The Final Day…and what a day for Rockin’ Robin

The day stared hot sweaty but positive as per most days out here. The team was Robin (Mr Daiwa) Tom (Welsh power!) and moi and captained by Ryan.

We were heading for the Kingfish Hole with crabs for permit and bait and lures for whatever else shows up.

We found the permit but had to settle for 1 for 5, the one being expertly brought to the boat before the nasty custards could get to it by Robin with a locked down drag and a bloody good Daiwa spinning rod and reel combo of course! The rest were all nailed by sharks judging by the take and the resulting bite off marks.

Right tackle + right technique = right result

We then decided that feeding the sharks was not what we were here to do and so a move to the shallow wrecks was decided on.

The first few wrecks were devoid of anything apart from some cudas which we had some fun on and the Robin caught the familiar dark shape of a massive cuda which you sometimes see once the smaller cudas have come into the lures. He cast a livebait out and began a patient wait occasionally stimulating the live bait to flash its side which often triggers a take. Bang it’s on and the fish surged away after a huge jump and some worrying times around the anchor rope we were able to chin it out and the cheers went up. We couldn’t weigh it and being such a large cuda we wanted to get it back to its home so some photos and that was a PB for Mr Daiwa… estimated at close to 30lb. It had me gagging to nail a biggee myself. Tom and I were nailing the smaller cudas on lures and cuda tubes, a strange lure that is very basic and easy to fish lure but incredibly deadly for cudas.

On to the final mark after a rocky trip away from the shallow wrecks which had my legs and hands cramping holding on, followed by a cruise through the shallows at the Marquesas with Robin and Tom taking turns to stand on the T-top looking for the permit.

I spy with my little eye…

Unfortunately this spot revealed absolutely no fish (very unusual!) and so we knew of one last wreck where we could wet a line before calling it quits. We quickly steamed over to the northwest corner wreck where we had seen fish on a few days earlier and once again Robin threw out a livebait and was soon attached to the monster of the wreck. An absolute giant of a barracuda with a stark black top and sparkling silver sides. It had a head with teeth that needed to be seen to be believed. Jumping close to the boat we were in awe of its power and ferociousness of it fight. Needless to say Ryan was also able expertly chinned the fish by hand and we were able to again take photos and return this marvellous creature. Estimated at 30lb plus Robin had smashed his PB yet again!!!!!

Two barracuda personal bests on the same day

A fitting end to our holiday and a well deserved fish to a cracking chap….
I’m not coming out next year but I reckon the memories I now have and the good laughs I’ve had with all the ship mates will keep me in good stead.
It’s been amazing…

The Final Day of the 2017 Big Adventure by Admiral Marlow

Hi Shipmates

Today was our last fishing day in Paradise. With me today was Harry ( My Boy) and Captain Rob. I was a bit undecided today where to go but opted for a long run to the Gulf where I knew it would be solid with fish. Catching them would be a different story.
It was a 40 mile run and when we got there Plan A was to target the Permit. Harry landed one quickly and I lost one to the sharks.

A quickie for Harry

After a while we anchored up and we attacked with different options.
Within minutes of putting in the chum blocks the sea was alive with fish, yellowtails were thick near the surface and 55’ below lurked the beasts.
The fish finder lit up with fish and although it was possible to land a yellow tail every run the rest was a different story.
Every drop down a fish was hooked and something nasty grabbed it, I suspect Goliaths were the culprits. Having pulled my arms out with all of my tackle from 6lb Rods to heavy gear the fish were still winning.
A change was called for and out came my shark tackle.
It must have been all of 10 seconds after my bait was in the water and I hooked my first Bull Shark, it was a 100lb plus fish but I subdued it quickly with my new beasty outfit.

Shake on it Mr Bull

A few minutes later I had another, this time 150 lbs plus, but again not too much of a problem. Then it was Harry’s turn and again although his fish was bigger he showed it who was boss.

I’m the boss!

Whilst all of this was going on the Rob and myself were also battling beasts  on lighter tackle and we were not winning.
It was now mid day and you could pick out several nasty Bull Sharks around our boat and could almost select the one you wanted to hook.
My next fish was even bigger, too big to estimate but I reckon a big 200lbs.
More of a battle but again it was beaten.

And the next please…

The tide was slacking so I put a bait on a balloon and ran it down some 25 yards. Suddenly it looked like a submarine came up and had the bait.
It was so big it frightened me The reel screamed and I thought this is not going to be fun so I skilfully passed the rod to my boy Harry. He was dragged to the bow of the boat and within a few seconds 300yards of line was smoking off the reel, then the leader broke.

Serious damage on the way.
Did you know, I was the boss once?

To be honest this was possibly a good thing, because it could have done some serious damage to Harry. Then Harry hooked a Bull shark on our lighter outfit and had a battle for about 40 minutes, he didn’t give up but I thought he was on a losing  battle.

Lighter tackle…possibly outgunned

Meanwhile I had two Bulls fighting over my live bait and the biggest one ate it. I fought it for about 15minutes and thought this is not fun as my arms and back was hurting.

Rob, save me: my elbow’s killing me.

I skilfully passed the rod to Rob on the pretence of taking photos and he really gave it some stick for another 15 minutes. Harry lost his shark and we told him that we had worn out the shark on my rod and he could get it to the boat for photos, he foolishly took the rod from Rob.
After another 30 minutes Harry was well worn out and despite words of advise he was clearly flagging.
Then my boy Harry used some very foul language aimed at me when I tried to give him some more encouragement. The words are too hurtful to print.
However that final outburst gave him some more adrenalin and the beast finally gave up, a proper Nasty Custard that had had its Weetabix for breakfast.

Roy, you’re a #*++*%

To sum it up, we had bent rods and screaming reels all day. Our bodies ache all over and there were times I had to convince myself this was fun.
It is off coarse great fun, but I am sure age is starting to tell. So that is the end of another Big Adventure in Paradise with great Shipmates.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about our adventures

Signing off

Admiral Marlow

The Final Countdown by Keith

Today I went with Chris to try and get him his longed-for tarpon but sadly it wasn’t to be. South-west winds bring humidity and awkward anchoring but worse still the tarpon shut down.

We’ve seen tarpon everywhere we’ve been but apart from a hook-up very early in Jack Channel we caught nothing but snappers and a lovely little baby Goliath grouper. You’ve seen the silly great big things that Roy’s boat catches but this one was gorgeous. I’ll show you a photo later.

But back to the tarpon. There were a few boats, both skiffs and light tackle boats anchored in various spots in both Jack and Calder Channels and tarpon were spasmodically rolling but we’d seen no hook-ups. However after about 6 drift backs my line tightened and I was hooked up to a very good fish.

It ran with the tide all the way to the end of Jack Channel – which doesn’t go anywhere but pours onto a flat. It was up in the shallow water, with its tail thrashing. Capt Colin did a sterling job of keeping us as close as possible but sometimes we couldn’t get nearer to the fish than 50 yards.

The fight went on for over 30 minutes until the nasty tarpon found a little bit of coral up on the flat and chafed one side of the double line that connects to the leader. The sudden shock on the other side snapped it and it was bye-bye tarpon. I think that makes it one released for 7 hooked!

We kept searching, kept chumming and kept drifting but all we caught were some big mangrove snapper – big for inshore that is, 2lb and over, a couple of blue runners and my lovely little Goliath…and here it is.

A thing of beauty…and a lovely fish too

PLAN A,B,C &D DAY by Admiral Marlow

Hi Shipmates

Today was day 13 and the Shipmates were greeted with a fantastic sunrise.
The Shipmates were with Captain Ryan and the team was myself, Tom and Tim. We opted for a 35 mile long run to our Gulf Wreck in 55’ of water.
Everyone knows the plans and instantly Tim and Tom had freelined crabs out for Permit and its did not take long before the first Permit fighting for its freedom.

