Caged and Confused May Report

May 10th, 2020

Here we are a week into May and I realized I haven’t written my update. I sometimes get these out late because I’m so busy, but not so much the case this year. However, I am seeing an uptick in inquiries for charters here and there. I am finding that many people are unaware that the Keys have been closed to non residents for what seems like an eternity now. The current projection is we will remain “closed” through the remainder of the month of May and I would imagine June things will be returning to normal as can be for the situation.

Hopefully you are all doing well in your areas. We have been doing great here! Quite unusual with the lack of traffic and the activity levels of what we see for in season tourism, but everything here has been nothing short of great. Given some suggestions that heat, humidity and sun are all factors for keeping the virus transmission rates low, I imagine we are going to see things return to normal here fairly quickly. At this point I guess you all have been caged up for so long you would do just about anything to get away for a long weekend and participate in some water therapy. Heck, I have been doing it as often as I can manage! It helps every time!

Getting out feels great!!!

Briefly, from what little fishing I have been doing, everything has been fantastic. I have tried to mix it up just to keep in touch with what has been going on. Not too many people fishing and reports have been hard to come by, so I have been doing “research” meat trips. The reef bite for snapper and grouper has been solid. Fishing the wrecks for mutton snapper has been steady. Getting fish past the sharks has been a little challenging, which is common this time of year.

Big Mutton Snapper

Electric deep drop season has opened and catching snowy grouper and tilefish has been productive.

Chunky Snowy Grouper
Blueline Tilefish

I even had 2 chances to jump in the water with the spear and managed to get a pair of really nice black grouper. Usually I’m putting you on the fish, so this was a nice role reversal!

wrestling a big black grouper I speared

June will likely be when you are returning to fish with me, so looking forward we have so much to look forward to! Snapper fishing will be excellent on the reef and wrecks. Grouper will thin out a little, but with less pressure, maybe we will see better numbers longer into the open season. Offshore dolphin and tuna fishing ramp up. Currently the water temps are averaging around 82 degrees, so anything in the water (except lobster) is an option as long as we have reasonable conditions.

Speared Lionfish

Speaking of conditions, we are about to leap into rainy season this week. Nobody can predict the weather for your trip, but good advice is to always try to book a morning trip to take advantage of the lower light, cooler temperatures and afternoon showers/storms.

Other news, the boats have been gone through with more updates and improvements. I have had plenty of time to do so! I’m proud to say I keep maintenance a top priority and have not had to cancel a trip due to mechanical break down in over 3 years. That’s not by accident!! Things on boats always go wrong, but getting back to the dock every time sure is nice!

Mini season dates July 29, 30th are still open. I changed my format for my sanity. Instead of trying to run 2 trips a day, the only option I will be offering is a “full” day open ended trip that we go out and do our thing until you are basically done. I’m guessing 6-8 hours. That way there is no rush and the day will have a little more meaning. I have the dates blocked off so you can not book directly. You may fill out my contact form with your information and I will make a decision after I contact you about specific details to make sure you are a good fit for the trip. I’m not interested in taking out people on mini season that are going to be stuck on the struggle bus every step of the trip on a day that is already full of additional challenges. I’ve done it for 8 years and now I’m dialing it back to something more manageable for myself. For more lobster catching information, this is your link to Lobster Info.

Until then, I am REALLY looking forward to getting back to work! I do not know how to not be busy. This has been rough on all of us for many reasons and many different reasons. I will be operating as I have in the past. I will have hand sanitizer options on board for our protection. Realistically, there is only so much I can do to protect me from you and everyone from everyone else. Please use good judgement and hygiene and we will make this work out just fine. I have gotten through 2 years/flu seasons without any issues and I expect the same going forward. Together we can make this work. For up to date info for what’s happening here in the Keys with reopening, you can check out Monroe County BOCC.

One final thought. Who knows what the future of hospitality, tourism and charter fishing looks like. No doubt there is going to be a huge balance shift across the board. In Marathon, there are probably close to 100 charter operators before this that were somewhat legal and maybe another 100 people offering illegal charters. There will be operators on the brink of closing or cutting corners to make things work. I think things will get a little sketchy for you, as a visitor looking to save a little bit, if you are price shopping and looking for the best rate to go out for whatever. My rates will not change. I will not offer any discounts. I have a business model with calculated costs and I know I will not cut corners to offer you a slightly better rate. That’s the wrong way to do things. I firmly believe we are this deep into this viral mess because of the practice of cutting corners has finally exposed all of our cut off corners and we are defenseless. Cutting corners on the ocean is not a practice I will incorporate into my business. I operate my business as a premium charter outfit that offers you the best, safest and most unique experience for the most reasonable price. This disruption will hurt me, but I will be here for your next vacation this year and the next. I have also built reliability and consistency into my business to ensure I will be here with your deposit and a top notch boat when it is time for your trip. Unfortunately, I feel many will find themselves in the opposite situation with other operators. I’m watching their boats get listed on Craigslist the past few weeks. It’s a terrible reality. My blog pre virus a few months ago details some of the pit falls here. Safe health and good luck everybody! I really hope to fish with you soon!

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