Miami and Florida Keys Trip 8/10-8/17

Discussion in 'Fishing Reports' started by JerseyBrian, Aug 17, 2008.

  1. JerseyBrian

    JerseyBrian Senior Member

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    Prologue

    Special Thanks to Mark Lewis (Hatidua) for referring me to Capt. Diego Toiran of Reel Smoker Charters down operating out of Cudjoe Key down by Key West. Diego was a VERY cool guy and one of my favorite captains I've ever spent time with on the water. Very laid back, down to earth and honest with you about everything. It was also comforting to learn that Diego once worked at the Miami Seaquarium which is where my friend, John, works as a senior Dolphin trainer; suffice to say, they quickly became friends talking about the their experiences diving in the dolphin, orca or reef tanks for cleaning - small world! He goes above and beyond the call of duty to get you on as many shots on hooking up with fish as possible and its those types of things I remember and take to heart. I appreciated it a lot Diego! Whenever I'm back down in the Keys, I'm definitely giving Diego a call. Maybe we'll be able to go out fishing again or maybe we'll just have some drinks and beers at the local fisherman's watering hole :cool: We had a good time Bro.

    -Brian Pyun
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    So, I arrived in Ft. Lauderdale after a 2.5 hr delay in Philly taking off on sunday night. We arrived back in Miami at my friend's apartment finally around midnight and took the rods/reels out of the before we went upstairs to unload my luggage :p My friend and his roommate had already purchased 5 dozen live shrimp for me to fish the night away so we were ready to fish off the Miami Biscayne Bay sea wall for a few hours. The Mangrove Snapper are spawning right now so the bigger fish are coming inshore and into the bays. You can find see/some nice sized 4-5lb'ers right near your feet when fishing rocky outcropings that serve for excellent light tackle action as well as a great dinner. So we began picking away at some smaller sized Mangroves and French Grunts with a few cut offs from baby Cudas here and there. Finally after an hour, my friend John hooks into one that take a little drag to get in. It's a nice sized 2.5lber and we have our first fish in the ice box. A few minutes later, I have a hard bite and the line is screaming once again on my Quantum Catalyst 20PTs reel with 10lb Sufix braid, 20lb Yozuri Fluorocarbon and a 7ft MH Temple Fork Outfitters 3pc Travel rod. Fought it for about 3 minutes and finally had my first larger sized Mangrove (3.5-4lbs) on the deck!!!

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  2. JerseyBrian

    JerseyBrian Senior Member

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    On Monday morning, we woke up at 7AM to drive down to Grassy Key in the Florida Keys where we would be staying at the Rainbow Bend Resort for 3 days and 2 nights for a 72 hour session of fishing the backcountry mangroves, bridges, shallow patch reefs and offshore wrecks ;)

    By 8:45AM, we had reached Bass Pro Shops' World Wide Sportsman in Islamorada and picked up 2 blocks of Menhaden chum, 5 dozen shrimp, 4 crabs and 5 Pinfish for a morning of backcountry fishing. After we loaded up our bait, it was down to Lower Matecumbe Key and to Robbie's for an 18ft Rental Wagner Skiff and a nice look at the BIG Tarpon they constantly have waiting by the docks for their free, hand-fed pilchards from visiting customers for $1 a bucket of bait. I also saw some nice sized 15-20lb Jack Crevalle cruising along side the Tarpon as well as a big Redfish hanging around...man I could watch fish cruising around like that for hours...

    We had the boat until 2PM and immediately made a run for the mangroves we visited back at the end of January where we slaughtered the Mangrove snapper as well as a variety of other species; one cast, one fish. As we got there, we realized that the live well on the boat had broken and the drain to the live well had punctured, releasing about 2.5 dozen of the live shrimp we had just purchased. Bud and Mary's were out of live Shrimp so we decided what we could do with the remaining 2.5 dozen we had left. As we get to the spot and anchor up, the chum hits the water and the snapper start coming off the mangroves. We have a good times picking up a few keepers and I switch to a Berkley Gulp! 3" Shrimp to conserve the rest of the bait. As we keep fishing for more Mangroves off the mangroves :p we see a 5ft Nurse Shark and put a Pinfish down with my Accurate and big stick, hoping to get him feeding in the chum slick as well. We move to the mouth of the mangrove channel where it meets the backbay and I start fan casting my trusty Black/Silver Yozuri Crystal minnow and I get a nice follow to the boat of a juvenile Cuda. Two more casts, fish on!