Permit obtained for Tom

I was on freelined chunks down the chum line hoping for African Pompanos. I was looking in the chum line and saw a green beast chase Tims permit (Goliath Grouper ) it engulfed it for a few seconds then spit it out. When Tim landed the Permit it looked like it had been rubbed down with Sandpaper.

Like the French polisher who passed away…had a lovely finish

I quickly had a couple of African Pompano and Tom had a great Permit, we were off to a great start.

African Pompano…or Cuban Jack. But that’s what we call Jack Simpson!

A few more Permit and another African for me.
We had a few more fish grabbed so my beasty rod had to come out.
It didnt take long for a bite and Tom pulled for Wales ( He is Welsh ) and a small Goliath was quickly tamed (about 100lbs) is a small one.

Picture to follow

We had some big Yellow Tails on the freelined chunks then got sharked out, mainly small ones around 30lbs. I suggested a new plan and the Shipmates agreed. About 6 miles away is another mark called the P Tower, I have fished this spot several times and it has never failed me. Within minutes we were on our way.

Plan C was called for and that was to check out for Cobia and Cudas as we needed some Goliath and Shark bait. As we approached we could see a Cobia on the surface, a brilliant cast by Tom put a live pinfish on its nose and it engulfed it. A fantastic fight and soon we had a weighed 35lb Cobia in the boat.

Cobra in the boat for Tom from the Valleys

Plan D was to catch a Cuda, Tom and Tim casting lures had multiple hook ups within minutes so we kept a couple and returned loads.

Plan E was bottom fish with Pinfish for anything that swims. First drop down and I was into a green monster ( Goliath Grouper ) on my Saltiga spinning rod and my big 6500 Saltiga reel, a deadly combination.

Oh-oh…the Green Monster

This is not the ideal outfit for these monsters, I was dragged twice around the boat dodging anchor lines and feeling the pain of a very nasty custard.
I was pulling so hard that I ripped the butt ring out of its whipping and I can tell you I have never done that before. After a couple of minutes I thought I would lose the battle and I thought that was a good plan because by now I was tiring fast. I tightened up the drag even more and my pain got worse. I was putting on a very brave face and a fake smile, I can tell you this wasn’t fun.
Eventually I was winning and put in the extra effort and a green monster showed its face. I have had bigger but not on tackle as light as this. I must say the photo is one of the best this trip.

Green monster of the deep. Medium size.

 

Plan F was to make my other shipmates suffer and soon it was a fish every drop, Tom was like a Mountain Man on steroids and my beasty outfit was given some severe testing. A selection of sizes were coming to the boat
All of this tim Tim was catching other species including another Cobia that we released.
I know that Tim was a little frightened of having a go on the Beasty Rod, but the shipmates said he was a wimp if he didnt have a go. Cutting to the chase we soon had a shipmate squealing like a pig telling us his back had gone as he was dragged along the boat.

Photo to follow

The Shipmates gave him loads of verbal support with words we cant print.
Eventually The biggest Goliath of the day was looking at us and was not happy.

Another great photo.

Plan G was to hook a Bull shark and that happened on the next drop down.
An even nastier Custard was putting Tim through a lot of pain ( I think that was Tom, he said he was just helping)
Soon we released a Bull Shark.

During all of this time everyone was still fighting other fish.

All of the Shipmates are exhausted and my hands hurt with cuts and abrasions all over them.
We lost count of how many fish caught.
This was possibly one of the best days any of us had ever had, every plan worked which is not normal for us.
Captain Ryan was brilliant and never stopped working for us. ( I said this so he can get a good appraisal
Being serious, all of the Captains work their socks off for us and I would recommend them to anyone.
Its our last day fishing in Paradise tomorrow, I have tried to pace myself but today as knocked some stuffing out of me.
But no worries someone has to do it and it might as well be me.

Signing off

Admiral Marlow

Heaven’s Gained a Robin

And I don’t mean Robin Morley who I fished with today but one of our great old captains, Jack Kelly, used to say one of us must have killed a robin if things went wrong.

Robin, Chris and I were tarpon fishing again today with Capt Colin. The fish were nowhere near as evident as the last two days in two of our main spots but Demolition Key in Man’o’War Basin had several pods of rolling fish. It’s very shallow water, only 12ft in the main channel and usually livebaiters hold sway but our chunking method, using shrimp boat bycatch, catches its share too.

Incredibly, despite the shallowness of the water, it is absolutely full of mangrove snappers. They take baits virtually every time the bait is run down but they are no mean opponents and battle every inch of the way to the boat.

Robin (not the bird) with a lucky mangrove snapper

Today’s batch were incredibly lucky snappers as we returned every one alive, despite the fact they are wonderful eating. We have eaten our fill and have as many as we need for the last night’s dinner.

However, our prime targets were tarpon and that’s where our luck deserted us. Robin hooked the first one, trotting a live pinfish back. He made the fatal error of leaving the rod in the rod holder to keep his bait in position and the first he knew of a bite was when 100lb of silver leapt high into the air. He couldn’t remove the rod from the holder because of the pressure the fish was exertIng and it was gone!

It was my turn next and my error was even more stupid. I felt a slow pull as my line was roaring back in the current and wound to set the hook. The fish hugged the bottom and moved slowly to the right. It then turned and went to the left and I could feel the sinewy movement usually associated with a nurse shark. It was also going with the current and tarpon will often swim into it…if they go down they go quickly.

About to be less than happy!

Both Capt Colin and the flats boat captain next to us agreed it was a shark so I just tried to pull it up against the current, telling them what I was doing. Wth that a HUGE tarpon took to the air and threw the hook. As you can imagine, I wasn’t that happy!

It was Robin’s turn next and this fishes loss was more unlucky. He felt the bite, set the hook and the fish went on a long run. Then, inexplicably the hook pulled.

The tide then turned, factually, not metaphorically, so we went for a look round. No fish could be seen anywhere but there were loads of birds diving on baitfish being forced up from below in the harbour so I gave my fly rod an airing and managed a couple of small Spanish mackerel on a clouser minnow before it was stolen by another mackerel. They have razor-sharp teeth and really I should have added a short, thin wire tippet.

Fun on the fly

With no fish showing elsewhere we ran back to Demo and set up for the ebb tide. The snappers had mostly gone and pretty quickly I hooked a tarpon. It gave a wonderful leap, so I had no doubt at all about what it was, we dropped off the anchor and followed it. How it happened I have no idea but the hook just pulled. Tarpon have really bony jaws and even though I was using a circle hook, it obviously didn’t go in enough.

Just before ‘lines out’ I hooked another big fish and, after making sure the fish was well on, I handed Chris the rod as he is desperate to catch his first tarpon. It was on for quite a while but it came up for a characteristic gulp of air and our popped the hook!

So, my apologies to robins everywhere. I will be more careful in future.

Day 11 by Admiral Marlow

Hi Shipmates

The days are flying by and today greeted us with glorious weather. Very little wind and just pleasant fishing conditions.
My crew today was Chis and Ryan was our Captain. The plan was out and out Tarpon Fishing and our hopes were high after yesterday’s results.
What a difference a day makes, it was rock hard and in the morning we saw very few Tarpon. My highlight of the day was to land a magnificent Kingfish in Key West Harbour, this is only the second one I have seen there in almost 30 years.

King of the mackerels 
Kingfish are very unusual captures within the harbour

A good fight on my Tarpon outfit.

Chris had a substantial spitting cobra Caribbean deadly Nurse Shark tamed on his Tarpon outfit.

Two certainties: death and a nurse shark.

I put down a shark bait and had a mystery fish peel off 200yds of line and then cut Chris off on the Channel ledge. I suspect a Big Shark. Several smaller sharks kept us on our toes.

We made a move in the afternoon to Demolition Key where we could see Tarpon Rolling. However I had a Grey Snapper every put in, there were so many you couldn’t get your bait to reach the Tarpon.

