Friday, December 30, 2005

New Year Fishing In Key West

2006 all ready?

Wasn't it just 96 yesterday!?

Time fly's when your having fun, flats fishing in the lower Florida Keys adds years to your life.

Sportfishing anywhere will do it, we are looking forward to January's Cobia on the flats and big Jacks and Pompano in the basins.
The Barracudas are showing up in the skinny water and provide a lot of Tooffy action for spinning and fly rodders.

Todays treat for me was a cute little 12yr old girl that told me about the 5lb 5 ounce rainbow Trout she caught when she was 5 years old.

So now she can brag about the 12lb Barracuda she got in the 12th month of her 12th year.

She thought that was real cool!

We were looking for Cobia on the flats but, todays tide sequence just didnt jive with our's
so, it will have to be tomorrow.

I gained some time fishing with that kid and her dad today.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Pompano and Bambi Butt for Christmas Dinner

Today was a great day in the Key West Gulf side basins, started a little chilly and the fishing early this morning was slow.

I ran to the gulf side and although we didnt rip them up at first, as the falling tide, and the warmer water begain moving twards the Gulf of mexico, the bait fish started swiming over the flat and into the basins.

First Lady Fish and a few Jacks school's provided a little action then, we got lucky and a few big Sea Trout grabbed the jigs and ran off.

A short time later we started hooking really nice Pompano and what could be better than
a few pompano filets grilled in butter with Key Lime Mustard sause and Bruschetta made into a relish.

A table spoon on top of the Pompano filet, unbelievable!

One of my pals/fishing customers brought a Venison hind quarter, thanks Brad.

Pompano and Bambi, sounds like Christmas to me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Jacks Crashing bait on the Key West Flats

As we approached the flats west of Key West yesterday morning we could see a lot of birds diving and bait fish spraying.

When we got in a little closer we found big fish crashing into the bait fish schools
and sometimes charging right on to the flat.

We positioned the skiff up current of the schools and as they drew closer we were able to see that they were big Jack Creval's running 10-20lbs just tearing up the Broad Shads.

When they came charging by us, a quick launch with a Mylar Jig received instant abuse and so did the anglers, arse ol's and elbows, lots of screaming and a general Chinese Fire drill around the skiff.

Really nutty kid stuff but, lots of fun.

We lost track of how many we caught and after a hour or so, things calmed down and we went hunting.

We were rewarded with a half dozen very pretty Sea trout and a couple silver babies, AKA Pompano.

More big jacks and a shark fight kept us busy.

We forgot about the Permit fishing we had planned to do but, by 4 oclock we were ready for a few Advil and some Columbian Supremeo.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Tarpon Apply As Permit Swim By

Go figure......Yesterday we find tailing Permit, big ones, right off the bat.

We just got here, not ready, we dig out the spinning rods and put on a couple of wiggly crab offerings, a few casts later, they moved off with no interest.

Ok we will pole the flat, they must be ass deep up here!

The first five were the last Permit we would find all day but, as I approached flat number 4 or another big tail.

I jumped onto the platform and started poling, another, no wait, looked like a Tarpon, yep son of a.....there's another!

There were 8-10 smallish Tarpon (25lber's) up on the flat sucken in minnows, oh well, hell with the Permit.

We managed to jump two before soiling the flat and driving them off into the channel.

Today we were headed to the Permit flat but stopped to take a peek in another spot and see if a few Tarpon would show.

I jumped one on the first cast.....December!

The rest of the day was tearing up tackle on Sea Trout and big jacks.

Permit are still in big trouble.........tomorrow.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Key West Cold Fronts Bring Hot Fishing

Remember, we're talking about 68 degrees over night here, thats cold for us Coco-nuts.

It's also cold for our animals and it brings in the bait fish to the warmer flats and basins.

Marcella and I are busy, fingers sleeved in super glue, the result of wrapping jigs for the Pompano fishing in the Key West Backcountry.

Mylar Flys are next as last years supply has dwindled considerably.

Pompano on a 8wt fly rod is a ball, Pompano are mini-me Permit after all and the fight as well pound for pound.

Last year we caught a number of big Pompano that looked and fought......Permitish.

A few Cobias have show up already and if it was'nt for a ....rubber hook , we would be chewing on him right now!

I dont keep many fish but once in a while I make an exception.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Key West Fishing for Barracudas

Big ol' Toofey's showing up for the holidays, thats what the cool front bring us for Christmas along with some Cobia and hopefully Pompano.

The bait fish migrations pushed by the winter weather, pull the bigger fish along with them
into the flats and basins.......we like that!

Today we found some Barracudas lying on the flat in very shallow water, tail tip showing
waiting for a stray Needle Gar to make a mistake.

We talked a few big ones into a tube lure lunch and in that 10 inch water they were a comical
treat once they discovered their error.

Jumping and changing direction at 40 mph, with a look of disbelief in their faces.

Much malined as a sport fish and in the deeper water on heavy tackle they're not a lot of fun
but on the Key West fishing flats they are a hoot.

Ofcourse on a 10lb spin rod or light fly rod, everything is a hoot.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Pompano and Mincemeat Pie

Thanksgiving's Turkey on the grill was a big success and after Wilma flooding
us out, friends and neighbors were ready for some RnR.

I was the Chef !

One of the ol' Yanky feel good foods is Mincemeat pie at holiday time, not everyone likes it
especially kids and thats ok with me.

I have to admit that I personally disposed of two Mincemeat pies over the Thanksgiving
weekend......dont know what came over me.

Todays cool front will be followed by another stronger front tomorrow night, dropping the water temps into the Pompano and Cobia inshore comfort zone.

We will be ready with Fly's and jigs for these winter visitors and the good action they promise.

Last year was unbelieveable Pompano fishing and sight casting for Cobia on the flats, following Sting Rays was a great time for both spin and fly fisherman.

Big Cobia on fly last year was close to 60 lbs and we caught many over 20 lbs.

