asked about single places but never have any so just get in touch and we can talk, a stunning time of the year not to hot and fish everywhere.

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So new years resolution well after my  ” Annus Horribilus ” 2015 just to see in 2017 will do for me !