Camping/Kayak fishing trip to the Dry Tortugas, America’s most remote national park part 1 of 2

5.8.2011

The Dry Tortuga is considered America’s most remote national park. Residing between the Gulf Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, it is located approximately 70 miles west of Key West. The chain of island was acquired by the United States in 1825.

Located on Garden Key is the site of historical Fort Jefferson. Construction began in 1846 and was named after Thomas Jefferson. The most famous inmate at the fort was Dr. Mudd who was convicted of conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. Composing of 16million bricks, it is the largest masonry structure in the western hemisphere.

For a long time now, I have always wanted to visit this park. Besides the historical tour, the bird watching and snorkeling activities there is the fantastic fishing to be had there. During my research, I have often find reports of bountiful harvest of Mahi, grouper, snapper near the Dry Tortuga. However I always wonder about the inshore fishing there. There was not much to be found on flats fishing the Dry Tortugas really. Understandably, being so remote it is very difficult and costly to get a skiff to these waters to do the exploring.

All these years, for various reasons, we could never get a trip together. About a month ago finally, the timing was right. We got a crew together that had the time off, a little money, and most importantly a real desire to do a kayak fishing/camping road trip. To keep minimize cost, the trip would be primitive camping and kayak fishing.

This is a story of how it all came together. I will do my best to detail the planning, the cost, as well as the items we brought that we thought we needed. We brought a lot of things we find we did not need at all. Just by leaving 50% of the items behind the trip would have been much easier. Those of you that would be interested in doing similar trip with hopefully find this article very helpful. Since there are plenty of articles already out there about doing big boat trips, I will concentrate on kayak/camp/fishing specifically.

I will do my best to go over timing, cost, what are the bare essentials to bring with you and what to expect when you get there. I will go over clothing, camping gear, kayak, fishing gear, and food to bring. As you can imagine, this will take some time. I will be working on it over the next few days. Meanwhile here are some photos from the trip.

Premise of the trip:

The crew consists of six fishermen, Jose, Russ, Nik, Josh, Rich and I. We were to embark from the Tampa area to Key West a minimum of a seven hour drive. We were to rendezvous at Malory Square, have dinner at Elsiboney, drink a few beers and the next morning embark on our adventure.

We pack gear a plenty as non of  us knew what to expect. We had kayaks, camping, fishing, snorkeling, food, water, coolers camera gear would be loaded on a ferry at 6am in Key West. By 10:30am we would be at Fort Jefferson unloading our gear and setting up home base. The camping grounds would be our home for the next three nights and four days. Since there is no food or water on the island we were to bring what we needed.

 

 

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