But what I'm really looking forward to is some grilled Pompano with Key lime mustard
and Salsa relish.........with Mincemeat Pie.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Key West Cobia's for Xmas?

Already there are a few of out winter warrior's showing up on the Gulf of Mexico flats.

The water has cooled and the migrating bait and Cobia, Pompano and Barracudas are starting to get frisky.

Big Jack's , Lady fish and Sea Trout are showing also.

Permit on the Key West and Lower Keys flats are in good number as we get closer to Xmas
we'll have some good action for those rascal's.

The tide sequences the next few weeks will be super and we're looking forward to more water
on the flat as this last week or so there has been "sucky" tide's to work with.

Alot of my regulars will be in town soon so we can catch up on news and ofcourse they will all want to hear about Hurricane Wilma and her bad behavior.

The weather has been us wonderful with, mid to upper 70's and night in the 60's
and that's a good thing

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Key West Permit Fishing and Some Mud

Yesterdays trip found some more muddy water left over from our hurricane season but, after the last very welcome, cool fronts there is a lot of bait movement and big bunches of Permit on the flats and floating in the small channels.

We were fishing for Jacks, Snappers, Barracudas and anything else that would pull hard for a ten year old boy, we needed some fun fish and didn't have lots of patience for tricky flats fish.

They found us, everywhere we looked we ran into big groups of Permit floating, tailing and circling in the shallows.
All the channels are full of bait, Mullet, Mahua, Pilchers, and gars.

Fall has arrived to the lower Florida Keys backcountry and with the cooler water temps will come great Permit fishing.
Cobia and Pompano will show up in the next few weeks and give us lots of fun fish targets.

I'm tying up lots of ammo too, Mylar and Lime green 3/8 jigs for spinning and dusting of my Bait Fish pattern flys.

My next new fly pattern I'll name Wilma......should be very destructive!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Key West Fishing for Turkey's

That's what I'll be doing tomorrow along with Marcella and another senior
Key West guide Gill Drake and his wife and grand daughter.

Thanksgiving has always been a favorite holiday for me, a relaxing, easy, chew roast turkey and snooze through college football games.

This year even more special as with the walls torn out of the Bougainvillea house and most of the appliances we all take for granted in a pile on the lawn.

The big turkey on the back deck roasting in the gas grill and pies baked in town and trucked to the house, we are grateful that hurricane Wilma didn't destroy Key West the way Katrina did
New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

Gill and I are glad that our skiff's are intact and that Wilma was only a wrinkle in our way of life!

We're also glad to see the cool fronts that bring fall bait runs have started and we'll be wack'en
Cobia, Permit and Pompano on the flats for the rest of the winter.

The lower Key's folks have been working frantically to clean up after Wilma and its amazing to me how much can be done by people in a short amount of time to get back to normal.

For Gill Drake and I, it only take's a boat ride with a excited angler.....

Friday, November 18, 2005

Key West Fishing Improves

Yesterday's Flats fishing found inproving water clairity and some Tarpon and

The Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic are still very dirty and finding clear water on the flats is a challange.

I expect it will be several weeks before we have the "gin clear Florida Key 's flats" again but,
our fish recover from hurricanes must faster that the humans.

The tidal movement over the flats grasses help clean things up and in some areas you can find
"clearish" water until the higher tides bring back the swill from offshore.

We found a few tailing Permit on the flats and three small schools of Tarpon in the cuts.

Not a lot of success hooking any of those guys yesterday, but we had fun with Jacks, Snappers
and Lady fish and a lot of laugh's.

Todays cold front postponed our trip one day.......then we'll smash those suckers!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

More Hurricane Wilma in Key West Facts

Not since 1910 has Key West and the lower Florida Keys flooded as much or as deep.

60-70% of the houses in Key West were flooded between 1ft-4ft, many had no flood insurance.

Wind caused very little damage.

As the storm passed us moving from the southwest to the northeast , the storm surge coincided with a high tide on the Gulf side of the Keys at about 630 am
resulting in approx. 8ft above mean high tide.

If it had been low tide on the Gulf side my house would have been surrounded by water with...... no water in the house.

Had the cold front that was sweeping across the Gulf of Mexico been 12 hours earlier, the storm would have passed to our south, probably missing the Keys and south Florida.

Auto carrier trucks have been hauling thousands of flooded, total loss cars out of the Keys for two weeks.

Auto carrier trucks have been hauling thousands of new cars into the Keys for two weeks.

The day after Hurricane Wilma stomped us, the Mayor of Key West announced
that Fantasy Fest would be postponed for 5 days.

We all heard this news on our battery powered radios, as we hauled all of our appliances, furniture, clothing....our stuff to the street.

All we could do was laugh!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Wilma, We All Swam in Key West

We have a lot of new car's and trucks in the Florida Keys and in my neighborhood,
we just got phone lines back up.

I lost 2 cars, a motorcycle, all furniture, appliances,family photos and 4ft of plaster and drywall and electrical outlets.

About 530 am, I finally passed out sitting up after the wind dropped a bit and shifted to the north west,but only for about 1 hour.

The next thing I know Marcella is shaking me and letting me know we had a few inches of water in the lower level "Florida room"

I shot to my feet to find in the 30 seconds it took her to wake me there was now
a foot of water,Ipushed open the front door and storm shutter to find 2 more feet waiting to enter the house.

I scrambled to the street to unleash the flats skiffs from their trailers and started the engines, turned back towards the house and watched my Honda Blackbird's
headlight taste saltwater, Marcella's Ford Escape's alarm and lights were flashing
protesting the Gulf of Mexico entering the dashboard.

A Lexus across the street started wailing and the electric trunk popped open as I heard my neighbor's wife with her 3 year old granddaughter screaming in terror
"Mike what should I do?" the water was now up to my tit's in the street as she waded over to my Flats Skiff , floating in the street with a line tied to the roof rack of Marcella's car, the other skiff running and tied to the disappearing door handle of my Jeep.

Marcella came from the house with suite cases full of car titles and revolvers
and cookies for the baby.

