Island to Island Charters,
Key West: Daily Updates

Posts Tagged ‘key west backcountry fishing’

Crazy Fun Fishing & Exploring the Islands off Key West

March 11th, 2016

This group was recommended to contact me from their friends who had experienced one of my trips. So these guys were super excited because they heard about all the cool things their friends did & saw while cruising around with me on my charter. I definitely appreciate that this positive feedback is traveling around.

A little windy, but I managed to maneuver to a leeward side of the islands in the backcountry, also known as the Great White Heron Wildlife Refuge. We were mostly shallow so didn’t experience any waves to the islands. Our first stop was one of my favorite sandbars. Luckily it was low tide as well. The colors surrounding the flats are much more vibrant & beautiful during this time. After I beached the boat, they walked around and discovered tons of marine life. They saw Stingrays, Bonnethead Sharks, Conchs, Welks, Horn Conchs, Starfish, & somethings I didn’t even recognize. They collected a lot of shells & mostly enjoyed standing in the “middle of the ocean” with no one else in sight. These guys are from Manhattan & couldn’t believe how peaceful it was. Only the sound of birds & the tide coming in.

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For being beginners at Fishing, these guys had a slamming day! At all times someone had a fish on. I could barely keep up. Key West fishing is good, but they were particularly lucky this day. I had to explain that fishing isn’t always this much action. Some days I have very little action. But this day was awesome! They caught Yellow Jacks, Bar Jacks, Grey Snappers, Blue Runners, Porgy’s, Spanish Mackeral & Yellow-tail Snappers.

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We were running out of time, so we headed back to Key West to catch Sunset. We cruised around Key West Harbor admiring all the boats, especially the Sailboats under sail. I showed them Sunset Key as well. Then to top off a great day on the water, we were graced with yet another amazing Key West Sunset!

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Key West: Sharks, Beaches, Sandbars, Sea Turtles

October 22nd, 2015

A family from New Jersey chartered me for a 6 hour trip on the water for a little bit of fishing, exploring & chilling on a sandbar. The weather was more than cooperative and I was really looking forward to a beautiful day. We started the day off well with a pod of dolphins playing around. I was pleased to hear the young boy, Jackson, admit he has never seen wild dolphins.

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After being amused by the dolphins rough housing each other we cruised to a channel to drop anchor and try our luck at fishing. Sometimes this channel produces & sometimes not so much. Generally light tackle fishing in the backcountry is better during winter months. It seems the bait fish come in & that brings our schools of larger fish to the channels. This time of the year should be when I start to see schools of Jacks, Bar Jacks, Ladyfish, Bluerunners. Both Jackson & his dad did catch Yellowtail Snappers, but not much else going on. So time to hit the sandbar.

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We traveled about 30 minutes west of Key West to an island on the Atlantic side with one of my favorite white sand bars. Usually I can find shallow water here regardless of the tides. More importantly the sand is amazingly soft. This is a great spot to introduce snorkeling to young kids & adults to get them comfortable with the gear. Jackson enjoyed swimming about looking for small fish and shells. His mother held his 18 month year old sister in the water while she splashed around. We were very fortunate to have some Southern Stingrays swim past us. Upon leaving the sandbar a Loggerhead swam right in front of the boat. My clients rarely get this amazing opportunity to enjoy the sight of such a magnificent creature because they are quite shy, incredibly fast, & blend well with their surroundings. This sea turtle was swimming over a white sand bar & not so quickly.

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Now it was time to head to the shipwreck and do some fishing. I was very happy to see large schools of fish swimming by. Jackson caught Grey Snappers, Blue Runners, Porgy, & a very large Bar Jack that gave him a heck of a fight. In the meantime his dad was struggling with losing bait & tackle to what we think is a large grouper at the bottom of the wreck. He didn’t have nearly the success Jackson did. Also we were lucky to observe lots of Barracudas, more stingrays & another Loggerhead Sea Turtle.

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We are so fortunate in the Florida Keys to be surrounded by beautiful waters for great fishing & encountering of marine life. We were headed back to Key West through the Lakes telling fish stories of course. I noticed something unusual floating in the water. To my surprise & shock when I got closer to see, it was a Bald Eagle. Thankfully it was still alive, but definitely struggling with being soaking wet & unable to fly. I called Tom at Key West Wildlife Center for advice. I didn’t have the necessary equipment to grab the Bald Eagle safely for me & my clients. She was absolutely huge & still very powerful. I then called Florida Wildlife Commission for them to retrieve the bird out of the water. We stayed close to her to protect her from predators until they arrived. With a large net & a towel, they successfully brought her on the boat. Truly one of the most wonderful experiences I have had on the water. My clients said the same. We are extremely fortunate to have such a great organization like Key West Wildlife Center in our community. She was released the following day in good health.

