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If there is one fish that light up people on fishing holidays in the Florida keys or locals on a charter or just out on there own it is the cobia.

   These hard fighting fish tick all the boxes for most people, long hard runs and can fight deep with great stamina. They also have a little trick of saving something for the fight in the boat and with a very impressive sett of dorsal spines can be a handful to say the least. Size wise common from 20 to 5olb and sometimes up to 80lb Florida record 130. Table fare right up there with the best smoked or fresh all are guests when they take fillets to the local restaurants are more than happy. We catch them everywhere from the shallow gulf wrecks to the edge of the reef to swimming free in the deep blue. They aslo like to swim with a big host from manta ray to big shark and if we ever see a big host have the cobia rod ready to pitch a bait. If hungry they will take anything Henry had a nice one last week on a soft plastic on the bottom, and Lee and Alan had two nearly identical ones one the same wreck a week before.

Permit or Pompano

Last week during Lee’s fishing holiday his friend Alan had a fine popano on a shallow gulf wreck and the next day Lee had a good permit on a deep water wreck in the Atlantic so its interesting to compare the two similar fish.The pompano has a forehead that slopes back gently, the tail fin is more upright and a shorter anal fin. The permit has a humped forehead, narrower tail fin and a longer sloped back anal fin. It is very easy to see how they get mistaken, both now have the same take size limits not less than 11in or more than 20in and a bag limit of no more than 6. Not that any one would want to keep permit but pompano are top table fare with white very firm meat and in the surf can be found in big numbers.

Size they are very different permit going to over 50lb Florida record 56lb, we have been very lucky and our PB was a stunning 48lb, that taken on the wreck Henry is having so much fun on. Pompano a lot smaller common at 2lb can grow to 8lb Florida record 8lb 4oz so Alan had a good one forgot to weigh it. So many people think they have smashed the pompano record only to find they have only caught a small permit. Back to Henrys wreck the difference this year is no sharks why I don’t know why normally the permit are hounded by shark but not this year long may it continue.

More PB’S

Hope your all keeping up with Henry Gilbeys blog talk about the Florida Keys being on fire and at last managed to get a dorado for Henry and not trolling. Back to last week and Lee Jaspers fishing holiday, Lee has been very lucky in the Florida Keys and some amazing PB’S with us and holds the boat big fish PB at over 1000lb yes 1000lb what a fight over 2hrs and talk about pain. That fight with that hammerhead shark in just 10ft of water so surreal it seems like a dream but it did happen. Lee in my opinion is the complete angler and has just as much pleasure in catching small fish as all those monsters and will match the catch with the hatch. I have said in the past and will say again I think if you lose the enjoyment of catching small fish you are losing a large part of the joy of fishing. I still remember the smile on Paul Youngs face as he was catching perch on a canal in Scotland on TV and that man has caught big fish all over the world.

Last week Lee had these two fish a trout and a cero mackerel not monsters but PB’S for Lee and just look at the smiles. Both fish on the right tackle put up hard scraps and make the complete fishing experience here. If you like eating fish these two are right up there with the best, cero also are top sushi fish and are as good as tuna we always carry the sushi kit and many more anglers now are will to try sushi, cant wait to try it on are mackerel back in the UK this summer.

Tarpon smiles

Firstly Henry Gilbey is back here again and this time he has brought some serious lure anglers to let me see what can be done on those little red rods and the beating one took on a 80+ shark yesterday left me cold awesome. To find out how Henry and friends are doing he is doing a daily blog on his website at so have a look. Back to my blog last week regular and friend Lee Jasper was back out with a newbie to the Florida Keys Alan and what a week they had. Lee is back out again in a few weeks so maybe this week was just a dry run but they had the weather and the fish so fingers crossed for his next trip. Sometimes I wonder if I am running fishing holidays or is it a wish list supermarket but guests keep asking so I just tick the boxes. Top of Lees list was a big tarpon to the boat as nearly all his friends had had one so off we went. Tarpon cause more heartache and grief than most fish but when it goes right more smiles than most.

This fish was only 112lb but lead us on a merry dance for over 1 hr and talk about close to the concrete bridge, inches and tide run and in the dark, and going backwards. All in a days work but it was worth it a few heart stopping moments when a shark took a run at Lees fish but it stayed on. Tarpon I think are top of the game list for most people they do it all run, jump go big and look the part but think of us poor skips we have to go through the mill as well. But when it all goes right it is worth it Lee just smiled all day he just did so well, top marks.

The wreck please

The one thing about this blog it can change what we do I think for the better. For the last few weeks we have been have great fun with the amberjacks on a wreck in 200ft offshore and as this is a good start point for trolling we seem to start here now. Last week with the Keating boys it was can we have a go on the AJs as well so like a good skip off we go. This wreck is insane at the moment the jigs just don’t make the bottom and the hit is so hard.

The take on the live baits on the bottom can be very subtle but when you try to bring the fish up all hell breaks out. In these two photos you can see the pain and pleasure of AJ fishing this is why they call them reef donkeys. Just one of the hard fighting fish in the Florida Keys but a good work out to start a days offshore fishing.

