End of June Fishing Summerland Key Style!!

The past week has been a great time fishing here in the lower keys. We had several days of good spear fishing(and lobster scouting too for that matter) as well as some stellar days offshore. I want to tell you the story of a quick afternoon/night trip that we did the other evening.

The day started out by meeting at the dock at 5pm. With some of our guests showing up a little later than expected, we didn’t leave the dock until 5:45ish. The first stop was to fish the pinfish traps, and armed with a livewell full of assorted sizes of live baits, we pointed the nose of the Triton towards open waters. Our first stop was a spot just off of the reef in 75′ of water. The bottom looked really nice so we set up and deployed the chum bag. It didn’t take long before nice sized yellowtails started coming in over the rails and the yeti started looking respectable. We stayed there for another hour, but with a slow bottom bite and the yellowtails getting smaller, we made a move to another spot I had about a 1/2 mile to the east. I pulled up and started marking good fish so we repeated the setup process. But, after the chum started working, I realized that the fish that I had been marking were hundreds and hundreds of undersized yellowtails. So, just as the sun was setting, we pushed off to the north about 300yds into a spot I like in 75′. This last moved proved to be a good one!

Over the next 2hrs we lost our share of solid fish, including a few to the sharks, but we landed some really nice ones too. The highlights were rock hind, several solid mangrove snappers, and a really nice mutton that came on the lightest rod on the boat! We were drifting live and/or dead baits down into the slick and picked our way towards a really nice box of fish. There is something very cool about catching big, hard-pulling fish on relatively light tackle! We gave it up when the wind started picking up a little and ended our night with a comfortable cruise back into Summerland Key. The end result was 9 bags of filets in 4hrs of fishing!! Not to bad for a 1/2 day trip. Until next time, Tight Lines!

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Lower Keys Reef Fishing at it’s Finest!! 5/2-5/6

It’s been a busy week here despite the busted weather.  Something is wrong when you get excited about 15knt winds and 3-4′ seas.  But, that’s just the way it roles sometimes.  Had several trips this past week but I’m going to run you through one of our days on the beautiful waters here in Summerland Key.

The day started out with George and LeeAnn meeting me here at the dock at the crack of dawn and by safe light we were motoring out of my canal.  After a quick stop to unload one of my pinfish traps we were heading towards open water.  Well, let me tell you that the forcasted 10knt wind and 2-3′ was a little off.  We were greated with 4-5’s and a gusty 20knt NW wind.  But, with some hearty souls on board, we made our way out(albeit slowly) to the reef.  First pass over the reef had us marking good fish.  We drifted once to see how the boat was going to track and then we ran back above the reef and dropped the hook.  First time was the charm because when the boat nosed up into the current we were only 30′ or so from our mark.  I shut the motor off and got out the chum bags.

Whenever I go out reef fishing down here I take at least 4 blocks of chum.  Chum is the life blood of reef fishing here in the Lower Keys and you can never have too much of it.  I always start with 2 blocks out and maybe even toss in some oats as well…..this gets the fishing going right off the bat!!  Toss in a few majua as sprinkle baits and the big fish aren’t far behind. 

After giving the chum a few minutes to work we started freelining baits back into the slick using 3000 series Penn Clashes paired to Memory Stix 773’s.  Add in 20lb power pro spliced to 20lb floro and you have a stick that can handle even the biggest flags.  And flags we found!!  We started catching 18+” yellowtails on our very first baits.  First LeeAnn gets a solid fish and then George joins the party.  LeeAnn then gets the next 3 fish while George missed a fish or 2.  And then, the problems showed up.  Remoras, sharks, file fish…..all kinds of bait and fish stealers!!  This made it a challenge but they stuck with it and kept a steady stream of fish coming over the rails of the Triton.  At one point, when the yellow tailing slowed down, George dropped a big live bait to the bottom.  Well, that bait never had a chance because as soon as it got near the reef a solid 33″ black grouper inhaled it.  A short fight later and into the cooler he goes.  Then those sharks really start kicking in.  Next grouper up gets eaten.  Then George looses a nice yellowtail to a shark.  LeeAnn, not to be outdone, loses 2 or 3 fish herself to the man in the grey suit.  All in all we ended up feeding the sharks 4 grouper and several nice yellowtail.  Oh well, that’s the price you pay somedays. 

