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Archive of entries posted in the year 2017

Season’s Greetings

First a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Fishy New Year to all our past, present and Future customers at Fish the Dream Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys.

Happy Chritmas

Happy Christmas


As we start our 14 year of offering fishing holidays is has to be said 2017 was a some what tough year ending in a short break as the Keys suffered its worst hurricane for many years.  Marathon was near the eye of the storm and had winds over 100 mph for hours and peaking at 160 mph.  The south side had the worst with a tidal surge of over 12 ft tough when the highest point of the island is only 8 ft above sea level.  The good news all nearly back to normal and the fishing as good as its ever been. So please get in touch email or phone and let us make your dreams come true.

Why the Florida Keys part one The Fish

As we start our 14 th year of offering Fishing Holidays in The Florida Keys and during a short enforced hurricane break, good news all going well and should be back to normal mid January, I have decided to take a look at what we do and give some basic information for customers.  Call me hard-core or old school but to me it was all about what’s on the tin and our tin said Fishing Holiday in the Florida Keys so it was all about the fish.  I now have to put my hands up and in a few cases this has come back to bite me and yes I got it wrong however I still have the words of an old Florida Guide in my ears.  ” The one good thing about a mistake is that it should not happen again so it’s a learning curve. ”  So I hope I have learned and must ask what each customer what they want and  learn more by asking more, its a very British thing to suffer in silence. So back to the fish and this is where the Florida Keys and our fishing holidays have excelled over the years.  The most iconic fish and still number one on most people’s bucket list is tarpon and that 100 lb fish of a lifetime.

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Of the 127 different species we have had to the boat so far its still our number one and over the years we have done very well with fish to  208 lbs and it still brings the biggest smile.  It’s a shame we can no longer do the money shot of a monster on the lap but the boffins a couple of years ago said no more so all fish over 40 in must stay in the water so be it.  Yes its a tough fish very hard mouth and loves to tie you up round the bridges or smash you up with a massive jump but its all the better when at last you have your fish by the boat job done.  Number two I thinks still has to be a big permit.


Over the years again we have done very well on big permit and twice have been just pounds away from a Florida record with near  50  lb fish.  Yes we target the fish on their annual spawn on the offshore wrecks but the boat is an all round boat not suited to the flats where the permit normally live.  Once you hook that fish near the surface and it starts its power runs to the wrecks down over 100 ft you will understand just how a good drag works on a reel.  The only problem is the shark also like the permit spawn a pain to most boats but most Brits love the shark so game on. Over the years an other strange one on a few bucket lists is can I catch a fish as big as me well in the Florida Keys this is not a problem.

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gerrys sail

My not so little helper with this request is our Goliath Grouper with over the years many fish near 500 lbs a true monster.  We have to put a big thanks to master angler Jim Whippy who on one of his trips came up with a method to get these fish back to the boat and boy does it work.  Not for the faint hearted again mega smiles when you win the fight no not the fight more battle and it’s always a shock as this happens in less than 12 ft of water.  My own personal fish still has to be the Sailfish there is not a video or photo that comes close to fully light up sail by the boat just an other level.

I have just mentioned four species of the 127 in this blog and it still blows people away that on a good week its possible to have over 50 different species to the boat  (  boat record is 55 in 6 days ) so the best way is to beat the cold wet windy UK and come on over the Florida Keys and make those dreams come true.

Permit photo taken by good friend  Henry Gilbey many happy memories



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.

gerrys sail



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.



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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kev grouper

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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.

Summer Fishing

Now with the annual tarpon migration over and the massive shoals of spawning permit have long gone the main target summer fish for people on a Fishing Holiday in the Florida Keys switch to the famous summer run of the dorado or mahi mahi or as the locals call them dolphin fish.  Still after all these years  smile at first timers in the Keys seeing dolphin on the menu at local restaurants and thinking  ” they don’t eat Flipper do they ” no they don’t but rest assured if you like eating fish there is nothing finer than fresh dorado.



The facts about this fish still blow me away and sorry if you know about them but I am sure there are many who read this blog that dont.  The dorado is the fastest growing fish know and in just 12 months had reached  39.9 lbs  yes  39.9 lbs.  They are mature at 4 months and breed many times in a year this growth rate has its done side very few fish live longer than 3 years when they are getting near  100 lbs.  In fact a record fish of 105 lbs was taken a few years ago but unfortunately  was eaten before the crew new how special the fish was.  Over the years we have had some very special fish on very large cow  (  female dorado ) even took two baits from different rods now that was a fun fight.




