Skip to content
Archive of entries posted on

Last trip 2012

Later on today I am driving up to Fort Lauderdale to pick up Martin and Brian who make our last trip of 2012 and what a year I think in will take three blogs to review 2012 it has been such a year. Martin is my oldest friend and next year we will have been fishing together for 50 years. Who would ever have guessed that two young boys catching sticklebacks in a pond in surrey would end up offshore on a sportfishing boat in the Florida Keys. There have been so many fishing trips and holidays in the past just to many to mention but Martin at a very young age came very close to braking the wrasse record on one of our trips to Alderney. Well this trip of Martin and Brian is a very low key trip I still have numbers I have never fished so if all goes well we will be trying out some offshore wrecks in 200 ft big AJs , grouper and mutton snapper I hope.

Release Reels are sending me the all finished reel and I think Snowbee are very close to taking them on for Europe I think the new reel will be awesome they have done a few mods to an already very good reel. As a small company making reels here in the US and not having a massive range they are offering a lifetime warranty that are that sure of the reel. The handle which in my opinion is one of the main selling points just looks wrong but when you grip it it is just so right. Keep a look on Snowbees website and I am sure the reel will be on sale soon. Trying some new rod holders this week they go at 90 degrees to the roof and work very well for mini outriggers and would work in the UK for bass or pollock trolling  at very little expense giving a good separation between baits.

Bad weather cure

It seems all you guys in the UK are going through a bad period of weather, well one cure to get the feel good factor back is to book a fishing holiday. A few years ago I ran an advert in UK mags under the theme ” Just how much time and money do you spend not catching fish ” and I am sure if you do the maths you will be surprised. While I can’t promise every day here in the Florida Keys it will be flat calm but I can promise we will catch fish every day and we will be out in my boat every day. The Florida Keys are a chain of small islands surrounded by deep and shallow water, bridges, banks and mangroves offering fishing no matter what ever the wind. Best of all many years ago the powers realized the value of sport fishing and all our fishing is very strictly controlled and getting better.

Here at Fish the Dream fishing holidays we must be doing something right as we are at nearly 75% repeat customers and some guys now on the 8th trip and some even coming twice a year. From the start I have always tried to put the angler first, start when you want, fish for what you want, and finish when you want. I only have two weeks left for the first half of 2013 one in Jan and one in Feb a very nice time of the year our dry season and cooler temps high 70s and low 80s. All our winter fish will be full on expect sailfish, tuna, mackerel and shark to name just a few we have now had 110 species to the boat and an average week it is always nearly 50. Normally after Christmas the airlines have a sale so tickets can be very affordable and we give free car hire. To fill my diary I am willing to talk deals so just get in touch and let me take away the blues and put a smile back on your face.

Bluefish bank

The last morning with Alan and Tim was a  plan B morning the night before plans were made for a dawn start offshore for kings and sails but waking in the dark the weather gods had said NO ! With 15 to 20 mph winds in the old days I would have stayed close and had fun in the mangroves but now tend to push through the bad seas and get to bluefish bank some 15 miles north west of Marathon. This a large bank round in shape and coming up to 3 ft so not matter what direction the wind it always has a lee side and very fishable in winds up to 25 mph the joys of the Florida Keys. The good old cat punched through the seas and in no time we were fishing there is so much bait here Tim was able to just dip net bait at the side of the chum it was hard to get a bait back just so many mackerel and blue fish but some times a bigger bait would get back and shark to 100 lbs were the reward.

The bluefish are interesting just like the UK bass but with a very serious sett of teeth and attitude they don’t go big at about 1 to 3 lbs some 5 to 7 as well but jump and run very hard if you match the hatch great fun. The one problem with bluefish is they tend to gang up on big baits and very soon in piranha style make them small baits then no bait. On this morning we had one fun incident the shark bait was being eaten by bluefish then one got stuck on the shark hook and on the wind in was hit big time by a shark as well only in the Florida Keys. Well Alan and Tim had an amazing fishing holiday and have already penciled in their first trip of 2013 as they say work hard and play hard good to fish with you guys as always.

Just how lucky am I ?