Blacktip or Spinner

Here in the Florida Keys we are blessed with many fine game fish and these are two fine shark that tick all the boxes. Yes they are two different species one the blacktip Carcharhinus limbatus and the spinner Carcharhinus brevipinna. Very similar shark and both VERY hard fighting fish long 100yd + runs lots of jumps and both a pain at the boat. Boat PB for going under the anchor rope 19 times and the angler said if I had gone past the fish knives one more time I was going to cut the line. I was shown some years ago how to hold these fish and when after a long hard fight my guide said do you want a photo of this fish on your lap I thought he was crayz but if you hold them in the first gill slit they freeze. On Alan and Tim’s last fishing holiday we had one windy day and these fish saved the day Alan had one spinner well over 100lb near 150lb and Tim a blacktip near 100lb long runs and Alan’s spinner jump so many times we thought it was on a audtion for sea world.

See if you can spot the difference between the two fish it is mainly in the anal fin areas but very hard to spot. The one thing these fish do is fight fair, no running to the rocks and very little wants to eat them during the fight. I say that but some years ago during a fight of a 50lb + blacktip a big and I MEAN big tiger picked up the fish but let go. This is just one stunning place to fish and all this happens in less than 10ft of water.

Ticking boxes

Regulars Alan and Tim Keating were here last week and despite coming twice a year for many years now have never done a spring trip. So with a lot more different species around it was a different wish list. Top of Alans list was a big tarpon unfortunately they had come at a poor time for the tides as you need a good run at dawn to be certain of fish at 7 mile bridge. First morning Alan hook a big permit and all was going well till the men in grey coats nailed the permit. Second morning a good 100lb + fish for Alan and all was going well away from the bridge and all going well then a big jump and spit hook. I do tell anglers that if you have caught 1000+ tarpon you will still lose 4 out of 5 fish but it still sucks. Next morning on the tarpon all going well big tarpon on for Alan and fish out from the bridges and into the calm waters of the bay. Then an express run over 100yds then the water erupted then nothing yes shark attack again. Guess Alan will just have to come back again to tick that one.

Tim has still to catch a dorado and asked could he catch a different grouper well this one was going to be a bit easier. A calm day dawned so offshore we went and yes we stopped at the wreck see next blog. Trolling or dragging I have to say is not my favorite way to fish but when it is over 100 in the sun it sometimes is the only thing to do. After a short time we found some weed and a few feeding birds and I said this looks fishy and bang a rod went off. Tim did a fine job and a stunning dorado was by the boat and by feeding chunks we kept them and caught a few more keeping just 2 for eating. I decide to take Tim to our new grouper mark for a red as he has never had one and yes they were there but as Alan said grouper just don’t do fair and Time lost a few. But top marks to Tim he stuck it out and one very lucky grouper the last day of the ban was boated.

The big one

At last a photo of the big 209lb tarpon, it has been taken of a video during the fight so not up to normal quality. Let this be a warning if you have the fish of a life time use more than one camera.

We did take very accurate measuremants of this fish and at 80in long and a girth of 44in worked out at the bonefish and tarpon trust calculater this was a 209lb tarpon. Chris was one very lucky angler came on a fishing holiday in the Florida Keys with a PB of 1.5lb and left with a fish many anglers will try all their lives to catch. My advice get the t shirt and retire.

Not all plain sailing

Firstly sorry for the lack of blogs two of my good friends are back and 3 am starts and 12 hour fishing days leave us old guys wrecked but a nice wrecked. Back to the party last week newcomers to Fish the Dream had a very hard week. I must say how impressed I was the way they all stuck to the task despite some trying weather. They must have know it was going to be doomed from the start. They missed a flight connection in New York due to an unannounced gate change to find the next flight full and when they got to Fort Lauderdale missed the last flight to Key West. So bite the bullet and pay for a very long taxi ride, o and the bags had been lost as well. So you can imagine how they felt when mother nature put her bit in and gave us high winds as well. Their wish list was a simple one they just wanted to catch a big fish no problem but when things are going bad they just don’t seem to get any easier. Not being able to get on the Atlantic or any of our good wrecks did not help but we all kept trying for that big one. We had many a nice mixed bag on banks and cuts including some acrobatic needle fish and on one day lost 4 big fish I suppose that’s why they call it fishing not catching.

On their last day we all decided just to go for it and tough it out on our goliath wreck on arriving yes the seas were big one person was not very well so gave him a shark to fight and he felt better and I was confident about the big one. Well when we say big we were not wanting what happened next the goliath rod went on something VERY and I mean VERY big. This fish dragged two full grown men under full drag down the boat and slammed us into the transom before departing. I have had fish to near 500lb from this wreck and this was a lot bigger and just left everyone speechless. Well at last it did start to go right a nice 120lb fish for Dave and a near 200lb for Tonys son at last the boxes ticked. The fishing stayed hot all day with plenty of hard fighting shark in fact we lost count after your flight and bad weather you all deserved it.