So back to summer fish and there is plenty more to go for and near 50 species possible in a week still, as big as you want the shark and grouper don’t go anywhere.  Normally during the summer I take the boat out but this year as we have a few parties its staying in all year and we are happy for even one day to two weeks.  Yes its hot in the summer and it rains most days  ( very warm rain ) but you can fish early and late to miss the hottest part of the day.  So if you have earned lots of brownie points at Disney get on down to the Keys and bend a few rods great with the kids as well.

Quality time

Its nice and satisfying when one of our Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys is more than just about fishing.  This recently happened when regular  Andrew  Kretzschmar came over for a holiday.  This time it was to be some serious farther and son time and I have to say looking at the photos I am more than jealous.  My darling wife first presented me with two gorgeous daughters and being very much a hunting, shooting fishing man even  though I did take them fishing it was hard work.  So when our third child was born and it was a boy I had high hopes same problem try as I did and all my friends saying  ” dont force him give him time ” but alas not to be and with his passion of football and golf just not to be.  However I do now have two grandsons and yes I have taken them fishing and I have taken my granddaughter and guess what they love it so its jumped a generation.  Back to Andrew and son Max some cracking fish for the week and a great last tarpon day just what the doctor ordered.

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What was also special about Andrews week was much appreciated thank you email with all that’s going wrong in my life its good to know its going well in Florida.  Capt Drew is working out far better than I ever hope yes he is doing things a bit different to me but with my current problems and being to ill to fly I am more than greatful.  I am sure he will not mind but I will post his email

Hi Rodney

Just to let you know we had a fantastic time, memories for a life time.Drew was incredible, really impressive – you need to hang on to him.The last day topped an wonderful trip, hooking 3 tarpon and landing 1 of them!All the best and wishing you well again.



Super big smile this side of the pond but during tarpon time my heart  (  with all its problems ) is still  4000 miles away in the Florida Keys

My Jersey Boys

As most of you might know personally its been a tough year for me on the health front.  After a very good and healthy 62 years on this planet the last two have been very much making up for it.  Whilst the three hearts attacks out of nowhere meant I very much had to change my life style I could still carry on nearly as normal.  However now with major problems to my immune system resulting in me being unable to fly any long haul we had some major changes to do with our  Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys.  I have to say its going way better than we had hoped and with local Captain Drew at the helm the stunning fishing of the Keys keeps on going and even getting better mixing Drew’s over 10 experience with our 14 years of marks and methods.





Yes its been tough looking at all the photos of happy smiling anglers and all their fish the blue sky and my beloved boat all over 4000 miles away.  None more so than the smiling faces of one of my top crews  The Jersey Boys,  Rob Shipley has been coming from nearly the start and was not sure if this was his  12 th  or  13 th trip.  Over the years Rob and his crew have brought many a smile to my face and in my opinion just does the fishing thing so right.  Have a target fish but if the weather or conditions don’t allow plan  ” A  ”  go to plan  ” B ”  or even ” C  ”  most of all just fish and enjoy what you can when you can.  One of my regrets with my current health problems is all the days I could have gone fishing and did not go take heed.




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So this year’s target fish was Permit so a long time ago dates were picked and plans made not sure how it happened maybe having to take up to  12  tablets a day but ended up with a few days over lap with the next party so ended up having to put Rob on a friends boat for a few days.  This paid off big time and with the weather gods on his side I thinks its ok to say Rob and his friends well and truly smashed the permit and a great personal tarpon to round his trip off.  One thing is for sure if I ever needed a reason to get well and back to the Keys its to fish with Rob and the Jersey boys again thanks.

It’s that time of year

In  all many years now our  fourteen of doing Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys the most coveted weeks are late April and early May often booking up years in advance. The reason being the migration of the iconic tarpon through the Florida Keys and the annual spawn of the famous permit on the wrecks just offshore.  Both fish the reason people have been coming to the Keys for many a years and many years to come.  Both fish now have new protection and the superb way sport fish are manged in Florida the fishing will only get better.  The only problem this year is that for the first time in nearly 20 years I am stuck in the  UK  to ill to fly some new hope however after recent operations and a somewhat larger than I hope muscle biopsy my team have a small lead and I am being transferred the main university hospital in Edinburgh so fingers crossed.