The other day on the way back from yet an other stunning day on  Gulf  wreck Alan Keating tried to put Florida Keys fishing into perspective.  Most guys just dream about 100 lb fish this day we lost count on fish over 100 lb and some were near 300 lb. Alan wanted a shark so over went the shark rig and soon a shark was on his lap. I just suppose after doing this for nearly 15 years for me it is the norm but to guys on fishing holidays it is very far from their norm in the UK. Yesterday plan A was a day offshore on the king mackerel but waking up to strong winds plan B was back in the bay for mackerel, blue fish and shark and plan B worked very well. The new grouper mark is fishing very well as I said before but not only grouper but cobia and as many jacks as you want to throw a lure at a fish a chuck. Again Alan said I can go nearly all day lure fishing in the UK with out a take here it is just insane you are very, very lucky.


The only problem with the goliath grouper and the Gulf wrecks they eat a lot of fish I have been told up to 10 % of their body weight a day and once they have found a good wreck they don’t leave. For a fish that was near extinct in 1999 they have come back big time and in my opinion they do need a limited take plan on the big ones and I am sure it will come very soon. Here in the Florida Keys the powers take action very quickly on stocks and always go on the side of caution first and with help fish do recover.

Alan and Tim still smashing fish

Well in far from perfect weather conditions the Keating boys are still doing the business. Tim had a big cobia the other day to go with Alans and then had a sweet tasting gag grouper to fill the fish box as well. In all fairness I have never seen a cobia season like this just amazing and the best part of cobia fishing most are taken by sight fishing and to see these fish free swimming just awesome. Not all going to plan we had a day offshore yesterday and try as we might not a take it is a very fine line trolling one sail fish can make a day. The plan was to end the day night fishing for big king mackerel on the reef then the weather got very nasty so back early. Not before Alan jumped on the live bait rod and had a very nice and lucky yellow jack, why lucky well I had enough fish to eat so despite being a very good fish to eat it went back.

Last pic a cute moment at back of boat in all my years in the Florida Keys I have never seen a new born manatee this one and its mum came up as I was filleting on the dock. Such a shame to see the prop cut marks on mum just wish people would slow down in the canals but they don’t.

What a day

There are some days here in the Florida Keys it all just clicks and when it happens with friends it is a magical day and yesterday was very special indeed. Alan and Tim Keating have been coming for years and this is their second trip this year and a long time ago made the leap from customers to very good friends. Not the best weather conditions but we went back out into the bay first to get bait then maybe onto a cobia wreck if conditions allowed. The last cold front has filled the bay with mackerel a fish a chuck a lure anglers heaven and some days it is hard to stop getting bait sorry about the bad pic to much concentration on the fish. Well as luck would have it the seas dropped and on to the cobia wreck we went on arrival the seas boiling with bait being killed by jacks again a fish a chuck then from nowhere a cobia was trying to eat the jack someone had just caught only in the Florida Keys. So Alan started his mission and it does not get any better than sight casting for cobia and he soon had on near 30 lb in the boat. Then a mission to catch a big grouper and both Alan and Tim both had grouper over 100 lb stunning then whilst Alan was on the grouper rod a very different fight. A big bull shark over 250 lbs took the bait and just caught in the corner of the mouth with no wire we had that to the boat as well.

Then Tim started out on a long fight on the live bait rod nearly running out of line we had to throw the anchor and follow the fish taking it off on trap marker and round many others. Tim won in the end but on light gear these big blacktip shark are very hard to keep on at the boat but we all saw it well over the magic 100 as well. Tim also rounded the day off with very special african pompano with very long steamers what a photo. Well fishing holidays here in the Florida Keys dont get much better than that and when you do it with friends very special as well yes we lost a lot of very big fish but we got lots of fish over 100 lb back to the boat as well !!

New trolling head

I am doing some work with Snowbee on a new trolling head from a company called Predapro sure is a neat bit of kit. The Mk 1 version we used last year had a few problems but the guys at Predapro sorted them out and the Mk 2 is a winner. basically it allows you to troll any dead bait with a very fishy action and it takes about 5 seconds to put the bait on, we have been using a two hook rig but a single hook would work fine as well. In fact we had a fish on in about 10 mins on the first drop.