With sore shoulders and full coolers to go around, we pulled lines and headed to calmer waters to do some snorkeling.  We stopped in the protected waters off of Little Palm Island and LeeAnn and George had a great time watching groupers, snappers, angel fish, parrot fish, and other assorted critters swimming around the coral heads.  It was a great way to cap off an awesome day!!  We were back to the dock by 1.  Now that is a solid 3/4 day trip in my opinion!

Until next time, Tight Lines!

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Transition Fishing here in the Fabulous Lower Keys!!

This is always a strange time of year.  One day the weather is reminiscent of winter and next it’s like the beginnings of summer.  Because of how the weather keeps playing flip-the-lid, it has been an everyday hunt to stay on the fish.  But, with the endless opportunities offered down here in Summerland Key, the fish have kept the fish coming over the rails.  The tarpon have started showing up in decent numbers with 3-5 shots a pretty common occurrence.  The yellowtail are beginning to play well on some of our closer in humps, and while they are chewing up top the grouper and other assorted reef critters are hitting it hard down on the bottom.  When the wind blows the backcountry is still offering good catches of trout, grouper, sharks, and barracudas.  As April progresses the fish will settle into their summertime patterns….which means lots of tarpon, mahi-mahi, mutton and mangrove snappers, and world-class yellowtail fishing.   We are filling up for May already, but there are still some days available. 

Until next time, Tight lines.

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End of February Charter Fishing in Summerland Key!!

I had the pleasure of having Derek and Lacey on board for 3 days of fishing and snorkeling in and around Summerland Key located at the mid-point in the beautiful Lower Keys. Our first trip was a half-day afternoon excursion out to Looe Key to sample some of the best snorkeling opportunities in the country! Despite the “chilly” wintertime water(76 degrees), these Oklahoma natives had a great time getting up close and personal with the abundant sea life found in the protected waters of Looe key. After everybody was safely back on board we headed to some good bottom fishing areas and deployed the chum bag. Lacey didn’t even need the chum because her first drop down resulted in a what would have been keeper red grouper had the season been open. The next bait down results in a just undersized black grouper, and then some 16-17″ mutton snapper. By this time the chum slick is rolling and Derek hooks into something with weight and up pops and 8lb mutton snapper!! A few small(but keeper) yellow tails join their mutton cousin in the yeti in between catches of grouper, sharks, and many just too short muttons. About this time the bait fish have found our chum slick so I tell Dereck to cast a Mucho Minnow back there and see what might want to chew. Well, it didn’t take long for a freight train to decide he liked the way that minnow was moving! Something with some shoulders smashed that plug and started heading towards the Tortugas. 3 trips around the boat and some serious up and down fighting later, a 28# jack hits the net. I said it in my last post but I will say it again, these things will put ALL of your tackle to the test!! About this time the sun is setting, the cooler has got some nice eats in it, and Derek was pretty much done after that arm crushing jack, so we headed to the barn.

