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Archive of entries posted in the year 2011

Time to move

One thing that always comes as bit of a surprise to new anglers to the Florida Keys is the number of times we move. We have a saying in the Keys you can only catch what you can cast to and if there are no fish just move. We are also very lucky that a short move you can be on totally different ground. One wreck can be a bit quite so up sticks and move the change can be very dramatic. Its a lot to do with the tides and movement of baits but there is no point in not catching. Also as anyone who has been on a fishing holiday knows we attract fish to the boat with chum and oil droppers. If you have attracted one species then all you can do is enjoy or move. I some times here people say all we have here is mackerel and blue fish well on the right tackle they can be fun. As everyone who follows this blog knows I love my shark but some times they can be a pain. One very special time they are not welcome is on the permit spawn. As I have blogged before this is just for a few weeks offshore over the wrecks. The permit fight long and hard but if the shark are there its game over. Most of the guides take a sharked fish as on in the cooler so when the limit is reached time to move. I now tell my anglers two lost fish and we move, you are taking spawning fish from many flats so it only seems fair.

This permit was hit by just two shark the top bite a very big fish and the bottom one a massive shark scary or what. It may seem strange but you would think all you would have to do would be put a shark bait down but very rarly will you get a take. It appears it is the struggling of the live fish that starts the attack not the food. 

A very happy and fishy new year to all customers.

Flying fish [ shark ]

During my Christmas break I have been doing a bit of office work and going through some old photos and came across a very special one that was taken about five years ago. As any one on a fishing holiday knows one of my all time personal favorites in the Florida Keys is the black tip or spinner shark.  As a game fish they have it all, long hard runs 100yds no problem, stunning takes and on 30lb spinning rods as good as it gets. Their only down side they can be a pain at the boat I remember an angler confessing after 19 times round the boat and under the anchor that if he had gone passed the bait knife one more time he would have cut the line. The jumps can be spectacular and I rember with this one guest said I think I got it on camara. Normaly with digitals you just get the splash but yes he did it and we have the picture of a shark well out of the water well done.

Looking at my blog stats I see many of you looking at holiday details, please please I am just one click away or if you are old school please call 01668 216173 I will be in the UK till the 11th Jan at least and would love to chat and try to make your dreams come true.


Hi all dragged screaming and shouting into the 21st century by my son and now I am on twitter see how it goes.

The only problem would seem to be no spell check so may be a competition to all followers to spot the most mistakes, prize discount fishing holiday in the Florida Keys

Greetings and 10 + 1

I like many people of my age like to pass of any cock ups as senior moments. Well I had a good one the other day, I also put it down to the extreme cold just getting back from the Florida Keys. Making my top ten list I actually wrote down eleven in fact after running fishing holidays for over seven years I have many more. Well number eleven started of deep in the gulf on a shallow water wreck. Normal fishing, grouper, cobia, jacks and the host of other fish we catch here then up the slick came a shark. Not unusual either but all in the boat went very quite this was a big shark, a very big shark, a we need a bigger boat shark ! I shouted any one want a go and with no hesitation Lee Jasper grabbed the big shark rod. After many years Lee has made the move from customer to good friend and is one of those guys I love to fish with. We were also very lucky to have fresh stingray as baits, a shark favorite. This fish turned and made straight to the bait and took very close to the boat, then fish on. We had no chance of stopping this fish so with over 300yds out and still running we had to follow for any chance. I love to tell customers when I know its very big ” dont worry the first hour sucks ” and this was going to hurt. Well the first hour came and went as did the second hour and this fish was not for giving up. In fact this fish was just towing my 23ft boat where ever it wanted to go and we were many miles from the hook up. I must give all my praise to Lee I think he said something like ” no fish has ever beaten me and this one isnt either “. After 2hrs 25 mins he was right and a 12ft+ hammerhead was by the boat. All local estimates put this fish in the region of 1200 lbs a true monster the scary part is it was taken in just 10ft of water. Lees effort has to right up there as maybe my number one fight, certainly the biggest fish we have had in the Florida Keys. Try as I did no one would get in to give a size comparison but if you get in touch a will let you speak to Lee.