The only slight problem I have and slighty annoying one is that Capt Drew seems to doing just fine with out me we are in touch on a daily basis and Drew seems more than capable and with some help on the phone and internet all is going well and the photos are prof.  Drew seems to like fishing live mullet at night where I used to like early morning and crab but the other day with just two anglers he had a 2 for 2 evening you just cant ask for more than that.





Drew is also smashing PB’s both for the boat and groups of anglers just last week he had Kevin’s group and on one permit trip not one but all four anglers broke their PB’s for permit top marks.  On an other trip of the Shipley boys from Jersey not only did Rob have a near 100 lb tarpon but Chris had a boat PB  jack crevalle a 20 lb plus fish.  Knowing just how hard that jacks fight I bet that one pulled like a train and as we see Chris was more than up to the job stunning fish.  Keep the good work up Drew you will never know how much I wish I was there but when complaining to my doctors the other day one said  ”  stop bitching at least you are the right side of the turf ”  but boy I wish the turf was 4000 miles to the west.

John’s week

It was great to see John, Ian and Dereck back again for their annual  Fishing Holiday in the Florida Keys.  They are right up there as one of my top crews who just get how to have a fishing holiday.  Yes they come to catch fish and yes they all like big but to them its a bit more than just about fishing.  Most years they like to coincide their trip with the local Marathon Sea Food festival this had been going now for many years and is not just about the local seafood but all things to do with the sea from fishing to boats and all in between.  This year with good weather an other great success and a good time was had by all and from the tans and stories John’s crew was one of them.  If any one else is interested just look up Marathon Sea food festival and you can see what it is all about.





John came round the other day to let me catch up on all the fishing stories and just to say how much he enjoyed the fishing and how well he got on with our new Captain Drew Meyer.  Capt Mike has moved on the lure of a bigger boat, bigger engines is just what happens in the Florida Keys I wish him well and both myself and my wife have many happy memories not only when he was our Captain but from the time he stayed in our house at one stage I thought Helen my wife wanted to adopted him she certainly feed him well.  Captain Drew is fitting very well and all the crews have had nothing but praise and fingers crossed he will stay.





One of John’s funnier stories was something that happens a lot on the wrecks.  When we fish for our big goliath grouper we have to have the drag set to full from the start as you only have one chance to turn its head.  unfortunately  this means that when something else takes the bait and wants to make a fast run away from the wreck no line will come off the reel.  This happened to poor John the other week when his grouper bait was picked up by a monster shark it all happens so quickly you tend to worry about losing the rod than resetting the drag which with a lever drag means going to free spool first.  John was laughing about it telling us he was very close to going over I often say with a smile fine by me but make sure it’s all on video.

What will we catch ?

When we started our Fishing Holidays in the Florida Keys nearly fourteen years ago this was the most frequently asked and rightly so question.  Now with the fourteen years behind us its a much easier question to answer.  Most of our guests are repeat customers so they know what to expect but with our new link to Sportquest holidays I am being asked the old question again. This time it’s so much easier  to answer with nearly 500 blogs on this website forum going back to 2010 I just reply have a look at old blogs for the dates you want to come and you will see from our old back catalogue what we caught and you should do the same.  While there are basics like tarpon season April  May and June,  permit spawn April and May if you look through the blogs you will see these fish turning up at other times as well.  With the record for six days fishing  55 species and now  127 different species to the boat you will never be sure which I think is the magic of fishing in the Florida Keys.






With the start of the 2017 tarpon season we nearly always catch our first big fish in March its with sadness I look back at our old blogs and tarpon photos.  Years ago it was OK to take out carefully a big tarpon get the money shot photo safely measure the fish to give a very accurate weight swim the fish to fully regain its strength and release to fight again.  Now with the new laws all fish over 44 inch must remain in the water and no way would I try to measure the fish I have seen way to many 1000 lb shark at tarpon time.  So now its head out of water not the same but it’s what the boffins want its such as shame I still remember the guys round the laptop when we put in the measurements of a very big fish  80 in length and 44 in girth a massive boat PB  208 LBS.





Very strange request from a new party this year.  Not bothered about tarpon or big just want lots of different species on lots of different methods.  Well as I have said before this is why we are good at what we do you the angler is in total control of your holiday.  Start when you want, stop when you want, fish for what you want and any way you want enough said just enjoy.