Grey – or mangrove – snapper

These were all nice fish, I kept just 6 for tomorrows dinner.
I did manage a keeper Mutton Snapper just to round off the day.
Chis did manage a brief hook up with a Tarpon but being a new shipmate forgot to bow when the fish jumped, hence a very short battle.
So today was very pleasant but no Tarpon, plenty of other fish to keep the interest high.
Thats why its called Fishing and not catching.

Signing off Admiral Marlow

Tim’s Adventure, Day 11

ROBIN’S PB DAY!

Well it was a nice sunrise and the sea was calm and the captain was Rob the bearded love machine. The team was Robin (Mr Daiwa) Harry (back from looking after Wendy) and myself.

Hopes where high, but the tide was low. We tried for an hour or so to get some ballyhoo for bait as the plan was for sailfish on the colour change in the Atlantic. I lost a cuda and my last decent cuda tube (sorry Tom) owing to a boulder on the Northwest Channel Wall, when we were trying for bait..…damn! I needed my cuda fix too. We also drew a blank for the Ballyhoo.

Anyhow remaining positive we did manage some pilchards and cigar minnows from the next couple of marks and we were then armed and ready for battle.

We headed out to the Atlantic side and at the colour change to drifted live baits in the deeper darker blue water and I opened the account with a smallish king mackerel – how on earth it didn’t bite through the 30lb flouro I dont know.

Is it me or does the fish look worried? I would be if I had Tim’s hand that close to my tail…

We were drifting baits and Rob the captain put his kite up expertly and we were eventually rewarded with a Mahi Mahi that took a liking to a pilchard on the kite. This was quickly followed by another on my live bait but despite the chum trail we were unable to entice any further mahi.

Mahi mahi…so good they named it twice.

We then decided to move to much deeper water and to drift live baits again but despite finding two frigate birds circling and one repeatedly swooping down and taking something from the water’s surface we caught nowt I’m sorry to report.

It was then another move and despite Harry wanting to catch something for supper i.e. a grouper or two, we went and did some deep vertical  jigging for Amberjack. Well, thats a lot of hard work isn’t it, especially in 200 foot of water and despite some superb wire work on the jigs from captain Rob and Robin’s Aussie style jigging (much slower than my frantic and probably rubbish style) we drew a blank and retired sweaty and defeated. The day was turning into a tough one and despite the beautiful sun and calm sea we couldn’t all help but feel the day was getting away from us.

We then decided shallower water and bottom fishing was the right call and again despite our best efforts (a few bites resulting in bite offs and pulling for a break in the bottom) we remained feeling a bit deflated.

Desperation mode now kicked in, the chum line was alive with Blue Runners and Chub, not the wily Chub that we know from back home but an equally trying adversary that has teeth and small chops but fights like a demon, if you can catch one. Robin started refining his tackle, whilst Harry was banging out Blue Runners and I was chucking out the plastic out the front, ala Keith Arthur.

Blue runner. In my opinion, pound for pound, the hardest fighter of all!

Harry then skilfully caught a File Fish on a baited sabiki rig and managed to land it despite the weak tackle and strong rod and reel combo. The file fish is a very strange but beautifully marked fish and so we took a photo off for the blog. Harry’s match fishing prowess kicked in and then promptly announced thats one nil, Robin beat that!

File fish, Harry the Hammer. Is that plane?

Robin once he had stopped playing with his tackle, then started free lining bits of Ballyhoo in the chum line and I am sorry to report lost a very large chub. Not happy and even more focused he replied the hook that had been bitten off by the chubs nashers and recast. Robin then noted that the chub were getting a lot bolder treelined another bait and after a few strikes and rebated hooks, promptly hooked another. These fish really pull for their size and knowing that Robin was about to get a new species of fish to add to his tally, we called for chief netter Harry to come and do the honours. Now Im not saying that Harry didnt want to be out done, but I’m sure he tried to knock that Chub off of the hook a few times before relenting and netting said Chub for Robin’s new PB.

Bermuda chub. Look closely…its pooing on Robin’s hand

The biggest cheer of the day went up and after the photo’s we then promptly decided to “offski” back home for a cold beer and hopefully some news that the other teams has smashed the Tarpon.

Its sometimes hard fishing in paradise but someone has too and its still great fun trying….

Lastly, hello Sam and Olly, Im missing you and mummy like mad but Daddy will be home soon and misses you lots of lots. Hope you like the pictures, love you and see you soon.xxx

Tarpon, the Ultimate Teasers

There’s a club here in Key West called Teasers where, so I’m told, young ladies don’t wear very much. That is one kind of teasing but when tarpon roll and roll continuously behind the boat, in front of the boat and beside the boat yet largely refuse to feed that is teasing in the nth degree.

Today Tom and I experienced such a day. Capt Colin put us ‘on the money’ so many times yet we managed to avoid hooking up until after our final move.

We started ‘out front’, in front of Fort Zac beach and caught yellowtail, mangrove and mutton snapper. We had a group of barracuda under the boat eyeballing our snappers but managed to avoid them…deliberately.

A ‘flats’ skiff moved right inside us onto a rock pile next to the swimming pool and immediately hooked up a junior tarpon of 10-15lb on livebait but they didn’t come behind us.

As the tide slackened we ran into the harbour onto the same marks where we had tarpon all over us yesterday but today it was shark city. We had a few nice mangrove snappers but then the sharks arrived and that was it. Almost every drop down our baits were taken, the fish would run 50yds or so then we’d come back with no hook.

The weirdest thing about the day was the tide itself. It should have been more fierce than yesterday but for some reason, in the harbour it never happened like that so we headed north towards Pearl Basin which empties through a narrow channel into the harbour so the flow is enhanced.

Immediately we anchored we were into decent mangrove snappers and in 5mph of current they really hang on, even though it’s only 10ft deep.

After several of those, including one half a snapper to Tom after a cuda attack, I hooked our first tarpon of the day. The jump was even more spectacular than usual, a complete 180 in the air. Imagine the fight in that flow…simply incredible and it’s a waste of time trying to impose your will on them.

Imposing my will…yeah right!

About 400 yards downstream the ‘Reel Lucky’ was anchored up with two customers fishing from the stern. Of course my nasty tarpon ran over the anchor rope and, after some attempts to unwrap it, we had to give the rod over to the captain of that boat.

To you…

He passed it under the rope and gave me the rod back…complete with birds nest tangle around the reel.

To me.

Luckily it didn’t take too much sorting out but then the hooklink broke where it had chafed on the tarpon’s jaw. “Oh dear.” I said and the boat returned to the anchor.

To cut a long story short, on what turned out to be the final trot down of the day, I hooked another tarpon, with an equally spectacular, but more conventional leap following.

A pontoon boat carrying sightseers had just arrived and they gave a huge cheer as the fish jumped.

Sightseers cheering and me so shy!

The tarpon ran from one side of the channel to the other, always running AGAINST that roaring tide. How they don’t tire I have no idea but they certainly don’t give up. It went up on the shallow flats on both sides and must have rubbed the line against a ledge.

On the shallows, if you look REALLY closely

I use 20lb Daiwa Floorit fluorocarbon for my tarpon fishing which is as tough as old boots but some parts of it felt really rough.

Eventually the leader went into the rod rings and that was it…my first tarpon of the trip and you can’t say I haven’t worked for it.

Working hard for a tarpon

Sadly Tom didn’t have much of a chance today but I’m sure his turn will come, even though we only have two more days fishing left.

TIM’S THE KIDDY by Admiral Marlow

Today our team was myself, Tim the Cuda and Chris with Captain Rob.
Our plan was to go to our Secret Wreck some 35 miles out in the Gulf.
It’s a wreck that few white men and now only one and half Cubans know about, it used to be only one but we now know that Rob is half Cuban and not many people know that.
With a flat sea we ran at 39 miles an hour so it didn’t take us long to reach our destination.
We all rigged initially with crabs for permit and I spotted several after a couple of minutes.
Tim skilfully hooked one and after a tough battle landed the biggest Permit so far, it was a great looking fish as you can see in the photo, the other one is Tim.