We all climbed into the skiff and I started up Key Haven Blvd picking a few other
women and a guy that was trying to walk back to his house against the 60+mph mile per hour wind and the incoming current of the Gulf.

I dropped everyone 6 blocks up the street at a friends high ground house and putted back to my house to try to collect more stuff, dodging trash cans, plastic lawn furniture, shoes, boats and even a few floating cars.

In a couple of hours the water started to drop and I had to scramble to re-trailer
the boats.

There are about 1,000 houses in my canal neighborhood that were flooded with
1-4 feet of saltwater, all are having the walls removed as you read this, mine are done.

I pulled the Honda apart and saved it, rode it to Miami a few days ago and bought
a Pick Up Truck, put the motorcycle in the back and came back to Key West to knock out walls.

I'm fishing tomorrow, first time since Wilma and I'm looking for a good drywall/plaster man.......let me know if you hear of one, or two.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Hurricane Wilma.......Still

Ok Here we go again!?

Dennis, Katrina, Rita and now we think maybe Hurricane Wilma.

I've been through a lot of hurricane threats and lots of indirect hurricane hits, even a few direct
wacks in the thirty five years that I have lived in Key West

Most late summer's, in the last fifteen years, I've been in New England, Montana, Ohio and ten summers in British Columbia.

This is the first time in many years that I have stayed in Key West all summer, interesting.

It is a mistake I will not make again!

Sure the last few years have been unusually busy in the hurricane department but!

I wonder how the Steelhead fishing in British Columbia will be next year?

Should do some of that high lake Rainbow Trout nymphing in Kelowna, that way I'll be in B.C.
early for Steelhead scouting up in the Skeena River.

Next hurricane shelter?......... British Columbia!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Wishing For Cold Fronts in Key West?

Love hate relationship for Key West fishing guides

This happens every year, twice a year, spring comes promising the best Tarpon fishing in the very shallow Florida Keys Flats.

By the middle of March, we're ready for spring/summer.

September we're " Jones- ing" for Fall and the migration of bait fish that move down the coast
and the warmer water's of the Key West Flats and basins.

Pompano, Cobia, Barracudas, big Jacks and a few Bluefish follow, supplying a lot of just plain ol' tackle busting fun.

Fly rods and elbows!

Ofcourse Bonefish, Tarpon and Permit are still in the mix but, when we get tired of being serious stalkers, the winter time fun fish are right there to bend the rod.

Tarpon fishing again tomorrow (sigh)

But, we're right on the fringe, I can smell the Autumn Palm Fron's

Key West Tarpon Fishing

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Key West Permit Fishing Panic

Wow ! Quite a shock and close call for Mr. Permit.

Two weeks ago my neighbor and pal Dr Jerrold Weinstock of Key West dropped over with the
latest Florida commercial fishing regulation print out.

These are not the sportfishing regs, but the rules that the food fish guys must obey.

The Florida fishing regulations for both commercial and sportsmen change a little every year,
usually to help protect the various species that are regulated in both fresh and saltwater
to ensure that we continue to have fish, and thats a good thing!

Sometimes however, theres a "boo boo"

Because of the political pressures from commercial fishing interests, we ( sportfishermen) worry sometimes about Missprints.

Who is? Miss Prints well she can be a very seductive and convenient or she could be
just little ol' misprint.

This is the " meat of the coconut"

Back in the early 70's Jerry Weinstock and another friend of our's Bob Feldman wrote and pushed a bill that was eventually passed and became a law protecting both the Bonefish and Permit as protected gamefish in Florida State waters.

These two were not fishing guides or sportswrites as you would suspect, but avid sportfishermen with the forsight to act and protect their flats fish friends.

Bob Feldman is a Key West attorney and Jerry Weinstock is a Psychiatrist here so they had the tools to write and drive this bill to and through Tallahassee.

Jerry also build's one of the best damn Key Lime Pie's in Key West, maybe a few pies went up to the capital also.....

Until this last/latest printing of the regulations regarding Permit , commercial fishermen were
limited to a slot of 11 to 20 inches and a daily total catch of 100 lbs per vessel.

The" misprint" was this, it put no limit on total pounds caught per day, per vessel.

Not a small issue!

Florida DNR were flooded by calls inquiring about the apparent changes to the Permit regs by Weinstock, Dan Blanton, Marshall Cutchen, myself and about a hundred avid sportsmen from all over the country and........ it is to be corrected.

Thank the World Wide Web!

We were assured that is was a misprint.....and it probably was.

Part of the rub was that small Permit look very much like Pompano and the slot size of 11-20 inches is the same.

I can tell you that there are very very few 20 inch Pompano and that going forward to better
protect Permit in Florida would be to lower the slot on Pompano to 18 inches.

We'll be watching for, Miss Prints

Friday, October 07, 2005

Tailing Permit and Setting Sun

Late afternoon today, I took a ride with a hunch and a hand full of Permit Fly's

The cloudy sky and low afternoon light made me pause but, only briefly, I wanted to be on the Whalebone flat !

As I pulled the skiff off plane and putted down the cut, I saw some milky water in the Gulf and
began to think, this was a bad idea.

Oh well, I'm here lets get closer and see how the water clarity is on the Whalebone...Not bad.

I unsheathed the Sage 11 wt and tied on a lovely new Orange and Brown Dale.

Pulling a few yards of fly line out and coiling it in the cockpit, laying the Rod and Reel at the ready on the front casting deck, I scrambled up the tower.

Poled a few yards and there was a Tail.......a Permit Tail and then I saw three more Permit swimming ahead of me.

Already it was worth it.

I slid out infront of the fish and drifted in their direction.

Because I was the caster and the guide, I had to plan my drift then drop down and pick up the
Fly rod clear the line and hope everyone stayed cool!

I got my shot and one of the Permit turned and took a peek in the direction of my plopping
Fly.......just a peek.

Back on the tower, its ok they just moved a few yards and in a couple of push'es, I'm back on the rascals.

Down again grab the rod and launch, leader looks....leaves.