Well an other year comes and goes and Helen and I would like to wish a merry Christmas and a happy new year to all our past, present and future customers at Fish The Dream fishing holidays.

PS I thought this might bring a smile, Christmas in the Florida Keys.

PPS Lee is the guy on my home page left hand side holding one of his many tarpon.

Top five

Carrying on from my 100th blog here are my top five in no order except number one. First a stunning white marlin caught by Gerry from Gerrys of Morecambe. Gerry came out a few years ago and had a truly fantastic trip not only a good sailfish but our only white marlin. These fish are far from common in the Florida Keys and this one took a top water trolled bait. After a few jumps it went very deep and just stayed down. But with constant pressure from Gerry it gave up and came up for its photos. Gerry runs a top shop in Morecambe, an old school mail order operation and now a full on website go from my link and check him out.

Next what still might be our most attractive fish a young tiger shark. Being small all the spots are concentrated just an amazing fish. This one took a bait being fished from our kite which is normally set out for cobia and king mackerel. The take was explosive and then long hard runs but we were all shocked when at last we all saw the fish. Kite fishing works so well as the fish only sees the belly of the bait as the trace, leader and line are all held up out of the water by the kite. After the take and the line comes out of the line clip the fish has many feet of slack line which helps as well.

 A stunning sailfish was taken by Alan Keating one day trolling. What stands out about this fish sailfish had been on Alans wish list for some time. We were trolling in patch weed which can be a pain to say the least but the first cry ” weed again ” turn very quickly with the screaming drag to ” fish on ”  The jumps and tail walking display of a sailfish just have to be seen to be believed. Then the way the fish can light up its fins at the boat just amazing. Alan and his brother Tim have joined the group of people who have gone from customers to good friends and often coming twice a year.

Our monster permit was an other surreal day. Fishing on the offshore wrecks during the spawn we were having a very good day when a shoal of very big fish came into sight. In fact they were so big none of us thought that they were permit we only had crabs so one was thrown out to the fish. The only sad part of the day it was the smallest fish that turned and took the bait then all hell broke out. These wrecks are in just over 100ft and hooked permit just use all the water. That massive permit tail does the damage they just don’t give up ask Cian and his friends from this year. This near 50 lb fish just ripped the angler apart but went back fine to carry on its spawn, there were fish well over the record in that shoal.

I am often asked by anglers on our fishing holidays what is my best every fish. Well it is not even one I caught and my 13 lb 7 oz bonefish is up there at the top. But it has to be our encounter with a whale shark still gets the hairs on the neck standing. We were fishing on the pemit mark offshore when the cry went up from the other boats  ” shark shark ” This is not uncommon here as with the spawn come many shark and can end a days fishing but when we saw the size of the dorsal fin we knew that this was special. We got close and were meet with a very special sight. Its hard to put in words this fish was much bigger than my 23ft boat and in the crystal clear waters of the Florida Keys just of the charts. They can grow to over 40 ft and get to near 50,000 lb spending up to 70 years just slowly swimming and feeding mainly on plankton.

I hope this list has whetted your appetite, just stop dreaming and come on and Fish the Dream !

100 th Blog

Looking at my blogs the other day it came to my notice that this is my 100th.  So its sorry to all of you that you have had to put up with my poor English and substandard photos but I hope I have over time given you a flavour of the fishing in the Florida Keys. With this being the 100th I have decided to try and list my top ten fish in the 7 years of running fishing holidays. One thing that became evident very early on its not all about the fish but the people have become very important as well. Take John Aplin he started of as a customer and over the years has become a good friend. So much so when I needed help to run Fish the Dream he was my number one choice and a very good job he did. His passion and professionalism is hard to beat just take a look at his website  and now he is offering accommodation and exclusive chalk stream fishing. He is a guy who does what it says on the tin and then some. The photo is John and Jim Whippy with a stunning tarpon just look at Johns smile it says it all.

