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mhines

Anyone fished in the Florida Keys??

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I'm going on a vacation to Marathon Florida Keys in a few weeks, and plan on trying some shore fishing! Any tips on bait, lures, strategies?? Also anyone know what I could expect to catch??

I have never fished salt water, so this will be my first time! Any tips greatly appreciated!

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There are alot of guides that work down in Marathon key.You might want to check out a half day trip to the flats or something.Salt water is a whole different game,good luck down there.

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If you strike out on your own, be sure to rinse your reels very good after fishing. I haven't fished theKeys but almost everything eats shrimp. You can buy bait shrimp and toss it out on a bobber and you won't know what you'll catch until you catch it. There are probably sea trout in the grass flats and red fish in the mangroves.

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If I was in the Keys, I would not miss out on the opportunity to get a guide and go out Tarpon, bone, or snook, fishing.

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mhines,

When you going to be down there? I'll be down there the first week in May but a little further north along the Gulf coast. If you can afford a guide I highly recomend getting one for half a day of your first day of your trip and ask him to show you places where you can fish from shore or marinas. Tarpon trips will be spendy and I suggest trout, redfish, snook are your best bet and May is the peak of the best fishing and carries well into June. Pick up some plastic shrimp from Trigger X and other brands and put on a typical spinner bait (white and orange colors), glide baits (chrome/gold color), glide baits, spoons like a Johnson silver minnow and even a simple split shot and circle hook dragged on the bottom with plastic shrimp in channels is deadly. I strongly encourage to use a long stiff spinning rod with a good drag and to cast a long distance, saltwater species are extremely tuff critters and will definetly put the hurt on your equipment.

good luck,

mr

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i kept a 21-foot center console fishing boat in marathon from 1984 till last October when I had to sell it...The time you are there will see a lot of mangrove snapper traveling from the Gulf to the Atlantic reefs to begin their spawn, so they will be moving through the bridge passes. You should use live shrimp to target them (live menhaden would be even better, but you would have to cast net them and hard to do from shore). Seven-mile bridge is obvious place to fish, particularly in early morning and evening. Go as light as you can as heavy sinkers, swivels, etc., spook mangroves and other snapper. Best time is high tide and right after. Fish UNDER the bridge, don't cast way out thinking the big fish are there, they aren't. They'll hang by the pilings. One good method is to fish the lee of a piling, anotherwords, as the tide rushes through the bridge, you go to the other side and drop your bait down close to the piling, where there's a break in the tide and fish can rest without fighting it. You will get hung up, but you will also get lots of action, and I mean lots. Depending on your tackle, you can also fish sharks off the bridge, and grouper, but that means big rods, baits, etc. There are lots of tarpon around then, and you'll see guide boats fishing for them (I got a 150-pounder and an 80-pounder last week in Key West), but you can't really fish them from shore. Look into a boat located between Porky's Restaurant and the Seven-Mile Grill, I think he charges something like $40 to take you out bottom fishing, it's a good deal. Best fishing then is Atlantic reefs, but you would need a boat (also dolphin are strong offshore, but then you need a bigger boat). One interesting possibility--drive further west to Bahia Honda, it's just a few minutes past the 7-Mile, and try fishing the harbor area of Bahia Honda State Park. Sometimes there are snook there (might be out of season, but just catch and release them), smaller tarpon, jacks, snapper, etc. It's a protected area from the wind, yet right next to the strong tides of Bahia Honda (one of the best tarpon, grouper and shark spots in the Keys). Don't fish by the boats, fish at each point of the harbor. Another possibility--Tom's Harbor bridge. Smaller pass and easier to fish than 7-Mile. It's a few miles east (the Keys run east-west after Islamorada, not north-south). Good luck, good time to be in Keys as not as crowded and plenty of fish around, though shore fishing is not easy.

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Thanks for all the replies! I'll be down there from May 14-21. I am going down with some friends for a wedding, we are renting a very nice house located right on the ocean. I have ordered a salt water fishing kit, that i will be bringing down. It has a 7ft collapsible rod, reel, and some basic tackle that all fits into a travel case. Its cheap, but i don't want to risk damaging my freshwater equipment in the salt water. I think I'll find a bait shop, when i get there and get some more basic tackle,and some bait. I'm excited to try it, I've been to Florida a couple of time, but never long enough to fish. Is there any fish to watch out for as far as stingers, poison etc...?

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If you wade the salt flats wear an old pair of shoes. The keys are made up of a lot of coral so there is not a ton of sand anyhow. As you walk/wade shuffle your feet to make sure you don't step on a ray and you should be fine. When I lived in Tampa I waded all the time without any issues but I did kick up a few rays.

