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Old 01-11-2019, 07:26 AM   #1
FishinAG22
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Key West - Offshore fishing

I am looking to take a trip to Key West in July, Do any of you 2coolers have any experiences or guide recommendations for that time of year?

Also, if any of you have any stories, good or bad, that you would like to share it would make a good read. Pictures always help also.

Tight Lines!
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Old 01-11-2019, 09:06 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by FishinAG22 View Post
I am looking to take a trip to Key West in July, Do any of you 2coolers have any experiences or guide recommendations for that time of year?

Also, if any of you have any stories, good or bad, that you would like to share it would make a good read. Pictures always help also.

Tight Lines!
http://www.keywestangling.com/

Have used these guys in the past with some customer.
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Old 01-11-2019, 09:23 AM   #3
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I was a guide out of Key West for 15 years, but back from the 70's to the 90's and things have changed so much, I don't feel comfortable giving that kind of information anymore. For guides, look up Bruce Cronin and/or Kenny Harris. They both were guides during my tenure and have the offshore light tackle boats. One thing that would be available down there in July, would still be blue marlin, if the wind/weather allows. But whatever, you'll have plenty of action and a real good time, no matter what time of year it is.


Stories? I have a gazillion stories, but usually need someone else to recount something that jogs my memory. Not only that, but many of my favorite memories were from the old days. Forget GPS....Loran-C wasn't even in use back then, and the fish covered the Gulf wrecks. Big fish. The average amberjack was 40-60 lbs. Today they are about 10 lbs. Same with cobia, except 30-60 lbs. There were no minimum lengths, no slot limits, and no closed seasons.....yet we policed ourselves and released everything we could not eat within a few days, but preferably the same day.


It was quite something to make a 30+ mile run out into the Gulf of Mexico with nothing but a compass and a stop-watch, and find a wreck. If we found it, all the fish would swim up to the boat to investigate the strange intruder to their realm. On calm days, sometimes we would find the wreck, due to the school of 20+ cobia swimming on the surface around it. That or a sea turtle.....they also lived on the wrecks.


To fish a wreck back then, a stop was made before the run, to catch as many blue runners as possible. Once on the wreck, one would be hooked through the shoulders and allowed to thrash about on the surface. Big amberjack, cobia and barracudas would come up from the wreck and try to eat him. Your job was to keep the gamefish interested, without actually letting them eat the runner. In other words, when they made a lunge for the runner, you jerked it out of the water, such that the fish missed. Each species had it's own personality and tactics, which a successful teaser had to learn. Barracudas for example, liked to hide under the boat in ambush mode. They are fast and do not telegraph their intentions. We lose a lot of runners to barracudas and usually have to catch and release a big one, just to get rid of him. But once a fish was singled out for catching, we would wait until it was his turn at the runner. Then after he (hopefully) missed, we would substitute an artificial lure or fly for the runner and the fight would be on. Incidentally, the reason for teasing in the first place, was to lure the fish away from the wreck. We never anchored when teasing and if a 60 lb. amberjack was hooked on 8 lb. or fly, he would have no problem getting back into the wreck. So we teased until the boat had drifted far enough from the wreck, such that the fish could not do that.


One particular wreck, sitting in 63 ft of water, had an enormous jewfish in it. It was said he was trapped inside one of the cargo holds and could not get out. One very calm summer day, I had a self-proclaimed expert free diver in the boat and he wanted to dive the wreck. I always kept a mask and set of fins on board, so WTH? He went down there, looking for this big jewfish and I guess he found it. Because we could hear him thumping, all the way up in the boat! That guy shot to the surface like a trident missile, with eyes as big as saucers. He said the pectoral fins on that jewfish, would cover from the top of his head, to the bottom of his breast bone. We said we could hear him thumping, all the way up to the surface and he said that down there the sound was deafening.


After Loran-C became available to recreational boaters, then everybody and his blind mother could find all the wrecks. After about 6 months they had been fished clean and we guides didn't go there anymore. As soon as an AJ or cobia hits the minimum length, he goes into a fish box. Cobia don't live on the wrecks like they used to. You have to be lucky to hit a wreck when some migratory fish make a brief stop there, and it isn't worth the long run, just hoping that might be the case.

Last edited by Permit Rat; 01-11-2019 at 09:31 AM.
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:18 AM   #4
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Those are some great stories, PermitRat. I always admired people who could make those long offshore runs with a compass and stopwatch, and actually find what they were looking for. It's a skill that I never could get right.

I guess every generation pines for the "good old days". But I think there has been more change in our lifetimes than in any others before.
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Old 01-11-2019, 12:48 PM   #5
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Those are some great stories, PermitRat. I always admired people who could make those long offshore runs with a compass and stopwatch, and actually find what they were looking for. It's a skill that I never could get right.

I guess every generation pines for the "good old days". But I think there has been more change in our lifetimes than in any others before.

Aside from the paper graph machine (recorder) the most expensive piece of equipment on our boats, was a race boat-dampened compass, which had extra magnets in them, to keep the card from spinning like crazy in rough seas. After installation, they were meticulously calibrated and corrected, before we even tried to run to a wreck.
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Old 01-11-2019, 01:23 PM   #6
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We could only do that on the calm days, to much variance on the speed in our little boat. Of coarse once you thought you were there with calm, clear waters...you just looked down, you could see 60-80 ft no problem. My advantage was flying a 150 and radio the charters that would pay my rental and fuel to spot the weed lines and wrecks! Have fun in the keys and don't let the iguanas and roosters getcha!

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Old 01-12-2019, 02:28 PM   #7
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Google Piner Wahoo. You will find a lot of positive reviews on him. He is very popular and not very expensive.
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