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Old 01-06-2009, 02:14 PM   #1
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Default Florida Keys Fishing Info...

I'm staying on big pine key mid March to early April and renting a 28 cape horn w/twins and trying to figure out what type of gear to bring along. We've gone down before in February and got kingfish with castnetted live bait and chum and small grouper, snapper, and an assortment on 1/2-1 oz. jigs tipped with shrimp. This was all on light spinning gear (8-25lb.) This was all experienced on charters. Since we have a longer duration this time, we figured it would make more sense financially to rent a boat. We're going to have all the electronics and I'm going to get a Capt. Seagulls chart beforehand to study. We're going down a little later this time so I'm just trying to figure out whats biting good at this time. Any advice appreciated!
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Old 01-09-2009, 04:13 PM   #2
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Default Re: Florida Keys Fishing Info...

My buddy tells me Tarpoon and head off shore for dolphin etc. Should be a good trip especially as you get closure to April. My budy brings 5 chum blocks per day and sets two out at a time for the best affect. He never gets disappointed. Its all about getting the fish to the boat. Get in the sream if you can.

If its snotty out do the same method out of the wind behind one of the islands on the gulf side and watch what happens.

I was down two springs ago and had a shot at a 200 + lb tarpoon, a real nice hammerhead and 8ft black tip. Was that fun. All on mono and 1/0 circle hooks with live mullet. In the corner every time.

To say the least I was not able to get one to the boat. Boo hoo.
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Old 01-12-2009, 12:02 PM   #3
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Default Re: Florida Keys Fishing Info...

Call Terry at Reef Light Tackle in Big Pine. For $150-$200, you can hire a fishing guide to go out with you on your boat, show you where and how to catch what's biting at the time you're going to be there.
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Old 01-12-2009, 01:43 PM   #4
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Default RE: Florida Keys Fishing Info...

March/April in the Keys is one of the best times to be there. Weather is good, though it can be windy! You'll find a wide range of fish both inshore and offshore:

Inshore: Barracuda, Bonefish, Permit, Tarpon (a little early for the main push of the Silver King, but they'll be there).

Nearshore (Hawks Channel): Cobia, Snapper, Grouper, ...

Reef line/Offshore: Sailfish, Kingfish, Dolphin, ...

Are you bringing your own tackle? You can tell from the options, you can bring a wide range of tackle running from 8lbs to 50lbs to cover everything, so you almost cannot go wrong. Just have your reels serviced and new line put on, rods checked for loose reel seats and broken guides. It would be tough to loose the fish of a lifetime to a bad guide or reel drag!

I don't know anything about Capt Seagull charts, but the one chart I would recommend is the Top Spot Chart for the Lower Keys. It has all the key info: Good fishing spots, artifical reef/wrecks/offshore structure. Most imporatantly it also has the current conservation areas and No-Fishing Zones to keep you out of trouble!!!

If you're reef fishing, don't skimp on the chum to get the bite going.

If you have old leftover leader material/terminal tackle from last year, dump it and buy new stuff.

Good pair of polarized sunglasses are a must, as is a hat, long sleeve shirt and SUNBLOCK!

When you're trolling offshore, you don't need huge baits. Remember -- elephants eat peanuts.

When anchored up and bottomfishing in Hawks Channel and the reef line, put out a live bait on a 15-20lb flat line.

12-15-20lbs tackle will be your most versatile.

If it's windy and you can't get out: visit Robbies Marina on Lower Matacumbe Key and feed the tarpon. Visit Key West at least twice (once at sunset and stay for dinner). Have lunch/dinner at 7 Mile Grill on Marathon Key and watch the sunset.

And Most Important -- have a GREAT TIME!
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Old 01-12-2009, 05:51 PM   #5
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Default RE: Florida Keys Fishing Info...

Sounds Good, thanx for the helpful advice guys! I think I'm going to bring a few international 30's and 50's, but mostly 10-25lb spinning gear with a few conventionals in the mix. The cast net is coming along with 1/0-5/0 hooks and various leader material, sinkers, and jigs. As far as offshore goes is their any tuna around?? Sounds like it's WAY different methods down there than in the northeast... So I should leave the spreader bars, jets at home and bring ballyhoo pin rigs and circle hooks for slow trolling live baits???
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Old 01-12-2009, 08:30 PM   #6
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Default RE: Florida Keys Fishing Info...

Quote:
abyss - 1/12/2009 4:51 PM
... As far as offshore goes is their any tuna around?? Sounds like it's WAY different methods down there than in the northeast... So I should leave the spreader bars, jets at home and bring ballyhoo pin rigs and circle hooks for slow trolling live baits???
Blackfin Tuna can be found offshore around the humps off Marathon and Islamorada, but are not common. Yellowfin are a rare treat, but generally not targeted. So yes, leave the spreader bars at home if you're not sure you have room. If you have the room -- bring them; you might be on to something! The International 50's are probably overkill, but you never know.

