Return to Paradise… The flats of the Florida Keys
A chain of islands better known as “Keys” lies at the southern-most region of Florida. At first glance, we begin to notice that once we step into the realm of this wonderful place, time seems to slow and the tranquil pace of life takes the place of the “get up and go” lifestyle that is Miami. Who would know that a major metropolitan city would neighbor this republic of tranquility? For some those like myself who have lived the fast paced life and seen the late nights and early mornings through the eyes of a college student and club hopper, there comes a time when life must slow down. There comes a time when one seeks a shot of tranquility on the water rather then a shot of Tanqueray on the rocks at a stuffy night club. The chaos on the dance floor transitions to chaos on the poling platform as a bonefish muds on your fly and fly line jumps stark raving mad through your guides. There is a time to party, there is a time to relax, and then there is a time to enjoy life in this paradise that is the Florida Keys.
I returned to the Florida Keys this past week to take advantage of this vast diversity of terrain. Fishing from as far south as the atoll known as the Marquesas, moving up to the Purple Isle (Islamorada) and fishing as far north as the Biscayne Bay, my friends and I targetting bonefish and permit on the clear shallow flats that were teaming with life. Both the Maverick Mirage HPX-V 17 and 18 proved to be versatile skiffs built specifically to take on the challenges of big water, shallow flats, and weary fish.
We started the week down south in Key West. Capt. Frank and I met up with my buddy Twig in the AM. We decided on a 2 boat fishing trip as the crossing over to the Marquesas can be a treacherous one if something out of the ordinary were supposed to happen. As I’ve said before, Boca Grande channel is no joke… but both our Mirage skiffs proved ready to handle the task of the crossing this very day. Winds blew about 15kts, swells kicked up, props would breach the surface, but the permit were chewing, and us anglers very anxious to throw flies and crabs on their dinner plate. Capt. Frank and I managed over 25 shots, having one permit eat the fly and missing him before hooking 2 big fish and landing one on a crab. It was truley some of the best permit fishing I had ever experienced. After the fish stopped tailing, we visited a near shore wreck and caught our limit of big mangrove snappers to come home for dinner, then stopped at the reef and played with some very big sharks on fly before calling it a day and heading back. The amount of life and scenery was truley amazing. This is what keeps us coming back.
My next stop brought me to Islamorada where my buddy Jeremy and I would take his new 18 HPX-V out for an afternoon of bonefishing. Jeremy had just put a new Powertech 4 blade 20 pitch PTR prop on the boat and it proved to be a major improvement over the previous TRO prop that was on there. I feel there should still be more we can get out of this boat with a different prop though. All techy stuff aside, the fishing was definitely improving. Bonefish are starting to transition into their spring pattern and feeding hard. We managed 6 shots and hooked 2 bonefish. I caught a weight fish and Jeremy got spooled by an absolutely huge downtown Islamorada slob bonefish.
My journey ends at the north end of the chain of Keys known as Biscayne Bay. My buddy Tim had invited me to fish in his newly purchased HPX-V 17 so we decided that a bonefish would be the perfect first slime in the boat. 10 shots and 2 fish later, mission accomplished. A fitting end to an incredible few days on the water…
The clock winds down and spring is definitely approaching. The fish are finally starting to feed well as the temperatures rise. I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off Spring. The first days of spring have finally arrived. All there is left now is to wait for the poons to show. We will be there, down in the Florida Keys waiting off the flat in the tarpon highway with 12wt in hand… rise tempertures rise!
Until next time…