Fishing The Forgotten Parks Of The Florida Keys–Curry Hammock State Park

January 2019

For the first two articles in this series, see my earlier pieces on fishing Indian Key and Lignumvitae State Parks 

Most visitors to the Florida Keys whiz down the Overseas Highway (US 1) heading for destinations in the Lower Keys like Bahia Honda State Park (Florida’s most popular) or Key West, oblivious to the natural beauty, solitude, and hungry fish literally a stone’s throw away in four fabulous state parks—Indian Key, Lignum Vitae, Curry Hammock, and Long Key.  I have to confess that for many years I did.  A fortuitous convergence of unfavorable winds and tides on Big Pine Key where I usually set up my mobile fish camp for a couple of weeks every year got me to doing some research.  I wasn’t about to sit at home all day in my travel trailer twiddling my thumbs.  A little on-line sleuthing revealed more favorable tides and breezes back up the road about an hour between Marathon and Islamorada, as well as a string of state parks that would give me access to a lot of water.  It paid off in a bonanza of barracuda, jacks, and snapper with shots at bones, permit, snook, and sharks.

In contrast to Bahia Honda State Park near Big Pine Key that hosts over 400,000 visitors annually, with long lines of cars waiting to get in most days, the parking lots of the hidden four are rarely full and each has fewer than 10% of the tourist numbers.  Rarely do I run into other kayakers and even more rarely other anglers, and even if I do there are miles of shoreline and flats to fish.

These four state parks have now become a destination for me, not an afterthought.  In the series of articles that follow on each of the hidden gems, I will take you on an angling tour with some fascinating history and nature tidbits thrown in.  This is the third of the series featuring a hidden gem of a park that offers solitude and excellent sheltered fishing cheek-to-jowl with the hubbub of Marathon along its own fascinating history involving a genteel southern teacher lady who made it all possible.

Continue reading

Fishing The Forgotten Florida Keys Parks—Part Two: Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park.

January 2019

 Most visitors to the Florida Keys whiz down the Overseas Highway (US 1) heading for destinations in the Lower Keys like Bahia Honda State Park (Florida’s most popular) or Key West, oblivious to the natural beauty, solitude, and hungry fish literally a stone’s throw away in four fabulous state parks—Indian Key, Lignumvitae, Curry Hammock, and Long Key.  I have to confess that for many years I did.  A fortuitous convergence of unfavorable winds and tides on Big Pine Key where I usually set up my mobile fish camp for a couple of weeks every year got me to doing some research.  I wasn’t about to sit at home all day in my travel trailer twiddling my thumbs.  A little on-line sleuthing revealed more favorable tides and breezes back up the road about an hour between Marathon and Islamorada, as well as a string of state parks that would give me access to a lot of water.  It paid off in a bonanza of barracuda, jacks, and snapper with shots at bones, permit, and sharks.

In contrast to Bahia Honda State Park near Big Pine Key that hosts over 400,000 visitors annually, with long lines of cars waiting to get in most days, the parking lots of the hidden four are rarely full and fewer than 10% of the tourist numbers.  Rarely do I run into other kayakers and even more rarely other anglers, and even if I do there are miles of shoreline and flats to fish.

These four state parks have now become a destination for me, not an afterthought.  In the series of articles that follow on each of the hidden gems, I will take you on an angling tour with some fascinating history and nature tidbits thrown in.  This is the second of the series featuring an offshore key with good fishing as well as an intriguing botanical oddity, a rare lignumvitae tree stand whose wood is so dense it will sink in water, was used for key parts of the first U.S. nuclear sub and Pete Seeger’s favorite banjo!!  Talk about versatility.img_3395

Continue reading

The Fantastic Four:  Fishing The Forgotten State Parks Of The Middle Keys

January 2019

 Most visitors to the Florida Keys whiz down the OverSeas Highway (US 1) heading for destinations in the Lower Keys like Bahia Honda State Park (Florida’s most popular) or Key West, oblivious to the natural beauty, solitude, and hungry fish literally a stone’s throw away in four fabulous state parks—Indian Key, Lignumvitae, Curry Hammock, and Long Key.  I have to confess that for many years I did.  A fortuitous convergence of unfavorable wind and tides on Big Pine Key–where I usually set up my mobile fish camp every year for a couple of weeks–got me to doing some research.  I wasn’t about to sit at home all day in my travel trailer twiddling my thumbs with fish to be caught.  A little on-line sleuthing revealed more favorable tides and breezes back up the road about an hour between Marathon and Islamorada, as well as a string of state parks that would give me access to a lot of water. 

Four Secluded, Lightly Visited State Parks Can Be Found Between Marathon and Islamorada

It paid off in a bonanza of barracuda, jacks, and snapper with shots at bones, permit, and sharks.

In contrast to Bahia Honda State Park near Big Pine Key that hosts over 400,000 visitors annually, with long lines of cars waiting to get in most days, the parking lots of the hidden four are rarely full.  These smaller parks get only 1/10th the number of visitors every year.  Rarely do I run into other kayakers and even more rarely other anglers, and even if I do there are miles of shoreline and flats to fish.

These four state parks have now become a destination for me, not an afterthought.  In the series of articles that follow on each of the hidden gems, I will take you on an angling tour with some fascinating history and nature tidbits thrown in.  I start at Indian Key near Islamorada and work down to Curry Hammock near Marathon.

Continue reading

2018 HooknFly Blog High-Water Marks:  The Best, the Bummers, and the Blood-Curdling

December 30, 2018

Greetings and my best to all my friends and readers for a great 2019!! It’s been a very fulfilling and fun year writing my blog.  As well as providing an admitted excuse to go fishing and explore remote places, my main goal is to help reinforce and build the constituency to preserve and protect these wild and wonderful places.  Given the current state of politics in the country and multiple threats to our environment and natural resources, it’s more important than ever to take a stand and do whatever we can to protect Mother Nature.

An added and very satisfying benefit has been connecting with people and making new friends around the USA and the world—readers from over 60 countries.   As of Dec. 31, the blog has had over 40,000 views and 16,000 visitors, a 50% increase over 2017.

img_3116-1

Now it’s easy to figure out why most of my readers are from English-speaking countries, but who am I to ask why someone from the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Brazil, or Turkey would take a look.

As the year comes to a close, I found it enlightening and gratifying to look back on the best, the bummers, and the blood-curdling moments of 2018 from a piscatorial perspective.  Here you go….

Continue reading

Lunch With Berkley Bedell–Fishing Tackle Entrepreneur Par Excellence And All-American Success Story

December 2018

Every serious angler has heard of the Berkley tackle company that has introduced many cutting-edge innovations to the fishing world since its creation in the 1940s.  But do you know the story of the man behind the company and his quintessential Horatio Alger story?  I didn’t, so when a fishing buddy, Bob Wayne, called to ask if I wanted to have lunch with the company’s founder, Berkley Bedell, I jumped at the chance.  He knew of my love affair with Gulp Swimming Mullet, a lure made by Berkley, and how I doted on my Berkley Lightning Shock fishing rods.  Little did Bob know, however, that my love affair with Berkley went back almost six decades.

Continue reading