Fishing Sebastian Inlet for Gator Trout

Fishing Sebastian Inlet for Gator Trout

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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