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Surf fishing in the keys????????????

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Ok I am heading for the keys on the 24 and am wondering :? Is it possible to surf fish in any part of the keys? i am taking a tarpon trip on that Monday . but interested in slinging lead from the beach.. is it possible any where in the keys area. West coast or east. we will be in the largo, baiha Honda & west areas all week.
post #2 of 20
bahia honda park has a few places you might want to sling some lead.but i would stick with some 8 or 9 foot plugging outfits just to keep it fun. if you really must heave something out there , just put a peice of meat on a wire leader and have fun with one of the many sharks down there.
post #3 of 20
shrimp are used a lot, redfish, jacks , blues too. early morning throw a hopkins / kastmaster 2oz for snook.
post #4 of 20
Do yourself a favor and bridge fish. Wading is hard to do because there are very few places that you can get to without a boat.
From the Florida Sportsman
Here is a note cobbled together from several sources:
Shore fishing is not easy for Bones and I would guess near impossible for Permit & Tarpon. The few places that you can wade for are not heavily fished but they get good traffic, so Bones and the others are well seasoned and a little shy. Permit because you need to see them at nearly 100 ft in order to maneuver to within casting distance, they are to quick when your on foot. Tarpon are easy enough to get close to, but you need deeper water, 4-6 ft, again not easy when your wading. You may luck out and see some near channels or cuts, but if you were to hook one of any size u b in deep dodo......
Sidebar, the Key's are strung along US 1 and in the old days all mail was delivered via mile markers(mm), They start in Key West(MM 0) and end in Florida City (MM 126). The Key's run from the east to the west and if you include the Tortugas, stretch for almost 200 miles.
Now as for wading the flats, yes, there are lots of spots. Most of the productive fishing is going to be in the early mornings at around sun set. Tides also are a
major factor, but because of their complexity, it's not worth getting into.
Starting at the Mile Marker 126, just south of Florida City, if you see shallow water, there are fish... There are Snook, Red's, Tarpon, Permit, Bones, and just about anything you can cast to, available most of the year, just not a lot... If you have never tried a fly on a barracuda or shark, I strongly suggest you give them a shot. They are just as fast and spectacular as the Slam fish. You can go after the smaller Bonnet(2lb-6lb) with a 6wt, Cuda(3lb-15lb) with a 8wt-10wt, up through the Bull/Nurse/Lemon shark with your 12wt, and they are all on the flats. You can wade to them. The only adder is a small piece of wire to ward off sharp teeth,, if you want your fly back... There are also Jack's, Grunts, Ladyfish, Spotted Trout, and to a lesser extent just about everything else. I have caught King Mackerel to 35lbs in 12 ft of water between the old and new Bahia Honda bridges. Bull Shark's up to 250lbs.
There is a gap in road side fishing between upper Key Largo(mm 107) and Lower Matecumbe(mm 74) because most of the area is commercial or private and built up.
The Highway Flat a mm 74 on the ocean side. This is a great flat located across the street from the Rodus Building, 74560 Overseas Highway. Hurricane Georges stripped away what used to be a lovely stretch of sand dunes covered with sea oats bordering this flat. The flat is still fishable, just not as pretty. You can park across the street from the Rodus Building, a square white multi-story building. This flat runs east and west for approximately 1/2 mile, good hard bottom and GREAT bone fishing. Do not park at the East end of the flat as that area is private property and was marked as such the last time I was there. This flat has no rest rooms or any facilities, just very good fishing. Don't pass it up.
Anne's Beach is a favorite wade fishing spot. A fabulous flat approximately 1/2 mile long with good hard sand bottom. Anne's beach is located just West of the Calusa Marina on the ocean-side. Anne's Beach has two entrances about 1/2 mile apart. There are rest rooms at the East end and hard, marked parking areas at the East and West ends. Each entrance is connected by a great boardwalk, which runs
right along the shoreline and has access walks going down to the water interspersed along the boardwalk making access to the flat very easy. There are also covered picnic areas along the boardwalk with tables and benches, just right for lunch. The bone fishing here is very good with an excellent chance of seeing a permit on the West end of the flat where it butts up to a deep-water channel. This is a public park and is very popular with bathers. Avoid the weekends and fish early or late. There is usually plenty of room for fishing particularly in the middle area of the flat.