Monday greeted us with some stiff 20+mph East winds…..not the best for fishing. But, because of the unique waters of the Lower Keys and Summerland Key in particular, there are plenty of secluded, wind protected areas to go have some fun!! We started the day on a flat I like to fish for some toothy barracudas. With tube lures tied on all around we let the wind “drift” us down the flat. First in on the action was Lacey(again) with a large hit followed by that little Penn 2500 reel getting SMOKED!! Several jumps and line screaming runs later, a close to 20lb barracuda hits the net. Now, we don’t usually keep these things, but for today they were going to play a role in the next phase of our fishing so into the cooler it went. Not to be outdone, Derek gets a line screamer of his own and he brings his own cuda on board for a photo op. But, unlike Lacey, Derek decides to lean in for a kiss with his new fishy friend. Lacey wasn’t so much jealous of the kiss as she was worried that he was going to come back without some lips!! But, the relationship between man and cuda took sour turn when Derek released her into the Yeti. After we drifted the same flat twice…..while catching 7 more smaller cudas and losing another full grown model….we headed North in search of bigger game. We posted up on a fishy looking flat and deployed the powerpole. Now is when our cuda friends were going to earn their keep. I butterflied the biggest one and hung him over the side on rope. The smaller one I cut into chunks and added the carcass to the same rope as her bigger brother. Well, it didn’t take long for the sharks to show up. Lacey, yielding her place as the first fish catcher, let Derek throw the first bait out. Well, it took about 30 seconds for a Lemon Shark in the 5′ class to inhale his bait and it was off to the races. For those of you who have never done this kind of fishing I’m here to tell you it’s a blast!! Crystal clear water, big fish, aggressive strikes, and blistering runs will make anybody’s adrenaline kick into overdrive!! After a boatside release of Derek’s Lemon, Lacey put out a bait and was hooked up within seconds. But, unlike Derek’s shark, Lacey’s was a Bull Shark in the 6′ range. Again, blistering runs, 1 jump, and a heart pounding charge at the boat made this type of fishing a highlight of the trip! After a quick boatside photo op, Mr. Bull went back to patrolling the flats. Having caught all the big fish they could handle we went in search of some food for the table. We ran farther into the backcountry and started fishing some deep grass flats. We spent the next 2 hours catching a mixed bag of mutton snapper, mangrove snapper, jacks, ladyfish, and a boat limit of some beautiful trout….all on MirrOlure Lil’ John soft plastics. Derek though couldn’t get away from the sharks and had a real surprise when an 9′ Bull Shark breached on the trout he was fighting. It was too bad about the trout but the show the shark put on was one for the books!! By this time we had done 3 different fisheries and found success at all 3. Again, with a cooler full of good eats and everybody with sore arms, we headed back to the dock with plans to meet for a half day trip the following morning.

The next day greeted us with even worse conditions…..25-30mph winds. With the ocean side not even an option we headed north into the backcountry. First stop was the trout grounds where we caught tons of ladyfish and jacks, but only 2 keeper trout. With a back to the dock time of noon we pushed on to find better fishing. We cleared the last key leading out into the gulf and set up on some rocks in 18′ of water. Fish started quickly coming into the boat with catches of yellow tail, mutton, and lane snappers, red and gag grouper, and grunts. We had fun catching many additions to the cooler over the next hour before the sharks moved in so thick that no bait lasted longer than 10 seconds without one of those toothy critters picking it up. With the day coming to an end we made one pass by the cuda flats from the day before, and with 3 bites and no takers, we called it quits.

In 1 full day of fishing and 2 half day trips we fished 5 different fisheries and got to do some world class snorkeling. People ask me why I moved down here and this post says it all!!

Until next time….Tight Lines!

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Winter Time Fishing in Summerland Key!! January 2017

Well, we finally completed the move down here to Summerland Key during the first week of January.  For those of you who don’t know Summerland is located equal distance(about 30mins) from both Marathon Key and Key West.   Being centrally located in the Lower Keys, Summerland is one of the fishiest places I’ve ever had the pleasure of casting a line!   I can be in blue water 6 miles from my dock or I can be in the backcountry in half of that.   Having the choices that we have here allows for a wide range of fishing opportunities….as you will see from the pictures!

One of the best things about this area is the variety you can encounter on any given day.  Have calm winds?  Head out to the Atlantic side to fish the reef for an assortment of groupers and snappers, king mackerel, and various members of the tuna family.  Winds are howling?  Head to the backcountry for trout, mangrove snapper, mackerel, sharks, and Barracuda. 

