What an incredible winter it has been thus far! I absolutely love this transitional phase from winter to spring where anything is possible. With the correct wind and tides, I have had a few banner days this month where we've caught just about everything that swims in the backcountry. Typically I'm starting the morning off by leaving the dock of the Worldwide Sportsman around 7am in search of reds, snook, trout, black drum, or tarpon. Then, depending on how that goes, I sometimes get an itch to shoot out into the Gulf of Mexico for Cobias and Tripletail.
On one particular full day charter last week, we blasted out of Islamorada and made it to our first spot a short 30 minutes after. I taught my clients the proper fundamentals of casting and what they needed to know before stepping into this challenging fishery. Within the first 3 casts both anglers had landed 2 snook and a trout; everyone knows the start of a day like this can be a blessing and a curse. We proceeded to another spot shortly after, which awaited for us a surprise that shocked even myself. We hooked into a tarpon well into the 100lb range, and fought him for roughly 20 minutes. We had the fish on the leader twice, but she shook the hook angrily before I had a chance to put my paws on her. A memory we'd all remember, but just the beginning of what set up to be some of the best fishing I've seen in years.
After the glory of the tarpon dissipated, we got back into position and plucked away at redfish, black drum, trout, and snook for another hour. Nothing large, but we did land a respectable 30 inch snook and a few reds in the 22-26 inch range. Seeing it was already a great day with several different species, I figured we would switch it up and try our hand at something totally different. So North with the variable wind we went.
Blasting off 20 minutes or so into the Gulf of Mexico led us to a rock pile I enjoy fishing when the wind allows for it. We used a "set it and forget it" technique (putting a few rods out and waiting until they bend over) while tearing into our deliciously meaty hoagie creations special ordered for us from the trading post deli. 10 minutes in we got a bite! and it was a big one! After an epic 15 minute battle of man vs. beast and 3 circles around the boat, underneath the engine, underneath the trolling motor, and a hard 50 yard run, a beautiful 20lb cobia made its way right into my landing net. Although legal to keep, we shook hands after a fair fight, and released the fish to be caught another day. Definitely a nice bonus on top of what was a spectacular day with incredible people.
On the way home we couldn't help ourselves but to stop at one more spot in search of laid up tripletail. It wasn't 30 minutes of fishing and we had already caught 3! Just before it was time to head in, a nice 6 or 7 pounder floated up to the surface awaiting a late live shrimp lunch. We fed that fish exactly that with a owner hook to go with it! After a few good runs and an acrobatic jump,
the tripletail was boat-side. That was the only fish we kept all day because once you've had tripletail, you won't care to eat anything else!
It was a 45 minute ride into the marina solely reminiscing on a day that would be near impossible to top. When you're driving through the islands amongst Everglades National Park, you're so zoned in on the scenery and wildlife that a long drive feels like a walk in the park. Especially on days like this, I am so grateful that I can add to people's vacations while providing the best, safest, and most enjoyable fishing experience to be remembered for a lifetime. Practicing the proper fishing fundamentals, consuming you with florida keys wildlife and rich history, as well as teaching you how we can sustain a great fishery like the one we have, are just some of the things I like to tie into a charter fishing experience.
I hope you enjoyed this read and I'm happy to answer any inquiries you or your group may have about a fishing charter in the Florida Keys!