Number two, and these fish are in no order except my number one, is the first near 400lb grouper we got to the boat. When we found a mark that has a big number of very big grouper we had a problem getting them back. It took an elder statesman of boat fishing Jim Whippy to come up with what we now call the Whippy walk. This entails striking the fish at the transom then walking with the rod under full load to the bow then walking back down the boat to get line back. Well this works big time not ever allowing the fish to turn its head and has accounted for grouper to near 500lb, thanks Jim.

Back to tarpon in at number three is are first and maybe last over 200lb tarpon. Last year we started to use the length and girth tables from the bonefish and tarpon trust to give us weights to 2lb on all are tarpon and this one went to 209lb. It also started the boat rule if it is a good one more than one camera as we lost over 20 photos as the boat camera had gone of auto and we lost all the pics. Never mind Chis and you had on very proud dad and maybe a bit jealous you will just have to catch a bigger one Kevin.

Coming in at number four maybe the strangest fish we have ever caught and we have had two, the giant sawfish. These fish have changed little since the cretaceous period over 100 million years ago when they reached their final evolution then just stopped and survived to today. They do go a lot bigger than our two in fact they get to over 24ft in length and reach weights over 5000lb so our two both at 16ft and 800lb are just pups. In fact I have to admit to a little jump when pull the leader up on our first one and being greeted with a 5ft saw.

Number five are the two big king macerel of Rob Shipley one of our Jersey boys. Coming for over 5 years Rob always comes up with something special. What still brings a smile to my face is that after the first big one had nearly killed him the second he put his bait back in he had the other one. Gultton for punishment or what.

Next five on next blog and yes my best fish ever in the Florida Keys you will have to wait.

Florida Keys facts

At least the snow has gone and its warmed up to 4 all my friends in the Keys email and say WHY I must say each winter it gets harder to come home for Christmas but still think the UK tops it just. I have been getting a lot of emails from people asking very basic Florida Keys questions before they book a fishing holiday so will blog a few facts. Firstly you WILL catch whenever you come we are very lucky in the Keys with a massive list of sports fish, no commercial fishing and a very heavily controlled regulations all designed to sport fishermen happy. Weather is not a problem either and with all the different locations to fish will will always find somewhere to fish and have had fish over 100lb deep in the mangroves with it blowing crazy in the open water. I like to tell people you can divide the weather mainly into two seasons with a few months over lap. The winter season when temps are in the mid to high 70s   25 to 28 ish and dryer about 1 in rain a week. To the summer season up to the high 80s  30 to 35 and a lot wetter up to 5 in a week and a lot more humid. It is worth noting the Keys has never had a temp over 100 being surrounded by water it probably never will. The hurricane season starts 1st June and goes on till November 30th peaking august we have been very lucky for the last 4 years and long may it continue. Next question what will I catch and when is the best time. Most fish can be caught at all times but certain fish will peak at certain times we have now caught 107 different species and our on week record stands at 55. The one exception to this rule is the big 100lb + tarpon. We only see big numbers or these fish as they migrate and spawn and pass through the Keys April may and June yes we will catch the first in march and have had them in july but it is not really worth the effort.

Tarpon tend to get under peoples skin and many people think they are the ultimate game fish. Hard to catch, jump, run, and when over 100lb just look amazing. Pemit spawn on the offshore wrecks for a very short time in may and just have to fished for to believe it many think they pull the hardest of any game fish.

Mackerel peak in the winter months as do sailfish but we have had some very big sailfish in may and mackerel in September. Shark, grouper, snapper, barracuda, rays, jacks and all the many other fish just feed in different areas as the seasons change. One thing is certain your dreams will come true whenever you come.

Welcome home ?

