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Posts Tagged ‘key west boating’

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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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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Dolphins, snorkeling, & more

January 26th, 2015

We started the charter cruising west to do some snorkeling, chilling on a beach, and exploring the beauty surrounding the mangrove islands. I was chartered by a family with three generations on board. So much fun. We snorkeled an area full of sponges which host small colorful fish and lobsters. It is definitely an easy place to snorkel, sheltered from the wind and quite shallow. Great for beginners or people needing a refresher coarse.

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We proceeded through the Key West National Wildlife Refuge to check out some cool sand bars after deciding it was a bit too bumpy to snorkel the coral heads just off one of the islands. We dropped anchor and enjoyed the beautiful scenery of nothing but water and remote islands.

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After a bit of relaxing and quite a few laughs we continued our adventure to the next island. Well luckily we were interrupted by a playful pod of dolphins. Which made us all very happy. One of the females had a very young calf attached to her side so we were careful to stay clear as not to worry the mom. What an incredible sight to see the baby follow the mom and mimic her every move.

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Dolphins are always the crescendo of any trip, but we dedided it was time to hit the beach. The remote island is the only island with a natural beach regardless of the tide. The beach is definitely a local’s favorite. It also has quite a few shells and a lot of hermit crabs. They enjoyed a picnic lunch and relaxed in the sun for awhile.

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Just off the island is a substantial shipwreck where I took them to snorkel. Usually full of large schools of fish. At one point a very large Goliath Grouper had a residence there. This time they saw several very large Southern Stingrays and a multitude of fish.

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To conclude our fabulous day on the water we headed back to Key West to watch the sunset. While doing this we encountered another pod of dolphins that swam right in front of the bow of the boat. This was the closest and most memorable experience they have ever had with dolphins. We are so fortunate down here to have so many of them and especially when they are seeking attention from their human friends.

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I am grateful to have shared such a wonderful day with my clients. Anytime I introduce the beauty of the backcountry to people, I get to fall in love with it all over again. This trip was definitely one of those days. I love Key West, but I love the surrounding waters even more.

A Great Day on the Water!

November 12th, 2014

Luckily for a November day, the water was flat clam & crystal clear. I was chartered by a young couple, Alison & Ross, to explore the beauty of the backcountry. We had clear blue skies above us & clear blue water all around us, my favorite conditions for spending the day on the water.

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After discussing what they wanted to see and do, we decided that dolphin watching was a huge priority. Luckily I was able to find a handful of them frolicking around. Alison & Ross were really surprised at how much they played right next to the boat. This group was very playful & fun to watch. Sometimes when I encounter them, they are too busy traveling or eating to engage with the boat. Not this time, they were quite pleased with providing entertainment for us. Alison took 90 pictures in just a few minutes hoping to capture it on film.

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We cruised to a patch reef just off of Man Key to do some snorkeling. We were fortunate that the visibility was good considering most of the water from the gulf was murky from some storms. They snorkeled for sometime hand in hand. I was quite preoccupied watching the poker run boats to make sure they saw my snorkel flag. Some came too close for my comfort. Alison & Ross noticed me yelling & jumping up and down with my flag and thought it was quite funny.

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At last we found a white sand bar nearby & dropped anchor. They walked off hand in hand exploring the area. There was just 2 other boats some distance away. It is always very peaceful & relaxing to just sit and view nothing but endless water all around you. Mother nature at its best! Hearing only the sounds of birds & the tide coming in. When they returned to the boat we chatted & laughed about all sorts of stuff. The sun was beginning to set & we were at least 30 minutes away from Key West. So we began to head in. The colors were extraordinary. Alison commented that she couldn’t decide which way to look because it was all such a great view.

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We stopped just off of Sunset Key to catch the sun dropping in the water hoping to see the mysterious green flash, but to no avail. I have only seen it a handful of times in the 20 years that I have lived in Key West. After really enjoying their day & their trip to Key West, I imagine they will be back.

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Thanks guys for such a great day!

Key West Beaches & Sandbars

August 15th, 2014

I finally had the opportunity to head to a remote island with an endless white sandy beach at low tide with a family that chartered me. It was the parents and three grown kids. Upon arrival everyone was amazed at how gorgeous this area really is. We were the only boat there. It is an island in the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge about 15 miles North East of Key West. The drive out there is through gorgeous mangrove islands and large white sand bars all along the way. One of the most picturesque places in the Florida Keys.

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This is also a perfect place to teach beginners how to snorkel. Shallow calm waters with a Coral hard bottom full of small tropical fish. In no time they had mastered snorkeling. I knew they would be comfortable when we snorkeled a reef. They even encountered a large Barracuda and didn’t flinch.