Up and down again, this time a grab........... he comes unplugged.

On the ride home, near dark oclock, I think that was enough.

When I pulled up to the sea wall behind the house the Ol Pitbull is barking for the beef jerky
that lives under the console of the baby skiff.

I Can always count on a bite from her.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Key West Flats Fishing and Hurricanes

Recovering from the close calls of hurricane season with Dennis, Katrina and Rita

all passing within 50 miles of the lower Florida Keys the environment is the least impacted.

With all the energy that humans use to protect themselves and their property when living in
an area that can be frequented by these swirling monsters, when it comes down to it, the flats,
mangrove islands and fish are hardly effected at all.

In fact hurricanes are a cleansing of the estuaries, removing silt and decaying vegetation in much the same way a forest fire removes undergrowth from the florest floor and improves
the soil for new sprouts.

Right after Hurricane George a few years ago, I took a ride in my skiff from Snipe Keys to the Marquesas and found the mangrove islands looking like they were all victims of forest fire.

The wind burn had turned them from lush green mangrove floating forests to brown dead,
and upsetting at first look but, what really happens?

The hurricane had infact removed the dead wood and in a few weeks after new leaves started
to appear, the Keys were the better for it.

The Tarpon, Sharks , Bonefish and Permit were back in the shallows within hours and a few days later found their inshore haunts had been swept clean.

Years ago in conversations with the old Conch fisherman, frequently someone would suggest that we needed a good storm to "clean the bottom" to improve the fishing.

Yesterday I found four schools of babies, 20-40 lb Tarpon happy for minnow fly's in the backcountry.

The old Conchs were right, but tell that to the man whose Mango tree was replanted by Katrina in his kitchen!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Key West fishing for Permit & Bonefish

They have been showing up the last few days in good numbers, the guides I've been talking to have all found a good supply of Permit and Bonefish showing with the cooling flats water temps.

I found a big school of large Permit yesterday in the flats north of Key West and a few Tarpon also.
We were not able to feed the Tarpon at all but, we did manage a nice permit that was happy to
jump on a live crab sandwich!

After 20 mins and a near cut off on the back of the skiff, we got him, a handsome 24+ lb flats rooter.

We also caught a big Barracuda that decided a Permit crab would make a nice change in the lunch menu!?

Barracudas dont eat crabs, do they?, not often.

We also jigged in a shallow basin, pot lucken, expecting Tarpon, Jacks, Sharks or some other just for fun guy.

We found some jacks, Sharks, lady Fish and one big mistery fish that about spooled us several
times and then threw the jig just before we got him close enough to get a visual.

Could have been a Permit or Bonefish, who knows....all fun.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Key West Independent Fishing Guides

Get What You Pay For? Not always!

I have for thirty years made my living as a Florida Keys fishing guide.
Many very good Key West, Florida Keys guides have been in the business for half or
one third of the time that I have, it does not take 30 years to become a good fishing guide.

But there are some common traits that real fishing and hunting guides share.

Time, it takes lots of time, fishing different areas, under many different conditions to
begin to understand where to fish and what technique's to use in that place, on that day.

Knowledge, learning through actual experience, it takes 500 days fishing this area,
at the least, to be qualified to take people's money as a professional guide.

Effort, if you haven't spend time learning, effort is time wasted.

Desire, the best fishing guides love to fish of course, but also love the outdoor life,
animals, and are protective of the environment. Good guides enjoy teaching and playing
with other people.There are a lot more good fisherman than there are, good fishing guides.

Luck, we all need some luck, good guides make luck happen, more often.
a little effort on your part will improve your chances for good luck fishing for a
real fishing guide.

What to look for in a fishing guide?

Does he work for a boat rental outfit that Call's themselves a guide servive? If he is a hourly boat driver, he doesn't care
if you have a good fishing trip! He's told not to waste gas, bait, not to venture to far from
the Marina. Last year, maybe last month, he was a carpenter, cab driver, delivered pizza.

Professional fishing guides depend on repeat customers, most of their business
comes from referrals from happy customers or other professional guides.
Real fishing guides want you to have FUN so you will come back!

Hotels are paid big commissions by the worst guides, because they do not get repeat
customers or referrals from professional guides!

Ask Mike,

" I will refer you to a good professional fishing guide at

no cost to him or you!"

mike- chaserkeywest

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Key West Talking Bonefish

Bonefishing Key West Flats

Bonefishing for me is mainly a fall, early winter, early spring activity.

That doesn't mean I dont fish for Bonefish other times of the year but, I have my favorate seasons/months when the Bonefish are bigger or more abundant.

October, November and early December are some of the best and I usually find the biggest fish and ofcourse the Permit are around during those times so they get lots of attention also.

I dont really know why fall is a bit better except that the water temps are cooling down and there are more crunchy critters for the Permit and Bonefish to eat up in the shallows and that would encourage a pik nik!

The anglers are also more comfortable that time of year with the lower humidity, air temps and
less intense sun shine.

The Pompano fishing will pick up as they migrate closer into the Key West Flats and basins.

Small jigs and flies will be attacked by these smaller but tastier Mini Me Permit invade us.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Hurricane Target Key West

It's not just random luck that has kept Key West above water all these years!

It can and may happen one day "The Big One " might remove Key West and or the Florida Keys but, there are reasons that we have dodged many hurricane bullets over the years.

Many of the tropical storms/ hurricanes that develope to the south under Espanolia are blocked by ( Haiti and the Dominican Republic) and Castro's Cuba, these islands do a good job of blocking or defusing the punch of these storms before turning north in our direction.

Many large hurricanes that cross Cuba are knocked down and dont have the time to rebuild before striking the keys but once into the Gulf of Mexico and the much warmer Loop Current
that forms west of Key West, these storm can reintensify into the monsters that invade the
Gulf coast.

Many of the storms that approach over the Bahamas are swept by the Gulf Stream currents north, taking them to the east coast of the US and the Florida Keys dodges inpact again.