Back in the UK for our Christmas break it was a bit surreal after having an other calm hurricane season in the Florida Keys to arrive back at Edinburgh airport during the worst storm in ten years. The highlands recorded winds over 165 mph even at low levels the tay bridge had a 106 mph gust. We had winds to 90 mph some 15 mph greater than a cat 1 hurricane much damage I am sure you have seen it all on the TV.  It is still amazing one plane trip it is all so different getting on the plane at Miami the weather had been typical early winter for Florida high 70s and low 80s to the UK cold wet and windy such is life. Our second day even stranger the winds have gone and after a very cold night -5  woke up to 6in snow just the weather gods letting me know where I was.

Don’t get me wrong I look forwards to this trip it is nice to see all my children three, and all my grandkids three, as well and all the cold lets me know just how lucky I am to do what I do.The Florida Keys is just a special place and after all the years I have grown to love it dearly. But to me the biggest kick I get is making peoples dreams come true, to plan, to go and to catch is just so good it still gives me a very special feeling. Just go back through my blog and look at peoples faces you will see what I mean.

Back here getting ready for an other year in Florida please please if you have any questions about our fishing holidays just get in touch email or call 01668 216173  Yes I love to talk fishing and now is a good time gets me out of wrapping presents and I know I can make your dreams come true.  As one guest said recently it is not what I imagined its so much better he had just had a 300lb+ grouper.  Go on get in touch you know it makes sense.

What the hells this?

I am lucky after fishing in the Florida Keys for over 12 years and having over 100 species to the boat I can call most fish long before we see them. Yes it does help knowing where you are what you are targeting and how you are fishing and what bait you are using. Sometimes I do get it wrong take our first giant sawfish at well over 800lb I got it well wrong but it was our first one. One fish that always confuses a new angler on his first fishing holiday is the stingray or to give it its full name the southern stingray.

These can turn up anywhere in Florida Bay not just on sandy bottoms and normally take a live bait on the ledger. The speed and power of the run most guys just shout shark but they do give themselves away. Most times after the run they stop try to bed in soft areas then run again in a different direction. We have had plenty over 100lb and they do go big record is now 246lb that must have gone like an express train. This one near 80lb was taken by Kevin last week and was one lucky puppy. Why well as a shark bait they are the finest and at local shark comps a fish like this would make many 100 dollars. As we are going back to the UK for Christmas this one was sent back on its way. It was on a piece of fresh stingray that regular Lee Jasper had his epic 2hr 25min fight with are all time Fish the Dream PB a hammerhead well over 1200lb enough said.

Plan B

The one thing that after over seven years of doing fishing holidays here in the Florida Keys that still blows people away is the options of things to do and the variety of fish to catch. The other day at our breakfast meeting with a good break in the weather, offshore was the plan. A normal day for Brits offshore is a start of wrecking, a bit of trolling then end up with the pick down in about 110ft. This day did not go completely to plan it was a lot rougher than we all thought, fish were on the wrecks but not feeding.  This has been explained to me that unless the boat is drifting with the bait all the baits we put down look very unnatural. Or as a local once told me driving the wrong way in a drive in burger restaurant you won’t get served. With some of the crew getting a bit green we decided to troll always a good option as the boat is a lot more stable a with a few sails being taken we did not need to go far out. This time of year most sails are taken in less than 150ft and some go right up onto the reef in less than 40ft so a zig zag pattern was sett up on the edge of the reef in 100ft. We did not even get the fourth line out bang a rod went and the shout fish on not a sail but a nice dorado.

Strange this time of year but nice the dorado were feeding big style in the shallows and just on the edge of the reef. Nothing big and not the sails we were after but as I often say you can only catch what is there. Just what the doctor ordered nothing like a fish to take the green gills way and we kept a few for the table. Ended the day at anchor in 110ft  a few small shark to the boat and a mix of bottom fish and an other good day in the Florida Keys.