Had Sue Cocking down from the Miami Herald today on 1/4/13 for a little fishing story for the outdoors section of the Herald. There was a last minute cancellation to her original plans and we set something up the day before. We decided to go for a backcountry islamorada fishing trip and to showcase a variety of fish, as that is one of the special things about fishing in the florida keys. We started out near flamingo, fishing some high-water spots near some mangroves for redfish. We caught about a half dozen or so, as well as a few black drum and sheepshead. We later moved to some deeper moats on the change of the tide to look for some snook. We did hook one nice one that broke us off near the boat, and ended up catching a few more black drum and sheepshead. Later we moved to some other channels where there had been some nice muds with a good mix of fish. Trout, ladyfish, pompano, and a baby permit were to be had. All fish to this point were caught on simple shrimp and jigs whilst islamorada fishing. We started to use some tiny ladyfish pieces to catch pinfish, and we mohawked them catching a couple dozen while bending the rod with other stuff! We then headed out into the gulf of mexico fishing as the weather was slick calm and looked too pretty not to try. We found several tripletail on the way out, and caught several keeping 3 for dinner. Casting shrimp on a bare hook with tiny float was effective, and we even caught a few on light jigs as some were staying down a little deeper. We then went gulf wreck fishing and caught several cobias up to 15 lbs, as well as another permit, and a large 100 lb goliath grouper! Cobias were all caught on our fresh pinfish. We then wanted to try to catch some mackerel, so we headed back towards sprigger bank and fished a few miles out from there. On the way we came across something very unusual - several large packs of bonitas in the 8 - 12 lb range feeding on something very small. We didn't get any bites out of them, but were able to drive right on top to confirm what they were! As soon as we anchored and casted in our mackerel area we had fish on, we put a little chum out and caught about a dozen spanish mackerel as well as a few bluefishfish and snappers. We then headed home, another beautiful day here and fun to be had in all areas, not just islamorada flats fishing in the backcountry! Capt. Vic Gaspeny has reported excellent water and temperature conditions for tarpon fishing in islamorada. They caught 9 in early morning trips as well as a 30 lb permit.
Capt. Rick Stanczyk