Permit and half a Cuban

Chris had a big Bonito his first ever so he was very pleased. Later on another first with an Amberjack.

An amberjack that pleases

It was an unusual day regarding the tides and for about 3 hours it hardly ran, however during this time there was some of the best Grey Snapper fishing I have ever had. Fish up to 10lbs on every drop.

One shade of grey

Tim then hooked a monster kingfish on a ballooned livebait that ran him around the boat.

King of the mackerels

During most of this time Chris was hanging on to bent rods, as a newcomer he is a bit slow at moving fish quickly off the bottom, this ment that almost everyone he hooked was grabbed by a green monster namely Goliath Groupers.

If you’re slow getting to the rod…

The score was that the Goliath’s won every battle. There were times that our Captain was struggling with some of the beasts as you can see by the severe bend on his rod.

That’s how to bend a rod

If anyone breaks a Daiwa Super Kenzaki they must be strong!

Today we didn’t land any Goliaths, I think because we were anchored very close to the wreck and surrounding structures.
Loads of small sharks today meant a bite on every drop down.

A small shark. The other one is an Atlantic Sharpnose
Baby blacktip shark

 

n all another fantastic day with some of the best Grey Snappers I have ever caught, we only kept a couple and return the rest.
I awarded Tim “man of the match” because he did so well.
It was a nice ride home on a flat sea with no potholes and the scenery near Key West looked just like it does in the postcards.

Signing off

Admiral Marlow

It’s All About…

Today just shows what Key West fishing is all about. For the past ten days we have run miles in search of top quality action but today Tom, Robin and I were never further than two miles from our base. Why? The tarpon are in town.

Unusually chill weather and low pressure has stopped the Silver King action but now we’re settled, warm and with easterly winds (good here, unlike at home), Mr T is on the munch.

True we only had two fish successfully to the boat today, both to Robin, but we hooked and jumped 6 and were really unlucky with 3 of the others.

The first fish came quite early, off a Fort Zachary Taylor State Park Beach. We’d found tarpon rolling on a rock pile and set up to chum them out into the tide. There were plenty of snappers giving us action, with decent yellowtail and muttons but when a poor, unfortunate yellowtail was itself snappered up by a big barracuda, Robin quickly set up a wire trace and gave it toothache…but not after a fantastic jump.

Shouldn’t have snapped up a snapper.

It wasn’t too long after that I hooked a tarpon; not a big fish – as tarpon go – probably around 60lb. After its initial and characteristic leap it swam into the human swimming area where boats can’t go but some brilliant manoeuvring by Capt Ryan saved the day and we soon had it out into open water, at the expense of some badly abraded line. That meant I couldn’t apply maximum pressure, although it wasn’t having things easy.

Out of the frying pan…into the fire

The fish turned the corner into the harbour, with us in pursuit and things seemed to be going my way until, for some inexplicable reason, the hooklnk parted. It was chafed just above the hook, something that happens occasionally.

It was Tom’s turn to hook up next, followin a move into the harbour proper, in front of Sunset Key. Us old timers know this as Tank Island  as it was once the storage facility for Key West’s water and fuel. Now it is a luxury resort for people such as Oprah Winfrey and, allegedly, Sylvester Stallone. Perhaps that’s why it has rocky shores.

The tarpon Tom hooked was a beast, an absolutely monster. It leapt soon after being hooked then for reasons known only to it, ran to the shoreline and stayed there. Perhaps it was looking for celebrities but it never moved more than 10-15ft from the bank. There is a buoyed-off area for swimming and it went round the there twice, once each way.

Oprah…are you there?

We kept following the fish, all the way round to the back of the island where there is a small pier and dock for the ferry that runs customers across the harbour. Tom’s fish went that way and no amount of pulling or straining could deflect it from its intentions of smashing him up.

Tom, however, had other ideas and when the fish went under the pier he decided to leap in and go after it.

Brave decision…or foolhardy.

Having seen a VERY big hammerhead shark half an hour before, it was a brave decision and I’m with that lovely Scottish angler Paul Young in situations such as that. He always says “NFWI”: No Fish Worth It. However, Tom is much younger and VERY much fitter than me. Unfortunately, the line had been so badly chafed on the pier supports it soon parted.

We returned to our anchor and I hooked another tarpon that went under an invisible rope – well, we couldn’t see it – that was a long way beneath the surface and despite running the boat round and round the point of entry, eventually the line cut off! I was quite calm…😡

Robin’s turn came next on a new Daiwa rod and reel that he’s field testing and a tarpon that looked quite small took off with the usual leap. He soon subdued it – about 20 minutes counts as soon – and when he brought it to the surface it looked MUCH bigger…it was close to 80lb.

Robin’s new rod and reel in action

Once the fish came up I managed to grab the leader – using gloves! – and jump the fish off.

Released at the boat

By now the tide was dying so we ran up to Demolition Key and set up there. It wasn’t long before tarpon were rolling in the channel behind us but the sea was alive with snappers. The water is 12ft deep and boiling with the speed of current yet they intercept the bait as it flies past.

Once again it was Robin tha made the hook-up and it was a BIG fish. Luckily it swam uptide which helps to beat it but then it speeded up and ran onto a shallow flat, no more than 2ft deep. It ceased to be a surprise when a damn great bull shark appeared behind it, chasing it.

Two swirls…to the right a tarpon, to the left a nasty bull shark

Luckily the shark was put off by the shallow water and disappeared. Robin’s rod and reel did the damage again and soon the fish was laying beside th boat, asking to be released so I put on the glove and duly obliged, a fitting end to yet another’s wonderful day’s fishing in Paradise.

Nearly there Rob, nearly there.

The Big Adventure Day 10 by Admiral Marlow

Hi Shipmates

A fantastic sunrise greeted all the shipmates this morning.
Our Team today was myself, Harry and Chris with Captain Rob on Cool Water.

Sunrise from our condo

We had a plan and that was to fish the shallow wrecks around the Marquesas Islands. Our first destination was like fishing in an aquarium.

Like an aquarium…

We had multiple hook ups on Yellow Jacks on every thing we put on the hook, unbelievable and with fish up to 10lbs we had loads of screaming drags on our 6lb outfits. We could have carried on catching but all agreed to try something different at some other marks.

We didn’t catch much on our next two locations and prospects were not looking good. I suggested a mark to Rob that was close by and he agreed it was worth a try. We anchored up, put out the chum and I floated a piece of Cuda down the tide on a balloon.

I stopped it about 50 yards away with the bait floating on the surface.
Within minutes a massive tail thrashed the water and ate the bait.
We could see it clearly and it was a big Tiger Shark. I set the hook and off it screamed, after 50 yards the hook fell out, I was gutted.

Not to be deterred I tried the same tactics again, after a few minutes the Tiger was back in the chum line and I trotted the bait into its mouth.
This time no mistake and I set the hook with a series of jabs before it knew it had been hooked. My rod was a short Daiwa Saltiga rod with a new Saltiga 5000 reel, what a combination, you felt in total control.

In total control…

After it had screamed off over 200 yards of line I suggested we cast off the anchor and follow it before I ran out of line. Normally I would not tackle fish this size with a fixed spool reel, but this outfit is something different
30 Minutes later we had it along side the boat, always difficult to estimate the weight but this fish was over 10ft in length. Safely released and my second ever Tiger Shark.

Tiger, tiger

Back on the anchor and within minutes we had a double hook up with some nice Jacks…

Nice jacks…not to be confused with nasty custards

then the shark rod bent double, I jumped on it like a tramp on chips another shark was burning line of the same reel, this time it was Harry who had to fight the nasty custard.

Go on Harry, pull…pull

After about 5 mins we saw it for the first time and it was a Bull Shark.

