Fishing in Key West

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csmithnj
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Fishing in Key West

Post by csmithnj »

I'm heading down to Key West in late June with my 13 year old son. We're going to do some fishing and exploring. But, I have no references for:

1) The best type of fishing to do with a 13 year old. We've not done a lot of fishing.

2) Some good charters - party boats or individual charters. There are a lot of internet sites that list the charters but I'd appreciate any personal recommendations you have.

Thanks.

chalksoperations
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Post by chalksoperations »

Two types of fishing basically. Backcountry in Florida Bay or out into Florida Straits. If you are driving in, I wouldn't go as far as Key West to get your charter.
If big game fishing is what you seek, off Islamorada is what we call the hump. Sea floor rises forming a hump driving the game fish to feed here. It is very close to Islamorada eliminating a long trip out, hence more time with the lines out. There are two main charter boat marinas that fish the hump, Holiday Isle and Whale Harbor. At either one the operators have been here a while and know where to go and when to go there.
Backcountry fishing has many opportunities here as well. There are a number of places to go for a charter in this regard. Two I hold in regard are Lor-e-lei Marina has some good Captains as well as the dock at Bass Pro Shops. They are both virtually next door to each other on the Bay side of Rt 1 around MM 82. The shop in Bass Pro has a list of Captains that operate out of there.

Even if you are flying in to EYW, it is worth the trip up the road to check out the fishing up this way. Not slamming Key West Captains by any means, but up the road you are closer to the action and the action is better IMO. If you do pop into the Bass Pro shop, check out Hemingways Pilar in the store and the Zane Grey Lounge upstairs. Zane was an early pioneer and took precise notes of his fly fishing experiences here and is considered by many the grandaddy of Florida Keys fly fishing.


One thing, if you are planning a specific day try to plan around the tournament schedule. There are a number of tournaments in June up and down the keys for Dolphin, Swords and Tarpon. Although there is always availability check up on this and plan a bit early to avoid getting locked out.

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Post by Pir8-200yrs-2-L8 »

Chalks...I didn't ask the question, but thanks for the great reply. A buddy of mine owns a charter in Marathon (Sundance) and going down to fish with him.
But the main thing...I'm a big Hemmingway fan (I've actually read his books). I didn't know the Pilar was at Bass Pro. Will definitely have to make that trip!
Thanks again
Last edited by Pir8-200yrs-2-L8 on April 10, 2008 4:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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csmithnj
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Post by csmithnj »

Thanks for the reply. We're flying into Miami and driving down to Key West. So we'll have a car. I'll definitely check out the tournament schedule and Islamorada charters.

Longboardn' ASEL&S
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Post by Longboardn' ASEL&S »

I agree with everything Chalks said.

I have been fishing the party boats of the Keys in the 70's, the 80's, and with my sons for the past 10 years. they are now 17 and 18 1/2.

Key west was fun, but is definatly not the best place for it.

We have fished party boats in Key Largo, Marathon, Key West, and Islamorada.
Nowhere is as good as Islamorada, and since you are driving that is where to stop to fish.
Holiday Isle has a charter fleet, but the party boat has moved down US 1 a bit to Robbie's Marina. It was always thgier boat anyway.

Bud and Mary's Marina (around MM81) has the best party boat as far as we are concerned, and is the home of one of the Key's most succesful charter boat captains as well.
Miss Islamorada is the least tourist oriented party boat we have been on, and is the most productive. Not as clean and new as some of the more touristy ones, but half of the customers are regulars that fish it multiple times per week. About $60 a person, including rod/reel/bait. expect to tip the mate $20 between the two of you, but this crew cleans the fish for free.
My boys won't go on any other party boat, because they have never done as well and fished with so many experienced people anywhere else.
Marathon and Key largo Party boats are really just a tourist attraction , with low catches in general.
Don't waste time on a half day party boat. Very little fishing time, never see any big catches on those.
Want to splurge for the real charter boat?
Captain Alex Adler of the Kalex, is the most succesful I have ever seen in the Keys. He has done this all his life, has been featured on several T.V networks, holds world records, was a Bass Pro "pro", and runs away with sailfish contests just about every year.
He books up fast, so if you think it's something you might consider book now (through Bud and Mary's office)
Definatly check the tournament schedules anyway.
Also, remember the Key West party boats don't go out every day!
When ther are several cruise ships in port, some have to moor off shore, and they charter the fishing boats fro shuttle duty!
They take a day off to clean the boat real good first, and then spend a day or two shuttling old men in tank tops and their wives back and forth.
One Christmas time there were no party boats leaving for a week straight!
Islamorada will give you the most bang for the buck, in less total time.
Miss Islamorada doesn't leave til 9:30 am, and returns at 4:30, with a much bigger catch due to the proximity to the "hump" and the preparation and experience of the captain and mates.
If you get a large gruff mate named "Bigs", don't let him scare you. He mellows out early on.
Inside the office is a memorial picture and plaque of Captain Adler's late father, Harry Adler. He was a regular at the marina til his death at 82 a few years ago.
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Post by Dutch Harbor PH »

