Rolling With The Changes

January 9th, 2014

Well, January is here and there’s no doubt it has made an impact on us all.  Watching from the comfort of record warm weather here, I saw a day where the temperature difference between here and my old stomping grounds of Chicago was greater than 95 degrees.  It’s hard to believe I live in the same country as the rest of the US sometimes.  Now that our first real dose of “Winter” has arrived here in the Keys in the form of lots of wind and rain, we can expect some changes around here.  Our fish have been in limbo between a summer pattern and a winter pattern because there was no decisive indication to tell them where to be.  I think the message is clear now, so despite much cooler temperatures for the air and water, fishing should go from good to great.  This will make for shorter runs to productive fishing grounds and open up more options for more species as reliable patterns emerge.

I have been asked often lately about lobster trips from many people interested in their first experience.  Lobstering is most productive during our warm water period.  Once the first cold fronts arrive in October/November, the majority of the lobster migrate to deeper warmer waters and at this point, a significant amount of the legal sized lobster population has already been caught.  Lobstering under really good conditions is a challenge for first timers, so under these circumstances we find during winter, I personally don’t target lobster.  However, there are always some lobster around to be caught!  The reduced number of commercial traps in the water during winter and the lack of recreational pressure offsets some of the negatives.  I don’t want to discourage anybody from trying lobstering.  Reality is lobstering is a challenging activity in summer and becomes more challenging in Winter.  It is an amazing experience if lobster are caught or not, but I want happy customers with lobster in your cooler for dinner.  That’s the reality of where we are at.  One last thought, as the water warms and before lobster season ends on April 1, a few locals brave the cooler water conditions to get a last crack at them to put a few in the freezer.  More often than not, they get the job done.  Something to think about!

A few other changes are ahead for me this year.  My primary fishing boat (my Sea Cat catamaran) is currently waiting on a difficult part to find.  I expect it to be out of service for a few weeks and I am lucky to have a beautiful 26′ Sea Hunt to fill in it’s place.  I ask everybody aboard my trips to be VERY CARREFUL!!!  I ‘m on eggshells every trip hoping my customers don’t damage a really pretty boat that isn’t ready for a beating.  Also, expect to see some new rods and reels from Shimano in your hands!  I’m very excited about this.  Having used other brands of equipment, I have had a tough time finding reels that survive the consumer experience for more than 6 months.  The new Shimano equipment is beautiful and smooth and hopefully helps you land the big ones for a year.  If the reels survive to see their first birthday, new Shimano equipment will on board annually.  Finally, I am assembling 2 deep drop setups to enter the world of deep bottom fishing. This isn’t for everybody, but is a fishery of opportunity.  Fishing deep is a game of long drops and retrieves with electric reels in water up to 1000’ deep.  The reward is never knowing what you are pulling up and what comes up is tastier fish treats that live in extreme pressure, darkness and cold water temperatures.  Maybe if you have done the reef and offshore thing, this may be a new door to open and add some new species to your caught list.

Thanks for reading!  Life is good and fishing is great!  Looking forward to having you aboard in 2014!

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