All the years that I've lived in Key West hurricanes have been part of my life, many summer
Conch conversations included some hurricane talk.

The most amazing thing to me is how while we are picking up the debris, repairing down power lines, replanting palm trees and stop signs for weeks- the Tarpon, Barracudas, Sharks and bird life are back in their usual routine a few hours after the tempest.

We, are here..... still.

And the Flats fishing resumes

Friday, September 23, 2005

Fishing for Albino Permit in Key West

Weird happens sometimes, not everyday or even monthly but.

I was fishing ocean side flats west of Key West with two brothers on spring break, looking for
big floater schools of Permit that I knew had to be in the area.

We found some Permit as we poled the area but, the boys were having trouble seeing the fish,
not uncommon for newby sight casting anglers, or young men on spring break that have their
vision blurrrrrrred by Budweiser and Key West's beach bikini's.

We ? I managed to make a cast over the skiff and the bobbing heads of the sightless to a pair of Permit crusing down the flat.

Hooking up and handing the rod to one of the boys, he landed a nice Permit 20 mins. later.
So we needed another even if I had to do the poling, sighting, casting and hooking!

It was a nice day and we were laughing and exchanging, the way bad boys do when discussing the various talents and charms of the co-eds that were in town for some spring break fun!

Poling along now over a mile from our starting point, I spotted a large school of Permit floaters
a hundred yards away.

The light was good and I could see that they were bobbing, tail tip out of the water and the occasional face showing above the surface as they were inspecting small clumps of Sargassas

They do this to try and root out the small crads and shrimp that hitch hike on the Sargassas
as it moves in and out with the tide.

The Permit school was guite large, maybe 60 fish in the 10-14 lb size and moving very slow, at times circling as a unit back to the next drifting clump of grass and oblivous to our approach and intentions.

Ofcourse, the boys couldnt see them , "see the tails out?" ahhh no "see the floating grass?"

ahhhh no " do you see the dark shadow spot about the size of four flats boats?" ahhhh no.

OK OK do you see the white spot, looks like a paper plate in the water? errr yah

The school of Permit is just right of the white paper plate, throw a crab just right of the white paper plate!!

Whoa! thats left and short, throw the other crab right of the white paper plate!

WAIT! thats not a white paper plate!....thats a Albino Permit! Shite cant believe it, never in all these years !

Throw a crab at the white paper plate/Albino Permit............not even close but, another Permit eats the crab and we drift off fighting him, myself straining to keep a visual while we drift further away.

We release the common, everyday kinda Permit and I get back on the push pole and huff my way back to the school and Albino, found them and the other brother made a cast near the
Albino but, another Permit beats the Albino to the crab, soooo off we go again hooked up
and fighting the second, plain jane, caught a million ov um Permit!

I cant waite to get back to that school and another shot at that Albino!

Huff , huff, huff back again but this time I'll make the shot, I want a photo of that Albino Permit,
My Albino Permit!

I had gotten a good look at him and saw that like other Albino's he had a mother of Pearl
pinkish, bluish cast to the white, like the white alligators at the New Orleans marine zoo.

I wanted to touch him, kiss his fat lips, get a photo, and put him back.

My cast was good, one foot from the Albino and infront of his pretty pink lips, " here he comes"
we all exclamed.

Then from six feet away another, plain ol , pain in the ass , who gives a shite Permit beats the Albino to the crab and devours it.

The tide turned by the time we got back to the area and my Albino was .......gone.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

What can the Key West Fish Think?

What a year for Hurricanes, Dennis, Kristina, latest Rita!?

I really feel for the Gulf Coast people and am truly amazed that we have (so far) dodged a big one!

Rita turned into a Cat. 4 storm 12 hours west but , only a very few miles away and
life in Key West would be alot different today and for lots of tomorrow's with a little less luck.

A little prayer for Texas....

Monday, September 19, 2005

Key West Fishing Shakespeare Tackle Update

Once again I'm surprised by the new Shakespeare tackle!

I've writen about the lower priced/quality Shakespeare Tackle Company and their history with providing some surprisingly good saltwater fishing gear.....years ago.

Many of the early saltwater guides of the Florida Keys relied on the old Sigma line of spinning
reels, the Wonder and Medalist fly reels that cost a only few bucks but stood up to Tarpon,Bonefish, Permit, Barracudas and the rest of the ocean tuffy's.

I called them G.I. reels as they appeared to be something one might find in an Alice pac issued
by the Army......not pretty, everyone had them, everyone relied on them but no one bragged
about them.

For 15 yrs or so Shakespeare's stuff slipped out of that niche and into the "rod and reel combo"
bought for your grand childern to trast niche, usually bought at KMart or mega drug store.
Most of it was junk! ...sorry Shakespeare.

Shakespeare is back in the "surprise niche" again with a new factory in China ofcourse.

I wrote a few months ago about the new" Custom 100% graphite line of spinning rods and how happy I am with them, still true but, I wanted to mention one rod in this line that I found is the
best FLATS fishing spinning rod I have in almost 35 years of fooling with this sport.

Great , Ugly Stik Custom 7'6'' medium heavy 10-20 lb rated, #USCISP 1176 1MH 100% GR

A looong seven and a half foot rod will a lot of leverage to fight a big fish and will throw a small
bait, jig, plug a looong way.

This rod throws a Permit crab a block and a half and kicks Mr. Permits arse when the crab finally lands on his dinner plate!
We have landed lots of big Permit in the last 6 months on this rod....really great!

A few weeks ago a young lady customer was hooked up to the wrong Tarpon with this rod loaded with 10# PowerPro braided line on a Pflueger/Shakespeare Medalist, she had tossed
a crab into a school of baby Tarpon and ofcourse, Big Mama grabbed the bait and we were off to the races.......she was 90-100 lbs and so was the fish!

After a hour or so I took over and palmed the spool to "Come, bleed or blister!" that fish.

Couldn't believe the power in that little rod, in short order the Tarpon was at the boat and I clamped down and jumped her off.