I’m just going to walk you through one particular day we had about a week ago.  I was busy that morning so the only option we had was a quick afternoon trip.  My buddy Danilo met me at my dock around 3pm and we headed out to the reef to take advantage of the nice weather and calm seas.  Because we didn’t have much time we elected to stay shallow and fish structure in Hawks channel.  We picked a spot that I had marked but never fished before and set out a chum block.   We gave it a minute for the chum to start working and then started sending baits back in the slick.  Armed with a well full of pinfish and a cooler full of various dead bait we were prepared for anything.  One of Danilo’s first baits back was quickly inhaled by a nice quality Mutton Snapper.  Dinner mission accomplished!!  After that was some keeper, albeit small, mangrove snapper.  Then a good thump on a live pinfish turns into a serious tug of war with a keeper, albeit out of season, black grouper.   A couple more just undersized mutton snappers hit the deck along with a 4′ moray eel that couldn’t resist my pinfish on a knocker rig.  Then we started getting cut off….almost as soon as the baits hit the water.  Curious as to what toothy critter was out there eating our gear, I threw a Guides Secret Mucho Minnow on my 5000 series Penn Battle II and casted it back into the slick.  I engage the reel and almost had the rod yanked out of my hand in the same instant!!  A few minutes and one lap around the boat later a 20lb king hits the gaff.  After that it was nothing but pandemonium on the Triton as cast after cast resulted in 20lb schoolie kings on the Mucho.  We quickly caught our limit and, with a box full of goodies and the sun setting, we headed back to the dock.  Total time from pulling away and pulling back into the dock was under 3 hours.  Got to love wintertime fishing in the Florida Keys!!

Until next time….Tight Lines!!

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1 Brown, 2 Red, and 3 Grey-Last of May to the First of June

Ok, so that title is a little weird but after you’ve been writing these for a while it’s hard to come up with good ideas all the time.

Over the last few weeks the fishing has been good all over the spectrum.  My wife and I returned from an anniversary trip on May 15th and I went right to work that afternoon.  Had some good trips over the next 4 days or so that included snook, reds, trout, jacks, and flounder all caught on artificials.  The week after that was mostly offshore with many, many red snapper, mangrove snapper, gag grouper, some really nice triggerfish, and one mahi that I failed to get a good pic of.  Then it was back inshore for 2 trips to catch a late season slot snook along with a few jumbo reds and jacks before going back offshore for a repeat of the previous week.  After being shut down for 3 days because of rain and wind, I am about to start up a really busy rest of June.  By the way, the one brown is flounder…..the 2 red are American Red Snapper and Redfish…..and the 3 grey are Gag “grey” grouper, Grey Trigger fish, and Mangrove “grey” snapper.

This time of year is great for fishing because of mostly moderate temperatures and calm seas.  I spend the majority of June and July out of the sight of land and hope to keep up that pattern this year.  If’ you’re interested in going offshore it is hard to beat the next 2 months here on the Treasure Coast.

I’m really sorry if you’ve called or emailed me about trips recently….I’ve just been so busy that I don’t have the days available that I usually have.  Please keep calling and we’ll get out there sooner or later!  Until then, Tight Lines!

 

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Offshore fishing Sebastian Inlet in the Bay Boat!! May 2015

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May/June are some of my favorite months to offshore fish.   We have the combo of calming seas, great fishing, and, while it’s hot, it’s not mid-summer hot.  Add all of this up and you have the nose of the Triton heading East.

People ask me all the time what my favorite kind of fishing is.  And my answer usually surprises people.  I would say that my number 1 favorite fishing is bottom fishing on our reefs here on the Treasure Coast.  There is something for everyone out there.  You want non stop action?  Drop down a chicken rig with small pieces of cut bait and catch fish as fast as you can put your line in the water.  Want big fish?  Drop a large cut bait or live fish down there and you will have your angling skills and strength tested by fish with some serious shoulders.  You want variety?  The other day, just while catching bait at our first spot, we put 19 different species of fish in the boat.  You want some good tasting fish to eat?  Almost everything you pull up out there has 2 really good, thick, white, flaky fillets hanging off of it.  And if you like being surprised by what you catch then this is a can’t miss fishery because that is the very reason why I love it.  You just have no idea what is going to grab the end of your line….or what you are going to see just by looking around the boat.  For instance we put over 20 mahi-mahi in the boat this month that just swam up to the boat while we were sitting there.