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After relaxing on the beach for a bit we continued their boat charter to more fabulous locations. We cruised the Gulf of Mexico to the next set of islands to explore one of my favorite sandbars. Immediately we saw a Bullshark in about 1 1/2 feet of water swimming quickly across the sandbar definitely on the scent of something. Also we saw large stingrays, a school of Bonefish (that we saw a shark chase after),& a large Nurseshark. Lots of activity on the Flats in the Florida Keys during a low tide. My favorite time to relax on the Hurricane deckboat and watch an array of marine life cross a white sand bar.

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We continued on past several mangrove islands back to the gulf to try our luck at dolphin watching. Key West dolphin watching is by far one of the best parts of my job. Amazingly we discovered them just off Key West towards the North a few miles. They were playing in about 10 feet of clear blue water. You can distinguish all their details as they swim by the boat. In this case we came across them wrestling and jumping out of the water having loads of fun. We even saw the younger dolphin calfs playing around, always an incredible sight.

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After sometime enjoying dolphin watching, we stopped another white sand bar to have lunch and enjoy the surrounding beauty. It is nice to charter a private boat charter to be able to do what you want when you want with the knowledge of an eco guide to show you amazing places just outside of Key West. And also not worry about driving. Just sit back and relax and enjoy the ride!

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At last everybody was ready to snorkel the patch reef. We saw large Stingrays, Barracudas, a small Nurseshark and lots of colorful tropical fish. For beginners they snorkeled very well, looked like pros. On the way back to Key West we stopped at a small shallow wreck to snorkel some more and they were surprised how it was loaded with fish. We have lots of snorkeling options in Key West, from patch reefs to all sorts of wrecks to mangrove islands to sponge beds. Key West snorkeling gives you alot of opportunity to view an array of marine life. It definitely is a great reason for a Key West vacation.

Key West Boating

August 9th, 2014

I had a lovely newlywed couple from Wisconsin charter me for a fun day on the water in Key West. The summer days in the Florida Keys are our favorite time for boating. The water is calm, crystal clear, & quite warm. So we started out snorkeling a patch reef just a few miles West of Key West. This reef in the summer is full of very large Southern Stingrays. They also saw a Nurseshark, Barracudas, and loads of tropical reef fish. It is quite nice because the large boats usually don’t go there so there are very few people. Also as a private charter you are free from the crowds.

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We definitely had to hit the beach after snorkeling. My honeymooners were able to enjoy a remote island all to themselves. How romantic is that? Not another boat in sight. It is a beautiful island with a natural beach just 15 miles West of Key West in the Key West National Wildlife Refuge. At certain tides the Boca Grande has hermit crabs cruising the beach. Also stingrays enjoy the white sand bottom. This is the true beauty of the Florida Keys. Calm blue waters surrounding lush green mangrove islands. Nothing but the sound of birds and the rippling of the ocean. I can understand why my customers tell me my trip is the highlight of their Key West vacation. I never get tired of experiencing days like these.

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Just a minute from the island is a large shipwreck. They snorkeled the shipwreck for sometime and discovered a large school of parrotfish, starfish, stingrays, and various colorful fish. We have a lot of wrecks in the surrounding waters of Key West, but this one is usually full of the most marine life.

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We returned to the boat, relaxed and cruised back towards Key West with plans of stopping at a sand bar along the way. We came across some dolphins en route. Stopped and enjoyed their antics. Nothing is quite as wonderful as dolphin watching! It amazes me how many people have never seen them in the wild, I am so lucky to expose them to such a wonder.

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We enjoyed a nice boat trip back to Key West along the Atlantic. Past the islands in the Lakes. Caught a glimpse of a few sea turtles. All and all a successful day boating the Key West shallows.

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Key West Snorkeling

July 22nd, 2014

I had a superb day with a family from Texas visiting Key West for the first time. Luckily for me, they decided to book my private boat charter for 2 days. We were able to explore a lot of the Key West backcountry all the way from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. We started our wonderful day together dolphin watching.

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We proceeded West of Key West to a patch reef to do some snorkeling. First we stopped at a sandbar to practice because it was their son’s first time snorkeling. Both parents were advanced scuba divers and were anxious to show him all the amazing marine life.

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We had excellent visibility for snorkeling. They saw Stingrays, tons of tropical fish, Barracudas, Nurse Sharks, and various forms of coral. The son was an expert in no time!

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I decided with their enjoyment of snorkeling to take them to a wreck just off of Boca Grande. They saw a large school of Parrotfish, Tarpon, and a lot of large Southern Stingrays. After that we relaxed on a remote island with a beautiful natural sandy beach. They had their picnic lunch there. While relaxing on a shallow white sand bar we noticed a very large dark area in the water moving. It was a bait ball full of small brown fish!

