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A Homer moment !

Some days even in paradise the weather sucks, see my good friend Henry Gilbey is also not having the best of the weather in Ireland as well. Just think if you and a friend are planning a holiday of a lifetime in Florida and the girls are letting you take your sons on a days fishing as a treat in the Florida Keys you watch the blog for a year then a hurricane comes along. We are not getting the worst of hurricane Sandy but it has screwed are fishing big time strong north winds all week and the sea temps dropped 12 degrees. So when poor John gave me a call about his booked day I had to say it was not going to be a normal day we would get out and we would catch fish but it would only be a fraction of what we normally do. We started off in the mangroves very calm waters but very cold waters lots of small fish but shark was on Johns wish list so of to the rougher waters to see what we could find. Fist stop to rough and at Fish the dream I always put the guests first so closer in and a lot nicer seas and fish a plenty. So nice to see young guys doing well just like me when I was that age and young Joe made me smile when he said let me show you Dad you do just like this. We had brought some fine keeper lane snapper to the boat when I had my Homer moment went to get the blog cam then doh ! cleaned the camera and had left it in the house sorry guys the first time in 8 years. Found a nice pic of a big lane snapper caught by Tim Keating this year sorry guys it will not happen again an age thing me thinks.

Well we did get John his shark not a big one in fact we had three species of shark in total of a mixed bag of 20 species of fish. Fish of the day it was so hectic I can’t remeber who caught was a stunning cero mackerel one for the pot. Moral of the story old men have crap memories and no matter what the weather you will catch fish in the Florida Keys yes I am one very lucky guy.

Stunning new reel

I am testing and evaluating a new reel for Snowbee UK the reel is a totally new make to the market being made by Release Reels in the USA. The first thing that grabs you about the reel is the handle firstly it does not take a good photo but in the hand it just works. The guys at Release just worked with putty to come up with the perfect handle and that after nearly 40 years of using fishing reels is what they have done in my opinion. They have set the retrieve at a high speed of 6.1 giving 38 in of line retrieve per rotation just perfect for all sorts of fishing. As with nearly all reels now the drag is a proprietary design carbon one giving a smooth and consistent drag, we will see very soon what the shark think of that my drag testing team here in the Florida Keys. The bearings are a mix of ceramic and stainless again  Release has found that in certain places ceramic is far better to deal with salt than stainless. The gears are again stainless and have been made for light weight but with no flex also Release have patented a new reverse gear box design. The entire reel is 100 % CNC machined from certified billet aluminium and stainless to very high tolerances.

After starting out production in the far east Relese soon took the desion to bring it all back to the USA and now the reel is 100 % designed machined and assembled in Virginia USA. Have a look at the reel bridges by shaping them the small reel has a line capacity of an amazing 500 yds of 50 lb braid enough and more for any fishing in the UK. An other nice touch is that preset drag is indexed to allow you to keep total control of all drag setting. To my mind and best of all the reel has a life time warranty after talking to the guys at Release by the way it is a very small team all who are fish nuts with passion they are that sure of their reel. So what will it cost I am not sure but I think all in the UK will have a pleasant surprise when Snowbee come up with the UK price. With Snowbees customer care and after market handling I am sure this could be a match made in heaven and with new reels including a fly reel in the pipeline one to watch !

When catching bait is fun

The other day in less than perfect conditions, yes it can happen even in the Florida Keys we ended up taking shelter on an ocean flat. As I have said before these shallow flats just take the wave action off and remain very fishable even on windy days. The chum had brought some small jacks and one was followed by small blacktip shark. Now Tom and Cav were on a light tackle trip but I suggested that even shark were fun on light tackle so they gave it ago. We also had ladyfish in the chum and it was these fish that really brought the smiles. For their size they pull very hard and jump high and often bringing on their local name poor mans tarpon. For shark they are a top bait and in local shark comps some guys will butterfly up to 20 fish and say this brings even more shark than chum.

Nearly all our fish went back to bring smiles to other anglers Tom used one for bait and yes he caught a shark on light tackle and yes it was fun. All this goes to prove a few things, if the weather is bad just find some where to fish and more important match the hatch with the catch. Here in the Florida Keys it is one big food chain and it is just what point you want to get in it with a fishing rod. If catching the bait is fun enough for you then enjoy as they say, if you want to wait it out for the big one then so be it.

Cav’s day

This blog is part two to the amazing day blog but is more about Tom’s wife Cav. I am not sure what it is about female anglers and our fishing holidays, maybe it is the pheromone effect or they all have the legacy of Miss Ballentines record 64 lb salmon but they all seem to catch very well from my boat. Cav is no exception and it is just nice to watch the female touch maybe they tend to fish more than fight if you understand. One thing they all do and take note guys they tend to do what their guide says. The other day Cav was the first to bring a big jack to the boat and then she caught a very strange fish indeed.

Now I have been fishing in the Florida Keys for nearly 20 years and this fish stumped me so pics taken and photos developed of to see people who should now. It was very similar to an african pompano but we have only caught them in deep water and they have never had fin streamers like this one. After a long night on the internet I had a clue a picture of a very young african showed fin streamers and after talking to local guides it was confirmed it was an african pompamo. Why it was so far from home in just 12 ft of water and nearly 30 miles from its normal depth and why they still had fin streamers no one could tell me. Cav was only using a 1/4  oz  jig and 20 lb braid and the runs were amazing she just had the right touch well done. It has been a privilege to fish with Tom and Cav this week and I hope they come back I certainly have some good memories that will last a long time.

