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DIY in the Keys from shore with the fly rod

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DanielM

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Will be in the mid keys from May 8-14. I know many of you are experienced fishing the keys from boats.  I am a northeast salt water guy from an inland state (Vt) Shore fishing for bass, blues and albies. I am a lifelong flyrodder but have learned a great deal from other members who have shared their knowledge. My only experience with tarpon has been jumping them from the bridges in winter. I have never been at prime time. I know it is a long shot but I am going to try. I was going to go solo but my son decided he should come to keep me out of trouble lol! I am 74 and in good physical shape. I know he is just worried about me.

Is it possible to hook tarpon wading out to channels or from the ends of bridges. Any advice will be appreciated.

Even if we are not successful it will be the adventure of my lifetime to be experiencing it and making memories with my son.

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Can you hook a tarpon by wading out near a bridge channel? Yes

 

Is it likely you will be successful? No

 

But the real question is what the heck are you going to do IF you actually hook one? LOL

 

GL but if this is "an adventure of a lifetime" you really should book a guide for at least a day. Even a decent guide will probably show you some fish even if you don't get a shot at them. THAT would be worth the price of admission.

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DIY in the Keys is tough, not to discourage you. 

 

Bahia Honda is a good start., Annes Beach, if open, both ocean side.

 

Use caution, the current around the bridges can be dangerous. The Keys are loaded with sharks, unless it's settled down in the last 10 months.

I will be in Marathon the week after you.

 

Best of Luck

Edited by Dogfish Between Jetties
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28 mins ago, Dogfish Between Jetties said:

DIY in the Keys is tough, not to discourage you. 

 

Bahia Honda is a good start., Annes Beach, if open, both ocean side.

 

Use caution, the current around the bridges can be dangerous. The Keys are loaded with sharks, unless it's settled down in the last 10 months.

I will be in Marathon the week after you.

 

Best of Luck

The sharks would discourage me from wadding too far out 

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Go out and have an adventure. The Keys are a great place to have a shot at a ton of different species both glamorous and "trash". Tarpon are a great possibility but I would not go with tunnel vision for the big three.

 

I fish down there every year, almost all DIY, and always have a great time. Some years we catch the glamor species, some years we don't. We have caught bones, tarpon, snook, and tons of other fish. 

 

Fishing the channels near the bridges and along the road can be very productive but be carful, the riprap can be loose and back cast room can be tight, definitely doable though. If you are fishing the rip rap, bring a stripping basket or stop in a store and buy a dishpan and a bungie cord. There are plenty of flats to poke around on your own too.

 

I do recommend a spinning rod as a back up but it's not a must have.

 

Enjoy.   

Embrace American Privilege

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I've fished from shore in Islamorada, using spinning gear, but was never too impressed with the results.  Under the bridges, you can find snappers and jacks, sometimes a stray barracuda.  There are tarpon, including some big ones, but they are not easy to hook up, and a big one would be nearly impossible to control from the riprap.  A friend of mine hooked up onn fly from shore beneath the Whale Harbor bridge, but that was a small fish,.

 

I've drifted bucktails in the current at night under the bridges, like we would for bass, in search of snook.  Never found a snook, but had the bucktail bitten off by something a time or two (my guess is cutlassfish/ribbonfish, but who knows?)  

 

There are some impressive sharks under the bridges, which would be fun to hook up on appropriate gear, but Florida has imposed restrictions on shore-based shark fishing that you need to comply with before you try.  

 

Generally, when I go down, I charter out of Bud n Mary's, and maybe spend a day or two on their party boat chasing yellowtail and muttons.  A boat rental is another possibility that I never took advantage of, but might if/when I go down again.

 

Someone in a previous post suggested Annie's Beach.  I've fished it, mostly catching houndfish, but heard that they recently prohibited fishing there.  Don't know if that's true.

 

Maybe I'm prejudiced because I'm a boat fisherman by nature, but if I had the choice, I'd hire a guide or rent a boat, and leave the shore fishing for those days when I didn't/couldn't book, or just felt like fooling around.

Edited by CWitek

"I have always believed that outdoor writers who come out against fish and wildlife conservation are in the wrong business. To me, it makes as much sense golf writers coming out against grass.."  --  Ted Williams

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Every year less and less access available.  Bay side bottom can be fairly mucky and tough to wade.  Ocean side is firmer.  Knocking on doors and asking is tough ever since David when Homestead refugees invaded the Keys in te 80's.  Sometimes the smallest creek can be loaded with fun fish on small flies .  14" snappers are a ton of.fun on a 6wt.  Channels by bridges will be your best bet.

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Here are my suggestions based on my two trips to KW:

1. Book a guide.

2. Bring SUP or rent one. I have inflatable. Packing it as extra baggage item. I have 12V pump, it helps a lot.

3. Go to State parks. BH is very good, but can be crowded. Be at the gate early.

 

Hope this helps!

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