Island to Island Charters,
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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 day to celebrate!

February 10th, 2015

Randy, Mike, and I enjoyed a day exploring the backcountry. We were very fortunate to have a beautiful, calm day to cruise around and take in the sights. Our only plans were to have a relaxing day. It was very cool to be a part of their first time in the ocean and seeing such amazing sights. I love being able to introduce people to the true beauty of the Keys. The shallow flats & mangrove islands just off the Keys are really something to see.

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We encountered all sorts of herons, pelicans, egrets, ospreys, & cormorants. We boated through small channels in the mangrove islands to get a close up view of them in their habitat. The ospreys have returned to their nests with their partners and have begun to lay eggs.

We drove to the next set of mangrove islands to stop at my favorite sand bar. I jumped on the white sand bar probably in no more than two feet of water. At that point they shared with me that they had never been in the ocean. How lucky was I to be a part of a significant moment in their lives. Hesitantly they followed me and were absolutely amazed to be standing in such shallow water in the Ocean for the first time in their lives! I think I almost cried. How awesome! As you stand and scan the surrounding water from the sandbar the colors vary from every shade of blue to green imaginable. It is truly a magnificent area. Rarely do I even see another boat while I am there. All you hear is the sound of birds.

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The next set of islands held a wonderful surprise for us. A pod of dolphins were feeding in the shallows all around us. We spent a significant amount of time watching their every move in utter amazement. (As you know they are one of my favorite things in this world)

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In addition to the fabulous display from our dolphin friends we saw Southern Stingrays as well.

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After losing track of time, we realized sunset was right around the corner. We found a sandbar just off Key West to chill out and watch the famous Key West sunset. Lucky for us it was completely unobstructed. We relaxed and discussed the highlights of the trip. Mike mentioned that he learned quite a bit about all the marine life. I learned about farming & being a bee keeper from them. Also how important it is to enjoy life. I could really tell they were celebrating it!

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Thank you Mike & Randy for allowing me to show you the beauty of the world I live in.

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!

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!

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.

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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Kara and Wayne’s Sandbar wedding

October 17th, 2013

I had the pleasure of enjoying a beautiful day on the water with two couples, one of which I was the officiant for their sand bar wedding ceremony. I took them to one of my favorite group of mangrove islands east of Key West and we dropped anchor on a remote white sand bar. Talk about a true Key West wedding, the water was ankle deep and the five of us were in the middle of nowhere surrounded by beautiful water and ospreys, stingrays, herons, and quite a few hermit crabs. After a short, simple, very romantic wedding we enjoyed the secludedness of the island not to far from Key West. After sometime we moved on to do some fishing and having some laughs. We caught a few mangrove snappers, a bit to small to keep and headed back to Key West. We had the privilege of catching the famous Key West Sunset on the water before reaching the dock. What an amazing way to get married in Key West! Glad to be a part of it, thanks Kara and Wayne.
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