I know there is little or no trolling in the UK but I have often asked my self why not. Years ago myself and a friend had large amount of pollock trolling Redgills and it is a great way to cover ground and by looking at the sounder finding new spots as well. The small Predapro would be fine with Lance and the bigger one would kill with small mackerel. I know the UK anglers dislike for trolling but give it a go you might be surprised and find some new marks as well. One thing soon came to light when we were trolling for pollock they stayed in very small locations and were not all over the ground. Try for a sett time one or two hours and we had some of our best fish in just 15 ft of water in the kelp  and always work both ways up and down tide. Not sure when Predapro will be for sale but give Snowbee a call and they will keep you in touch.

The last supper

There is something about all fishing holidays and it seems, more so here in the Florida Keys the last day comes to damn quick. On the boys last day they were all very bruised and sore from that mad shark day and it was blowing strong from the north so a gentle day on the ocean flats was the order of the day. We even added a few more species to a very impressive tally which ended at 41 the strange fish of the day a 4 ft moray eel camara shy but I don’t think any one was going to hold it any way. Mr Grindle was having a ball on the fly nothing big but all pulling ten times harder than trout back home and he manage a yummy cero mackerel that ended up as lunch on board.

Well what a week and new species number 110 a silky shark the sight of the boys hand feeding them then a massive bull shark crashing in and nailing the bait just to give John Aplin as much pain as Lee will live with me for ever. More than one local guide has seen the pics of Lee’s shark and said that was a record we will never know and I know Lee would never have killed such a fish in fact a reasearch boat had a bull near 1000 lbs last year about 25 miles away so there are bigger fish down there. One last word boys hope you as much fun as I did and hope to see you all very soon ( Lee has booked already for 2013 )  cheers Rodney !!!! PS the pic of the bull is John Aplins fish, massive as well.

The comeback king

The other day Lee for once had a quite day and yesterday was determined to make up for it so we planned a day offshore wrecking on new marks and no prisoners. First mark had a full dive boat on it and I am sure Lee could have landed one but not a good blog pic. The wind was dying so we decided to have a few hours trolling and Mr Grindle had a fine king mackerel on a new rig more to come on that. Then I thought about  the sight of the sharks on the tuna grounds last week and suggested we ran to the grounds for some fun if the shark were not there then the tuna would be. When we got there no boats which in the Florida Keys means no tuna and probably to many shark just up Lee’s alley. Sure enough within minutes a shark was following the boat and Lee who holds the boat shark PB with a fish over 1000 lbs was on his heavy shark rod and with in seconds it was fish on ! The only problem with shark in deep water and the tuna grounds it goes from 500 ft to well over 1000 ft is that  big fish go straight down and this one had game plan. Lee was on very heavy gear 130 lb line but many of the runs were just unstoppable , the first hour came and went but at last the fish was getting weaker and coming up. At one hour 15 mins we had the fish at the boatside and what a fish this was over 10 ft and a good 500 lb + I did my 125 lift and not much more than the head came out have a look at the size of just the tail in Lee’s hand.

Next on the shark rod it was John Aplin who had an other first for our fishing holidays a silky shark and what a fish much stronger runs than Lee’s bull shark John had this back in about half an hour about 300 lbs, just amazing to see these shark take hand lined baits at the boat in gin clear water. No chance of tuna and we had one more big bull near 500 again and an other silky then I had two very tired anglers who were all sharked out well done boys !!!

The other John’s day

The first part of this fishing holiday has been about showing John Grindle all about fishing in the Florida Keys and all fairness the other two guys have been letting him have first go on runs ect but yesterday the tables turned. We went offshore to try some new marks and Lee had some new reels and rods he wanted to try with jigs so we started of on a known amberjack wreck. We put Mr Grindle on a bait and John and Lee worked the jigs conditions were not very good but soon both rods were bent into fish not AJ’s but hard fighting tuna. This is not the best time of the year for AJ’s but all of a sudden John Aplin was into a serious fish and it was a long hard fight but John won and we saw the fish coming up in the clear water not an AJ but a crevalle just as hard fighting and a nice double. We went to an other spot and again it was Mr Aplin who was into a good fish try as he might Lee could not get a take and just had to watch John boat a fine 20 + lb barracuda.

Well after some time we decided to put the pick down and try for grouper and shark then the fishing gods smacked us good and hard. We.had some serious rod bending fish on and even I got a king right back to boat only to lose it on the dive ladder but could we get one back no chance.  Some days it is called fishing not catching and on days like this I call it lost big fish dot com, it sucks we even had a big shark bite through the trace the trouble all these were very big fish but if we had only landed half what we lost !