millart82

Looking for Advice on Keys Bridge Fishing in January

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I've seen a lot of content on fishing the bridges, and I know that January is not the best month -- but that's when I'm free and that's when I'm going.  Can anyone offer some January-specific DIY fishing advice for the Keys?  Pretty much interested in tangling with anything of size that pulls, so not ashamed to pursue sharks, barracudas and jacks in addition to the more "desirable" species.  Not looking for meat, just a good time with a buddy.  So where should we go in January?  What should we target in January? How should we target them in January? 

 

Very much appreciate any advice that folks can offer or direction to a thread that addresses this, if I may have missed it.

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Who in the heck says January is not a good month in the Keys? Bah! Every month is good in the Keys, and I have fished every month of the year off those bridges in the Keys and always do very well, January being one of them. Of course, anyone can calculate certain migration patterns like the Tarpon run but, in general, there's always something happening off the bridges in the Keys. Bait hang around those bridge year round, and where there's bait, there be bigger predators looking to eat that bait. I exclusively fish the Long Key Bridge now and just about anything tossed out will get slammed off that bridge, I don't care what day, what year, what month, that bridge will light up any rod. Any kind of fresh bait, dead or alive, will actively get slammed. That bridge is also known for monster sharks. Talk about "anything of size that pulls", you say, if you go that route you better CHAIN your rod to the concrete.....the hits are that insane!

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On 10/13/2017 at 10:30 PM, zcoker said:

Who in the heck says January is not a good month in the Keys? Bah! Every month is good in the Keys, and I have fished every month of the year off those bridges in the Keys and always do very well, January being one of them. Of course, anyone can calculate certain migration patterns like the Tarpon run but, in general, there's always something happening off the bridges in the Keys. Bait hang around those bridge year round, and where there's bait, there be bigger predators looking to eat that bait. I exclusively fish the Long Key Bridge now and just about anything tossed out will get slammed off that bridge, I don't care what day, what year, what month, that bridge will light up any rod. Any kind of fresh bait, dead or alive, will actively get slammed. That bridge is also known for monster sharks. Talk about "anything of size that pulls", you say, if you go that route you better CHAIN your rod to the concrete.....the hits are that insane!

Hey Zcoker,

 

I know this is an old topic, but i'm heading down to Marathon next week and was wondering if i could pick your brain. I'm just gonna be fishing the bridges for the most part. Was curious what bait, lures, techniques, etc.. you use when you go down there?

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1 hour ago, pjl1981 said:

Hey Zcoker,

 

I know this is an old topic, but i'm heading down to Marathon next week and was wondering if i could pick your brain. I'm just gonna be fishing the bridges for the most part. Was curious what bait, lures, techniques, etc.. you use when you go down there?

What I do when I go down there is bring my own fresh bait. You can get bait down there, sure, but it's always nice to get going soon after setting up instead of spending a bunch of time running all over the place, trying to get bait to go fishing...if around at all. Can always go after bait while fishing, which is what I usually do.

 

 It will also benefit to learn the tidal phases down there, the ebb and flow of each area, which are all different and independent of each other. So if fishing is flat on one bridge, it may be on fire on another bridge. We call that bridge hopping. The current changes are also productive for certain species, like Tarpon, which are there year round. So if the tidal events are timed correctly, then fishing can be very rewarding. 

 

As far as bait, I primarily go for big sharks off those bridges at night, so I cannot expect everyone to follow that same protocol. In general, shrimp, netted mullet, crabs, squid, pinfish with Sabiki, all will get hit by something. For tarpon, I usually fish the tide changes for them because they are always on the "car bridge" side when the current flow is favorable on any particular bridge. The change-over pushes them to the fishing side of the bridge where they can easily get caught. Even still, catching poons off a bridge can be a daunting task but it is still doable, have done it many times. I use only lures for them, sub surface, fishing parallel to the bridge. 

