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Key West and Lower Keys

Capt. Dexter Simmons
September 16, 2003
Key West - Saltwater Fishing Report

Keys Bonefishing Hot!

Sept. 16, 2003Bonefish are probably the most under-rated of the big three grand slam flats species available here in the Keys. Nine of the fifteen current International Game Fish Association world record fly catches for Bonefish were caught in the Keys. So, why are the Keys Bones disregarded by anglers? Let's examine this issue closely. Bonefishing gained its worldwide popularity from stories of catches in the Florida Keys. Zane Grey began writing about Bonefish in the early 1900's when he fished with the "Bonefish Brigade" at Long Key in the heart of the Florida Keys. Grey and his fishing buddies would take Flager's Folly train into the Keys disembarking at the Long Key fishing camp. A group of anglers named the "bonefish bugs" would make the annual trek each winter, usually arriving in February. One of Zane Grey's friends named Lone Angler Wilborn probably was the first to catch a Bonefish on fly in February, 1922, although this is conjecture based on separating fact from fiction in Zane Grey's writings. Some twenty odd years later, Joe Brooks and Ted Williams helped to to put the Florida Keys on the world Bonefish map with some angling feats of their own. The photo above is of Ted Williams flycasting to fish in the Keys. Ted appeared on American Sportsman with Curt Gowdy many times, often focusing on Bonefishing in the Keys. I have a few vague memories of watching that show with my Dad on Saturday afternoons. Dad would get a dreamy look on his face and I contribute much of my angling enthusiasm to his influence. If he were alive today, he would be wading the Keys Bonefish flats with me. His fishing nickname would probably be Benji-mon Boneangler or something like that. Florida Keys Bonefish are big. Bigger on average than Bahamas Bonefish, or Bonefish found in most other areas of the world. That is one of the reasons why so many world records are caught in the Keys. An average Bonefish in the Keys is 5-6 pounds. A record fish would be between 12 and 16 pounds, depending on the tippet class you are fishing. The fish in the above photo was estimated to be 11 pounds. The Bonefish pictured below was estimated to be 13 pounds. Fishing for big Bonefish in the Keys in the Spring, Summer and Fall months can produce trophy catches like these. Yesterday, Sept. 15, 2003, I waded the flats in the morning for tailing Bonefish and found fish within 50 feet of the skiff, tailing like it was their last breakfast. Ravenously feeding on grass mantis shrimp, snapping shrimp and small crabs, the Bones were oblivious to my presence. One cast (I KID YOU NOT!), three short strips and I felt the subtle pressure on my line that spelled HOOK-UP. The fish tore across the flat like a heat seeking torpedo in search of its target. Ten minutes later, after two blistering runs, the Bonefish was subdued at my feet. The boga grip on the boat measured the fish at 6 pounds. An average sized Keys Bonefish had just ran off 100-150 yards of my backing twice before I could bring him back toward the boat. I was fishing for less than a minute when I hooked up, landed and released a healthy Bonefish using my Sugarloaf Special Bonefish fly. Now that is world class Bonefishing! Our Father (Mother) - Son (Daughter) Key West Flats Fishing Trips are now scheduled for throughout the summer, fall and winter. For more information about the Father and Son Flats Fishing Trips go to http://www.keywestflyfishing.com You may contact Capt. Dexter Simmons for a future fishing charter by telephone at 305-745-3304 or by email at captdexter@prodigy.net

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Key West Fly Fishing with Capt. Dexter Simmons. Sight fly fishing on the flats of Key West, the Marquesas, and the Florida Keys for Tarpon, Bonefish, Permit, Barracuda, Shark, and more. Charters available year 'round. Friendly, experienced, professional captain who prides himself on providing a high quality fly fishing trip for anglers of all abilities. Fly casting lessons, SAGE fly fishing rods, TIBOR reels, lines, leaders, flys hand tied by Capt. Dexter Simmons, & fishing licenses included

Contact Info:

Key West Fly Fishing
P.O. Box 2006
Key West, FL 33040
Phone: 305-745-3304
Alt. Phone: 305-745-3304
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