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Hurricane Irma

It will not of gone unnoticed to all fishermen who follow this blog and the stories about our Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys that Hurricane Irma made a direct landfall just to the west of Marathon and at a cat 4 strength  with winds over  160 mph.  Not just the winds but on the south side of the islands took the full force of a near 12 ft surge tide which when you live on an island where the highest point is just 8 ft above sea level means flooding.  I was very lucky with all my friends help the boat was taken out weighted down with water and it was on the north side of the island.  Irma with an eye of over 50 miles has caused massive destruction in the Keys around  25 % of homes have just gone and I mean gone and very few escaped damage of some sort flooding being the worst.  Bait and tackle shops hit very hard with some losing all at ground level my heart goes out to all it has happened before and sadly will happen again but the Keys are strong they will rebuild.  So where has it left Fish the Dream and our holidays out of respect to all in the Keys who are in a much worse situation that us we have put on hold our operation for the rest of the year starting again in 2018 when I am sure normal life will return.

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To me the Keys come to life in January it the peak of the winter mackerel migration full on sport with spanish, cero and king mackerel.  Weather is at its best height of the dry season very pleasant high 70’s and low 80’s and much less mosquitoes.  It’s also good to get away from the getting longer UK winter and just to post-Christmas pick up people seem to want a tan in Jan always works.  It’s also a great time of the year for a serious species hunt base record is still 55 for 6 days fishing and in all fairness now with 127 species to the boat this should fall very soon.  Along with the mackerel come the men in grey coats the shark are not very far behind you have two options stay and enjoy them or move.  Offshore there is the winter run of sailfish and tuna one a fight and spectacle to stay with you for a lifetime and one if you like eating fish a taste to stay a lifetime.

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So please take this as an apology for having to shut down for the rest of the year but I hope you can see why and Fish the Dream will be back fighting fit  2018.

 

 

 

New regs ?

One of the fish that seems to tick a lot of boxes for an angler on one of our Fishing Holidays in the Florida is the goliath grouper.  It’s big we have had them to near 500 lbs, it stays on the same wrecks all year-long, it takes nearly any bait, it stays on the hook and it gives you a work out that you will remember for a very long time.  It has been one of the more noticeable success stories of fish conservation of the Florida Wildlife Commission.  Back in 1990 the numbers were in rapid decline due to over fishing and it’s not the smartest cookie in the box living on small wrecks and even coming out to see fishermen.  So being large and a grouper a very easy pay-day for many a commercial fisherman with restaurants  being able to sell it as grouper everyone was happy except the grouper and some wrecks every grouper was taken.

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So in 1990 a total ban on taking of goliath grouper note I say taking not fishing and it goes to show how a total ban of commercial and sport fisherman works and we see the results now.  A few years ago on just one wreck we had over 50 and it could have been more but my guys were fish out.  With the very obvious increases in  numbers this year the FWC have been having a series of local workshops to look at the possibility of a limited harvest again.  My own personal view is this could more than work here you have an apex predator that grows to huge weights not by eating salads and some days its hard to get any other fish past them.

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We at Fish the Dream have to give a big thanks to angling journalist Jim Whippy for our success it bringing big fish back to the boat.  In our early years we just drifted across the wrecks but the power of the big ones more than often resulted in the fish getting back to the wreck and breaking off.  Jim had a long think about and came up with a two part plan.  One anchor up tide of the wreck and get the fish with lots of chum to come to you.  Two hook up at the back of the boat then drag the fish to the front of the boat getting line back by the walk and wind method.  If you just stand and pump when the line goes slack the fish can turn its head then its all over as it gets back to the wreck.

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We found the best bait by accident one day we were fishing and one of the anglers had a very nice cobia ( yum yum ) so I was standing by with the gaff then the other angler had a small shark on.  Not want to miss out on the cobia I told the guy with the shark to hold on till we had the cobia in just hold the fish in the water by the boat it was only about 40 lbs so no problem.  Next we all heard a cry and some very strong words what had happened was one of those moments that will be with you for the rest of your life.  The water had gone very dark and a monster grouper maybe one of those fish that gets near 1000 lbs had come up and just taken the shark in one gulp all gone and one very shocked angler.

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Now its my go to bait in the Keys and we have two smaller shark the blacknose and the sharpnose that can get to plague numbers so taking one or two for bait no problem not sure why but large grouper go out of there way to take this bait.  Also I have to say Fish the Dream I think started the craze of swimming with goliath.  Many years ago regular  Kevin Whincup had a monster by the boat and I mentioned that it was always hard to judge the size it was shame that no one would go in.  Splash  Kev  was in a by the fish and boy did it look big mad maybe but you have to say one hell of a photo.