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Old 07-15-2016, 05:51 PM   #1
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I just got back from a multi-family vacation to Big Pine Key. We had a blast and got to do a little fishing here and there as well. The fishing may not have met our lofty expectations due to the competing demands of family time and windy/rough conditions, but we still had a great time. Besides fishing we spent a day in Key West, a day snorkeling at Looe Key, and took the kids to the Dolphin Research Center in Marathon. Below are a few pictures and some highlights.

We had two pretty serious days of fishing and would have had more if the winds had laid down a little earlier in the week. One thing that surprised me was how difficult it was to get live bait. No schools of pilchards or mullet to throw the cast net on. I had my pinfish trap plus the owner of our rental house had one. We would catch at most 2-3 in a set. Our best option was employing the youngsters.

The first day we tried to get to the reef where local reports were that the yellowtail action was hot and heavy. But after two miles of getting beat up in choppy 3-4s we turned back and tried for tarpon on the bridges. I quickly realized I didnít have the anchoring system to properly fish the bridge in the ripping current so we drifted instead. We fished live pinfish Ė one under a float and one on the bottom. We also kept a rod rigged with an artificial handy to sight cast. We marked a few fish but no bites so after a while we tried trolling the channel. I set out a stretch 25 on one rod, a shallow running bomber on another and a Clarkspoon in the middle to try and catch something for bait.

The first pass we picked up a red grouper but it was a couple inches short so back it went.

We were marking lots of fish but had a hard time keeping rigs from fouling with floating grass so we picked up and moved a few miles and tried the next channel over. The grass here was just as bad, and our plugs were staying fouled and skipping along the surface after a couple of minutes. I was reeling in to clear a line when it got slammed right behind the boat by this monster barracuda and the fight was on! Despite getting wrapped on the lower unit I was able to get him to the boat and release him. Estimated the fish to be 60-66 inches and easily the largest I have caught.


After battling the grass a while longer we switched tactics again and anchored up on a deep flat between the channel and a shallow flat where the current was running good. We threw out some chum and soon had small snapper tolled up. The next hour and a half was steady action but no keeper snapper.


My buddy from California remarked that everything that lives in Florida, including the insects, must be full of teeth.
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Big Pine Key-ginny-pinfish-2-jpg   Big Pine Key-grouper-jpg   Big Pine Key-barracuda-jpg   Big Pine Key-hound-fish-jpg   Big Pine Key-bonnethead-jpg  

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Last edited by willie mckoy; 07-15-2016 at 05:57 PM.
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Old 07-15-2016, 06:07 PM   #2
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The seas died down enough Thursday that we made the wet choppy ride out to the reef. The reports were yellowtail were in 80 feet of water during the day and mangrove snapper at night. We fished the late afternoon and into the night before finally pulled up to head in. We never could get the yellowtail really thick in the chum line and the few we caught were undersize. No keeper mangroves either but we picked up a couple of short grouper that went back to grow bigger. We should have picked up and moved sooner to find the fish, though I believe if we had been able to get live bait we might have caught better fish. It was nice out on the reef at night but pitch black running in. My boat doesnít like a following sea all that well and running on instruments in unfamiliar waters made for a tense drive ride home. I felt a lot better when we made it to the bridge. We had a few beers at the No Name pub that and slept in the next day.

Friday was supposed to be the day to clean up and pack but we decided to take the kids and wives snorkeling and fishing instead. It was a great afternoon on the water and the kids caught more keeper snapper in a couple hours than we did all week. My buddy was also excited to catch his first barracuda. We watched our last sunset and headed in then back to the No Name for supper.

We wanted to get offshore for dolphin but the weather didnít cooperate. I also wanted to fish the channels for tarpon at night but we didnít get around to it.

Big thanks to Chris at Samís in Orange Beach for helping me get set up for the trip!

Also another big shout out to Ryan at Lower Keyís Bait and Tackle for sharing his knowledge, techniques and helping us all he could to get us on fish. We stopped in at 3 tackle shops on our trip and these guys were far and away the best. Be sure to go see them if you are on Big Pine Key.

http://www.facebook.com/Lower-Keys-T...8712513843463/

Iím ready to go back!
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Big Pine Key-joe-barracuda-4-jpg   Big Pine Key-gwennie-snapper-jpg   Big Pine Key-ginny-snapper-jpg   Big Pine Key-sunset-jpg  
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Old 07-16-2016, 11:40 AM   #3
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Looks like ya'll had fun! Thanks for the report
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