Friday, June 24, 2005

A Tarpon Summer!

I really cannot tell why, but this might be shaping up to what the Chinese could call Year of the Tarpon, at least for North Biscayne Bay. The fish seem to be everywhere. I left them still on the feed to search for some big seatrout. Tally for this a.m. 5 fish to fifty pounds released, along with 4 strikes.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Key Island Estate Extravaganza....part 3

It was a dizzying two days of fishing. It had been a year off the Key, highlighted by nasty hurricanes and a winter of cold fronts that lasted too long. I was returning with Publisher Dan Palmer and writer Lynda Peeler of Community Newspapers. They were interested in the ecological "feel' of this destination.

Courtesy of of a high-pressured filled vacuum created by the northward passage of a tropical storm, we were blessed by cloudless skies in the mornings and rainless days. This is unusual for High Summer in Florida. Little did I know it was pouring back in Miami. I had the pleasure of meeting Steve Thomas , who was handling transfers and maintenance at KIE. We had a high tide and flew across the outside flats..the water was beautiful and clear, an omen for fine fishing.

The rest is a dizzying kaleidoscope of two days of sheer joy, kind of like the old spinning serving dishes called Lazy Susans when I was a kid. Dish 1- hooked up to a dusk- sunlit beachside snook. Dish 2- chef Mark preparing glazed grouper as I peer over my glass of Firesteed Pinot Noir. Dish 3- The sun is down and I'm tight to a thick snook thrashing up the darkness with skybourne foam clumps. Dish 4-Asleep, but how long for? Dish 5 or was it back to Dish 3? Tight to another snook under a crescent moon, and trying to keep count of the fish released-sometimes quantity creates quality-why did you go to Christmas Island? Dish 6- KIE's Earth Mother Stacey Kanzler tells a ghost story. On and on it spun like this until I was back at Pelican Landing offloading my transfer by Jimmy and Stacey from their Carolina Skiff.

I do recollect more after I slept back in Miami. The shells I picked up between beach hunts for the elusive surf snook was a reminder I could actually do something else besides fish! But for a fanatic fisherman, KIE is like this. I do remember that my log- written with sunburnt, charley-horsed hands- scribbled that I released 76 snook, not 75. I'm sure this will be a lifetime record that I will cherish. My log indicated that I released over 20 nice-sized jacks and ladyfish. Dan and Lynda left KIE better than when they came, calmer and more fish and eco-savvy. That's the way it is there.

Interested? try


Saturday, June 18, 2005


It's really all about habitat, and KIE has got it all. This destination is fed by Rookery Bay Preserve, which indicates a large nursery area to grow all the huge numbers of snook which come out to play along Key Island and the Isles of Capri.

The nightime dock thing is productive beyond belief...look for the lights! The most fun is walking the beaches of this area on a calm incoming tide and cast to the snook cruising PARALLEL to the surf's edge in water a foot deep. Do not let them see you or they spook. It is better from 10 until 4 with overhead or western sun...less of your shadow. summer months are the time.

Go to KIE as part of a 12 person group and enjoy a function, or retreat with your fishing.


Key Island Estate Extravaganza

I just returned from my all-best snook trip in my fishing career. In a practically sleepless 48 hour period at Key Island Estate (, I was able to release 75 snook. Hard to believe, but utterly true.I'll be writing about this experience in the near future.


Saturday, June 11, 2005

Storms create fluid opportunities

Don't know whether you've been following the theorizing of the evolving permit opportunities in the Carib Yucatan, but one idea is that the purported number of bigger and more fish along the reefline, and bays is that hurricanes may have a beneficial impact on this fishery. There is no real way to certify these ideas, one of which says that possible water mass and biomass shifts from Hurricane Mitch did the trick.

I remember Captain Buck Starck's idea that Florida Bay needed a good 'cane cleaning periodically, this purportedly to flush out weed-clogged bay bottom, although the de-Thallasianization of this area would be like evicting crabs, shrimp, etc. from grassy condos.

I do recall that Hurricane Jeanne's massive storm surge into North Bay put wads of finger mullet alongside and often right over our seawall tops-the storm occured as the mullet run was beginning. I recall hooking tarpon literally at my feet. What is clear is that the forage and gamefish within the waters being storm-affected and shifted may wind up in some new and temporarily concentrated places. Couple this with a hurricane making landfall during an autumn high tide augmented by a spring tide, and maybe this year I'll just drop a line out my office window.

These speculations have merit, particularly when waiting out the torrential rains us Floridians have been dealing with these last two weeks. Instead of feeling frustrated and helpless, we can think great thoughts!!


Sunday, June 05, 2005

On Guides

Inevitably, if you fish the four corners of the earth, you'll need a guide because you are not familiar with their waters, but they are-hopefully!

Although anglers do not have to pay attention to being the greatest, they should expect their guide to want to be the very best they can be. In addition, you are paying them, and you should learn on your dollar, not the other way around. There are characteristics you should look for in a guide not just as a fish hunter, but as the provider of an experience.

When I got started in the sixties, I had two guides, who were to become my mentors and friends. They were Captain Bill Curtis of Miami for flats fishing and Captain Buck Starck of
Islamorada for reef and offshore. I never had a bad day with either of them-ever! I had fun, adventure, laughs, great stories, and lots of exciting fishing. Above all, I learned alot.

I have fished with guides all over the world, and I feel they ideally shoud have the following characteristics:
1. A feel for safety
2.Attention to details on boat, tackle, etc.
3.A love of fishing and the outdoors
4.Ambition to be the best they can be, but no ego.
5.A hunter's soul
6.Mastery of fishing techniques
8.A source of knowledge of their land and waters
9.Lots of experience
10.A hunter's skills
11.A sense of humor, please!
12.Prompt, courteous and efficient
13.Quiet dignity in the sense of not being overly or overtly full of bravado
15.Optimism and adventure for what lies around the bend
16. Absolute respect and responsiveness for you the customer.
17.Totally weather-attuned

Maybe you can think of others, but for those that haven't given this much thought, or are just getting started, maybe this will help.


Friday, June 03, 2005

Bathtub Mornings and Silver Kings

This a.m. another cloudy sky, spring high tide bringing the tarpon close to the shores of North Bay. A tarpon bite is quite an event...why do they start and stop with such definition when laying over basins and deep channels? All of a sudden, stirkes on all rods. Airborne flipsters and adrenaline highs. 3 fish released to 50 pounds..another 3 jumped off. Good luck to the bonefish bretheren in South Bay waiting for midday to reveal tall tails-not tales-under these darkened skies, no seeing into the water. It's possible with uniform black clouds to peer into the water column, but not the mottled puffies aloft which create too much reflection.


Thursday, June 02, 2005

Pardon My Obsession!

I have always been preoccupied why certain areas hold truly big bonefish. I hope to get myself to the flats of New Caledonia from Noumea North...some of the fish in the north are enormous.
And yes, back to GreenTurtle Cay off Abaco, Key Biscayne off Miami, Peterson Bank and Lignum Vitae Key off Islamorada, and the Biminis. What's up? Why are the bonefish so consistently big in these last 4 areas?

One hint seems to be proximity to deeper waters. The ocean side of Islamorada has plenty of huge fish, too. The area off jet-ski reeking Whale Harbor has monsters that pass through with regularity. Yet the oceanside of Marathon a bit South-Southwest has less big fish. Perhaps one has to bear not figuring out why and simply go the these well-known areas for a trophy. I'm on my way, but why do certain areas.......