We all knew that we were overdue for a hit from a major hurricane and it finally happened. Irma has changed the landscape both on and off the water; while there are a lot of negatives there are also a lot of positives as well. Here in Key Largo we really dodged a bullet, there was damage but nothing like what happened to Big Pine and Marathon. Almost all of our hotels and restaurants are open and ready as things are slowly getting back to our version of normal here in the Keys.
The first month after the storm it was rare to see another boat on the water, as the fish began to relax they started showing up in spots I have not seen in years. Schools of snook and tarpon could be found close to home, the pressure was off and the fish knew it. I was born and raised in Miami and have lived through lots of hurricane. I prefer to think of these storms as reset buttons. For the past few months I have been checking spots like wrecks, points, and flats finding that a lot has changed. Some of my shallow water wrecks have been moved or even destroyed. Several points have been stripped bare of trees and structure, and even our local flats have shifted here and there. I look at these as opportunities to relearn areas I like to fish, and perhaps find better fishing or different species.
The next two months will see some truly great fishing in the backcountry as species like snook, redfish, black drum, snapper, jacks, sea trout, and the occasional tarpon invade the creeks and deeper channels around Flamingo. We call it “fishing the dirty” due to the fact that the waters around Flamingo tend to be dirty or muddy. This is a great choice for those days when it is very windy and cold as most of the areas we fish are protected creeks. During those calmer days the Spanish mackerel bite in Florida Bay can be explosive with snapper, jacks, sharks, tripletail, and the occasional cobia. Already the mackerel reports have been fantastic as there are fewer boats pressuring the fish. Here in Key Largo fishing the patch reefs is also another great option for those anglers looking to catch dinner and a variety of species. Located just 3-6miles off the ocean side patch reefs can be as big as a car or a city block, every patch is different and holds unknown possibilities for anglers.
Now is the time and the pressure is off the fish, so if you want to experience the keys the way it should be give me a call or just head to one of our local bait shops and ask for a guide recommendation. For those of you who know me, know that to me, fishing is more than just a game, it is a way of life. So fish hard and fish often!
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