Thank you so much to all my Spring Break and April customers! I have been on an incredible run of back to back trips and we have fished through so much wind and less than ideal conditions. I really appreciate the trust and credit given to me to make critical decisions to provide the best trips within the conditions we have had. The reason I begin my report with this is we have been through quite the year of exceptionally windy conditions. In the water trips for snorkeling, spearing and mermaiding have been few and far between and I have only made it way offshore maybe twice. It’s just how it’s been for months and I’m grateful my customers have been understanding and open to the alternative options to get trips off the dock. Certainly, it has been a compromise to a degree, but I can say we didn’t have a single bad trip where fishing was bad or my customers walked away unsatisfied. I pride myself on my customer communication and translating the reality of compromised conditions to work the best options into each trip. I think I only had 1-2 customers get sick this year!!! That’s the result of significant proactive effort on my side!
So, the juicy part of this story is fishing with a lot of catching! The yellowtail snapper bite off the reef edge is excellent on most days.
a solid reef catch with a great variety
It comes down to conditions and customer skills. If the current is lined up with the wind and my guests can follow the yellowtail catching techniques I try to teach, we catch them like pros.
half day family reef trip
Grouper season opens May 1st for all species of grouper and this gives us more options. All of my customers want to catch grouper. I can catch maybe 60% of the grouper I hook. My customers maybe catch 20% or less of what they hook.
A 30″ black grouper
Grouper win because they are stronger, faster, experienced and have home court advantage. Not ever have I had a customer land a legal grouper and mention it was easy, it was easier than they thought it would be, they could have done it more quickly or with less than an exceptional effort. I expect to be bringing back a few fat keeper grouper on my trips the next few weeks, but you better bring your A game if you want to play and win. Other good things happening on the reef has been a nice mix of yellow jacks, bonita, cero mackerel, kingfish, ocean triggerfish, filefish and a random assortment of surprises.
Just beyond the reef edge, the deep wreck fishing has been ok and should be improving. It’s been too windy to fish the wrecks lately, but that should hopefully be changing. Here we catch mutton snapper, american red snapper,vermillion snapper amberjacks, almaco jacks and a few odd balls are mixed in as well.
a big light tackle mutton snapper
Offshore fishing has been completely shut down for the majority of this year due to the high winds and heavy seas. I think I made it offshore 1-2 times this year, which is freakishly unusual. The tuna are nearly always found 27 miles offshore on our underwater structure called the “humps.” Sparse reports indicate the bite is still good when the bigger boats make it out that far. It’s also that time again when the dolphin start to show up. Typically they show up in quality before quantity. Last year we had a nice early good start to the dolphin fishery and it completely collapsed into the worst dolphin fishing ever seen. Hopefully just an off year, but a new rule change has helped me manage those tough days offshore. Electric deep dropping is the answer. On those calmer days where the gulf stream current isn’t screaming I can fish the bottom in 600-1,000 feet of water for deep exotics like tilefish, snowy grouper and a handful of other crazy looking fish.
a nice snowy grouper from 800′
This is meat fishing on the dark side of the moon kinda fishing. Electric power reels, heavy line, 8lbs of lead and underwater lights help target these fish that have never seen the sun before. The physics of everything involved is pretty amazing and the quality of the meat from these deep dwellers is among the best eating fish there is anywhere on the planet.
Most of the windy day trips run the past 4 weeks have been in bridge channels, shallow flats or areas of reasonable exposure in calmer sea conditions to minimize the impact of rough sea conditions. The shallow water sharks have been very good, mangrove snapper fishing has been ok and improving. I have been running lots of combo trips to gather up enough snapper for dinner and finishing with pulling on some big sharks to keep it exciting and challenging. If the wind kicks up it has been my go to plan to make a less than ideal weather day into a fun day of catching. The final venues have been bridge tarpon and wreck permit. They are here, but a fishery suited more for an experienced angler that is capable of working with me as a team. I’m happy to offer and run these trips, just ask me and I’ll discuss it with you.
I want to finish with some perspective of why I operate my business and how I am different than other charter operators. I created my business for every type and skill level of angler, group, family and adventure seeker to affordably spend a vacation day on the water doing virtually anything fun. I have had some great positive customer feed back and other trips where I am left wondering what else I am supposed to do. Everything I offer I can do myself very well. The hard part is teaching you how to do it and do it well and enjoy the experience. It took me quite a while to come up with my business name. The whole purpose of FKRA is you are really doing what you have signed up to do! You are my crew. That saves me and you from hiring a $150 mate. I can and plan to get a bigger boat with more features. That’s going to add another $100 to each trip I offer. Are you going to hire me at that extra rate when I know you have the physical ability to do what I am teaching or you need a toilet seat to sit on to pee? There are 100 guides in Marathon legit/illegal/good/bad/big boat/little boat and everything in between. If you need more than what I offer, let me know. I’ll send you to the right person. If you factor in all expenses, I’m a little more expensive than if you went and rented a boat and tried to do what I do on your own. If you want to land more fish a mate can help you out with that too. A mate will hold the rod, present the bait properly, hook the fish, fight it past the critical danger point and hand it to you to finish the job. I would not accept that on my boat ever ever ever. My customers earn their adventures on my boat. Learning, overcoming challenges, failing and succeeding are all part of the rewarding experience of really doing it. My boat is a great platform for everything you can see in thousands of pictures, dozens of videos or read in hundreds of online reviews. I put a ton of helpful information out there so you know what you are getting and can compare apples to oranges. The Keys are a very fruity special place in close proximity to the real world and there is a lot of fake fruit in the bowl.
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