21 January 2014

• #16: Islamorada Journal 2014…21 JAN

We've got a bit of catching up to do...so here goes:

Saturday night's sunset.


Sunday night's sunset just going down...

...leaving behind this sky a few minutes later.

Monday morning brought...wait for it...believe it or not...my heart be still [well, not too still]...a windless day.

That's right gentle readers, no [word omitted here] wind at all.

Wayne and I headed out on Florida Bay and bumped into Charley B. in his Mako skiff who had been out on the water early.

Charley reported that he'd caught bluefish in the spot where the three of us had been into them on Friday. He also said he'd seen a mess of sheepshead [fish] but somehow Charley got away from us without divulging the location of said fish.

And here's a photo that Charley took and emailed to me: Shoo-fly on the calmest water one's ever likely to see on Florida Bay.

Not having found any fish in the usual spots up to this point of the day, we decided to head for a place we knew that had really deep water: nine feet deep. [I think I've already mentioned that most of the area we fish here is less than seven feet deep.]

To get to that spot we had to work our way closely past mangrove trees under which were hundreds of mangrove snappers...mostly small fish.

But we weren't fishing for snapper this day.

Wayne was quickly hooked up with...

...a keeper spotted seatrout of 18 inches.

Florida has a slot limit on these fish: they have to be between 15 and 20 inches, plus anglers are allowed to keep only one fish of 20 inches or more per day. In this way the larger, breeder fish are protected from over-harvesting.

Many anglers in the north believe we should have slot limits for striped bass...I'm one of them.

Guess how deep the water is here.

In addition to the water being smooth as glass this day, it was also crystal clear in most of the areas we fished. It may look to you here as though the water was a foot deep...but it's actually five-to-six feet in depth. We could see everything down there including sharks and barracudas.

I got a couple of casts at sharks with the red/orange shark fly. A couple of the toothy critters came over and gave the fly a look-see...but didn't bite. Just as well, perhaps. Wayne said if one of those big ones hit it'd run all the line off my reel in a flash. I said I didn't care...just wanted to get that first run or jump out of the fish and then break it off. Some of the sharks would have gone maybe 130 pounds.

We didn't find a lot of fish in the spot where we'd been catching bluefish and jacks recently. But we did find another area that had an amazing number of fish...bluefish, ladyfish...jacks.

And sharks feeding on them. Every several minutes for the two hours of so that we fished that location there'd be a big splash as a shark grabbed and devoured one of the thousands of fish that surrounded us.

Imagine. We're in 3-4 feet of water, sight-fishing for bluefish.

This is something that seldom happens in Long Island Sound as the water in the Sound lacks clarity. To be able to see the bottom in 6 feet of water where we fish up north is unusual. To actually see the bluefish swimming below you down in the water and cast to them...just doesn't happen up there. [One place I've sight-fished for blues up north is in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast at the Maine-New Hampshire border, fishing with Captain Peter Whelan.]

I caught so many fish [ladyfish in this and the next photo] that my fly-rod arm wore out...even casting the 7-weight [a lighter rod than is frequently used in this kind of fishing]. It was awful [just kidding].

Blues, ladies, and jacks smacked fly-rod poppers and about everything else we threw at them.

We kept hoping that one of the sharks feeding in the area would come over and grab one of the fish on our lines...and a couple of times sharks did give our fish a look. One time I was sure a 100-pounder was going to grab my ladyfish, but sharky got too close to the boat and spooked.

What're ya gonna do?

So, it was fish mayhem out there for a few hours.

We had a good time!

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