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    After we ran out of live shrimp, we made a run for the ocean side to light tackle troll from the bridge to the little patch reefs located along the boat channel with a 4" 1oz. Tsunami Rattletrap in Sardine and my Yozuri Crystal minnow in silver/black back. We had hookups on the Rattletrap two times that spit the hook before we could tell what it was. Once we tucked back into the bayside, we spotted another nurse shark finning ontop of the water and setup anchor for the last time before we had to return the boat. Once we broke out the chum, a Bonnet Head shark appears boatside! This is getting good. A few minutes later we see a big 6ft Nurse shark come upto the boat and eye up my dead grunt on the ground. After one circle, it takes the bait and swims off with it. I wait until the shark is 10ft away and I start reeling in my Accurate 665 2 spd to set the circle hook. The shark spits the bait and swims off :( Grr....next time...

    Soon after we headed to our hotel in Grassy Key and checked into our room which we got upgraded for free! The service was very friendly; great place and very quiet. We had our own private Jacuzzi, Kitchen, family room and two bedrooms for $165 a night, sounds good to me! After we checked in and put our luggage down, we still had another 3 hours of daylight so we took the remainder of our live shrimp and frozen silversides and headed further south towards Marathon to fish for the evening. We made it to Vaca Cut bridge and dropped the chum back into the water. There was were all kinds of fish around. We watched a kid fight an 80lb Juvenile Tarpon across the bridge off one of the marina docks, snappers, grunts, Triggerfish, etc... At one point James caught a snapper and only the head came back :eek: I knew it must have been a small shark or a BIG cuda. So I tossed out another shrimp and slowly walked it on the bottom back to the rocks and caught another friend of mine :)

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    Another freakin Scorpion Fish!! But the craziest part of all was that a Huge 5ft long Cuda rose up behind the Scorpion fish looking at it in a funny way :) So after I released the Scorpion fish, I hooked another Grunt and casted him out far into the middle of the channel and right back in front of the cuda. In seconds, I had it on the line...boom cut the line. I quickly catch another small fish and send him out again and this time I feel like I have a good bite, I set the hook and the cuda spits the fish...it comes back all shredded. I send it back out again...bang...strong hookset this time....35 seconds later...I retrieve just the lips of the fish lol...awesome. I love how badass cudas are. Just mean mofos.... It was a good ending to a fun filled day of seeing big Nurse sharks and a huge Barracuda. Unfortunately, I slipped on a rock and fell into the water; ruining my Canon SD870IS camera :( Crap.
     

  3. JerseyBrian

    JerseyBrian Senior Member

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    On tuesday, oceanside was mirror flat as far as the horizon so we decided to take the hotel's 15ft rental boat out to a local patch reef which is a straight shot from the resort called East Turtle Shoal. We get to the reef and the current is opposite the wind so it looks to be a west wind :( Oh well, we drop the chum in and start dropping our live shrimps and silversides.

    We caught a variety of tasty fish for the cooler such as French and White Grunts, Mangrove and Schoolmaster snapper and I ended the day putting 2 nice sized 1.5lb Yellowtail snappers in the box by freelining some silversides back in the chum slick. But the day wasn't complete without getting a visit from 2 big Barracudas. One at about 3.5ft long and the other about 4.5ft long. I cannot describe to you how much all 3 of us wanted to hang just one Huge Cuda during our stay in the Keys. They took a few of our fish with leader, hooks and all, but once again, didn't have enough time to put on the wire leader because the storm rolled through. We had quite an interesting time getting back the 4 miles back to the marina. It was a wet and scary ride in that POS boat, but still worth the exciting experience. I was just praying there was no lightning on our way back in :p

    We spent the night eating some spaghetti with parmesan and italian bread crumb crusted (no egg wash...just a dry rub) Yellowtail, Mangrove and Schoolmaster Snappers as well as French and White Grunts. Good eating. The Grunt flesh is actually more flaky than even the Mangrove snapper flesh.