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Backcountry Fishing in Key West

June 26th, 2015

Usually these girls charter my husband, AWS Charters, but this time they chartered me. I would like to think it is because my charter is better, but in all honesty they had 2 extra friends along. Tony’s boat can only take 2 passengers. (I still think my charter is better.) So I got the 4 girls for 2 full days on the water. It was a fabulous time! Our main objective was to catch edible fish. Most of the time I am catch & release, so this was definitely a challenge. Especially since Grouper were out of season. I recruited my husband Tony, as my mate for 1 of the days. In the beginning of the trip we tried a few different spots to no avail. Thankfully after some frustration, the last move we made was successful. They all caught some fish.

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As you can see, we caught a variety of Groupers, Snappers, Porgys, A Stingray, A Bonnethead Shark, Grunts, and Hogfish.

The following day I convinced them to let me do what I do best, explore the beauty of the Backcountry (aka The Great White Heron Wildlife Refuge) Generally when they visit, they only fish. Well, I wanted to expose them to sandbars, beaches, mangroves, and all the wildlife. First stop was a remote beach East of Key West about 30 minutes. It is truly one of the prettiest areas I know, especially during a low tide. They enjoyed combing the beach for shells, and exploring the tide pools for marine life. Also floating in the shallow turquoise waters was a favorite past time. I might also mention the sand is incredibly white, fine, and luxurious on the feet. A perfect place to put your “Toes in the Sand”.

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After relaxing on the beach for sometime, we did stop at one of the channels to do some bottom fishing. We caught a nice size Porgy & Hogsfish. They also caught the largest Mangrove Snapper I have ever seen. It put up a serious fight until a massive Barracuda chopped it in half in a split second. What a bummer, I could tell by the size of the head, that fish would have easily fed the 4 girls. That was one lucky Barracuda. No sense feeding the Barracuda anymore, so we carried on in our day.
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We cruised throughout the mangrove islands and the flats to hopefully see some marine life. We saw a lot of large Southern Stingrays, Loggerhead Turtles, Nurse Sharks, Bull Sharks, Barracudas, Tarpon….

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Headed back towards Key West, I drove the Gulfside. Which is full of beautiful sandbars, and gorgeous varying colors of water. It is also quite shallow so it allows you to see a lot. Before chilling on a Sandbar, I tried one more channel off one of the islands to do some fishing. The snappers were all quite small, but one of them landed a huge Barracuda. It took a little time to get him interested in the bait. The water is so clear you could see the fish attack our bait right on top. They are so unbelievably fast. It is quite amazing to watch them feed. Just as it hit the hook, the Barracuda flew in the air about 10 feet and landed on the other side of the boat. A spectacular sight, but very nerve-racking! I yelled for everyone to duck just in case. Thankfully my angler had fished Barracuda before and knew exactly what she was doing. Probably the highlight of our two days was Aimee catching that Barracuda. Watch out AWS Charters!

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Two beautiful days on the water with amazing people. I can’t wait for them to come back next year. Key West has a lot more to offer than Duval Street and Shopping. These girls know that and spent most of their vacation on the water. The islands off the Florida Keys are something everyone should see. They are untouched, rich in marine life & wildlife, and fortunately protected.

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Just as I thought my day couldn’t get any better, one of the girls prepared an incredible meal with the fish they caught. Did I mention, she won the Iron Chef & the James Beard Award & has a reknown restaurant in Manhattan. By far the best dinner I have ever had. Thanks Guys for 2 fantastic days!

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A Chilly, but Beautiful Day!

February 27th, 2015

I had spoken to my customer, Tony the night before and I expressed concern about high winds and unusually low temperatures predicted for the day of our charter. I definitely am not a captain that takes clients out regardless of the weather. It is important to me that it be an enjoyable trip for everyone (me included). I guess you could call me a “fair-weather captain”. In the morning I called him and gave him the option to go out on the boat or not. The winds were a little less than predicted. He decided he & his family wanted to go. I am really glad now, knowing what a great trip it turned out to be! Tony & his wife & her parents visiting from China had never been to Florida before, much less cruising through the shallows, and mangrove islands of the Backcountry. They were amazed to say the least. The best part of where I go is even on a windy day I can usually find shelter behind the islands. Also since I travel through such shallow water, it is not real choppy.

