More wind, More cold fronts, More fish!
By: Capt. Mark Krowka
The magical “trench”, locally called the Gulf, the fertile valley behind the Middle Keys, and areas adjacent to it, are currently hitting and spiking on all cylinders, despite persistent small craft (and beyond) warnings. The 18 HPX is getting there, and fishing comfortably and productively, in traditionally some of the roughest conditions presented during the entire year. The number and types of target species is almost endless, right now in this vast red zone, as reflected in some of the following catches.
My wife Marcy and I took out my father & sister, Ed & Stephanie, and captured some rare lee near Blue Bank for a half day of anchoring and chumming in only 6 feet of water on Christmas Day. They all pitched 3/8 ounce yellow bullet jigs with dime-sized sections of fresh shrimp for stinkage to land 50 fish and 9 species. During the action on 10 pound spinning, snapping Spanish mackerel up to 5 pounds were taken and chomping bluefish to 6 pounds joined in. Ninety-two years young, Ed, put on a jigging clinic while he handily outfished all on board! There’s no better holiday gift for me!
Stephanie & Ed Krowka, mack & blue!
Jon Dee, legendary veterinarian from Hollywood and son-in-law Scott Roper from Longmont, CO, braved 25mph winds, chilly temps and a constant drizzle to pound out 71 fish and 8 species while concentrating on one of the only zipcodes to hide that day in such uncomfortable restrictions, the Snake Bite circuit of channels, ditches and creeks. Meticulously dredging the sandy bottoms with the same jig and shrimp combo, they came up with 8 nice reds and 4 good snook among the other expected residents, trout, ladies and jacks. Some of the crevalle were saved for bottom baits on the beefier 20 pound spinners to attract 5 shark bites, with twin 125 pound carnivorous bull sharks landed.
Father and son Alan and Zach Routman from Fort Lauderdale, Maverick owners, poled and casted shorelines near Bradley Key to take a pair of snook that thumped 1/4 ounce chartreuse jigs. They raced to the Gulf edge near Sandy Key as winds temporarily subsided and exploded for 15 species and 120 sporty fish while staked and chumming. The Routmans managed 31 sprinting Spanny macks in just a couple of hours of moving tide, all taken on the standard jig/shrimp unit and 10 pound spin.
Frank DeLucas of Plantation Acres hosted his 9 year old twins Frankie and Melania for non-stop hootin’ and hollerin’ light tackle action on the periphery of deep water near Schooner Bank while anchored down and chumming. They also threw jigs tipped with fresh cut shrimp on 6 pound braid and tiny Shimano 2500 Series spin equipment to maximize the enjoyment out of 10 species and 131 fish, which include large tasty mangroves and 33 Span macks up to 5 1/2 pounds.
Recently married Sarah and Trevor Seachrist from Strasburg, PA, scheduled their three days of fishing to coincide with the windiest period of the month, blowing sustained at 25 and gusting to over 35mph. The blasting did not impair, however, the couples productivity. On their first day, in the Frank & Murray Key area, the newlyweds pumped out 121 fish and 12 species which included 3 snook and 4 reds taken on troll-rites with shrimp on bottom. They saved some large ladyfish to sink down into the Conchie Channel series of tide rips to have 10 shark bites and crank up a 60 pound blacktip, 70 pound spinner, 80 pound nurse, 90 pound bull and then a ferocious 6 foot plus grimacing 140 pound lemon. Day 2 featured the same adverse conditions, plus stinging rain, near Johnson Key, and was tougher, with 44 fish and 10 species including snook and red with a 3 pound bonefish thrown in, en route to the Islamorada vicinity. The third and final day saw the breezes drop to just over 20mph, which left the rim of the Gulf accessible for part of the outgoing tide near Bamboo Banks. Anchoring and chumming generated 11 species and 108 fish on jigs with shrimp, with both blues and mackerels up to 5 pounds and succulent mangroves to 2 pounds.
Trevor Seachrist and snook
Trevor Seachrist with red
Ed Patricoff and son Nick from Islamorada, worked areas near the Channel Key Banks with the jig/shrimp to erupt for 167 quality fish with 15 species, which included 52 Spanish macks to 5 pounds, keeper mangroves, redfish, pompano to 2 1/2 pounds and a 6 pound tripletail.
Ed & Nick Patricoff with variety pack
Dennis Trendel, from Tavernier and friend Keith had sore hands after 13 species and 175 fish, also from the Gulf near Sprigger in 12 feet of water while anchored and chumming on shrimp-sweetened bright green jigs and 10 pound spin. They loaded up on mangroves to 3 pounds, and big trout to 4 pounds along with slashing Spanish macks to 5 pounds. This pair also took 2 foul tempered blacktips over 100 pounds out of 5 aggressive bites on the more stout 20 pounds spinners.
Ian Norris, Michelle DeStefano & her son Trip, from Dania, anchored up with chum, well out from Schooner Bank and worked the jig/shrimp composite on light coffee-colored wire to collect pompano to 3 pounds, bluefish, cobia, lookdowns, blacktip and dusky sharks, and 61 Spanish mackerel. When the smoke had cleared, this trio had assembled 18 species and a remarkable 253 fish!
Ian, Trip & Michelle holy mackerels!