    On wednesday morning we woke up to drive down to Cudjoe Key to meet Capt. Diego Toiran of Reel Smokers Charters for a day of offshore fishing with live bait, jigging and yellowtailing! As we met Diego at the KOA Campground marina, we pushed off the dock and idled about 20 yards off the dock and put the chum in. 2 lines went out and 12 minutes later we have 15 Pin Fish in the live well :eek: That was quick lol. Off we went to a wreck 7-8 miles out and in 150ft of water I dropped my 130g Tacklehouse jig and started doin' my thang....boom hookup...drop it....keep jigging...boom hookup..drop it again...I'm thinking maybe they were just biting the jig and not the hook? On my third drop, I feel a quick tap and I retrieve back just my line....cuda? king? shark? After that, no more hits. The current was ripping so we went off to the 240ft spot AJ wreck :) I put on one of my new Tsuru jigs (150g) with a 6/0 OTI Raptor Assist hook and drop it down. First drop, hookup, fish on..peelin line away from the boat....couple of minutes later nice 12-14lb False Albie hits the deck and into the fish box for chunking later on for the yellowtail. On my fourth drop it happend.... I get a hit and hookup...line is peeling off the reel (drag was set to probably around 18lbs) for 10 straight seconds...down cuts me off on the wreck....man...that was my Florida AJ I think...:(

    Meanwhile, Diego sets up a live bait rig on a Daiwa Line counter reel on a Shimano Trevala rod and drops a Pin fish down to 200ft Gives the rod to James and immediate hook up! Fish is ripping off 65lb braid line away from the boat, I'm thinking another False Albie? After James gets it's head turned, it comes to the surface, Big 4-4.5ft Cuda !!! He's got it pretty controlled....nope... the fish makes a jump out of the water and spits the hook...NOOOOO!!! It was our 3rd chance at a Big Cuda from the Keys and we struck out...

    I set up with my 200g Tsuru jig and drop it down, about half way up I get another hit...peels line away from the boat, but this one is a better fight. Another 20lb False Albie hits the deck!! and after a couple of pics we release this one. Both fish caught on my Fake Lez 50H rod and Saragosa 18000F reel with PE6 Varivas 10x10 line and Fisherman Stealth 80lb leader. Love the rod, but I'd like to have a lighter reel on it (8000 stella....someday....)

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    Next thing I know James' rod is bent over and something is burning line once again...better fight than the cuda. This is going to be good....And then...the rod goes crazy....line is going out even faster than nothing....uh oh... a minute later James reels in a massive Kingfish head. The entire body besides 4 inches behind the gills is gone. It would have gone 30-35lbs :(

    John's Pin fish also tags tagged and the line is cut. Must be lots of toothy critters down there! So I hand him my jigging rod while I re-tie the bait rod. I re-rig and Diego says he's spotting fish at 200ft. I drop it watching the line counter and at 170lb I feel it stop and continue a litter faster. We've got a 2/0 circle hook on a short fluorocarbon top shot with 65lb braid. I wait a little bit and crank up twice to see if it's just the 6oz sinker or if its a fish.....its a fish :) Fight is on. 30 minutes and 1/2 mile later... we see color. 125lb Caribbean Reef Shark on a 2/0 :) Kept making runs down to 50-60ft and finally after I got it about 3ft to the surface the line finally cut and he was off.... man what a fight, I was pulling hard on that puppy.. it was fun! sweatin my butt off!

    While I was hooked up with Mr. Tooth, John hooks up with a fish while jigging! It peels off line for 10 seconds and cuts the line above the solid ring again, nice and clean... Another Tsuru jig gone :p John said he never expected the fish to hit so hard. The initial hookset blew his mind and he was quite upset he lost his big fish on the day. We'll get him again next time!!!