I recruited my husband Tony, a charter boat captain as well, to accompany me on this trip. At the very start, lo and behold a large pod of dolphins playing in a area right off Key West. So much fun to watch them jumping around and investigating us on the boat. This was the first time my clients would see dolphins in the wild. This is one of my favorite things about what I do, introducing people to the extraordinary elements of Mother Nature at her best!

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We had to pull ourselves away from the dolphins because there was so much more to see. One good thing about a windy day is if you get to see the kite boarders surfing the flats. I always enjoy watching them perform maneuvers and jumps and catch some serious wind and fly across the water. I have a lot of respect for their sport, but no desire to learn it. I will stick with being a spectator.

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We came to our first island which is always full of a large variety of birds relaxing in the mangroves. We tried to do some fishing, but were not having much luck. After pointing out all the different bird species we left to the next island to hopefully have better luck fishing.

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While we were fishing one of my favorite spots, we probable saw at least 6 Loggerhead Sea Turtles. Amazingly they were quite large and enjoying floating on the surface. I think they were trying to warm themselves in the sun. The water temperatures dipped to almost a record low that week. My clients were thrilled with seeing this, another first for them. And miraculously we were able to catch some fish with the water being so cold. Especially since this was their first time fishing!

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We were having so much fun, but we were running out of time and I had one more place I wanted to show them. One of my favorite islands has a few narrow channels to cruise through and I can only get there on a high tide. It is positively beautiful boating through this island. I knew they would appreciate it and they did!

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On the way home we went exploring for stingrays in the shallows right next to one of the mangrove islands, instead we saw dozens of Barracudas. That was very cool. The water was quite clear and you could see them very well. My husband and I really enjoyed our time with these guys. In spite of the cold, we laughed a lot and they discovered a whole new world.

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Key West Fishing & Snorkeling

September 3rd, 2014

I had a family visiting Key West interested in chartering Island to Island Charters for a day of snorkeling & fishing. We were able to successfully do both, and had a lot of fun on top of it! In Key West we are fortunate to have a lot of snorkeling options, from shipwrecks to reefs, etc.. We traveled to a patch reef in the Gulf of Mexico just a few miles west of Key West. On this day we were very lucky to experience clear, calm blue water with good visibility. They were able to see an assortment of marine life, from small colorful fish to a large Nurse Shark and & curious Barracuda.

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After all the activity of snorkeling we decided to relax on a nearby white sandbar located next to the mangrove island of Cottrell Key. One of my favorite places to spend time. Generally, depending on the tide, stingrays, tarpon, & sharks cross this flat in pursuit of food. It is neat to observe this in such shallow clear conditions.

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Next on our adventure was to try some fishing. In the backcountry sometimes your best bet for fishing is in the small channels that travel through the Key West flats. I found one I hoped would produce. Well today was a lucky day for that. We had managed to entice several good size grey snappers and 2 Nurse Sharks. We saw other large schools of fish swim by with no interest in our lines.

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After snorkeling, sandbars, and fishing we were running out of time so started our way back to Key West. We were interrupted by a pod of dolphins playing in the area. We marveled at their antics and watched them carry on in their travels. Never a dull moment with these creatures around. Our Key West dolphin watching is always a new experience, they continue to surprise & amaze myself and my customers. I am very grateful for their presence.

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We crossed the channel to Key West and traveled past Sunset Key before arriving to my marina. Thanks to a very cool family for making my “job” so much fun. I am so glad they decided to book a private boat charter for a family activity while on vacation in Key West.

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Key West Fishing & Island Hopping

June 21st, 2014

I had the joy of taking out two sisters and their husbands for a private boat charter in the Key West backcountry for some relaxation & fun! They were visiting Key West for a relatives beach wedding and had one free day to spend with Island to Island Charters. I took them through the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge exploring mangrove islands, sandbars, and an assortment of marine life. First we traveled NorthEast of Key West to a remote beach full of beautiful white sand and shallow turquoise water.