chalksoperations wrote:Two types of fishing basically. Backcountry in Florida Bay or out into Florida Straits. If you are driving in, I wouldn't go as far as Key West to get your charter.
If big game fishing is what you seek, off Islamorada is what we call the hump. Sea floor rises forming a hump driving the game fish to feed here. It is very close to Islamorada eliminating a long trip out, hence more time with the lines out. There are two main charter boat marinas that fish the hump, Holiday Isle and Whale Harbor. At either one the operators have been here a while and know where to go and when to go there.
Backcountry fishing has many opportunities here as well. There are a number of places to go for a charter in this regard. Two I hold in regard are Lor-e-lei Marina has some good Captains as well as the dock at Bass Pro Shops. They are both virtually next door to each other on the Bay side of Rt 1 around MM 82. The shop in Bass Pro has a list of Captains that operate out of there.

Even if you are flying in to EYW, it is worth the trip up the road to check out the fishing up this way. Not slamming Key West Captains by any means, but up the road you are closer to the action and the action is better IMO. If you do pop into the Bass Pro shop, check out Hemingways Pilar in the store and the Zane Grey Lounge upstairs. Zane was an early pioneer and took precise notes of his fly fishing experiences here and is considered by many the grandaddy of Florida Keys fly fishing.


One thing, if you are planning a specific day try to plan around the tournament schedule. There are a number of tournaments in June up and down the keys for Dolphin, Swords and Tarpon. Although there is always availability check up on this and plan a bit early to avoid getting locked out.
Don't know if this is the same, famous Zane Grey (of Western Lore)....but here are some pictures of his cabin on the rogue river in southern Oregon...

Image

Image

Image
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digitalprintman
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Post by digitalprintman »

I would stay away from the private charters, unless you are looking for them to do the bulk of the work for you. These are very pricey, can be upwards of $700 for a day. Unless money is no big deal to you, then have at it.

We were just down in January and February and had friends that did the private charter and others that did the group thing for around $50 a piece. The ones that did the cheaper route caught just as many fish, if not more. Probably have to bring along your own sodas and lunch. But the price difference is substantial.

I would also recommend doing this up in Marathon or Islamorada rather than Key West.

While in Marathon stop at Keys Fisheries and Marina and have a Lobster Reuben. You can probably hook up with a fishing group out of there. You can also pick up your LimeBomber for putting your lime in your beer in their bar area.

http://www.fla-keys.com/news/news.cfm?sid=1865

Enjoy and Have PHUN!!!!!!

Longboardn' ASEL&S
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Post by Longboardn' ASEL&S »

digitalprintman wrote:
We were just down in January and February and had friends that did the private charter and others that did the group thing for around $50 a piece. The ones that did the cheaper route caught just as many fish, if not more. Probably have to bring along your own sodas and lunch. But the price difference is substantial.

No guarantees with either, and I've seen days like that as well!
You will, however do much better with the charter usually, and they will "help" you more of course, which is half of the secret!

While you can catch snapper, grouper, porgy, grunt, yellowtail, porkfish, hog wrass, trigger fish,reef shark, and assorted others on a party boat, you will not fish for Dolphin (Mahi Mahi), Sailfish, Tuna, etc. as the charter boats do. Also, your odds of catching a black grouper big enough to keep on a party boat are not very good. Maybe one red grouper on the boat out of forty-60 people, but that's it.

That being said, we only fish the party boat!
The charters at $700 are the cheapest you will find.
A top Captain like the one I mentioned charges $900, and you are expected to tip the mates another 20%.

One day when my kids are older, maybe.
BUT, no way will I cough up over a grand with the chance of them complaining for days after that we did no better than on a party boat!
Besides, meeting all the other fisherman and tourists on the party boats is half the fun.
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southernmost
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Post by southernmost »

June is a great time to go fishing. This Key West party boat offers two trips each day and the fishing pole and bait is included for only $45 (kids twelve and under are $35)
You'll likely catch Yellowtail Snapper, Mangrove Snapper, Mutton Snapper, Grunts, and if you are lucky - GROUPER.
Nearby from the docks are a couple restaurants that will cook your catch.
No fresher fish dinner ever been served. :D
Last edited by southernmost on April 28, 2008 8:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

Longboardn' ASEL&S
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Post by Longboardn' ASEL&S »

southernmost wrote:June is a great time to go fishing. This Key West party boat offers two trips each day and the fishing pole and bait is included for only $45 (kids twelve and under are $35)
You'll likely catch Yellowtail Snapper, Mangrove Snapper, Mutton Snapper, Grunts, and if you are lucky - GROUPER.
Nearby from the docks are a couple restaurants that will cook your catch.
No fresher fish dinner ever been served. :D
I'm sure the boat, captain, and crew are all seaworthy, but the link is not!

