20th Annual Swamp Guides Ball
Capt. Steve Friedman
February 8, 2010
Islamorada - Saltwater Fishing Report
Since the cold spell, reports from the Gulf are still sounding more like grumbles and gripes. It's been tough to come by even the usual quarry of Spanish mackerel, cobia, grouper, snappers, and so on. The fish that have repopulated the flats are very hesitant to take a fly and are torturing some anglers with aggressive follows and few "takes." The most reliable Bay bite by far is the black drum, a close relative to the redfish, which are eating live shrimp bumped slowly along the bottom in some channels and runoffs in dirty or off-colored water. Redfish are also being caught with some consistency, along with a mix of trout, ladyfish and some jacks. We're even catching a flounder every once in a while.
The reef is still where it's all happening. The offshore guys are crushing the sailfish, kingfish and a few tunas. The patches inside the reef are simply red hot. Many of the fish that looked for refuge in deeper water made their way out to the reef and seem to still be there, eating as much as possible for the travel back into the bay. Groupers, snappers, sharks, mackerel, and others are all fighting over the bait that falls over the side of the boat. If it's non-stop action you're after, look no farther than the patch reefs close to home. Bring lots of shrimp and jigs and a few small hooks to catch a few ballyhoo behind the boat to drop down for larger fish hanging on the bottom. It won't take long for a bite and you never know what might be down there until you bring it up to the surface.
The 20th annual Swamp Guides Ball had another successful tournament again this year despite the slow conditions. We enjoyed an unusually pleasant day considering past years of this event, and sought to catch snook, redfish and bonefish. This year only, a slight rules change was introduced to comply with the new executive orders from the FWC and to promote the conservation and well being of our fishery. Snook and bonefish were limited to one released on the honor system. Angler's still needed to catch one or more redfish of at least 20".
We plotted to catch our snook and bonefish first, and then find our redfish to complete the slam and claim our prize. The plan started out great when we released our snook by 8:45 am. But the bonefish eluded us all day and we therefore never even looked for a redfish. Capt. Steve Thomas and his anglers had a similar plan but were able to produce. At lines out, Capt. Steve and his crew caught their bonefish and snook and released 3 redfish to claim this year's title of Grand Champions. Congratulations to you and all the participants who love this tournament for its prestige, history, challenge and most of all to support a great charity in the Don Hawley Foundation.
Big thanks go out to Capt. Rusty and Terry Albury and the Florida Keys Fishing Guides Association for putting on this special event and for all the hard work.
Islamorada Fishing Forecast:
Cold weather still prevails. Warmer water and better tides will get bonefish more active along with snook and redfish active up on the flats around Flamingo.
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