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After some beach combing for shells we cruised on the Gulf to anchor in a channel and light tackle fish for Snappers, Jacks, Sharks..etc. We were fishing over hard bottom coral where a lot of fish usually can be found. They were more focused on relaxing on the boat and enjoying the tranquility of it all. For those that work a lot and are busy taking care of their families, this boat trip is definitely good therapy to restore your energy and “check-out”!

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As we cruised the flat, calm waters back to Key West we encountered a large Loggerhead sea turtle, Nurse Shark, and a pod of dolphins. What an amazing day! A Key West vacation is an excellent choice, especially if you escape on a private boat trip to discover the true beauty of the keys.

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Key West Family Fishing Trip

May 8th, 2014

This family reserved a private boat charter with me to do some fishing, cruise some sand bars, and basically explore the backcountry of Key West. For this I traveled a few miles west to a small channel which generally is good for light tackle fishing. We didn’t score any large fish, but we definitely caught a wide variety of species. (Mangrove snappers, Spanish Mackerel, a Puffer fish, Lane Snappers, Grunts, and Blue Runners).

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The winds were calm which provided an ideal opportunity to travel the Atlantic instead of the Lakes to the various mangrove islands and sand bars. We stopped at a spot which was a very shallow white soft sand where they played some football while their mom combed the beach for shells. One half of this island is protected for sea turtles to lay their eggs. We saw Stingrays and lots of Barracudas. It is nice to be able to blend both a Key West fishing trip and Eco tour to satisfy all the members of the family. Key West has a lot to offer a family. Plenty of water activities like snorkeling the coral reefs, light tackle fishing, kayaking, and discovering unique marine and birdlife are all available year round. Not to mention the warmest year round temperature in the U.S. Its fun to take people away from the hustle of Duval St. and escape to the Great White Heron Wildlife Refuge to only here the sounds of birds.

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Ladies Day Fishing in Key West!

February 24th, 2014

We were very fortunate to enjoy a really nice day fishing just east of Key West in the backcountry.  We caught some Ladyfish, and lost quite a few as well.

 

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We cruised around the basin just off the Gulf of  Mexico and had quite a few bites, nothing too substantial.  We landed some Jack Crevals.  We were hoping for some Pompano that we spotted rolling around, but didn’t catch them.

 

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Too add to our variety, we also caught a Blue Runner and some Lane Snappers.

 

 

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We had quite a few visits from Black Tip Sharks, one which ate a Ladyfish that we just caught!  Cut him right in half, and then came back to finish it.  So we rigged up to Shark fish, and landed a young Black Tip Shark!  We were hoping the bigger ones we saw would make the young one bait as well, but to no avail.  Still a really good fight for a beginner angler in the Florida Keys, especially when you are light tackle fishing in shallow inland waters.

 

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At last we decided to enjoy a white sand beach on a remote mangrove island and relax after a good day fishing .

 

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They were happy to fish and really enjoyed the eco-tour.  We saw a large Loggerhead turtle, several smaller ones, Stingrays, Sharks, a Spotted Eagle Ray, and some unknown finning fish on the flats.  Jury is still out whether it was a Shark, Dolphin, Permit, or Tarpon.  Before returning to the dock we did a short Key West tour from the boat in the Key West Harbor.  We pointed out different Key West Bars, Restaurants, & Hotels.

Great day fishing in Key West!

February 19th, 2014

Started the day looking for rolling Tarpon just off Key West.  We were successful in that pursuit, but just couldn’t get the Tarpon to eat!  So we tried fishing a wreck nearby for Mangrove Snappers.  When I dropped the anchor we noticed a large Barracuda near the wreck.  My client, Derrick, casted a few times, but the Barracuda was  clearly aware of us being there.  We did catch some grouper & snappers, but only kept a large grey snapper.  One of the largest I have seen in awhile.

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We then continued to travel West of Key West in pursuit of Jack Crevals.  We landed a few Lane Snappers, Mutton Snappers, and a good size Bar Jack who put up a strong fight.  Quite fun and enough to feed their family freshly caught fish that evening.

 

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Key West Fishing & Beaches

February 4th, 2014

A great day backcountry fishing for Jack Crevals and Snappers, saw a few sharks didn’t land any.  We had the pleasure of encountering a pod of dolphins along the way.  Gorgeous visibility and clear Key West blue skies.   We were out during low tide and came across white sand bars and an endless beach just 10 miles off Key West.  There was only two other boats quite some distance, so we enjoyed the secludedness.  We cruised around the mangrove islands looking for birdlife, stingrays, sharks, and barracudas.

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