I know it’s not easy being a tourist to the Keys! It is something we, as locals, too often take for granted. Traveling down a highway packed with so many options, left and right, South is West and North is East, bay side, ocean side and mile markers….what???? Where are you going and what are you doing?! Generally speaking, that’s what is happening in many brains around here when it comes to what to do, where to go and how to do it! Here’s one example of how I can help you. About fishing, of course, but it applies to everything!
As charter captains, we have seen it. We have been a part of your hectic days and experienced your crazy antics that you have brought with you from lands elsewhere. Therefore, we have a few insider industry jokes, which have been rightfully earned over the years. One is about walleye fisherman. A good walleye fisherman may be great in his home waters, but when it comes to the reality of his success fishing against our reef bullies…somebody is going to have their feelings hurt when it proves more difficult and confusing than anticipated.
Yesterday, I had two great anglers from Wisconsin book me for their first day on the water of a week long boat rental. Why would they do that? Well, I show up with some of my rods/reels and a bucket full of my tackle. Instantly, they show me the deal they got on some rods ($25 combos) at a local retail chain store. Some guy told them this and that and so on and here it is! Oooooh, boy!
Politely, I set their rods up, rig them with my leaders, knots and tackle; all the same as I rig mine. Once on the reef, I show them the specific techniques requires for our style of reef fishing and put the pieces of the puzzle together for them little by little. Instant success leads to great expectations and, in the excitement, walleye habits come out and the catching goes waaaay down. Bite after bite, missed fish, curse words and frustration. Missed hook sets, drags strain and fail and the fish are winning. The train derails and I step in.
“Here, why don’t you try my rod?”, I ask. “Hold it here, put your hand there to feel the bite, close the bail and set the hook like this!” The train is back on track, fish are going in the cooler and the $25 combos get stowed for the day. My point is not to pat myself on the back, but this is a scenario that gets played out on the water every day. It has happened to everybody that fishes these waters! Who would be laughing at me if I brought my saltwater rods up North and tied on some 40lb leader and a 6 ounce verticle jig for tuna and tried to catch a walleye?!
We finished the day with a pile of legal fish in the cooler. They learned all about local regulations and fish identification. I showed them how to set and pull their anchor from the reef, how our confusing channel markers work, local navigational hazards and gave them a pile of fishing spots to hide from this relentless wind. Ultimately, they walked away with so much more than a fishing trip!
A guide and the services provided are a valuable asset to keep your vacation on course and ensure the best possible outcome within your limited time here. Sure, you have the internet and can look up anything, but when it comes to the day to day and seasonal changes on the water, Goggle does not have the answers your guide has. Spend your time searching a quality guide and outfitter. Spend some time on the phone asking detailed questions about your trip. We have many, many quality guides here in the keys, but if you book your trip based on what you see and not on what you know, you may be in for an unfortunate surprise. Keep in mind you will be spending hours on a boat with that person, so you should know what you’re getting into! If your guide isn’t looking out for your best interests, then you’re with the wrong one. There’s more to it than reeling in fish! You only have so many vacation days, so make the most of them!
Please feel free to call or write and ask me about how I can help you. I f I can not provide you with what you’re looking for, I will refer to the best operator to outfit you with my 26 years of experience in Marathon and the middle Keys! After all, it’s my job!
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