Several tarpon were feeding as well. None of us had ever seen anything like that. It was amazing to witness! They grabbed their masks and snorkeled in the midst of thousands and thousands of little fish swimming all around them.

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We left the island and cruised the Atlantic past Woman & Ballest Key. We did stop to enjoy the very soft sand. That is where they found dozens of gorgeous Queen Conchs, Sand Dollars, and Bonnethead Sharks. We were lucky to view a Bullshark swim by the boat.

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We headed back to Key West after a full day of adventure, and exploration of the Key West shallows, flats, remote beaches, mangrove islands, wrecks, reefs, sandbars & more. I am grateful to have been a part of their Key West vacation and hope to do it again.

A Great Day Boating in Key West

June 27th, 2014

I really enjoy being a charter boat captain in Key West always cruising our gorgeous waters, but this day was especially nice. Two couples from Illinois wanted a relaxing day on the water so they booked a day with me, Capt. Ally of Island to Island Charters. We left the marina and headed for an area hoping to spot some dolphins. Lucky us we found a pod of maybe 8 to 10 dolphins just a few miles off Key West in crystal clear blue water. Visibility was incredible!

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After dolphin watching we headed further towards the Gulf to snorkel a patch reef. We had calm fabulous conditions for snorkeling. We snorkeled two areas of the reef and they saw a ton of tropical fish, a large barracuda, a Nurse Shark, large Southern Stingrays, etc. Overall a very successful snorkeling experience in Key West.

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We proceeded to cruise the Key West Wildlife Refuge along the Gulf and headed towards a remote island with a natural sandy beach. We were the only boat there to enjoy beachcombing for shells, floating, and laying on the sand bars. Their own private island in the Florida Keys. (just a few miles away from the craziness of Key West.) We saw sharks and sea turtles along the way.

Sand bar therapy!

Sand bar therapy!

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Susan is a really good floater!

Susan is a really good floater!

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Funny enough, I brought fishing rods and bait for some backcountry light tackle fishing, but relaxing on the beach seemed to be a strong priority. You gotta admire people that prioritize well! We left the island in search of another pod of dolphins in a different area and we found them immediately. This pod is a little larger and came swimming right underneath the boat when Susan and Debbie were sitting on the bow. They were super excited to see dolphins that close, they definitely never experienced anything like that before. I am still thrilled anytime a dolphin graces me with their presence. It is humbling to see a creature that magnificent! We are very fortunate to have such a large amount of dolphins who reside year round in the waters surrounding Key West.

We headed back towards Key West from the Atlantic to the Lakes past all the Mangrove Islands. After crossing the channel I showed them Sunset Key and all the beautiful homes before returning to the dock. I am really happy they found my Key West charter boat business on trip advisor for the top Key West activities. They appreciated having a day to themselves on their time, not on a big boat full of people. We went most of the day with just seeing a few other boats in the backcountry. Coming back to Key Weston our way to Garrison Bight Marina, they saw the crowded boats and were reminded how great their day was on their own private charter boat away from everyone else exploring areas larger boats can’t get to!

What a Glorious Day on the Key West Waters!

May 5th, 2014

I had the privilege of taking two guys around on a private backcountry boat charter where we explored the gorgeous blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the flats around Key West. We started the trip headed out to a patch coral reef just a few miles West. The water was crystal clear for snorkeling and we were the only boat out there. As I getting them ready to snorkel a handful of dolphins swim by to check us out. Always a great way to start the day! They saw a lot of very large Southern Sting Rays, Barracudas, and a vast variety of colorful tropical reef fish. Definitely a great snorkeling experience.

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We took a little time to practice jumping, diving, and plummeting into the perfectly clear blue waters surrounding Key West. I had the challenging task of trying to photograph the moving targets.

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What fun these guys were! They had been traveling to Key West for sometime and this was their first time on Island to Island Charters. This was a very relaxing boat trip where they enjoyed the peace and quiet away from technology and surrounded by absolute beauty! Upon heading back to Key West we stumbled across another pod of dolphins. They came right up to the boat and the guys had never seen them that closely. You can see the shadow of them swimming underneath the boat.

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Before ending our eco cruise, I anchored us one a white sand bar to watch another fabulous Key West Sunset! We watched for stingrays, sea turtles, and various sharks swimming on the flats. It was one of those flat calm times where the water and the horizon blend and everything looks like glass. The colors were magnificent. You can see the ripple of anything moving in the water. Always an amazing time to be out there. So glad I got to enjoy it with the guys, and really looking forward to more exploring the next time they are back in the Keys!

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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.