The new Custom Graphite Ugly Stik is a great spinning rod at any price.
I And the retail price will leave you change for a lunch or two from a hundred dollar bill.

Again this is not really a big Tarpon stik but its a super duper Permit, Bonefish, Redfish, Bass, Salmon, Steelhead , Wizzbanger!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Smiling Permit

Smiling Permit

Fall Fishing In The Marquesas and Key West

Marquesas and Key West backcountry October Fun Fishing is all about Bonefish, Jacks, Permit, Pompano action on both light spin tackle and flyfishing gear.

The Fall bait run comes along with cooler water and hungry game fish not far behind.

Mylar jigs and Flies work on many of these guys and ofcource the Nasty Charlies, Merkin's and
Tango flies will get lots of attention from the fussy Bonefish and Permit.

A few Big Tarpon will still be around and a live crab or lovely fly will wack a few Poons even in the fall.
Baby Tarpon will be in the Keys mote's and basins and will be a little frisky with all the bait fish that have moved in with cooler October water.

The Marquesas will have big schools of Monster Jacks driving pilchers around and up to the flats edges offering arm busting action, a short brake from serious Permit stalking on the Flats.

Also the Bonefish of the Marquesas Flats will be in attendance.

Bring a lunch!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Key West's October Flats Fishing

October's cooling water brings hot flats fishing and the big Bonefish swim out of the Gulf to chew on the crabs, shrimp and other shelfish munchys.

September water temps are always high and this years boiling water brought tuff fishing in the shallows and a few hurricanes.

Still we managed some ok Tarpon fishing and fare to good Permit action in September.

I have always looked forward to October for the better fishing and to cool off the Ol guide a bit.

Flyfishing in October will pick up for tailing Permit as well as Bonefish and early am will still give
some Tarpon shots.

Pompano will show up some with lots more later on in the fall when the cooler water drives bait fish up the flats rivers and into the backcountry basins.

Yesterday we managed a small Tarpon and a good 18+ lb Permit before the midday heat drove us to the dock and cold adult beverage.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Update on Key West's White Crown Pigeon's

Hurricane Dennis in early July interuped the nesting season for the White Crowns in the Florida Keys and Everglades, no doubt there will be a few less little ones this year.

A few weeks later Katrina traveled through the Everglades down the north side of the Keys and parked a few miles north of Key West for 8/10 hours.

I woke up at 3am and switched on the weather channel to find that Katrina wasnt going to Ft. Myers after all but, instead decided to visit us, but how close!?

Out of bed I shot and pulled Marcella and the OL Lion dog into hurricane mode, digging out the slickers and tying down the skiff's, bringing in the lawn furniture and taking stock of food, water, flash light and gasoline, again.

The baby skiff was still in the water behind the house but, will have to wait until day light before I can run it to the ramp and have Marcella meet me with the Jeep and trailer.

First a quick run to the family condo that is facing south across from the beach and shutter it up,
it hasn't dried out from the last storm !

When we made the drive back to Bougainvillea the weather was getting really tuff with wind gusting over 60 and driving rain, baby skiff will have to ride out the storm in the water,.. shite.

The next 18 hours were without power, " what no CNN?"

We listened to the battery radio and watched the coconuts blow down the canal, cooked on the gas grill, standing in the rain.

The big Blue skiff rocked on it's trailer, straining straps.

Every 45 minuets I would have to dodge Palm frons and Iguanas shot from hurricane canons
as I bailed the baby skiff with a bucket...the bilge pump switch had died.

Winds with armor piercing rain 60+ sustained and gusting over 80 mph, I kept bailing.

One eye on the old Coconut Palm that hangs over the sea wall, other watching the bailing bucket fill again and again.

And a worried thought about the new little White Crowns.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

White Crown Pigeon's Guide Migrating Tarpon?

White Crown Pigeon (Columbia Leucocephala)

Why does a old Key West Tarpon guide get excited about a Pigeon?

Let me explain who this bird is, a striking fellow, asphalt in color with a very distinct white skull
They frequent the Bahamas, Cental America, Mexico, Cuba and the Florida Key's also the Everglade's but, no further north.

The White Crown Pigeon is known to cross large bodies of water and are fruit and seed eaters,
they also prefer to roost in the smaller Mangrove islands, staying in remote areas and avoiding
human company.

White Crowns arrive the last week of April, first of May, breeding begins in July in the Florida Keys after a few months of gorging themselves on Poison Wood Berries, Sea Grapes and other wild fruit.

The chicks feed non stop and in less than 40 days are airborne and more or less on their own.

I first became aware of White Crown's 20+ years ago when, I noticed at dawn headed west of Key West in my flats boat, these black, white crested birds darting low, passing a few feet over head and sometimes change course to purposely fly over my skiff as I headed west and they headed east toward Key West to find food and water.

At times on my way home from west to east and the White Crowns flying in the same direction
at about the same 25mph, they would match my speed and cock their heads watching
and darting across just over head in a somewhat playful manner.

This gave me time to study and after a little local research I found that they were hunted by the
Conch boys from their skiff's in the old days and would end up in the rice for dinner.

So why does a Key West flats fisherman care about the big fat pigeons?

We believe that the migrating Tarpon that show up in the Florida Keys come from Central America, Mexico, Cuba, Maybe. Some recent research suggests this.

The migrating spawning Tarpon schools show in the Key West oceanside flats beginning the last few days in April or first few days of May.

An old guide pal of mine one early May, asked me if I had seen anything of the Ocean Tarpon schools and my answer was "won't look for them until I see the White Crowns flying over the skiff!''

He said, as you would imagine, " the what?"

Ofcourse, I went on to tell him that the White Crown Pigeon's bring the Tarpon to the Keys every spring.

Now every April he askes, "any White Crown's yet!?"

I can tell you that every year, the first day I look for the ocean flats Tarpon, I have seen the White Crowns for the first time that morning.

Consider this!

