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Date posted May 1, 2012 4:05 PM
Posted by trafik
Report location New York > Offshore > Key West Florida
Fishing method Boat
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I just returned from my first Key West adventure. We had a great time, drank too often, and even managed to get some fishing in.

We arrived on 4/21 just after a big rain event with the winds heavy from the west. Not good for fishing I was told. I had 2 charters already arranged for Monday (1/2 day)and Wednesday (Full day) but decided to postpone the Monday trip.

Wednesday looked to be shaping up well weatherwise and we were away from the dock at 8 AM to stop and check pinfish traps then to buy some Goggle-eyes ($60/doz!!!) for sailfish.

It was just the wife and I on the 29' Sea Hunter but there was only one seat up front and none in back! I cannot imagine how they handle up to 6 at a time. Anyway, we went out to the "dirty" water and set out 3 lines. It took a while but eventually we got a few tugs and I wound up with a Hammerhead of about 7.5' on. I fought it for 1/2 an hour without breaking the mono and even managed to bring it very close a few times before it broke off. If we had steel leader I think I would have beat it.

After feeding some more google-eyes to sharks we moved on to a rubble pile to drift for Amberjack. I had several break-offs that the Captain thought were nurse sharks but eventually hooked an AJ. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, I'd equate it to fighting a very large bluefish. It ran quite a bit but goes deep and doesn't put on a show. Once boated, it was about 45#. The biggest fish I'd ever landed.

As a dedicated sinker bouncer, I was done with the drift fishing and wanted to anchor up on some reef and get a bit more variety. We went a bit shallower and found a nice mix of snapper (mutton and Yellowtail) and grouper (Black, Scamp, Gag, Strawberry) and some others like spadefish. I definitely enjoyed this more.

On my second full day charter with a different outfit on a smaller boat, it was much the same but the seas were rougher. Even though I told him I wanted to fish the reefs, we spent alot of time on sailfish and AJ's with one AJ at 50# boated and a 20+ # kingfish. We did play around with yellowtails for a bit but really only to catch them for bait. Toughest part about this was avoiding hitting my head on the t-top and rocket lauchers. I came home with alot of bumps and one that drew blood :)

On both trips, the AJ's needed to be vented. The first captain basically stood on the fish until air came out but I don't see how it was very good for the fish. My guess is that the airbladder might have burst. The second captain pressed on the fish, got no air from it and set it back where it proceeded to float. We recaught it and he tried to stick something down its throat but had nothing long enough. After returning it, it didn't look like it would make it. Not one venting tool in evidence on either boat.

I did do one more trip on a party boat but didn't catch much to report, just some yellowtails, grunts and small grouper. The equipment was really poor.

We had the Mutton Snapper prepared coconut encrusted at Kevin's and it was the best darn fish I've ever had.

In the end, I had a good time fishing but would re-think my approach next time. I would bring my own gear and fish the party boats more and also do 1/2 day charters with a captain that actually listened to my preferences. I would also stick with sportfisherman boats vs the center consoles.

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Author Message

Joined: 04/29/2003
Posts: 430
Location: Flanders
 05/02/2012 07:44 AM  

I've fished Key West many times, with many different captians and guides. I've had 95% positive experiences, dont throw in the towel on the charters just yet. A vast majority of them are great, but there is a small percentage that are just a little too laid back (like not having the right tools/tackle on the boat) for us New Yorkers. The party boats will produce the same trip you already had with them, small fish in probably one location, not much more. Stick with the charters....

If you are a decent swimmer, I highly reccommend trying spearfishing, did it last trip down there to try something different, and it was a blast. Had a group of ten guys that never speared before, awesome experience. We used island Time charters (, they were great.

Get invloved, don't just watch!!

V. Roppelt

Joined: 12/08/2012
Posts: 4501
 05/01/2013 10:55 PM  


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