    We decided to head to a few spots to check out the drift and current for acceptable Yellowtail Snapper fishing conditions. The first spot was not producing, but the second one did :) For about 20 minutes it was none stop action where James, John and I all landed around 6 each in that time period with only a few throwbacks or half eaten fish :)

    There were all kinds of fish stacking up behind the chum slick. There was a school of about 30 2ft long Speedos harassing the chum bag constantly as well as some other reef fish mixed in. Soon I saw a school of 3 larger looking fish than the Yellowtails I had been seeing in the water and I casted my silverside out to them and on immediately took the bait. Unfortunately, it spit the hook before I could set it. John sees me scrambling for a bait and asks me what I see. I told him I didn't know what it was, but there were 3 of them and could possibly some Mutton snapper that came off the bottom to feed on the bits and pieces as well. I point them out to him and he casts right to them....fish on!!! Great fight on 12lb test cuz the fish was diving deep down to cut him off. I knew John wasn't going to let this one get away!! After a good 5-7 minutes battle John lands a NICE 5-6lb Spade Fish!!! Cool! Also Delicious! :) I was very impressed with the fight it put up on light tackle gear.

    All in all, it was a great day on the water with Diego. The weather was perfect and we had current (sometimes too much!), but the fish weren't as cooperative as Diego wanted them to be I think. Nonetheless, he's Yellowtailing abilities filled up the cooler very nicely and after out 2.5hr trip back to Miami, I spent about an hour getting this ready for the grill.

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    The Yellowtail snapper meat was the most tender of all the snapper family I've eaten so far (Red, Mangrove, Schoolmaster and now Yellowtail)...but honestly....that Spade fish meat was incredible. More firm than the Yellowtail, but just as succulent and even more tasty! Well, let's just say that the Spade fish is right up there in my favorites list now for tastiest fish along with the Yellowtail snapper.

    We prepared them with salt, pepper, garlic powder, lemon pepper seasoning....place in egg wash (with little cream) and then place into bowl with a mixture of Parmesan cheese and Panko flakes... fry them with Vegetable oil and enjoy... FANTASTIC.
     
  4. JerseyBrian

    JerseyBrian Senior Member

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    Thursday we got rained out a little so I did a little woman hunting and by 1PM I was good lol. We still tried going to Matthison Hammock State Park to fish under a bridge. Caught a mix of about 7 Mangrove and Schoolmaster snappers as well as seeing a pretty Moonfish before the thunder, lightning and rain started belting down on us. Still we caught a few fish for the day to satisfy our fix.

    On friday we did a little bit of light tackle action right under the bridge besides John and James' apartment. In about 2 hours we caught a mess of Pufferfish and a baby cuda on live shrimp. Friday night, I fished off the sea wall from about 12-1:30AM and landed a dozen White Grunts, 2 small Mangrove snappers and one NICE 2.5lb Mangrove to end my night on a high note.

    Today I went on the Reward Fishing Fleet Party boat armed with my Fake Lez, Saragosa and jigs, but did not hook up once. I had a few hits, but nothing hooked up. The boat only caught 3 fish in total for the whole trip. 2 kingfish and 1 reef fish that I've caught before off of the piers at Bill Baggs State Park. [​IMG]

    Yesterday night there was a full moon...wonder if that had anything to do with it :(

    Tomorrow is my last day in Miami until I fly home to Philly at 8PM. We will be going for Tarpon in the morning so I hope to at least end my trip with a bang :cool:
     
  5. ahistick

    ahistick Senior Member

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    Great..and detailed...report!!! Thanks Brian
     
  6. BretABaker

    BretABaker Guest

    brian - i bet lucanus jigs wo uld have worked well!
     
  7. JerseyBrian

    JerseyBrian Senior Member

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    The current was ripping and my 168g Lucanus jigs weren't going to fall vertically. I'm going to buy a few 200g Lucanus jigs to keep it the bag next time.
     
  8. TBaker

    TBaker Senior Member

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    Great report, Brian! Hope you get that tarpon. And don't worry, we'll give that Hots rod a workout in NC!! ;)
     
  9. BretABaker

    BretABaker Guest

    The current was ripping and my 168g Lucanus jigs weren't going to fall vertically. I'm going to buy a few 200g Lucanus jigs to keep it the bag next time.
    ah ok. try bouncing diamond jigs on the bottom, may pick up a grouper or two.
     
  10. JerseyBrian

    JerseyBrian Senior Member

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    ah ok. try bouncing diamond jigs on the bottom, may pick up a grouper or two.

    Definitely going to trying it down in NC :) I've got a custom built 700M rod coming my way and I want to test it out with my upgraded Pro Gear Oceanus 30 reel on some AJ/Grouper.
     