I recently found the April 1832 Audubon drawing of a male and female White Crown Pigeon.
The notes Audubon wrote, as he did on most of this drawing said,

" we went into the thick mangrove of the Florida Keys to shoot White Crown's as they
arrived recently from Cuba"

Removing tung from cheek and going to bed....

Who brings the Tarpon to the Keys

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Key West Permit and Bonefish Summer

This is the time of year that it is inportant to be started early to catch the fishes on the salt water flats during the coolest water temps of the day.

It can be wonderful fishing with a rising or falling tide depending on who and where your fishing.
Some area's produce Tailing Permit on the flat edges, taking advantage of the crabs washing off
the flats, other spots are best as the water rises, the rascals push up higher and higher insearch of yummies.

Bonefish will also show on the incoming tide on some flats and swim against the falling tide on
other flats, but in the summer, midday will usually slow down as the water temps come up quickly sometimes reaching the mid 90's.

Often we have found fishing will pick up as the sun begins to drop along with the water temps on the flats edges, especially on the drop offs into a deeper channel who's current may be bringing cooler water along with a few forked tails.

The summer Tarpon will react to these early and late tide changes also and many days in the summer months, this will be the only time that Tarpon are activily feeding.

Noon time is best for siesta!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Not the size of The Fly, It's The Motion Of The Ocean

Stuff happens or Not!

Once in a while all the missed shots, pulled hooks, broken leaders and other misfortunes that befall saltwater anglers are washed away with one lucky, Ripley's type day.

Not long ago I was fishing with a guy that has fished with me many days, for over 20 yrs.
We were Gulfside staked on a big sand spot on the flat, just off a big channel, we were waiting for
Tarpon that will rise out of the deep and swim over the white spot and hopefully gobble our offering, a large orange and green Tango Fly.

So there we were late in the day and no Tarpon. "Lets give it another 20 mins and pack it in "
said too hot Kert. "Ya ok " I relented and 20 mins later I was insisting we give it a little moe time!

Fine said Kert as he roll casted the big Tango out into the sand, just to make sure the fly was
free from the bottom, should we need it for the wish fish.

He was nerviously swishing the rod tip right and left when, with a shout and wining scream of the fly reel drag, Kert shouted "something on my line," smoking well into the backing.
Pulling the stick, across the flat, after the unknown assailant.

20 mins later Kert hoisted the biggest Bonefish he ever saw out and over the side, a good 12 lb
fish. The Bonefish ate a 3 inch Tarpon fly tied on a 2/0 hook!?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Key West Flats Fishing

Summer pattern is welcome by ol' guides.

Ofcourse the spring Tarpon migration spawning run is something the fishing guides and flats fisherman look forward to every year.

My personal view is that any animal lover would enjoy the spectacle of 50 to 100 Tarpon weighing 30-150 ponds swimming in a perfect circle doing the love dance and usually oblivious
to all offering live crab or fly but, not always!

When one of the love birds decides he could use a little snack mid-forplay, it can be electric.

The next sound you hear will be a loud knocking, as the anglers knee's match the speed of the line leaving the reel.

His eyes popped from his head, mouth open and deaf to the instructions of the fishing guide.

Then with luck or experience, the flats fisherman pulls himself together and the battle continues, as the other 97 Tarpon explode in all directions, upset at the interruption of the orgy, they soon resume the dance few yards away.

Exhausted the ol' guide looks forward to the summer of Bonefish and Permit in the skinny water and......... Tarpon a day......or two......................mike

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Bad Light Big Permit In Key West

Tuff lite the last few days but when the permit Tails are up along with the wind, you can get really close to spooky Permit on the Key West flats.

Most good Permit fisherman will trade 15-20MPH for flat calm anytime, you cant fool the cagy
Permit without some wind chop to camo your movements and to breakup the surface so he isnt spotting you before you spot him.

Today on the flats northwest of Key West we had no light but, we had plenty of wind and Permit tail's in the air to give us very approachable targets.

We got lucky right off and Tony hooked the first of three and after 20 mins of reel smoken runs
I hoisted the sucker out for his photo shoot and some high five silly boy stuff.

We did spook some Bonefish schools but, they were on their way west by the time we saw them.

We had to settle for two more Permit, one a close call on an old crab trap line and the big one of the day another cover girl about 18lbs.

That one is probably getting bigger in Tony's stories as you read this..........mike

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Key West Bonefishing Fly's

Going through my fly stuff again and sorting out the Bonefish flys, Nasty Charlie's, Gotya's,
Swimp's and a new favorate Boonespoon.

Ol' Forrest the Texas guy that builts these rascals, calls me every few months and we BS about
the state of the union, the ramifacations on the Euro in a global economy but, mostly fishing flies.

He developed these little spoon flies mainly for Texas Red Fish but in the smaller sizes, draggin
one in the sand infront of a Florida Key's Bonefish will get bites.

I have had good luck with Boonespoon's on Pompano also and Forrest is ready to experiment with sizes and colors.

My favorate's are silver, gold, chartreuse in dime size with a little maribu tail.

Nasty Charlies catch a lot of Bonefish to, sand, olive and brown work best for me, some guys prefer too, in the right places.

Smaller crab patters including Merkins and old Jan Isley's Rug Fly.

Want to know how Isley came up with the Rug Fly? Ask the guy that rented him the apartment
on Truman ave. back in the early 80's .

The apartment with the holes in the shag carpet..........another ol' guide story!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Fly Fishing Key West Backcountry

Still some secrets in the Key West Backcountry , believe it or not small places that hold Bonefish and Permit on just the right stages of the tide.

You get there early and it might be over in an hour or less but thats what it takes sometimes,
Permit may run out a slu on the falling tide, but have entered the area much earlier, from a different direction.

Bonefish will sometimes enter a flat at the first sign of incoming tide and mill around on that same flat for hours, but maybe today they hurry across and back into the channel only to reappear on the next flat.

Maybe they spent the night inside the basin and will feed into the tide from the other direction
and cross from behind you, no doubt giggling, as they circle around you, you stare west.

These are just some of the sneaky stuff the silver speedster's of the Key West flats will pull.