 

Both the Long Key and the Seven Mile bridge have landing zones, places to take big fish if caught above for landing. Best to locate these landing zones, learn them because if a big fish is hooked, can always get down there easily to release them safely. Also good to bring along a drop net with long enough rope to reach the water. I've seen so many people totally screwed on those bridges because they don't expect to hook anything or any real size--wrong! So having the right equipment is vital. 

 

So, yes, moving around a lot, being prepared with bait, having the right gear.....knowing the tidal phases for each area, knowing the layout of the land....that's about the best advice I can give anyone who wants to fish those bridges down there. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, zcoker said:

What I do when I go down there is bring my own fresh bait. You can get bait down there, sure, but it's always nice to get going soon after setting up instead of spending a bunch of time running all over the place, trying to get bait to go fishing...if around at all. Can always go after bait while fishing, which is what I usually do.

 

 It will also benefit to learn the tidal phases down there, the ebb and flow of each area, which are all different and independent of each other. So if fishing is flat on one bridge, it may be on fire on another bridge. We call that bridge hopping. The current changes are also productive for certain species, like Tarpon, which are there year round. So if the tidal events are timed correctly, then fishing can be very rewarding. 

 

As far as bait, I primarily go for big sharks off those bridges at night, so I cannot expect everyone to follow that same protocol. In general, shrimp, netted mullet, crabs, squid, pinfish with Sabiki, all will get hit by something. For tarpon, I usually fish the tide changes for them because they are always on the "car bridge" side when the current flow is favorable on any particular bridge. The change-over pushes them to the fishing side of the bridge where they can easily get caught. Even still, catching poons off a bridge can be a daunting task but it is still doable, have done it many times. I use only lures for them, sub surface, fishing parallel to the bridge. 

 

Both the Long Key and the Seven Mile bridge have landing zones, places to take big fish if caught above for landing. Best to locate these landing zones, learn them because if a big fish is hooked, can always get down there easily to release them safely. Also good to bring along a drop net with long enough rope to reach the water. I've seen so many people totally screwed on those bridges because they don't expect to hook anything or any real size--wrong! So having the right equipment is vital. 

 

So, yes, moving around a lot, being prepared with bait, having the right gear.....knowing the tidal phases for each area, knowing the layout of the land....that's about the best advice I can give anyone who wants to fish those bridges down there. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks guys. Weird question, if i want to fish on the landing zone, what would you use for a sand spike? You think i could just bring a mallet and pound my sand spike into the dirt? Also curious about the tide change/current, what should i look for with the tide changes? I know the current goes back and forth from the gulf to the Atlantic side (i think).

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10 hours ago, pjl1981 said:

Thanks guys. Weird question, if i want to fish on the landing zone, what would you use for a sand spike? You think i could just bring a mallet and pound my sand spike into the dirt? Also curious about the tide change/current, what should i look for with the tide changes? I know the current goes back and forth from the gulf to the Atlantic side (i think).

If you are fishing the bridges, a sand spike isn’t necessary....not much sand in the Keys anyway, pure coral rock...spikes are useless down there lol. 

 

A favorable tide on any given bridge for (general fishing) is when the current is moving “away” from the car bridge and is about to change to slack. Example: you are on Long Key and the current changes. It’s not favorable there anymore (as far as keeping the line strait out with no obstacles). But it then becomes favorable on the Seven Mile until the next tide change or tidal event.

 

Regardless, you can fish any bridge at any time, depending on what is targeted. 

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From what I learned about fishing the Keys successfully and it’s been mentioned many times in the above responses by zcoker is to understand the tide changes . Negative and positive tide changes sometimes it’s not noticeable it can be very little . Winter has totally different tides all together , in higher than normal and lower than normal.  

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Anyone know how long of a drop net you would need for the bridges? Wondering if i could just get one at a bait shop down there. Also want to try and use a chum bag, but really have no idea where to get a long rope for that.

