As we get fired up for spring, we enter the part of the year that just about all fish that frequent the Keys are readily available. The transition from winter fishing to spring, brings about opportunities that are hard to equal anywhere. Whether you are a fan of inshore, offshore, reef, flats, or any other fishery, it is happening now.
This is a great time of the year to leave your comfort zone and try something different. I know that a lot of our winter residents get pigeon-holed into one or two types of angling. A good percentage of the people will, day after day, go to the reef line and fish for yellowtail and the small assortment that comes along for the ride. How about trying live baiting for dolphin, tuna or sailfish outside of the reef? Go to the backcountry basins and channels and jig for trout and snapper. Try your luck at one of the many bridges that hold tarpon. Try vertical jigging over some deep reefs or wrecks for tuna, almaco, or amberjack. After April starts, you can probe the depths for snowy grouper and tile fish. The possibilities are endless.
You may say that you have no idea where to start learning the skills and techniques necessary to try something new. Well, you are in luck. We have never had so many ways to learn in history. The pages of this magazine are bursting with information and helpful hints. The computer has a “how-to” video on just about every technique, from tying on the hook to fileting the fish. Our community has several venues that hold seminars that offer lessons, from everything from Advanced rigging to throwing a cast net.
Lower Keys Tackle holds a seminar every Thursday. They invite captains from all schools of angling to present on topics of interest to the community. These free seminars are a way to gain invaluable insights to types of fishing that would otherwise take a great amount of time, energy, and resources to explore. Even though I, personally, have over 30 years of professional experience on Keys waters, I try to attend the seminars as often as possible when I am not presenting myself. There is a lot to learn from other captains here and I, for one, still have a lot to learn about just about everything. I like to say, when I was younger, I hope no one knew how much that I did not know. After several years, I began to think that I knew just about everything that I needed to know. Now that I am getting older, I am back to hoping that people do not figure out just how much that I have yet to learn. I was asked at a recent seminar, “Just what makes you someone that we should be learning from?” After thinking about the question, I realized that, among other things, it is that I am willing to share the knowledge that I have spent a lifetime learning. There are many accomplished anglers who jealously hoard every tidbit of information that they have ever acquired. These guides may be able to get you that bucket list fish, but they are not the ones who I recommend spending time with if you would like to learn.
Of course, the best and fastest way to learn is to get out on the water with a captain who specializes in the type of angling that you are interested in. Make sure that you communicate with your captain that you are primarily interested in learning the techniques involved, including rigging. While there are a few notable captains that are better at doing than teaching, most will be happy to teach as they go. Also, by stating your purpose beforehand, the captain will be sure to teach you how a spot is chosen by showing how it appears on a bottom recorder and generalities on how to look for your own spots. While most captains have a spot or two that they are willing to share to get you started, they will know to keep their secret spot for another trip. This way, they will not be “tricked out of a personal spot” and there will be no hard feelings the next time that they want to fish it and you are sitting on the secret hole.
Learning and trying new spots, techniques and just getting out of a fishing rut, are the best ways that I know of to treat Fishing ADD.
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