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Probably the only fish you need to watch out for, fishing from shore, is--saltwater catfish. Be real careful handling them. Their spines on the back and sides can penetrate right through runing shoe bottoms (as I only too painfully know). They look like freshwater cats, but not good eating, and also have a slime on those spines that some people are allergic to. As for sharks, you can be brave and try to get your hook back--but most non-pro Floridians don't mess with them and just cut the line rather than handle the shark and try to get the hook out.

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If your plan is to surf fish in front of your house, the best bait in my opinion are sand fleas. You can scoop them up just beneath the surface of the sand as the waves recede, watch for little lumps that look like rocks just beneath the surface. Any bait store should have your basic bottom/surf fishing rigs, normally about a two foot leader with 3 smaller leaders coming off the main line and a 3-6 oz weight at the bottom. You should be able to catch whiting and pompano.If your lucky you may hook a monster Snook or Redfish as they sometimes cruise the beaches. Spanish mackeral and blue fish are also possible.I can't remember when the blues run, but if they're out there you'll know it. Watch for schools of finger mullet surfacing trying to get away, cast a red eye or some other shiny spoon and It's game on. Other than your sand flea scooper you'll need a lawn chair,cooler,beer,grin and a pvc rod holder is nice. ( 10' or 12' rods are also a plus).

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if you have access to shore/wade fishing on the bay side, give 'cudas a try! They stalk the weeds in the shallows and are very aggressive. I used about a 6-10 inch yellow tube with a single treble hook at the end- use a steel leader too. I bet you can get that lure down there (I got mine 30 years ago and I still have it in an old tackle box).

of course you don't eat 'em as they have that weird poison in the bigger ones that'll make you sicker than hell, but really neat fish. Like a big silver-colored northern or musky.

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The one time I fished the keys, I got into town late and had to buy frozen squid at gas station. Fished the bottom after dark and took 1 fish. It was about a bonnethead shark. About 30-36 inches long. I was fishing right at a boat launch. It was quite a thrill.

Also, all the Florida fishermen say saltwater cats don't taste good. They are wrong. I've eaten them. They are very good. Just don't get spiked.

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I was rooting around in my old tackle today and found the Barracuda lure I describe above in previous post- it's longer than I thought- it's at least a foot!

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If you are going to be in Marathon why not spend $60 bucks and go on a semi-private charter with Seadog Charters at the end of 7 mile bridge, owned by a former Minnesotan.......he offers affordable 1/2 day trips on small 6 person boats. Or go on one of the big party boats, one in Marathon and another in Islamorada, those are only about $35 bucks for a full day ($5 off coupons on line).

I would highly recommend that you and a buddy or two pony up and take a Tarpon trip, with the right guide you will tie on to a couple of 100-150 pounders and have the fight of a lifetime....you only live once and you will be in one of the best places and time of the year to do it!

I have fished with Vic Gaspeny out of Bud-n-Mary's Marina in Islamorada 4 times now and have caught between 2 and 4 Tarpon every trip, he really knows what he is doing.

While you are there, be sure to visit Robbie's and feed the Tarpon....there are hundreds of "tame" Tarpon that hang out at their dock and for a few bucks you can feed them. They will jump out of the water to take the minnows from you, best entertainment value in the keys.

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Seadog charters was the name I was trying to think of, it's the most inexpensive fishing trip I've seen in the Keys. And one note: there is no conventional surf fishing in the Keys because there is no surf. The barrier reef keeps the kind of surf you see on the east and west and gulf coasts of Florida from occurring. Consequently, there aren't a lot of beaches in the Keys, at least not very good ones (Bahia Honda and Long Key have the two best, and Key West has a couple not-so-good, and one decent).

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Wow! thanks again everybody!.........I am definitely going to look into some of these charters........I think tarpon would be awesome!..........My only concern is getting sea sick.........I own 2 boats here, and have MANY days on the river with no issues, I have never been sea sick, or any motion sickness at all. How bad are the boat rides, on these charter boats??

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sea sickness certainly does suck and can ruin a trip

I am not very susceptible to it but it has happened enuf to me to take measures

one thing I found that really worked well were the wristbands that put pressure on a nerve that helps stem the problem- I know it sounds like snakeoil but there is legit reasoning behind it and worked for me every time I used them- they're cheap (if they still sell them!), you can use 'em over again, and there's no need to take any drugs ahead of time that might make you drowsy too- oh one more thing about the wristbands you have to position it just right for it to work and I heard it doesn't work too well with chubby wrists (mine are pretty skinny)-

if you're fishing in the shallows or the bay there shouldn't be any surging waves of the type that make you green

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