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Didn't do so hot on my trip, although i put the work in i'd say. Got spooled 3 times, 2 times by big sharks using grunts as bait, and one time by a permit on a crab (i'm assuming). I used every bait and technique i could think of, blue crabs, live shrimp, dead shrimp, ballyhoo chunks, floated or on the bottom. Ended up catching a nurse shark (of course), another 3 foot shark (i don't know what kind), a couple undersized mangroves, and last but not least, a big ass spotted eagle ray on a crab. The ray was a hell of a fight, i thought my pole was gonna gonna break. 

 

Saw all kinds of life in the water, lots of barracuda, tarpon, permit, rays, and sea turtles. Saw some people catch some nice yellow jack too. I mainly fished long key bridge, tried 7 mile once, but the water seemed shallow there and was too long to walk. It was king tide and from what the bait shop guy said, it kind of makes things difficult. All in all i had fun, didn't rain all week, and hot as hell. Next time i go, i'll have to bring a heavier set up. I had 2 6000 reels with 30 lb braid and 1 8000 reel with 50 lb braid. I'm sure that's fine for most stuff, but not for the tarpon, barracuda or permit.

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Sounds to me you went way too heavy in your tackle choice, unless you want sharks and rays. If you watched the majority of the anglers, they were using 3000 or 4000 reels with 12-15 lb mono or braid and probably a top shot of  fluoro. Remember, these fish live there and get to identify heavy line as a threat. Our fish(bass,blues,fluke etc) are seasonal visitors and are not quite as slick, and of course clear water plays a big part in tackle selection. It too me a few years of visits to the Keys, to get in a groove, Three things, no four, light tackle, live shrimp, jig heads and location . 

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13 hours ago, pjl1981 said:

Didn't do so hot on my trip, although i put the work in i'd say. Got spooled 3 times, 2 times by big sharks using grunts as bait, and one time by a permit on a crab (i'm assuming). I used every bait and technique i could think of, blue crabs, live shrimp, dead shrimp, ballyhoo chunks, floated or on the bottom. Ended up catching a nurse shark (of course), another 3 foot shark (i don't know what kind), a couple undersized mangroves, and last but not least, a big ass spotted eagle ray on a crab. The ray was a hell of a fight, i thought my pole was gonna gonna break. 

 

Saw all kinds of life in the water, lots of barracuda, tarpon, permit, rays, and sea turtles. Saw some people catch some nice yellow jack too. I mainly fished long key bridge, tried 7 mile once, but the water seemed shallow there and was too long to walk. It was king tide and from what the bait shop guy said, it kind of makes things difficult. All in all i had fun, didn't rain all week, and hot as hell. Next time i go, i'll have to bring a heavier set up. I had 2 6000 reels with 30 lb braid and 1 8000 reel with 50 lb braid. I'm sure that's fine for most stuff, but not for the tarpon, barracuda or permit.

For stuff like Mangroves and such, a 3000 or 4000 size reel is probably ideal. 

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11 hours ago, dieselgrady said:

Sounds to me you went way too heavy in your tackle choice, unless you want sharks and rays. If you watched the majority of the anglers, they were using 3000 or 4000 reels with 12-15 lb mono or braid and probably a top shot of  fluoro. Remember, these fish live there and get to identify heavy line as a threat. Our fish(bass,blues,fluke etc) are seasonal visitors and are not quite as slick, and of course clear water plays a big part in tackle selection. It too me a few years of visits to the Keys, to get in a groove, Three things, no four, light tackle, live shrimp, jig heads and location . 

There were a lot of guys fishing the way you said. My problem was that everything i threw got pecked off immediately, didn't matter if i fished by the pylons, or cast out to the power lines, or what bait i used. It got maddening after awhile, so i stuck with trying to catch bigger stuff. I agree that it'll take some trips to really figure things out. I really wanted to go after permit, saw them, think i hooked one, but my 250 yards of line wasn't enough.

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