Bull shark…what’s under it must be bullsh*t then

Harry paced himself and after another 10 minutes it was alongside the boat.
It wasn’t too happy but again it was safely released.

Safely released

New comer Chris had a great day with loads of Yellow Jacks and a spitting Caribbean deadly Nurse Shark. An amazing last hour and it was time to head back to base.
It was a flat calm sea and it looked just like it is in the promotional picture cards.
What an end to a great days fishing.
The shipmates are pacing themselves very well for tomorrows Big Adventure.

Signing off

Admiral Marlow

The Big Adventure Day 9

Hi Shipmates

Today The A team was myself, Tim and Robin with Captain KFC (Colin from Kentucky)
The plan was to take advantage of the weather and with the wind forecast at around 10mph we decided to fish a far off Gulf Wreck.
As usual plan A was to inspect our pinfish trap for bait, amazingly it was empty. I put this down to the cold nights we have just had. Not to be deterred we headed off to our wreck armed with Crabs and cut bait.
It was noticeable on the way out that the council had not repaired the holes in the sea.
Always best to have a fishing plan and plan A was to check out for permit as soon as we arrived, so we all set up with our 6lbs outfits and spinning reels.
It didn’t take long and all of us had permits, often double hook ups.

Pass the permit: Tim…
…to Roy…
…to Roy again

I decided to fish a pin fish on a light jig and first drop resulted in a fantastic fight with a Cobia, I was worried about straitening the hook so I was very careful. I guess it was 10 minutes later that we had on board my first Cobia of this trip, Robin had his scales and it weighed almost 32lbs.
It is now destined for dinner.

Cobia for dinner

Action was steady and we all had some African Pompanos, rather like a slim Permit but great fighters and very pretty

Robin’s first-ever African pompano

I wanted a Jew Fish for Tim so I set up my new Beasty rod that had been tested on the Bull sharks yesterday and first drop down Tim was called over to fight the fish. What I can tell you is that there was a lot of puffing and some foul language, but with massive support from his shipmates Tim kept pulling. He had a few moments where the fight looked very one sided in favour of Mr Goliath, but the A team gave him the encouragement and eventually the Beast was along side the boat.

Shake hands with Mr Goliath Grouper
“That bleedin Tim has worn me right out”

A personal best for Tim. I was going to drop another bait down for him but he was not in a fit state and the other shipmates, having watched Tim thought better of it (wimps)

I then set the beasty gear up for sharks and again we had a couple of smiling Black Tips.

We all had some big Bonitos on our 6lb outfits, these are awesome fighters and are as fast as Tuna, great sport.

Bonito with a fat lip

The usual Yellow tails with some flags among them.

Flag yellowtail

In all another fantastic day with some great fish in comfortable conditions.
Robin had his first African and Tim a P.B Goliath.
Loads of multiple hook ups kept us on our toes.
It was noticeable that the Council had filled in the holes on the way back because it was a lot smoother.
Thats another fishing day in Paradise

Signing off

Admiral Marlow

Never mind fifty…

The Marquesas Keys are small, uninhabited Islands about 20miles West of Key West. It’s the penultimate land before Fort Jefferson which technically ends continental USA. When the sky is full of clouds it’s probably that fifty shades of grey people talk about, but when, like today, the sun beams from a cloudless sky there are infinitely more shades of green as the crystal water ripples over sand, sea grass, coral heads, old wrecks and whatever else this shallow expanse of sea conceals beneath the surface.

And this is only the first few greens

As my old pal Henry Gilbey would say when referring to fishing brilliance…it’s horny.

Sport today was good if not spectacular and it was barracuda that saved the day. I was fishing with Daiwa deputy managing director Robin Morley and Capt Cory. First stop was the tackle shop for some live crabs and if you think peelers are dear, these swimming crabs, used for permit bait, are $3 a pop!

The trusty pinfish trap yielded us 50 more baits then it was sit back and skim over the slick sea at 30mph for the 25 mile run to the first wreck, beyond the Marquesas Keys. Capt Ryan was already there, setting his anchor, with Tim and Tom on board. We spied a small school of permit uptide of the wreck but they soon went down. Cory blind-cast a crab, obviously in the right place, and hooked up straight away. Robin took the rod and despite maximum pressure, the fish made the sanctuary of the wreck. We didn’t see them again.

That put barracuda in our sights and we’ll had several on both lures and livebaits. Robin had a new Daiwa pike lure with a fabulous sinewy swimming action and the cudas loved it. Although he didn’t get that many hook-ups, it was a great teaser, with fish following it right to the boat.

They LOVED it!

We moved on to another wreck but couldn’t find anyone at home, apart from cudas that didn’t want to play, so on to our third stop where they were more accommodating.

We had them to over 20lb and lost a few too, the most spectacular of which, on Robin’s rod, ran so fast that water pressure snapped 30lb mono. The line was kicking up a proper rooster tail!

Most of the cudas also made fantastic jumps, all of eight feet in the air and 20ft long, then a sky-rocket leap, head-shaking to throw the hooks. Some of them even succeeded.

Did this one succeed?
Nope

Pinfish are too small and sluggish as bait for these bad boys so we had to catch yellowtail snappers and blue runners and, if I can, I’d like to describe what it’s like catching those runners. They are a classic fish shape – like the  Christian symbol some people have on their car – and not very thick but the secret to their power is a very narrow wrist to their tail. You may think I am exaggerating but I SWEAR to you that if your drag is over-tight, or hour early not paying attention, a two-pounder will snap 12lb leader like cotton. We simply don’t have a fish in the UK to compare in any way. I suppose the closest would me mackerel and although they battle a bit on light gear they are not in the same universe when it comes to pound-for-pound power.

With the weather now settled and pressure rising, tarpon fishing is on the cards for tomorrow and all I can say to that is…BRING IT ON.

Dancing with Permit by Tom from the Valleys

DancingToday’s elite team (I’m writing the blog so that’s what I’m calling ourselves) consisted of myself, Keith, Chris and a new Captain called Ryan.
Today’s plan was to get some live bait to go with the dozen or so Crab we already had and to steam out to one of our Gulf wrecks to target Permit, Cobia and a Goliath Grouper for me as I’ve only had a “baby” of around 60lb and fancied a wrestle with one of the big boys.

After only getting a few Pinfish and one Threadfin Herring the decision was made to carry onto the wreck which was a good hour and a half of getting beaten up by the waves which felt like a typical British road.

Once we arrived our other team had already started to make several drifts over the wreck so we followed suit. Chris was first to hook up with a nice Mutton snapper that a Pelican had a severe case of eyes bigger than its belly but Captain Ryan was quicker with the gaff and straight to the cooler box for dinner tonight.

You go catch your own fish Big Beak

After another drift or two with little success we anchored up alongside our partner boat and Permit were seen pretty quickly in the chum trail along with a few bonito. I decided I fancied a Permit so hooked up a live Crab to a weight circle hook and drifted it back with the current.
Moments later the line shot tight and an angry Permit tore off. Once played back to the boat the fish decided it fancied taking this Welshman for a merry dance around the anchor rope at the front of the boat, back and forth it went After skilfully “I must say” passing the rod under and back under the anchor rope three or four times Captain Ryan manage to grab the fish by the fork of the tail and pull it on board.

Permit…strictly catch and release

Whilst playing my fish Keith had a very big Yellow tail which will also be dinner one day this week and a take from a pretty angry Bonito which was brought aboard to be used for cut bait.

Chris decided he was going to wait it out fishing live Pin fish and cut baits on the bottom and had at least two fish grabbed by the Goliath which he fought bravely for a good 30mins each on light spinning tackle but there was only going to be one winner and sadly for Chris it wasn’t him.