What's the name of the boat you are recommending?

I assume it is at the docks off North Roosevelt.
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Post by drunkpirate66 »

Fishing in Key West?

easy . . . remember this

DON'T PAY A GUIDE!

just rent a boat and get a map from a local . . .
the hit and run is as good as any religion around this time of year . . .

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Post by Tequila Revenge »

Dutch Harbor PH wrote:
chalksoperations wrote:Two types of fishing basically. Backcountry in Florida Bay or out into Florida Straits. If you are driving in, I wouldn't go as far as Key West to get your charter.
If big game fishing is what you seek, off Islamorada is what we call the hump. Sea floor rises forming a hump driving the game fish to feed here. It is very close to Islamorada eliminating a long trip out, hence more time with the lines out. There are two main charter boat marinas that fish the hump, Holiday Isle and Whale Harbor. At either one the operators have been here a while and know where to go and when to go there.
Backcountry fishing has many opportunities here as well. There are a number of places to go for a charter in this regard. Two I hold in regard are Lor-e-lei Marina has some good Captains as well as the dock at Bass Pro Shops. They are both virtually next door to each other on the Bay side of Rt 1 around MM 82. The shop in Bass Pro has a list of Captains that operate out of there.

Even if you are flying in to EYW, it is worth the trip up the road to check out the fishing up this way. Not slamming Key West Captains by any means, but up the road you are closer to the action and the action is better IMO. If you do pop into the Bass Pro shop, check out Hemingways Pilar in the store and the Zane Grey Lounge upstairs. Zane was an early pioneer and took precise notes of his fly fishing experiences here and is considered by many the grandaddy of Florida Keys fly fishing.


One thing, if you are planning a specific day try to plan around the tournament schedule. There are a number of tournaments in June up and down the keys for Dolphin, Swords and Tarpon. Although there is always availability check up on this and plan a bit early to avoid getting locked out.
Don't know if this is the same, famous Zane Grey (of Western Lore)....but here are some pictures of his cabin on the rogue river in southern Oregon...

Image

Image

Image
I think Zane was competing with Ernie!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zane_Grey

Catalina Island

Grey had built a getaway home in Avalon, Catalina Island, which now serves as the Zane Grey Pueblo Hotel, www.zanegreypueblohotel.com. Avid fisherman as he was he served as president of the Catalina's exclusive fishing club, the Tuna Club.


Blown away to find he was responsible for the deep sea action for big tuna off the West Coast.
got to stop wishin' got to start fishin'....

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Post by southernmost »

Oops - sorry 'bout that [smilie=blush.gif]
Fixed the link above.
Here it is again: Key West party boat

csmithnj
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Post by csmithnj »

southernmost wrote:Oops - sorry 'bout that [smilie=blush.gif]
Fixed the link above.
Here it is again: Key West party boat
Booked this boat (Tortuga IV) for our trip. Also book Marathon Lady for night fishing.

Anyone hear of GULFSTREAM III that docks at Amberjack Pier?

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Post by Longboardn' ASEL&S »

csmithnj wrote:
Anyone hear of GULFSTREAM III that docks at Amberjack Pier?
Thats our old favorite for full day fishing in Key West.
Pales in comparison to an Islamorada party boat day though.
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csmithnj
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Post by csmithnj »

Longboardn' ASEL&S wrote:
csmithnj wrote:
Anyone hear of GULFSTREAM III that docks at Amberjack Pier?
Thats our old favorite for full day fishing in Key West.
Pales in comparison to an Islamorada party boat day though.
I looked at the Islamorada party boat. My concern is that the boart will only sail if at least 10 reservations are at the dock in the morning. Not sure if this is a real possibility but I wouldn't want to count on the boat only to find out less than 10 people booked so it wasn't going to sail.

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Post by Longboardn' ASEL&S »

csmithnj wrote:
I looked at the Islamorada party boat. My concern is that the boart will only sail if at least 10 reservations are at the dock in the morning. Not sure if this is a real possibility but I wouldn't want to count on the boat only to find out less than 10 people booked so it wasn't going to sail.

They will sometimes go with just nine.
Less than that, and they offer to go if the other 8 kick in extra bucks to make up for the missing people.
It turns into an ultimate trip, eight people for a little bit more money, vs sixty or more on the Key west boat.

With 60, you spend more time untangling lines than fishing.
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csmithnj
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Post by csmithnj »

Thanks again for your help. We just got back from Key West and had a couple of good fishing days. We had planned three days but my son doesn't have his sea legs so we stopped at two. Let's just say that the waves didn't agree with him. Glad I didn't splurge for a private charter.

The best boat was Marathon Lady (party boat). We went night fishing on the reef for Snapper. This was more of a locals boat. They were hauling them in all night. We went easy and caught enough for two meals but others were going to eat for atleast a month on what they caught.

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