That is why this May I spent most of my time out on the big pond(and will do the same next month as well)….and we truly had some great fishing.  I will let the pictures speak for themselves, but they don’t tell the whole story.  For every picture of a red snapper there were 25 we released without taking out of the water.  We caught grouper over 30lbs, snapper over 25lbs, sharks to 500+, mahi to 25lbs, and lost a lot of mystery fish that just outgunned us.   And that doesn’t include the 60+ lb cobia we caught that bottomed out my 60lb boga with most of his tail left on the ground.  The vast majority of the clients I had on the boat this month either caught their biggest fish, most fish, or at the very least a new species for them.  And that is why I answer that bottom fishing is my favorite type of fishing.

 

 

Fill the coolers!! Dec 2014

We had an unseasonably good weather week here in December, and that means only one thing……Offshore we go!!  Here is a break down of the 3 trips I had this past week.

The first Trip was with Greg from Ohio.  And, with the weather looking great, we headed offshore to see what we could put in the box. We loaded the well with nice sized pinfish and 2 doz select shrimp and pointed the Tritons nose east. First stop was in 60′ but the water was cold and dirty. Dropping a chicken rig yielded a bunch of just legal lane snapper that went back to grow up. With nothing much happening the decision was made to head east some more to the 90′ reef. On the way we found a nice weedline in 65′ that was covered in little juvie triple tail but they just didn’t want to chew.

We hit 90′ at a spot that generally holds fish and it was on. Every drop produced ARS, grouper, cobia, and the occasional shark. The grouper preferred fresh cut bait, but the snapper were all over the livies. It was a nice mixture for a while and then it was just ARS after ARS so we moved. I had another spot about 2 miles away so we figured we try to get a king for the smoker. We were using #2 planers with either blue/white or white/pink skirts over a strip bait and got 7 kings in the 20 minutes of trolling we did. Biggest was under 20lbs…perfect for a little smack!Sebastian Inlet, Capt. Ryan Dean, Final Point Charters, live bait, Penn, Triton, full grown, snook, florida, treasure coast, personal best, giant fish, sore arms, Red Snapper, full coolers, good eats, kingfish, grouper, tackle bustersSebastian Inlet, Capt. Ryan Dean, Final Point Charters, live bait, Penn, Triton, full grown, snook, florida, treasure coast, personal best, giant fish, sore arms, Red Snapper, full coolers, good eats, kingfish, grouper, tackle bustersSebastian Inlet, Capt. Ryan Dean, Final Point Charters, live bait, Penn, Triton, full grown, snook, florida, treasure coast, personal best, giant fish, sore arms, Red Snapper, full coolers, good eats, kingfish, grouper, tackle busters

 

The next spot was in 105′ and was lit up like Christmas. First baits on the bottom produced some stud ARS, then up came a 9.5lb mango.

Sebastian Inlet, Capt. Ryan Dean, Final Point Charters, live bait, Penn, Triton, full grown, snook, florida, treasure coast, personal best, giant fish, sore arms, Red Snapper, full coolers, good eats, kingfish, grouper, tackle bustersSebastian Inlet, Capt. Ryan Dean, Final Point Charters, live bait, Penn, Triton, full grown, snook, florida, treasure coast, personal best, giant fish, sore arms, Red Snapper, full coolers, good eats, kingfish, grouper, tackle busters

After seeing that nice mango I downsized our gear to try to put a few more in the boat. That’s when a quality fish hits. After a true tug of war on a SPINNING ROD(you’ll see why that was so impressive in a minute), up comes the biggest gag to ever come on my boat. A true beast. The guy holding it was 6’5″ and 300+ to give you scale. It hit a little strip bait meant for mangos with 40lb leader….I can’t believe we got it in the boat.