Cracking day part one

The guys we have this week are not into big and battling with goliath grouper and massive sharks does not do it for them much more light tackle and lures. This is just fine and I think why our fishing holidays in the Florida Keys work so well, just tell me what you want to catch and how you like to fish and I will try my hardest to make it all work. The weather gods at last gave up near flat calm seas and deep into the Gulf we went to the barracuda wreck for some lure fun. I know that a lot of people who follow this blog fish lures so sorry I am going to make you all very jealous of what happened yesterday. The cuda were there in numbers but just following and a few strikes but no takes but what was also there in numbers was jacks and big ones as well.  The takes on Toms poppers were more like explosions and it is very hard to describe just how hard a 10 lb + jack fights more like a battle than a fight all I know is that Tom and Cav were smiling big time. Fish of the day and I know that Tom did not want any was a shark, the take on the popper was a ” did you see that ” he just nailed it. After a long fight Tom did a very good job we had to get this fish to the boat it was Toms last popper so in it came a net and glove job but we got the popper back.

Part two of the Cracking day blog will have to wait Cav caught not one but two of the most beautiful fish I have every seen in the Florida Keys and what they are I am not sure but will show the pics to day and blog very soon.

Not a bad first day

How many times have we heard the saying you should have been here last week well even in the Florida Keys we sometimes have to say it. Sods law or what ever you call it but last week with the boat out of the water to do new rigging flat clam seas a fish everywhere first party on a fishing holiday arrive and weather goes tits up. As they also say when it gets tough the tough get going we are so lucky in the Florida Keys we can always go fishing not where we would like to be but we are still fishing and catching. So the first day started off with a strong 20 + NE wind so after all the option were discussed we went out to the banks in Florida bay. As these banks come up to just inches deep they knock the waves right down and are very good fishing, first bank birds diving and fish busting. After a short time we found out what was causing the commotion good old jacks and seeing one take a top water popper very cool not big but a start.

Well we move off to an other bank and started the day for earnest and had a  red grouper, we often start fishing with no chum as this brings in to many small bait fish and sharks which can be a pain. With the wind picking up we had a little trouble getting the pick to stick but at last it found hold and after some time we decided to chum and see if we could pull some mackerel and sporty shark. Well the plan worked in fact to well we were soon surrounded but very small and very hungry small shark fun but way to many. Then some one saw a mackerel so a change of tactics and soon we had a few on the boat top bait we ended up with 20 species for the first day and one very fat cero mackerel which was sushi back on the dock.


Garden pests

Back in the UK during our summer stay I spend a lot of time fighting the normal suspects in the garden, rabbits, pigeons and the horrible cabbage white butterfly over here a very different ball game. The number one pain in the yard ( garden ) is the green iguana, this up to four feet long lizard has become a real problem. They are not native but have done very well and have no predators and just the right climate to flourish. Being herbivores they just love flowers and will just trash your plants and being big critters they eat and poo a lot. A few years ago we had a persistent and very deep cold front that stayed for ten days some islands even had a frost the numbers of iguanas dropped dramatically with many deaths but since then they have come back big style. This very green one was in our yard yesterday something about those eyes what nightmares are made of.

Back to the fishing in the Florida Keys, boat back today with all new control cables  and our first fishing holiday starts friday can’t wait. New toys a plenty and new marks when will I ever grow up, not for a very long time I hope, still very hot but fishing reports are very good. We are having an early run of sailfish very close in and they are very near the top of my all time fun fish so fingers crossed.

Tuna time

Back in my beloved Florida Keys, I still find it funny just how many times at an airport people save ” have a nice flight ” have they not done a long haul ! In all fairness I did have a nice flight many years ago, yes I turned left and went into that area of a plane we all dream about, after flying to Florida for so many years I had enough miles and there were seats available. What a different world I would not spend that sort of money but just amazing, it all went to quickly and for the only time in my life I felt sad when the pilot said we will be landing shortly. Back to the Florida Keys a few things to do on the boat and a few mods as well I have left my self a week before the first guys on a fishing holiday so plenty of time the only sad thing the blackfin tuna are very close in. We have been very lucky with tuna and so far have had 6 different species only yellow and blue fin to go think we may have had yellow fin on but spooled both times.

Tuna fishing has changed a lot in all the years I have been fishing in the Florida Keys it all used to be surface trolling fun when its on but very boring when its slow. The famous humps still some where very special to see the sunrise, then the birds, then the tuna more than once we have failed to get all the lines out just mad. The biggest change to tuna fishing has been jigging in fact some boats now don’t troll at all and with the introduction of colour depth line it is a very efficient way to catch fish. It was also very cool to see Steve last year have a tuna on a surface popper as good as it get. The highlight of tuna fishing has to be the taste,  tuna seared on the barbie less than one hour old very, very hard to beat. It is also the only fish you don’t care if the filleting is not perfect all the more to have as sushi, god I feel hungry.