  11. Capt Richie

    Capt Richie Site Sponsor

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    Definitely going to trying it down in NC :) I've got a custom built 700M rod coming my way and I want to test it out with my upgraded Pro Gear Oceanus 30 reel on some AJ/Grouper.


    Brian looks like you had a great trip....:)

    Is that a custom cut 700M...........:cool:
     
  12. JerseyBrian

    JerseyBrian Senior Member

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    Brian looks like you had a great trip....:)
    Had a great time Capt. Richie. Just wished it didn't have to end! But I'd rather be here now than down in Hurricane-Alley :eek: I didn't catch any, but I did see the largest Tarpon I've ever laid eyes on in my life. Easily 400lbs, over 7ft long. Just waiting for scraps from the fish cleaning tables in South Beach Marina. Unbelievable.

    Is that a custom cut 700M...........:cool:

    You know it ;) I'll post up some pics when I get it.
     
  13. Angler Systems

    Angler Systems Senior Member

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    I really enjoyed this post with some great photos. Thanks for taking the time to do so.

    Jeff
     
  14. Capt Richie

    Capt Richie Site Sponsor

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    Had a great time Capt. Richie. Just wished it didn't have to end! But I'd rather be here now than down in Hurricane-Alley :eek: I didn't catch any, but I did see the largest Tarpon I've ever laid eyes on in my life. Easily 400lbs, over 7ft long. Just waiting for scraps from the fish cleaning tables in South Beach Marina. Unbelievable.



    You know it ;) I'll post up some pics when I get it.


    Glad I could help........I caught two tarpon's under the 7 mile bridge one spring 140 & 180lba the 180 had to all of 6'fish what a fight....

    I'm getting gear ready for my next trip..I hope to have a GUSA Wahoo Jr done by than..I think is a perfict for the Keys.......
     
  15. JerseyBrian

    JerseyBrian Senior Member

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    Glad I could help........I caught two tarpon's under the 7 mile bridge one spring 140 & 180lba the 180 had to all of 6'fish what a fight....

    I'm getting gear ready for my next trip..I hope to have a GUSA Wahoo Jr done by than..I think is a perfict for the Keys.......

    One day I'll get my line tight on a Tarpon. One day I will bow to the Silver King of Florida :cool: Even the little 40lb 'Poon that a little kid caught off the docks got my blood boiling. All of those jumps, the sun's reflection off a silver, mirror-like body shining back on your face while you subdue your catch...good times.

    When are you heading down to the Keys? I'm thinking I might go back down in October for a shot at some Blackfin on jigs and poppers. I hear they start populating all of the wrecks during that time of the year :D

    Thanks for the words Jeff. Can't wait for my next 2 day trip down in NC during Labor Day weekend!
     
  16. Capt Richie

    Capt Richie Site Sponsor

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    One day I'll get my line tight on a Tarpon. One day I will bow to the Silver King of Florida :cool: Even the little 40lb 'Poon that a little kid caught off the docks got my blood boiling. All of those jumps, the sun's reflection off a silver, mirror-like body shining back on your face while you subdue your catch...good times.

    When are you heading down to the Keys? I'm thinking I might go back down in October for a shot at some Blackfin on jigs and poppers. I hear they start populating all of the wrecks during that time of the year :D

    Thanks for the words Jeff. Can't wait for my next 2 day trip down in NC during Labor Day weekend!


    I go down in May & December...May is tarpon & mahi mahi & December is Cobia,Kings,Sailfish & Jewfish...

    We rent a house in Key Colony Beach..Its comes with access to the beach club...My kids love it the can walk or drive to the club & we take the dog to the beach in coco plum..I'm looking to buy something there just waiting for prices to bottom out...I'm going to move in a few years..
    I'll take you fishing :cool:
     
  17. Frogfish

    Frogfish Senior Member

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    Nice report! I can put you on a tarpon no problem of the Key's bridges. Let me know ;)
     
  18. Bolo

    Bolo Senior Member

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    Nice report! I can put you on a tarpon no problem of the Key's bridges. Let me know ;)

    What about Snook? :p
     
  19. Frogfish

    Frogfish Senior Member

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  20. JerseyBrian

    JerseyBrian Senior Member

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    sweet snookie Frog!!! I will PM you next time I come down to the Keys ;) :)