I saw a Cobia 30m behind our boat which I pitched a live Crab to but lost sight of it soon afterwards. 10secs later my braid tightened and I was into what I thought was the Cobia for a good 10mins but it turned out to be a rather nice 25lb Permit which also had me dancing around the anchor rope…Not a bad consolation prize

First prize permit

This was followed up with a further three Permit around the high double, low twenty figure mark and all to the live Crab. Every single one of them also taking a fancy to the anchor rope at the opposite end of the boat from which they were hooked forcing me to show off my best Valleys dance floor action, which I think the English lads were well jealous of.

Tom the permit look you…

Once the Crab ran out a quick switch to a jigged Shrimp bait resulted in a nice jack crevalle for me to end the day for us all.

Jack crevalle…Mr Angry!

The Goliath never happened for me today as I lost one that was just way too big which I couldn’t do anything with, even on Roy’s Beastie outfit which is a 80-100lb class outfit.
At the end of the day you really can’t complain when you have caught such awesome fish especially when the Bullsharks don’t get them on the way in which unfortunately happens from time to time but today we got lucky.

UNBELIEVABLE by Admiral Marlow

Hi Shipmates

Its Day 7 and what a story I have for you.
Today The A Team was myself, new arrival Tom from the Valleys and Chris with Captain Corey to take us to sites of epic battles.
It was a long run to our secret spot some 20 miles past the Marquesas Islands, I have fished this mark before so had a very good idea what to expect.
We had an incredible day and we saw a sequence of events that very few white men have ever seen.
Knowing the area from previous years I set up my super new Shark outfit that is a Saltiga rod and the new Saltiga 60LD 2 speed reel that was a gift from Robin.
It came with some heavy looking red braid on that I was going to change, I am glad I didn’t.
The reel had been on test around the world but today it had more than just a test.
I dropped a wounded yellow tail down into the depths and within a minute the rod bent over and the line screamed off.
I put Tom from the Valleys in charge so I could take photos.

Tom’s in charge

After a few minutes Tom was in total command and getting use to the outfit and a Black tip Shark around 80-90lbs was alongside the boat looking very unhappy. What happened next was the fishing experience of a life time.
Suddenly behind the Black Tip was a huge Bull Shark and I mean huge, the Black tip is at least 5’ long and the beast chopped it in half with one bite.
There was blood and foam everywhere.

Blood and foam
A bit like me…not all there.

Then suddenly another equally big Bull Shark joined its mate and together they just shredded the top half.

I snapped a few dozen photos, it was a shame the water was a bit cloudy because the photos don’t give you the full impression. Then both of the Bull Sharks grabbed the head and swam off, I reckon we had close to 1000 lbs of fish on the end of the line.
If you look at the photo of the half Black tip that was at least an 80lb fish and overlay it with the Bull Shark which was several feet below you will get an idea how big the nasty custard was.
Now double it because its mate was the same size.
There was blood and foam everywhere and this all happened about 10 ft from the side of our boat. You would not want to have been in the water at that time. I have fished in a lot of good places all over the world, but have never seen anything like this before, it was awesome.

“I think I’m safe here…”

Back then to the fishing, the place was alive with fish and loads of permit kept swimming in the Chum Line. We all landed one and lost a few others, we think cut off rather than being eaten, but could not be sure. Yellow tails and blue runners were boiling behind the boat all day.

Fishing permit available here

I was in charge of our new shark outfit and the team were under instructions to give the sharks some steel.
Within a couple of minutes I had a take and passed the rod to fellow shipmates. Chris who had never caught a Bull Shark before was visibly shaking with the Nasty Custards on the end of the line.

Shaking all over

Tom who obviously goes to the Gym did a better job releasing at least 5 Bull sharks.

Better than the gym!

I was on camera duty as you would expect and just released two, thats because Tom and Chris were fighting Permit and I had no one to pass the rod to.
This was a day to remember.
Tomorrow is another day, I don’t think it can possibly get any better than today.

Signing off

Admiral Marlow

I’ve Never Had a Good Day’s Fishing When the Water is Warmer than the Air. By the Cuda Kid

The Z team comprised of last nights arrival Robin, Keith and myself and after a trip to the tackle shop for some crabs we were heading off. The A team meanwhile on the quicker by some 300 horse power more boat, were soon ahead of us & heading for Cory’s secret permit spot armed with 18 crabs and livebait.

Captain Colin asked whether we would like to get amongst some fish rather than steam out for another two hours to get to the same spot as Cory as we were on the slower boat and so we all agreed that to start fishing at 11am was a little bit too long too wait and so we soon started fishing and adjusted our plans.

Keith was soon getting jiggy with it up the front an then finally settled on his ever faithful wax wing, to open the account with a nice spanish mackerel. Meanwhile Robin and I were trying our best with live baits drifting with bottom rigs and apart from some small enquiries that didnt develope into bites, our tackle was not tested and we were soon heading to another mark.This became an all too familiar scene today with Robin and I drifing and Keith throwing the plastic in various forms when conditions allowed.

We had a bit of success, well I say we, correction Robin had some success & caught a nice cuda from cuda rock (i forget the proper name for the place) its an uprising in the middle of the atlantic ocean with swirling waters, salty spray and a few other boats. His catch fell to his new top secret Daiwa lure. I did manage to get a sneaky peak at the lure despite the Daiwa man attempts to conceal it and its looks like a nicely designed Daiwa swim bait – so hopefully we will see them in the shops soon. I just know that it will work well for the pike back home as it is designed for. I had one follow from mr C, but alas I wasn’t firing on all cylinders today (its hard work fishing every day in paradise for two weeks you know!) and I couldnt get that all important bang followed by the strike and so I remained fishless.

We then resumed drift fishing and it was slow for out in the “Keys”. Robin eventually had something take a liking to his livebait and after some deep hard and very very long runs the hook pulled, but not before he had given his new daiwa jigging reel a good try out. The boss gives it top marks!

Pretty soon after that fish (Robin thought it was a very good Amberjack) I had a slow bite myself and was soon battling with a good Amberjack. Long story short is that the man in the grey suit came along and relieved me of four fifths of it, see picture enclosed. Shame as the fish was estimated at 50lb and it would have given me a right tussle had the tax man not come and taken his share.

John West took the rest

More drifting on different marks including the rubble and some rock uprisings and a good 20lb plus cuda came to Robin’s rod, drift fishing under the boat in nearly 200 foot of water. A good sized red snapper to yours truly and then Robin emitted the words “another half hour wont make this into a good day, lets head for home” and we all agreed to call it quits.

Red snapper: great to eat but illegal to take

The title is owed too and comes from some wise words that Keith told us pretty much at the start of the day and I am sorry to say we didnt change the quote.

Its still an amazing place to fish even when the plan takes a wrong turn and the fish dont wont to party.

At least we didnt lose the anchor today – eh Colin xxx

The Big Adventure Day 7

Hi Shipmates

What a difference a day makes.
Today no rain, sunshine all day and a very pleasant 78 degrees with a lightish wind.
Today it was myself, Harry ( my Boy) and Cuda Tim with KFC as captain (alias Colin from Kentucky)

We decided to do some bottom fishing around Cosgrove. It turned out to be a very pleasant day. For many anglers it would have been brilliant but we get a bit complacent.

I started with two nice Red Groupers

One nice red grouper

and a pretty Amberjack, then I got a bit bored and used my light rod and had a yellow tail every run down.

Every run down…

My Shipmate Harry was also catching yellow tails but in between he had two screaming runs that turned out to be Bonitos.
Not to be out done Tim was slaying the Yellow tails one a bung.
We decided on a move to the Hump and had a few more nice fish before moving to Cosgrove tower where we all had some Cudas.

Tim was on top form with his home made Cuda lures and had the biggest which we weighed just over 20lbs, great fight on our light spinning rods.


The pot holes had all been filled in for our ride home, it turned out to be a smooth run. More fish to feed us, so we wont starve. The shipmates are all pacing themselves very well so need to worry about us.

Tomorrow is another day and yet again we will be out there facing the elements because someone has to do it and it might as well be us.

