Florida Keys Fishing Sans A (Motor) Boat: Bridge, Wading, and Kayak Angling Along Highway 1

Hello From Florida….When you say Blizzard, we think of Dairy Queen!

Winter 2017

Want to catch a monster barracuda or maybe a big snook, hefty grouper, or gigantic shark in the Florida Keys?  Maybe a mess of snapper?  Got to have a big boat, right?  That notion was being firmly dispelled as I watched Mark Resto of Miami, with the help of a fishing buddy, fight a big barracuda on the Seven Mile Fishing Bridge near Marathon.  His rod bent double, Michael was on the edge of exhaustion.

The four-foot-long cuda was churning in the fast current 20 feet below, threatening to snap his line at any moment. Arms aching, Michael finally brought the fish to the surface, quickly passed the rod to his buddy and threw a bridge net down in the water next to the barracuda, corralled it, and slowly winched up the prize.

Shore-fishing is one of the great delights of the Florida Keys. Starting at the Tea Table Bridge, Mile Marker 79, and heading southwest on Highway 1 towards Key West there is accessible, exciting fishing right near the road.  Numerous bridges, wadeable nearshore flats, and close-in hotspots easily reached by kayak or other cartop vessel offer access to good fishing.

Kayak wading flats (2)
Wading And Kayak Angling Opportunities Abound Along Highway 1 In The Keys

Not that this fishing is a snap.  Ferreting out the honeyholes can take a little sleuthing and successful bridge fishing is an art, not for those who  like to lollygag in lawn chairs! The article below reveals some of the best nearshore spots and offers tips from experts at local bait and tackle shops who specialize in bridge fishing and wading and kayaking to stalk their quarry.

CLICK ON THE LINK TO VIEW A PDF COPY OF MY NOVEMBER 2016 FLORIDA KEYS DRIVE-IN FISHING ARTICLE FROM FLORIDA SPORTSMAN magazine.

FS Keys Article 11-16 reduced pdf

Day One Of Four Perfect Days Kayak Fishing In The Florida Keys

In the Keys, we salt margaritas, not sidewalks…..Anon.

For Day 2 trip see:

https://hooknfly.com/2016/05/17/day-2-of-three-perfect-days-kayak-fishing-in-the-keys/amp/

I’m heading to Big Pine Key, not far from Key West, on my annual Florida Keys fishing expedition. As I trundle down the Overseas Highway pulling my mobile fish camp behind, I am amazed at all the festively colored kayaks–red, yellow, orange, blue–stacked outside of marinas, dive shops, and even convenience stores.  Like everywhere, kayaking is booming in popularity in the Keys.  I’m wondering if I’ll have to fight my way through flotillas of paddlers and ecotour groups wending their way along the mangrove islands to find my quarry.

I’ve left my power boat at home and opted for chasing fish in my yak in the Lower Keys, bucking conventional wisdom that you need a motor to get a permit, tarpon, redfish, sharks, or giant barracuda.  At the very least in the bargain, I know I’ll see some great wildlife that abound down here in these pristine tropical waters.

img_7044I am staying at the Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge that has some sweet RV trailer spots right on the Gulf.  It’s a great place with views of the long Overseas Highway Bridge as it curves away into a sunrise.  imageDid I mention the happy hour a couple of times a week on the pool deck where the mango margarita machine works overtime ?  After setting up, my first stop is venerable Jigs Bait and Tackle down the road in Big Pine Key to get the skinny from James Milsap (Ronnie’s cousin) on what’s biting and where.  I’ve been kayak fishing down here for the past three years, so know my way around, but it always helps to pick a local fishing guru’s brain.  Then it’s back to camp to rig up my rods, get the trusty Hobie Outback pedal kayak ready to rumble, and knock off a little wine before hitting the hay.  The alarm’s set at 4:30 a.m!!  Day One of Four Perfect Days coming up!!

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