It is hard to ignore all of the winter weather suffering I have seen and heard from my visitors that come from anywhere North of the Florida border this season. Not the case at all here in the Keys, as we have been well above average warmth and we didn’t see any of the cold stuff and really not much wind that partners with the cooler temperatures and passing fronts. It has been confusing to everything living above and below the waters. In February we were catching lobster without having to wear wetsuits and saw plenty of days with surface temps that warmed to above 80 degrees. This has been great for tourists and many of our water activities, but has made fishing a day to day puzzle that needs to be solved for each outing to produce good results. We have been seeing trickles of our winter fish that come and go, but they just haven’t hung out to enjoy the nice weather. It is hard to convince a fish to be here when the environmental cues are telling them it is spring/summer in February.
The good news is it just about Spring and there should be less confusion as the calendar and warming temperatures align to make fishing patterns emerge. When it comes to the calendar, we know Spring Break and Easter are coming. This is also the same time we see the changing of our local fish. We start talking about tarpon, permit, dolphin and an improving snapper bite on the reef line. On a recent outing I visited a popular summer yellowtail spot and we were rewarded with hefty yellow fellows that we typically don’t see for another month or two. For the next few weeks we should see things getting better. Fishing hasn’t been bad, but it has been a struggle that has required more work and more fourth quarter victories than I’m comfortable with.
As the waters warm, I see a surge in my in-water activities, such as spearfishing, snorkeling, shelling and lobstering. March is our last month of open lobster season and I usually book a few trips before it shuts down at the end of July. Our best lobstering is always in the warmest months of open season, but there are still a few out there. Again, the warmer than usual water temps may have kept a few lazy lobster from pushing into the deeper waters of the Caribbean and many of the commercial fisherman have pulled their traps early for the season. The reduction in commercial pressure lends an advantage to the recreational diver, YOU, so now is the time. This activity is challenging and rewarding. We have to process more spots and cover more water to put the odds in our favor, but the journey is the adventure. It is common to see many grouper, sea turtles, goliath grouper and a variety of tropical fish and marine life to keep it interesting when production is lower. This winter there have been plenty of “short” undersized lobster to keep you in the game, where sometimes it is empty hole after empty hole. Just a reminder, this activity requires you to be healthy, physically fit to normal standards and you need to be able to hold your breath for 30 seconds. Be sure to ask lots of questions if you are interested in this type of trip, as it is not for everybody.
Spring Breakers, there is plenty for you to do if fishing isn’t your thing. Go price some rental boats and do a little breakdown of cost and time. Keep in mind fuel is $5/gallon and not included on a rental boat. I offer completely custom trips and can set up something fun to keep you entertained. Cars and boats are governed by the same DUI laws and an afternoon drinking in the sun can turn into a disaster when the boat with blue lights pulls up. Don’t fool yourself, they know who you are and what you’re doing. My best advice is hire a local captain to ensure your trip is safe, fun and legal start to finish. It is more than worth it in ways you don’t want to know or want to learn. You are here to have a good time, so leave the worries to me!!
Thank you to all of my customers! Again, I am grateful to be a part of your vacations and blessed to be a guide in the Florida Keys. I appreciate those that have given me a moment after you have returned home to write about your experience with my operation on travel sites like TripAdvisor. Social media is such a powerful tool in today’s business climate and it has launched me to a #2 ranking for fishing charters in Marathon in such a short time. Such an honor that my hard work has been recognized. I have added a Yelp page to offer another social review platform if you are a Yelper. As the business grows, I am learning as I go along and doing my best to constantly improve my services and options I can offer my customers. My goal is to be the best day of your vacation and turn you into a repeat customer. Stay here in the United States and support our fine local businesses that make the Florida Keys a top travel destination for vacationers and adventure seekers of every kind from around the world. I hope to see you on the water soon!!!!
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