Goodnight Sun, see you tomorrow

Signing off

Admiral Marlow.

After the Deluge by Keith

Following yesterday’s truncated session and the thunderstorms that caused it, today dawned overcast and breezy with a chilly northwest wind. It seems churlish to describe 74f/23c as chilly but here it felt just that. Chris and I were joined by Kevin Mardell who is here on holiday with his wife. I remember Kev from my old matchfishing days and it was a genuine pleasure to have him aboard.

The first move was to locate Capt Corey’s pinfish trap and refresh the livebait well. Once that was done we headed through the shallow ‘Lakes’ area towards the Marquesas Keys, then turn south towards the far edge of the reef to search for yellowtail Snapper and black grouper.

Once we arrived a chum bag was out out to attract the yellowtail and livebaits dropper to the bottom for grouper. Action was immediate but both rods came up bereft of hooks: obviously toothy critters were about.

A heavier rod was sent down with a huge feathered jig baited with a 1.5lb yellowtail and it wasn’t long before I had a hit and started fighting what was obviously a very big black grouper. Sadly that’s what it wasn’t and after 15 minutes of grunt and groan a rather large dusky shark appeared by the boat with the jig firmly hooked in its jaw.

Chris and Kev were catching some great yellowtails so I sent a vertical speed jig to the bottom and second drop hooked an amberjack that promptly came off after a couple of dives only to be replaced by a barracuda. Approximately 15 seconds later it escaped with my jig.

A replacement jig went down and another amberjack was hooked, givIng its customary dives, but it then felt a bit funny. I kept fightIng it but when it got to the boat yet another shark swiped at it and took the bottom half so I was left with a 20lb head and shoulders!

Chris went for a turn in the heavier rod so I picked up his yellowtail gear, hooked a decent fish and had that eaten in half by  barracuda. So far I had 2 top halfs and no tails! The bit that was left was cast out in on a wire trace and the nasty cuda was soon well-hooked…or so I thought, until just as we were about to bring it aboard and after a couple of good jumps, it threw the hook back at me!

Kev meanwhile had boated a bonito on the yellowtail rig, I had another so Cory threw my GT Ice Cream (honestly, look them up) surface jig out and had it eaten by a big hound fish, often called the ‘poor man’s marlin’ because of their aerial activities when hooked.

Rich man with poor man’s marlin

Chris was now hooked up to another very big fish and a dusky shark, bigger than the first, ended up being released beside the boat. Time for a move!

We were only a short hop from the famous Cosgrove Hump and the provided us with some more very large yellowtail plus two more big dusky sharks, one of which gave Kev a better workout than any River Rother bream!

More bother than the Rother!

Moving on again, our last casts of the day were made by the old Cosgrove Lighthouse, now no more than a pylon standing in 20ft of water. There were barracuda all over it so Kev threw out a livebait and straight away had…a bar jack! He practiced for themselves yesterday in Sloppy Joe’s Bar and Irish Kevin’s Bar. He’s a Key West bar expert already!

Chris ended our day in fine style with a well-conditioned barracuda on a tube lure…

Chris, Cory and Cuda…the Three Cs
The bits cudas use to cut yellowtail in half.

…but not before I had the shock of my life when I first foulhooked a yellowtail on a waxwing lure, right by the mouth so it obviously had intentions, but then had a bigger one, maybe 1.5lb, trolling the lure behind the boat as Cory repositioned.

By this time the wind had dropped to a gorgeous 10mph, blowing from a cloudless sky and the temperature had gone up to 26c/79f. That’s more like it and the forecast is for it to warm up through the week. Bring that all on!

 

THE BIG ADVENTURE DAY 6

Hi Friends and Shipmates back home.

What have you all done?
I felt bad vibes from you when I reported the nice weather we were having.
Today we gave it an hour then had to come back through loads of rain. Thunderstorms and cold at a miserable 76 degrees.
So nothing to report and only 1 photo.

Out in the Gulf with the skys going very black the shipmates decided to get ready for the storm and put on their wet weather gear. Well, not all of the team.
Admiral Marlow and Captain Robert were all suitably dressed, so was Harry. Unfortunately we had a boy with us that we found on the flats who was not prepared. He just looked like Garry Grouper.

Needless to say, three out of the four of us kept dry and only one guess who got very cold and very very wet.

Spot the damp one…

Hoping for better weather tomorrow.

Signing off

Admiral Marlow

Short and Not That Sweet by Keith

Chris and Tim joined me today with Capt Cory and vice-captain Ryan for a trip out to the same shark spot Roy’s team fished yesterday. Although I could make this longer, the simple version is it turned very cold, with the temperature dropping 10-15 degs in a few seconds. It rained. It thundered.  Lightning was very evident. We chickened out.

The End

The Big Adventure Day 5 by Admiral Marlow

After a late night it was a lay in till 6am this morning where all the Shipmates had a hearty breakfast in preparation for another adventure.
The Team today was myself, Harry and new shipmate Chris with Captain KFC ( Thats Colin from Kentucky and we believe his father is Colonel Sanders,  hence K.F.C )
We had two plans today, Plan A was to check out the Tarpon, that failed and after an hour it was plan B which was to fish for Sharks on the flats.
Then it was back to plan A for the last couple of hours to fish the incoming for Tarpon again.
Plan B turned out to be a brilliant move and within minutes of our dead Barracuda Chum line getting to work we had our first visitor. One can see from the photos how clear the water is and with the excellent visibility you could see the sharks coming to see us.

Clear enough!

Cutting to the chase.
For the next three hours it was triple or double hook ups using our light spinning rods matched with spinning reels.

Lemon shark, lemon shirt!
Elbow suffering
Double hookers

At the end it was a case of just casting to what looked like the biggest fish you could see.

Our new Shipmate Chris I am afraid had to suffer, he fell for the old indian trick of “Just hold the rod a minute while I grab my camera” unfortunately for him there was a shark on the end every time.

Suffering…

I have fished this flat for Sharks several times and surprisingly every time it is different. Today almost all of the sharks were substantial and around 100lbs.
We had a couple of Lemon Sharks but most were Sand Tiger Sharks.

Easy Tiger

One however was considerable and although difficult to estimate was possibly 175-200lbs. Chris had the pleasure of taming this beast.
For along time it was close to 200yards away trying to get back to Key West.

Taming the beast

We never had time to have our lunch, we were that busy. (Yeah, right!)
We then reverted back to Plan A but failed to hook or even see many Tarpon in the Harbour.

In all another fantastic day in Paradise with perfect weather, a cool 86 degrees with a light wind, I guess just about the same as back in England

Signing off

Amiral Marlow

At the End of the Day By Keith

The regular team of Tim, Gary and I were guided today by Capt Caleb, a recent recruit to the fishkeywestflorida.com team. He is very pleasant and a captain who inspires confidence.

The plan was to run offshore in search of sailfish and tuna so the first essential is live bait. We tried several well-known spots for scant reward and ended up at a place where bait is always guaranteed.

Don’s Live Bait is part of the fishing culture at Key West. They work at night to catch goggle-eyes – what we know as scad or horse mackerel – and keep them in pens attached to his floating dock. The cages are rigged up to complex pulley systems enabling the bait to be netted with minimal uses…and happy bait is good bait.

With  our love well loaded up we headed south towards the reef, intending to fish the blue water beyond, ideally on the colour change where the green water of the Gulf of Mexico bumps into the warmer, blue water of the Atlantic and Gulf Stream.

The ‘change’ was very patchy, with fingers of blue running into the green and string weed lines following the wind south to north, rather than the current which was running west to east. We stopped a couple of times but until we ran west to a spot we’ve bottom fished before, a wreck known as The Sub all we’d seen were a few flying fish.

Tim and Gary were drifting livebaits while I cast a waxwing lure towards the weed when suddenly someone must have rung a bell. I hooked a bonito on the lure, it was followed in by a couple of its mates and some very small mani-mahi and then a very nasty custard barracuda ate its tail off!

