Here we are wrapping up an incredible beyond incredible Spring Break and rolling into another busy month full of fishing and adventure opportunities. Thank you to all my customers for keeping me on the water every day having run 32 trips in March…yes, just me! We had all good to excellent trips. As always, conditions and my crew determine where we go and what we do. The nicer the weather and the more experienced anglers open me up to unlimited possibilities and I dial it down to fit the needs of families, kids and those prone to having any motion sickness issues. One of the advantages of fishing this time of year is we don’t have to go too far from the dock to get into some great action. Some of my best spots for spring are within 3 miles of the dock and the main reef is less than 6 miles from where we start. This gets us to the fishing quickly and when the wind comes up, there are some pretty good alternate options that keeps us in reasonably calm conditions to keep things comfortable.
Reef fishing in April is typically pretty strong. Lately we have had great catches of large yellowtail snapper that are schooling up heavy for their summer spawning. Along with them we are catching mangrove snapper, mackerel, bonita, jacks and grouper (which are closed season until May 1).
Inside the reef we are knee deep in rod bending action on a dozen or more species. Tons of fish are migrating through daily making each day and trip full of potential. From giant bull sharks, medium 50-100lb blacktip sharks that launch into the air to the prized permit to every kind, size and shape reef fish will keep each hook up interesting and exciting. Following the hurricane, the fishing has been on the better side of really good!
Far offshore I have been getting reports of good action on blackfin tuna. This time of year they average “football” size and make for some great hard fighting sport and excellent eating. The biggest challenge is getting them into the boat before the sharks get them! April marks the very early beginning of when we see dolphin showing up. We get quality before quantity, so if we happen to cross paths with any floating debris or a bird working there is a very good chance there is a pair of nice sized dolphin underneath.
Following Hurricane Irma we struggled with 6 months of water quality issues. The dirty water and debris has cleared and provided us with much more stability and predictability in our day to day visibility for our in the water activities. Going forward it is safe to say we are back to normal conditions and snorkeling and in the water activities are a reasonable safe bet again. There is no way to ever predict what you may have for conditions for your trip planned well in advance, but for anybody looking for a trip within a week or so checking the weather websites like Windfinder is a great way to arm yourself with information to dial in the best day for your trip. Any time we see a wind event for multiple days it is similar to shaking a snow globe. All the fine silt and sand gets shaken up in the water column and it takes a few days for the dust to settle and the water to clear again. The reefs are still in good shape. Snorkeling and spearing is good. Please, please, please if you are legitimately interested in spearing with me, don’t for a second think you are not 100% responsible for being legit on your end. My only spearing trip this year will not be spearing with me again. If you show up not knowing your species identification, not knowing the current laws and have little interest in following the laws in place then your first trip with me will be your last. It is that simple. I will know within minutes where you are at and how much of a disaster you are about to be before you even get in the water. I’m really trying hard to not place myself in highly undesirable situations my customers often place me in. I am capable of hosting any kind of customer for many types of trips under nearly any circumstance. Ignorance, lack of respect for what you are doing and general stupidity makes for a trip that I am tired of. I am a teaching guide, these are learning trips and you and I are a team working together to accomplish a positive experience and outcome. Opening yourself up to the experience, listening to simple instructions and building skills throughout the trip is part of the reward of the experiences I offer. I can work with anybody willing to work with me. If you struggle with up, down, left, right, lift, wind, faster, slower, start or stop just put this info in the “notes” section on your reservation form. This information helps me helps you. Also please mention medical issues or anything that makes you special or different from what I would expect you to be other than a normal person. I could write a novel with no end about the fun surprises I encounter taking people out on my boat. If you are missing a leg, your arm doesn’t work, you just had surgery, you crap your pants when you get excited or anything that may lessen your ability to be super awesome is a good thing for me to know! It will make your trip better because I will know how to help you!! Been there…..seen it all and more. Please help me help you. I bet you were not expecting that, right?!
I’ll finish with my last Keys recover update I feel is needed to post. The Marathon area is up and running strong. We are fully functioning and you really have to look to see lingering damage. The are still many stores and businesses that are closed or in various stages of repair. Publix is our only grocery store. Many vacation rentals are still out of service. What is coming in the short term is more of everything. March has been very busy here and it has all worked out pretty well. You are welcome here and the Keys are ready for you to visit. I have talked with all of my guests on their experiences and have had good feedback. I also have had guests tell me they changed their plans to visit us here because they know how important tourism is to our recovery efforts here. I can’t express how meaningful that is to me and others that rely on providing our visitors with the best experience possible because you all do have many choices as to where you spend your vacation. Thank you all for visiting and those that are looking to come will be part of the Keys experience that make this place so special. The Keys will take a while to be back to where we were before Hurricane Irma. It was a really big bad storm that destroyed so many lives, businesses and dreams. Looking at it right now, I see so much good happening and we are going to better than we were before in a short amount of time. The Keys are alive and well. Come see for yourself and bring a friend!
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