Long Key State Park Recreational Area Long Key State Park is located just West of MM 68, on the ocean-side. This park has an entrance fee of $3.00 per car and is well worth it. The park features camping areas if you are a camper and you can pitch a tent or back your trailer right up to the beach. It also has shower facilities and rest rooms as well as picnic tables. A paved road runs the length of the park and makes access that much easier. I usually turn right after paying my entrance fee and drive about half way down the park to the West and park facing the ocean. A very short walk, 15-20 feet, and you are fishing. On a high tide watch the shoreline, as the bonefish will get right in on the beach and tail. I like to start wading in the middle of the flat and work my way slowly up to the East end in close to the shore line and if the light and the wind are right, move out a little and work back to the West. It just doesn't get any better than this. Excellent facilities and very good fishing.
On Vaca Key(downtown Marathon), you might try Sombrero Beach. It is public, has sand, it right next to a really good cut, might be worth a try in the early am or at dusk.
Veterans' Memorial Park This park is located at Mile Marker #40, right on the West end of the 7-Mile Bridge. Turn left and go down the hill where you will find a good
parking area with rest rooms and concrete pavilions which cover picnic tables and benches. A great flat with a nice hard sandy bottom. Excellent bone fishing with a
chance of a permit on a high tide near the edge of the channel. The family can sit and burn in comfort while you hunt world records...
Bahia Honda State Park Located on Bahia Honda Key between Mile Markers 36 and 37. This is very large Park, over 2 miles in length and offers some of the best wade
fishing available for bonefish. This flat borders a deep water channel on the East end where there is always the chance of coming upon a permit. It has a good hard bottom and a variety of types of bottom from clean white sand to mottled with some grass. Bahia Honda offers camping, picnic facilities as well as rest rooms and showers and even a concession stand if your tastes run to a hot lunch [hot dogs and hamburgers]. This facility requires an entrance fee of $3.00 and well worth it. It is very nice at the end of your fishing to be able to take a shower and change into some dry clothes. For up to date information you can call the park at 305-872-2353.
Just after the new Bahia Honda bridges, is Spanish Harbor Key(it's labeled West Sugarloaf Key). About 100ft after the bridge ON THE RIGHT is a small side road the
leads down to a parking area. Wonder out to the north and you will find a pit dug by the rail road for fill, it's 35ft deep but is quite shallow on the outsides. Try the area between the pit and the bridge. Also, on the south side of the road there are some shallows, but they drop off quick.. Current is also very fast and strong, up to 7mph. You don't want to be caught in it, kills 1 or 2 each year...
Further west are still more spots, going all the way to the beaches of Key West.
Caution::: Always be sure of where you are wading. Do not attempt to cross areas that are green or dark blue in color-these colors indicate deep water, or soft mud bottoms. I very seldom wade deeper than my knees. Be aware of what the tide is doing and do not get caught far off the beach with a fast rising tide or you may have to swim part of the way back. This is very difficult with an expencive fly rod & reel.
The following is a list of equipment you might consider for wade fishing expeditions:
FLY ROD - a fast action, 9ft., 8wt.
FLY REEL - GOOD DRAG & a floating line and 200 yds. of 20lb. test backing.
FLIES - a mix of Clousers, Deceiver's, Shrimp, Crab, in tan, brown, green, white,
sizes 4, 2, 1/0 BITE TIPPETS: Other than Bones and maybe Permit, our fish have teeth, I use 12"-15:" of 20lb up to 80lb mono for Tarpon, wire for cuda & shark.
WADING BOOTS or hard bottom dive booties - a must have piece of equipment for safe wading, always wear them no matter where you are wading
STRIPPING BASKET - optional
POLARIZED SUNGLASSES - another must have item
SMALL, FLAT fly box - carry different patterns and a few extra leaders
SUNSCREEN - another must have item, even in winter
WATER BOTTLE - put on your belt, it will save you a trip back to shore
LONG-BILLED HAT - make sure the underside of the bill is a dark color so it won't reflect the glare back into your eyes .
Long Sleeve shirts & pants if your light skinned.
Now all you need is a soft breeze, a cloudless sky.....
Good Luck
post #5 of 20
Google " boatless fishing" for good keys info
post #6 of 20
I made my first trip down there around the full moon this past April and had a great time. For shore based fishing, if you aren't into wading the flats, your best bet is to fish from and around the bridges... and there are lots of fish to be had around the Keys bridges.

