September 2014 Islamorada / Florida Keys Fishing Report: Fall Is
Capt. Pete Rowney
September 24, 2014
Islamorada - Saltwater Fishing Report
Well it's mid-September, the kids are back at school and the crowds have gone. The fall is my favorite time to be in the Keys. The tourist season is over and having less people around is a welcome break. It also means nobody is on the flats! Being able to fish Everglades National Park and have it all to yourself is pretty amazing. Islamorada's proximity to Everglades National Park is one of the reasons why Islamorada is the best place to fish in the Keys. A five minute boat ride from any bayside boat ramp will put you inside the park. You don't have that kind of access anywhere else in the Keys. Fishing inside the park is an amazing experience and no fishing trip to Islamorada is complete without going "out back". An angler can find every fish imaginable in the "backcountry". Bonefish, permit, tarpon, redfish, snook, sea trout, black drum, sharks, jack crevalle, and the list goes on. But the bonus is fishing for these species in a wilderness environment. Sure, it's not unspoiled and there are reminders that you're still in the 21st century, but there are definitely times when I've been fishing and wouldn't have been surprised to see a dinosaur or two! Now on to the fishing!
Redfish and snook fishing continues to be excellent. As mentioned in previous reports, it is so great to see more and more juvenile snook. This great gamefish is making a strong comeback since the freeze of 2010 and I couldn't be happier. What makes me unhappy is the fact that the state of Florida reopened snook season last year and people went right back to their old ways. Most upsetting are the guides that did so. As much as Islamorada is the "Sportfishing Capital of the World" it certainly is not the "Fishing Conservation Capital of the World". The old school, offshore fishing mentality of "if it's legal, keep it" is archaic and needs to change. For my part, every snook will go back. They are too valuable of a resource to be on a dinner plate.
Another success story in the making appears to be bonefish. Finding large schools of juvenile bonefish tailing in the backcountry is a great sign, although oceanside fishing has been the most consistent. We've also been finding some decent sized schools of juvenile permit, along with the occasional slob. There are still a number of tarpon in the 20 – 30 pound range on the oceanside as well as in the backcountry. As the water starts to cool and the mullet migration kicks in next month, fishing for tarpon, redfish and snook will really light up. That goes for bonefish and permit as well. A little bit cooler water really fires these guys up and you can find some really fatties. Looking forward to October. Until next time. -Pete
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