February Bones

March 12, 2015

 

Well it had been almost a year since the last time I was fly fishing on salt, so on this trip I wanted to be a little more prepared.  This time the destination was the Keys, I only had one day so I wanted to maximize my options.  Being on a budget, I started with the plan to DIY for Bones and maybe a ‘cuda cruising close to shore.  So having some time (around work) to plan, and prepare.  I started with checking out the web for places to go or blogs on DIY fly fishing in the Key’s.  One I came across was how to get ready for a salt water fly fishing trip written by Doug Garvey of Anglers All in Littleton, CO.  It was very informative, and simplified my planning greatly.  Give it a read at www.anglersall.com/blog/pack-your-bags-for-saltwater-fly-fishing-trip.  I also purchased the book Do It Yourself Bone Fishing, by Rod Hamilton with Kirk Deeter.  This book was a great help on the tactical side, explaining when to fish tides and how to spot fish, etc. 

So the rod’s I picked to take were my Scott 9 weight Tidal, setup with a Galvan T-10 and lined up with a RIO WF10-F Permit line and my Redington 11 weight Predator, mounting a Allen Kraken #5 with a WF12-F RIO Tarpon Tactical Short. I had spare spools for both with sinking lines.  I had about 30 flies ranging from Clousers, shrimp, Crabs to Gotcha’s.  Mainly Bonefish patterns with a few Tarpon and Barracuda patterns thrown in just in case.  Extra leaders to include some for toothy fish.

                I had gone over Google Earth and found some selected spots to try, after some research my wife suggested using a guide since I only had one day, and a guide would greatly improve my chances.  So I started a search for a guide (captain), using the internet check out websites and forums. One that was very useful was http://www.flyfishingguidedirectory.com/Florida.html.  This list multiple guides to choose from and a link to their email or website.  So after check with a few I found one that would meet my needs and contacted him.  We agreed on a price and what the day would be like.  I knew it was going to be a long one, because I was getting off the plane in Miami at 5 a.m. that morning.  

                So the day arrives, my wife picks me up at the airport (she was currently there on business).  I drop her off at the hotel and the phone ring.  It was my guide calling from the keys (Sugarloaf Key to be exact) to let me know that the storms from the day before and the current conditions would not make for even a fair day on the water.  Somewhat disappointed, having had to make that call myself when I was guiding I understood.

                Not to be defeated, I got back on line to search for guide closer to Miami. After a few calls, made contact with Captain Joe Gonzalez of Funnybone Charters out of Key Biscayne.  Joe told me where to meet him and off I went.  I arrived at the marina where Joe was just launching the boat, dressed for a blizzard.  It was one of the coldest day on record in the Miami area, but coming from Denver and sub-freezing temps, I was quite comfortable.

                So we headed out from the Crandon Marina and headed south toward the Ragged Keys and Boca Chita Light House.  The seas were a bit choppy, and Joe did his best to keep me with a downwind cast.  We were casting to likely fish location based on the conditions of the water (very hard to see anything).  We worked down the seaward side of Sands Key and Elliott Key, when Joe finally spotted a small school of bones, unfortunately I didn’t get to practice casting with my heavier rods before the trip, and I could not push the fly out to where it needed to be into a strong headwind (Note to self a 4 weight and a 9 weight are two different animals, practice with 9 weight before next trip).

                As the day moved on the weather got better and the flats started to clear, and finally got I got the tug.  First it was just a bump, but Joe said to just keep striping and bang there his was, fishing on.  So with the skunk off we moved back north to the east side of Key Biscayne and worked the flats there.  The winds had calmed down more and more Bones came to the fly.  Six in all, and the day was well worth the wind and cold (for the Keys).  Joe was a great and patient guide and made the day, qualities of a good guide.

                Got back to the room and shared pictures and stories on facebook and got some well need rest.  The next morning Ronda I and I decided to go see the Keys and jumped in the rental and headed south down US 1.  It was very interesting seeing all the fishing and ocean recreation spots, but never go the same day that they have the huge community flea market in Islamorada.  It took us just over 2 hours to get from Tavernier to Windley Key.

                After that we headed down to Bahia Honda State Park for some beach time and to cast to the flats on the seaward side of the Key.  No fish to speak of, so back in the car and on down to Key West.  With a quick loop pass the more historic sites, we headed back to Miami. I most directly will go back during better weather, to chase some Tarpon and Permit.

                On the last day we had several hours to spend before our evening flight back to Denver.  So over to Miami Beach for some white beach and some sunburn, then with a few hours before turning in the rental we decided to head over to Crandon Park on Key Biscayne.  There we enjoyed some wading time at low tide and cast to channels in the turtle grass.  Saw a Manta Ray break the water chasing small Mullet or Blue Runners.  With a beautiful sunset kicking in another school of Mullet break the surface 15 feet in front of me.  Refocussing on the next cast I look out and right off the tip of my rod is a 4 foot Blacktip shark just cruising by with no cares.  Time to head to the car.  Over all my first trip to Miami and the Key was great, caught some Bones in February, got to see some beautiful country and got away from some of the coldest weather in Denver this year.

ss the more historic sites, we headed back to Miami. I most directly will go back during better weather, to chase some Tarpon and Permit.

                On the last day we had several hours to spend before our evening flight back to Denver.  So over to Miami Beach for some white beach and some sunburn, then with a few hours before turning in the rental we decided to head over to Crandon Park on Key Biscayne.  There we enjoyed some wading time at low tide and cast to channels in the turtle grass.  Saw a Manta Ray break the water chasing small Mullet or Blue Runners.  With a beautiful sunset kicking in another school of Mullet break the surface 15 feet in front of me.  Refocussing on the next cast I look out and right off the tip of my rod is a 4 foot Blacktip shark just cruising by with no cares.  Time to head to the car.  Over all my first trip to Miami and the Key was great, caught some Bones in February, got to see some beautiful country and got away from some of the coldest weather in Denver this year.

 

 

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