The Fearless Report: Light Tackle Fishing in the Upper Keys

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by Capt. Joe Hendrix & Christine Hendrix April is a good transition month for fishing down here in the Florida Keys. As the water and air temperatures get warmer, the reef gets livelier. Although the sailfishing may start to slow down, don’t rule them out, because there can still be some big days of sailfishing in the spring time! Also, the Humps can get really lively with tuna and amberjack which are great fun to catch. You may see some early season mahi mahi which is always a favorite with the customers because they are a fun fish to catch - pretty with all their bright colors and delicious on the plate! wc-hendrix3April is also a good month to fish for a variety of fish all in one day. There are a lot of different options that can be accomplished in the same day (reef, wreck or offshore) which makes it extra fun. The one thing you want to remember though when coming down to the Keys to fish is, not to get so excited about fishing that it bites you in the butt when you’re out there. Here’s a little fishing story about that… We were booked for a morning half -day charter the other day and my buddy, Fritz, decided to help me out for the day since my cherished intern, Casey, had had his last day the day before (boy, do I miss him!). We showed up at 6am to get the boat ready. Our guests were supposed to arrive around 7 but they didn’t…always a bummer because you want to be the first one on the bait patch, but whatever. I had Fritz to talk to so we waited around. We thought they would show up at 8 having mistaken the time. When they didn’t show up, we tried to call them and the marina tried to call them, all to no avail….no answer. After patiently waiting for another hour withstill no response, we figured we would go out there ourselves to do some of our own snapper fishing since it was such a pretty day and we wanted to stock our freezers up. wc-hendrix4So Fritz and I took off and anchored down outside the reef, and, sure enough, my phone rings just as we were baiting our first hooks! It was the office calling us to say that our people had called to say that they had just woken up…seriously? So we headed back in where we expected to see them on the dock waiting for us, but, to our surprise, no one was there! Now I was starting to get a little mad, and if you know me, it’s really hard to get me mad. As a charter guest I would be on that dock ready to go with a ton of apologies and some sandwiches, but that’s just me. After waiting for another half hour they finally rolled in. They actually were very apologetic, but smelled like a brewery and looked like hell. They said that they had driven down from Miami the night before just to go fishing but when they got to town they got a little carried away. Apparently, one thing led to another in the Islamorada bar shuffle and things got out of control. So, they literally stumbled onto the boat in a hangover haze and off we went. We caught some live ballyhoo because they wanted to target a sailfish….ambitious for being so hungover. I actually thought they would be throwing up over the side of the boat because it was kind of rough - no such luck! wc-hendrix1Second bait in the water we hooked a sailfish, but he broke the leader and got away. We had to keep waiting for our charter guests who kept jumping into the water to “refresh” themselves. I don’t know how that was supposed to help, but it was pretty entertaining to see them jump in and try and crawl back into the boat. We finally caught some yellowtails without anyone adding to the chumming process and after that we headed home. All of the guys couldn’t wait to get back to their hotel rooms and go back to sleep. So the moral of the story is….wait till after you fish to do your partying!


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