We just canceled our trip to an all inclusive resort in Mexico and have decided to go to Key West fpr the first week of March instead. Has anyone done any pier/shore fishing in that area? If so, any advice on what kind of gear is needed? Can you get by with medium weight rods?
Fishing in Key West
My Opinion having been on so many charters down in the Key's TRUST me when I tell you the most IMPORTANT thing! Medicate properly, I have good sea legs but have seen many families puking overboard the entire time, trips ruined. when I say Medicate I HIGHLY recommend a scopolamine patch behind the ear and dramamine one hour prior to getting on the charter. I worked on a charter boat down in the Key's for a few summers in the early 2000's and learned that from a couple Captains. What majority of charters will offer is trolling. Mahi Mahi aka Dolphin, Wahoo, larger fish. Second choice reef fishing (my favorite) Drop an anchor, put chum bags out and drop your lines. Reef fishing can produce Yellowtail snapper,Mutton Snapper, Grouper, Porgies etc all good table fair. Waters always look real calm until you get a few miles out. Reef fishing is by far the most motion one will will feel with some good size swells. The ship/Boat will spend much time traveling from spot to spot so you will lose couple hours easily in travel time. I recommend for beginners a half day. I can't emphasize enough the importance of Medicating as it can ruin your experience and beautiful trip fishing the beautiful Florida Key"s. Feel free to ask me any questions you may have. Tight Lines!
I've done both half and full day trips and imo full day is the way to go. You have to consider your travel time to and from where you are fishing, which can amount to a lot of your time.
The head boats can be fun or a wreck... If it's rough and everyone is puking around you not so much fun, but consider it additional chum... They usually put you on lots of fish, but mostly smaller stuff.
As it turns out, we're going at the end of this month lol.
While I still want to fish from shore, looking to take a charter as well. Biggest question I have is if a four hour charter is long enough or if six is a better bet. I'm paying myself so obviously want to save money if possible but also want to ensure as memorable a trip as possible for my daughter and wife (even though she's making me pay for it lol). And are split charters a good idea or should I suck it up and do a private trip? I don't know what kind of action charters typically experience, and would hate to have a slow day where only five fish are caught and I miss out on my chance.
I'd worry more about the fishing regulations, there are a ton and countless species that you may encounter. For instance, if you decide to target shark from shore, you need to have a permit with instructional course... Don't overlook them, there are a ton of shark down there!!!! I have a buddy with a place near the Keys and they go down all the time. COVID rules are very lax, business as usual for the most part. Think Waukesha County, not Dane...
I'm heading down later in March staying in Marathon with 2 families and renting a boat for the week, so different strategies. Shipping down rods and tackle. We are getting guide to come on our boat second day, so that should help the learning curve... I don't want to hijack this thread, so will likely start another one for tackle advise, etc.
In doing some research, middle Keys bridge fishing looks excellent, but don't overlook the tiny little bridges, culverts for fun action as well. There are tons of vids on YouTube that can help you with strategy and gear. My general observation is that saltwater fish seem to have 2x the power of freshwater pound for pound, so keep that in mind when selecting gear to bring...
Maddogg11. Majority of the party boats down there will fish what they call the patch reefs for the purpose to catch Yellow tail snappers, porgies, mangrove snapper, mutton snapper,grouper etc. They will find a reef, drop anchor and put chum bags out and the fish come. I fish with a heavy action rod, 3000 series Penn spinning reel with 30 pound test mono and and 20 pound fluorocarbon leader. Majority of party boats will not allow braid on your reels so don't bring any! VERY IMPORTANT! HAVE DRAMAMINE IN YOUR SYSTEM 1 HOUR BEFORE GETTING ON THE BOAT! I have done at least 100 trips in the past 35 years so I know the system, any more questions pm me.
GotABite I would like to bring my own rod and reel. Would you know what size rod and reel I would need? I'm guessing something with 25 to30# test or do I need more?
Next to northern Minnesota and Mississippi river key West and the Florida keys are my favorite place to fish. Key West has a ton of charter boats with like 30 people on board that are relatively cheap where they supply hd rod and reel and bait food for sale on board. I have seen everything caught while on a charter a hand size grunt to a 8' shark but a lot of grouper and snapper to take home they will cut the fish for a tip. I also have probably fished half the bridges in the keys as well as other shore spots. We have caught a ton of fish from these spots on the bridges i have seen some huge fish surface big tarpoon for tarpoon I cast a long rubber tub lure with a wide leader through it and a treble hook hooked some monsters. If bottom fishing off the bridge shrimp or squid has worked good you'll never know what you will catch. We usually camp within 20 miles of key West and have set pre rigged mullet with 2 oz sinker at night and have caught big nurse shark and tarpoon. They also have charters for big fish marlin big sharks and tarpoon but cost a lot more. Islomorada is a great option to about 75 miles from key west . The Florida keys and key West are awesome for everything skip Mexico. You won't be disappointed. Tom's harbor cut is good bridge to start about 65 miles from key West.
hockey guy. I know your going to Key West but Look up a marina called Robbies in Islamorada if your willing to take a short drive. Islamorada is beautiful and is sport fishing capital (saltwater). Anyone going that far south should see Islamorada! there is a party fishing boat called captain Michaels, for around 75 bucks they take you out for about 5 hours. I've taken many trips with them, its cheap entertainment and a cool experience. Bass pro shops and the original Islamorada fish company restaurant which is the best in the country is right there too.
hockeyguy, pm me..... I can dial you in for that area.
I have done that a few times. Lots of bridges to fish. Medium action rod is all we used. Mostly just caught little grunts though maybe some snapper too. Have gone north and rented a boat for reasonable. Obviously a boat really gives you more opportunities. If you have the Navionics app you are all set. Have also hired guide. Same time of year near shore guide can get you on sea trout for constant action but I think March is early for most of the prized fish like Tarpon. Although there is some around then.