Spring fishing in the Keys
Capt. Steve Friedman
April 14, 2010
Islamorada - Saltwater Fishing Report
High pressure weather continued to domintate the Keys last week. Strong winds and weak tides left some flats exposed thoughout the entire day. These flats can be very shallow even at high tides, when the wind blows against a weak current. Fish that would normally be feeding up on top of the flat were found more often on the falling tide, just off the flats in the deeper edges, where warm water flows over the shallows. Bonefish like to mud and tail in these conditions and were caught on live bait as well as flies.
When the clouds cleared for bright blue skies, permit were easily spotted along some of the flats edges. Many of the permit that have been spauning offshore are once again cruising oceanside and backcountry flats. Live crabs and crab-like flies have been working best. A cast just past the fish and up-current allows the permit to spot the crab as it sinks. It will swim over and gulp the shrimp in or pin it to the bottom and "tail" on the crab to eat it. Using circle hooks in these instances is the safest choice for the fish, which can swallow the bait while the hook almost always sticks just in the corner of the mouth.
I've heard some fantastic reports about the cobia invading the Gulf of Mexico, following sting rays as they move accross the flats. They are eating almost any streamer fly pattern, or charging live shrimp and pinfish on sight. They often look like sharks swimming in the distance, but they are curious creatures and will sometimes come right up to the boat and even nibble on the chum bag.
Keep a look out for bait when you're fishing. Mullet, pinfish, ladyfish and others are good food for the mighty sliver king, which are starting to get on everyone's mind. Early morning, just before sunrise brings the best tarpon bite in deeper water, and then again in the afernoon close to sunset. A live bait on top and a dead bait on the bottom will cover your bases. Use a stout rod and a reel with good drag and a capacity of at leaset 250 yards of line. On the flats, the tarpon fishing has been difficult mostly due to the strong winds and cooler water temperatures.
We are settling in to our normal spring weather patterns and the water is already starting to warm up. Combine that with some excellent full moon tides and the fishing should start to explode very soon.
Islamorada Fishing Forecast:
Tarpon will be swimming the oceanside flats and when the wind calms down should be found "laid-up" in the backcountry.
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