If you are mainly concerned about tarpon, a charter is probably the best way to actually land and put your hands on a fish... but they can definitely be caught from and around the bridges, on bait and on lures. The problem with landing them around the bridges is the structure, which makes them tough to fight without breaking them off or losing them.

If you can get some live shrimp (dead will work too, but not as good) float them around and under the bridge pilons at night on a moving tide with little or no weight. I had some good luck doing this. Also, if you like tossing lures, throw some plugs (swim shads work too) around the bridges as well. This usually works best from the sides of the bridges with your feet on land. You haven't lived till you've seen an 80 lb. tarpon go airborn and crash down on your Pencil Popper!

Boatless fisherman website is a very good resource... but look around here in the Florida forum especially, lots of info to be had here as well. Good Luck!
post #7 of 20
Florida has exceptional facilities to suit the boatless angler.

The last time I was in Key West I literaly stopped on the side of the road on the way to the motel.. grabbed my rod and started fishing blind and hooked into a nice little Cuda' shortly after.

Florida waters are thick with fish of all kinds!

You might find that a short, light(ish) 6'6" rod and a 2500 reel might come in handy, even from the shore.. go with a beefier setup if you hit the bridges or fishing piers at night

PS

Live shrimp under a popping cork = Magic

Also try Gulp! shrimp, very effective
post #8 of 20
Last time I was in the keys I fished the canals and a couple of small piers by some of the hotels. In Marathon I fished a pier, more of a dock really at night with live shrimp. There were small to medium sized tarpon and small sharks all over it!!!!!! The dock had a light which enabled you to see these tarpon to 50# hitting your bait, it was tre' cool!!!
You can also throw iron off the beaches at night for jacks too.
I saw lots of reds in the canals.
post #9 of 20
April I was down there and mainly fished out of a yak and caught permit, sharks and hooked a few tarpon on the fly. A boat helps but you can do all your flats fishing on a yak. Fishing from shore is tough unless you fish bahia honda beach and bridges.
post #10 of 20
I just got back and am freguently in Big pine key Tarpon were all over Bahia honda bridge. Throw everything! Black Jigs big swim baits and of course the ol' Crab and if u want to tug on something big for fun I suggest going south to the niles channel bridge at dusk about 15? miles down maybe from bahia and walking down beside it(where u'll have a better chance landing a good size fish) I use this for area for sharkn. Grab urself a barracuda on a pinfish with a stinger rig and use him as chunk bait for the sharks. There are also good size snapper and grouper lurking around the bridge pilons. Wading out at Bahia is fun with light tackle and a shrimp tipd jig but don't forget the polorized sunglasses and atleast tivas!
post #11 of 20
Think "night" and find some areas where lights are on the water.. like docks, piers and bridges. Pick up a few packs of DOA shrimp jigs.. in natural colors (I like either white or clear). Cast them into shadows and swim them toward the light source slowly inches under the surface. Last time I was down there (this time of year) I landed a few tarpon to 50 lbs, and broke off a bunch more. I had my snook and redfish medium action gear I usually use on the flats. No match for a 100lb + tarpon



Sometimes the tarpon get tight-lipped. When they "nose" the jig (which will drive you nutts) lift your rod tip and make the shrimp "jump" on the surface. Shrimp do this naturally with predators, and the tarpon may suck it in.



Its a funny feeling making a trout presentation to a giant like that.
post #12 of 20
Go to the fla section in this forum, and do a search on the "Keys"
you will find alot more helpful info.....
also post any other fla questions there, i find if i am going to NY to fish, than posting in the NY section will get me alot more detail info....
just a tip
post #13 of 20
go to bahia honda and fish shrimp from the flats. when you pull in the lot, go left all the way past the campground - beautiful beach and flats area. there are a lot of big bones there that will take your shrimp, fished on light line with a split shot. look for them, or blind cast and keep the rod in hand. look for patches of sand between dark areas and fish those. you may also get a permit doing this. i know a guide down there and he has caught plenty during trips to the beach with his wife. i'd also bring some poppers for jacks and cuda if you want to cast off the flats into the deeper water.
post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
Hey thanks a lot for the info . me and my partner are takin a tarpon trip the monday we get down there. maybe pick up some good pointers from the captain and hopfully be able to use that knowledge to get our hands on a tarpon with out the captains help. hope to meet some of you there or here in NC at Cape Hatteras. Till then Tight line & tan lines. live by one, Die by the other............
post #15 of 20
more of flats fishing in the keys. if you count flats as surf
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