Captain Mary A. Fink
The Florida Keys provide an angler with nearly limitless options when it comes to fishing. Sight fishing, trolling, back country as well as reef and wreck fishing can be enjoyed all year round along the numerous beautiful islands stretching over 100 miles, connected by the chain of bridges called the scenic overseas highway. This article will address some basic tips for increasing your chances of enjoying a successful fishing day in the fabulous Florida Keys, only a short drive from our area.
First, listen to Mother Nature. The single most important environmental factor to help determine a comfortable and safe fishing location is the wind speed and direction. Because the Florida Keys boasts both an ocean side as well as a bay side, your fishing location options are numerous. If the winds are light and variable, you have the luxury of choosing to fish on the ocean side where reef fishing and trolling are your best options. When fishing over the reef, look for areas holding rocks and dense reef structure such as coral heads and wrecks. Bottom fishing for snapper, grouper, hog fish and countless others is often quite productive over the reef. Setting a chum bag out the stern of your boat will only enhance your chances of success, especially when targeting yellowtail snapper which are often caught on a regular basis when free lining your bait into the chum slick. Reef fishing is often action packed and a great way to introduce young anglers and beginners to the sport of fishing.
Another offshore option on a calm day is trolling. This is done at much greater depths outside the reef. During the summer months, mahi mahi, tuna, wahoo, mackerel, sailfish and others become the prime target when trolling over depths well over 200 feet. A trolling speed of eight to ten knots is recommended with ballyhoo rigged under a skirt with the goal to have your presentation skip along the surface of the water. Seek weed lines, floating debris and feeding birds when you set off for a day of trolling the depths of the Florida Keys’ waters.
On days where the wind exceeds 15 mph, it is recommended to choose to fish the bay side of the islands where the waters tend to be calmer and mangrove islands provide shelter for both anglers and fish. When fishing the bay side, be cognizant of water depths as you seek fishing locations as shallow flats are prevalent in most all areas and can cause havoc if not alert. Seek deeper cuts located on the flats by following green water areas. The cuts provide excellent shelter for fish as water moves rapidly within the cut providing forage and habitat for countless species. If the water is brown or tan, it is shallow and should be avoided unless your vessel is equipped with a poling platform where the engine can be raised out of the water presenting an opportunity to enjoy the popular sport of sight fishing!
Sight fishing is just that – fishing by sight. Look for tailing redfish and disturbances in the water on the shallow flats. Do your best to make your presentation in front of the fish that you see. Sight fishing is all about proper presentation to your target. Although this type of fishing requires experience, it is exciting and rewarding to hook fish using this technique.
Enjoy a weekend trip with family and friends to the Florida Keys this summer to enjoy the numerous fishing opportunities the area provides. You won’t be disappointed!
Captain Mary specializes in fishing the beautiful Ten Thousand Islands. She holds a “six pack” captains license and has a knack for finding fish. A passionate angler possessing over 35 years of extensive experience in both back country and offshore fishing, Mary offers fishing expeditions through her Island Girls Charters company. When fishing with Captain Mary, you will be exposed to a variety of successful techniques including cast and retrieve, drift fishing, bottom fishing and sight fishing. Visit www.islandgirlscharters.com to learn about fishing with Capt. Mary. Or reach her at 239-571-2947.