Live bait fishing is king in the keys in many circumstances. Many Key's guides create their own bait school with live chum.

PB
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Old 01-13-2009, 04:47 AM   #7
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Default RE: Florida Keys Fishing Info...

Go to the Florida Sportsman web site and they have a GREAT forum and even have it broken down into regions.

When I went on my first (an only so far) trip to the Keys I got a LOT of help and information on that site.

Great guys and very helpfull
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Old 01-13-2009, 05:26 AM   #8
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Default RE: Florida Keys Fishing Info...

Also please let me know how the rental goes, I am looking at doing this next trip to the Keys. In fact I just posted a thread about this in Boating Forum.

Also if you do not mind post here or pm me who you use and what to look for on the boat rental

THANKS ALOT for your help
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Old 01-13-2009, 07:40 AM   #9
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Default Re: Florida Keys Fishing Info...

Are you renting from Vacation Boat Rentals? We rented the Cape Horn 28 from them last year. It's a very solid boat. We liked it very much, except for the fuel consumption :-)

There is a UPS store in Marathon. For the last couple of years I've been shipping my fishing gear down and back. It takes three packages. The Bazooka rod tube with 8 rods, one box with my tackle bag, and all other misc stuff like casting next, gloves, etc, etc, etc..., and my reel box. I made this up with three layers of soft foam, the center layer cut to fit the reels.

Here is what I bring:

2 - 30 class trolling setups. We use these for trolling and bottom fishing when targeting grouper. We've had a couple occasions when a larger grouper challenged the ability of the tackle. Just remember to keep the drag tight, hold on tight, and reel fast when they hit so they don't rock you. I have braid on the reels which helps.

2 - Heavy spinning setups (FinNor OFS85's on Shimano med/heavy rods, 80lb braid). These are my "have ready for casting to school bluefin" up north rigs. We use these for trolling, flat lining, and jigging. They aren't great for sailfish as "dropping back" is not as elegant, but for some reason the only sails we've had struck the trolling rigs anyway. I guess they knew :-) The most fun we had with one of these rigs was when free drifting for Kings outside the reef we hooked a pretty large one that ran my son around the boat several times. He was 14 at the time. After we got the fish in and he was sweating from head to tow (in February), he commented that it was a little different from Striper fishing.

2- 15lb spinning rigs spooled with mono and 2 - 12lb spinning rigs spooled with mono. These get a lot of use, sabiki for bait, yellowtails outside the reef, spanish macs and small sharks on the gulf side, etc... When fishing for yellowtail we will often hook something too big for the rigs to handle, but I prefer to have fun with the smaller fish, so we lose some this way. One day we got into a bunch of baby Jewfish while targeting snapper in close on a windy day. What a hoot that was watching my wife and my mother trying to get those fish in on light spinning tackle.

Hope you have a great time. We always do. BTW... we're going at the end of April.
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Old 01-13-2009, 03:10 PM   #10
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Default RE: Florida Keys Fishing Info...

T-price,
door #3 had it right, it's vacation boat rentals. There are other places that rent such as captain pips daily, 1/2 day and weekly but as far as long term and decent prices go it's this one. My uncle has rented from them before and said that they keep their boats very clean and up to par as well as having all the electronics and fishing ammenities. Have fun and thanx again everyone for all the info, I'll definitely check out that website.
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Old 01-13-2009, 06:47 PM   #11
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Default RE: Florida Keys Fishing Info...

Quote:
abyss - 1/13/2009 5:10 PM

T-price,
door #3 had it right, it's vacation boat rentals. There are other places that rent such as captain pips daily, 1/2 day and weekly but as far as long term and decent prices go it's this one. My uncle has rented from them before and said that they keep their boats very clean and up to par as well as having all the electronics and fishing ammenities. Have fun and thanx again everyone for all the info, I'll definitely check out that website.
I've rented from a number of places in the Keys and Vacation Boat Rentals is the best by far.
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Old 01-14-2009, 04:25 AM   #12
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Default RE: Florida Keys Fishing Info...

Quote:
Door#3 - 1/13/2009 8:47 PM

Quote:
abyss - 1/13/2009 5:10 PM

T-price,
door #3 had it right, it's vacation boat rentals. There are other places that rent such as captain pips daily, 1/2 day and weekly but as far as long term and decent prices go it's this one. My uncle has rented from them before and said that they keep their boats very clean and up to par as well as having all the electronics and fishing ammenities. Have fun and thanx again everyone for all the info, I'll definitely check out that website.
I've rented from a number of places in the Keys and Vacation Boat Rentals is the best by far.

Thanks for the help, I have book marked their site. Looks like what I am looking for
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