Sebastian Inlet, Capt. Ryan Dean, Final Point Charters, live bait, Penn, Triton, full grown, snook, florida, treasure coast, personal best, giant fish, sore arms, Red Snapper, full coolers, good eats, kingfish, grouper, tackle busters

By this point it’s 2pm and we limited on just about everything we could so it was back to the ramp. Had a pile of fish to filet, a bloody boat to clean, and some advil to take for the sore arms. It was a great day on the water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My next trip was 2 days later and I had good friends and returning clients John and Shirley on board.  They had gone offshore with me back in late summer and had a really good day on the water so the pressure was on.  Well, we caught a really nice mixed bag of fish, but the only problem we had is that the majority of our fish were the wrong color.  No matter what we did, or where we went, the ARS were there.  We even tried dropping chicken rigs down with cut squid to try and entice something else to chew and it was a no go…..the only thing that accomplished was now we had to fight 2 of these “endangered” species to the boat.  We must have caught 50 Red Snapper throughout the day….all properly vented and released.  It was a great day on the water with lot’s of rod bending action.  They did get to take home a few mutton snapper, kingfish, and some other assorted edible fish as a consolation prize for the massive amounts of great tasting snapper we released back to the depths.Sebastian Inlet, Capt. Ryan Dean, Final Point Charters, live bait, Penn, Triton, full grown, snook, florida, treasure coast, personal best, giant fish, sore arms, Red Snapper, full coolers, good eats, kingfish, grouper, tackle busters

The next day I had George, Al, Art, and Steve on board.  Al is 81 years old and still fought fish like a champ!!  Watching him put a hurting on some of those big bottom fish had me wishing I could be him when I grow up.   Our day started pretty much where the other 2 did, with us making bait and pushing out to 100′ at about 40mph in the relatively calm seas.  Once we hit our first spot it was just like the other trips as well…with large and numerous ARS coming boatside before being released.  We picked our way through these tackle testers and managed to put a few quality fish in the boat.  We caught 2 nice kingfish in about 30 minutes of trolling along with a nice bonita(which came in very handy later on for mutton bait).

We also got a new pbb(personal boat best) to go along with Greg’s stud grouper from earlier in the week.  The story behind this fish is pretty cool.  George was fishing up on the bow(alongside of Al) where he had just lost 2 solid fish to the reef.  He drops down a fresh grunt head and almost instantly gets a good thump and he rears back on a real rod bender.  He was keeping his thumb on the spool, not allowing any drag to be taken….a risky move with 65lb line and 80lb leader.  I was yelling at him to let the fish take some line when George fires back “I’m not giving him ANYTHING!!”.  Well, the pic speaks for itself because a minute later up comes a 15.2lb mango. …the biggest mango my 2lbs to ever come over the rails of my boat.  The total for the day was a couple of grouper, 3 mangos, 2 kingfish, 1 just keeper cobia, and 7 keeper mutton snapper(biggest about 18″).  It was a truly stellar day of fishing for all onboard.  What a way to wrap up a week of fishing offshore here on the Treasure Coast!!

Sebastian Inlet, Capt. Ryan Dean, Final Point Charters, live bait, Penn, Triton, full grown, snook, florida, treasure coast, personal best, giant fish, sore arms, Red Snapper, full coolers, good eats, kingfish, grouper, tackle busters

Sebastian Inlet, Capt. Ryan Dean, Final Point Charters, live bait, Penn, Triton, full grown, snook, florida, treasure coast, personal best, giant fish, sore arms, Red Snapper, full coolers, good eats, kingfish, grouper, tackle bustersSebastian Inlet, Capt. Ryan Dean, Final Point Charters, live bait, Penn, Triton, full grown, snook, florida, treasure coast, personal best, giant fish, sore arms, Red Snapper, full coolers, good eats, kingfish, grouper, tackle busters