Tim’s bait was taken almost immediately as the cuda made a serious mistake. After a few minutes of Tim huffing and puffing an even nastier custard grabbed the barracuda and gave him a VERY hard time until it chopped through the leader.

So, after nothing at all, a burst of action.

The wind felt as if it was easing so we worked our way towards a mark on the reef where it’s possible to anchor and catch bottom fish. This we did with Gary catching some jumbo yellowtail snapper.

Jumbo yellowtail…not quite FM size

While we were there we spotted a sailfish free-jumping in a weedline about 200 yards away. Tim was dropping livebaits to the bottom and had a couple of reds and a black grouper while I continued casting my lure for another bonito and a lovely yellow jack. I thought it was a good mahi at first but Capt Caleb said the jack was better eating. I hope he enjoys it.

Capt Caleb then made the decision to make a move east, towards Key West for the last hour and whilst we were running I spotted another free-jumping sailfish, this side inside of us on another weedline. We stopped the boat, rigged two livebaits and I told Tim to watch out for a ‘trash sack’ as sails look black and misshapen in the water.

Not two minutes later Tim saw a trash sack eat his livebait and was hooked up to his first ever ‘spindlebeak’. It ran him ragged round the boat, no less than 8 full circuits until, at last and after a nerve-jangling half-hour battle, Capt Caleb was able to lift it aboard for a well-earned trophy shot.

Fish of a lifetime

If the fight is short the sail can be quickly released in the water but after such a long battle it’s best to hold their bill and slowly pull them into the current until the start to kick. That’s what Tim did and was as happy as Larry when it wagged its tail and slunk off back to its weedline.

It is certainly true that all will come to he who waits.

We were all up bright and early this morning because our pick up at the dock was 6.45am
The team was myself, Harry and Chris and our captain again was Rob. The wind forecast was less than 10mph and it was already 84 degrees.

Our plan today was the same as for the other team and although we were a bit behind them because we needed to fill up with fuel we were soon motoring  to our secret wreck.
The A team had already checked out the shrimpboats for Tuna but the water was a bit green and the tuna don’t like that. We anchored close to the other boat and were soon catching, the problem for us we were plagued with Sharks, mainly small lemons but several Black Tips…

that are great fun on our light tackle but not when you are after other species.
I tried jigging and quickly had 3 good sized King Fish while Harry was beating the sharks off.


In the end there were so many sharks we were even catching them on jigs.
A new plan was required and that involved us moving a mere 80 yards over the wreck.
What a good move, instantly we were all into super fish.
The photos tell only part of the story.
Our new shipmate Chris who previously to this trip hadn’t caught many species, well today we changed that.
Goliath grouper, African pompano, huge grey snappers, black tips and lemons were all added to his tally.


However when Chris tackled the Goliath he told me that one was enough, I have heard that before.
His ability with good training has improved dramatically over the last 3 days. While I was fighting a nice African, Harry was battling another Goliath on his jigging rod and was not amused when everyone paid him scant attention because everyone else’s rods were bent.

In all another fantastic day in Paradise. Today was a red letter day because it was a decent fish every drop down. Our Sand balling method worked a treat with the big Grey Snappers.


I had a fantastic time free lining small pieces of cut bait down our chum line and had a bite every run down, including 3 Africans on my favourite method.


If it wasnt an African it was another species.
Just to add to the fun we landed a Hammerhead that was small enough to bring on the boat, skilfully held for a great picture by Captain Robert.


What a fantastic day again in Paradise.

Sighning off

Admiral Marlow

A Gulf of Class By Keith

Gary, Tim and me were guided today by Capt Damon and a newcomer to the fishkeywestflorida.com team today, Ryan. He has just joined as a captain from another charter boat company and I am sure will be a great acquisition for them. He certainly did a great job today.

The decision was made to run 40 miles or so out into the Gulf of Mexico to find some shrimp boats then use their bycatch as bait to catch the tuna and bonito that hang around feasting off the discards.

Our first stop a boat called Papa’s Girl, had finished cleaning their catch, had no waste left and no tuna underneath so we ran a couple of miles further to find Big Daddy.

Big Daddy – temporary home to big bonito.

The captain was a charming young lady who swapped us a lovely bag of fresh chum, about 30lbs of it, for a few cans of soft drink but she’d already told us there were no tuna. We jigged a couple of big bonito, at least 15lb apiece, for bait then ran a couple more miles to what we know as The Secret Wreck.

What was immediately apparent was there were hundreds of small sharks – American Sharpnose variety – at home and they snuffled almost every bait. These fish ranged from 10lb or so up to maybe 25lb and fight hard enough but when you know what else is there they are a real pain in the backside!

When we managed to get baits through them there were some smashing lane and mangrove snappers, although the big mangrove I hooked reached the bottom where it was promptly eaten by one of the huge Goliath grouoer that live there.

Tim tried a baited jig and caught an African pompano, a beautiful fish that look chromium plated and fight like most of the jack family to which they belong, i.e. like nutters!

Tim’s first African Pompano of the day

Changing over to the bucktail jig on which I’d caught the bonito I caught an African while Tim had a couple more. Mine still had the long on the dorsal and anal fin that are lost with age. Then Gary caught a cracker, a really big one, and I teased one that had followed all the way to the surface, eventually hooking him at the third attempt.

I get it on the Pompano act
Gary’s big African. Note the stripes, which only appear on bigger fish

Gary caught a small hammerhead shark, no more than 4ft long, on a jig and then the king mackerel turned up. They also hit our jigs with abandon and we had several to over 30lb. If you’ve ever caught one of our native mackerel and seen how they fight, then imagine one of 20lb – or larger, put it in water that’s 28c then double it and you won’t be far off how they fight.

Once we’d had our fill of wreck fun, we went back to Big Daddy and jigged up a few more bonito for bait later in the week, made a quick stop at a shallow wreck on the way home, in just 15ft of water, so Tim could scratch his barracuda itch on a lure he made himself at home then it was back to the barn in flat calm conditions and beautiful sunshine. It’s times like these I feel truly blessed.

Another Day in Paradise

Hi Shipmates

Another day in Paradise aptly describes our day 3 adventures.
Today the A team was Harry, Garry Grouper and myself with Captain Robert as team leader.

Team Marlow

We had such a good day yesterday it was decided to fish the same area, so we set off with the wind down to less than 10mph and a cool 84 degrees to keep us at a happy temperature.  To cut to the chase we had a great day, it was just a case of picking a few fish of each of our several locations.
It was a multi species day and we had a few newcomers, some nice Trigger Fish

Trigger Fish…alright Dave?
Roy Rogers’ teeth

Cero Mackerel

Bloody Cero Mackerel

and a Hog Snapper

Hog Snapper

were new species for us.

We all had some great Mutton Snapper

Mutton Snapper

and Groupers, we returned most because we caught enough fish yesterday to feed Key West.

One thing we did today was “sand balling” rather like method fishing with the hook bait inside a sandball which consists of sand, chum and fish oils.
This method often gets a bite when all else fails.

Sand Ball

Most of the day it was our light spinning rods with small jigs and ballyhoo again being the best bait.

It was Harry again who skilfully balanced his weight against another spitting venomous Caribbean reef shark (A Nurse Shark) that was out matched by Harry The Hammer.

One of the certainties of life…a nurse

I also tried some big soft baits on jigs which proved to be excellent.
A pleasant ride home with the air conditioning blowing in our faces at 30mph and Key West looking like it is in the photos

The problem for us is that we get a bit blasé, for most people our catch today would have just been fantastic. The great thing about fishing off Key West is the variety and the fat that there is less pressure on the fish.
Today there were times that the fish finder was showing a mass of fish of all species and a change of bait often got you a different species.

The weather looks great for tomorrow and we plan to do something different (but still fishing…) so watch this space.

Signing off Admiral Marlow