Websters defines (sneaky) "one who acts in a furtive or shifty manner, a stealthy escape

hummmmmmm.......... guess Webster was a flats fisherman !


Monday, June 20, 2005

Key West Fly Fishing / Rest for the Wicked

The migrating Tarpon school's are winding down the end of June is here and the nasty
worn out, sun fried Ol' guides are getting some sleep.

After 70-80 4am getups, I'm starting to recover, a little !
Yesterday I rode the motorcycle up the keys, just for lunch ! Slept to 6am today !

Now we will settle into the summer flats fishing pace that will still require 4am getups but, I'll have breaks from the action......maybe I'll go to a movie, early movie.

July will bring some good Gulf side Tarpon action and also some skinny water Bonefish and Permit fishing and that will be fun.
The efforts the last few months have been Tarpon Tarpon Tarpon, love the beast's, I really do but.......time to see my other little buddies and play hide a seek on the flats.

Gulf side Bonefish and Permit reports from my guide pal's are good already!

The Marquesas will be approachable now that the onslot of child guides is over, makes me sad to see pressure that area gets during the Spring Tarpon migration.
Many of the experienced flats guides avoid the Marquesas from April to mid June, not many years ago, I would leave if I found more than 5-6 skiffs in the Marquesas........ now, 14-18??
Looks like Prom night!

The lower Key's have hundreds of good Tarpon areas, thousands of acres of flats to fish but,

You have to know it! chaserkeywest

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Key West Tarpon-Bull Shark Tango

Another close call with a big Bull Shark

Yesterday was one of those good news, bad news stories but, one you never forget.
Early AM we missed the first three Tarpon that grabbed our quarter sized crabs on the flat
and that was it for the morning.
We had dozens of Tarpon swimming by, around and over us, many of our offerings were turned down so missing those three chances hurt....a lot.

At the top of the incoming tide it was all over, the Tarpon had melted off the flat and away with the falling Tide. We checked a few more spots and

"Well Boys, lets take a ride" Ten miles later I pulled the skiff off plane and slid into the river "Hope" We saw Blue Runners crashing glass minnows, Turtles, Eagle Rays but no Tarpon!

Driving the push pole into the bottom and securing it, we watched more Blue Runners and minnows and waited.

Whats that, down the channel? More Bait? humm could be a Poon!

Its Tarpon!!! 4-5 rolled two hundred yards, headed twards us ! their moving in!

Quite a few fish in several schools closed in, we chucked takes, buyers.

Scotty cast at the schools with the fly rod and again no grabs %#*^!

Scott and Chriss and I stood waiting for the next head to rise when the silence

was interuped with Scott jumping, the fly line leaving the deck and a Tarpon about 125+
six feet in the air! What happened!? Scott had about 30 feet of fly line riding in the current
and out of no where, big boy sucks in the little black streamer........

Now were hooked up, backing- burning off the reel as the Tusker heads for Texas.
Down the river with one really pissed off Tarpon and three shocked simple fisherman!

Thats not the end.......half hour later we have the poon close in when, screaming, airborne
then across the flat with a hungry Bull Shark on this tail!

Scotty managed to break him off and save his the expence of my 12wt fly line.

Sometimes loser's are winners.......mike

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Hammerhead Crashes Key West Tarpon Party

Biggest Hammerhead Shark I ever saw!

We were in major Tarpon, the Tarpon were in major panic when thundering across the sand
looking more like a runaway train than a fish and BANG CRASH!
Tarpon scattering 360 like a motorcycle gang running from the crime, some jumping, all shatting themselve's.
I have seen some big sharks in the 35 years I have been fishing in the tropic blue but,
this is the biggest Hammerhead I have ever seen!

My smaller flats skiff is 16 ft long and 6ft wide, this hammerhead was 3+ ft longer than the small planet we were standing on and wider, eye to eye maybe 7 ft.

When he blasted by us 100 ft away after the 60 Tarpon that went by, around and under our skiff at 40mph, his dorsal fin was maybe 30 inches out of the water.

This was a very very scary, wonderful creature but, he missed!

We didnt, earlier we hooked five Tarpon and wow what a day........mike

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Bonefish Are Back in Key West

it's not Andros BUT!

The last couple years, we have seen a few more Bone fish here and there, more Bonefish in place's I have not found them in 30 years.

Last March, while poling "macho grande flat" which is Wilbur's code for shut up I'm not telling
you, I bumped into the mother load of 4lb'ers.
I was looking for Permit and Cudas in very skinny water with a pair of brothers that fish with me a few times every year and at first I thought I was seeing a large school of jacks crossing the flat, I swung the skiff to intercept and Richy launched a Merkin ahead of the pack.
Wack!......"christ it's a Bonehead... their all Boneheads!"

Richy hauled him in , while Afro his little brother ( why Afro? don't known why I named him afro, doesn't matter) hooked up on a shrimp.

We dug out another fly rod and now both guys are hooken Bone's one after the other (when they are'nt wrapping fly line around each others head) great fun!
Anyway.......More Bonefish in the lower florida keys is a good thing......................mike

Friday, April 15, 2005

Tarpon Fly Fishing in Key West

Key West Tarpon Fishing

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

My Favorite Key West Fishing Guide

Who is he? well let me start this way.

This is the guy who guided his angler to the first Blue Marlin on fly in Cabo, in the 60's
He pioneered saltwater fly fishing on the wrecks, reefs, flats and backcountry of Key West, Marquesas Keys and Dry Tortugas.

This is the guide mentioned in fishing articles,stories, how to manuals by Stu Apt, Mark Sosin, Lefty Kreh and dozens of other sport fishing writers.
Ask anyone of them in person and they'll remenisce with a chuckle about
this whiskey drinkin, cigar chompin, skinny ol' fishing guide.

Wearing a white shirt, his name on the pocket, Sears blue work pants, back and forth keys guides hat and a big smile evertyday!

You would see him navagating around Key west in his 59 Tbird convertable, rusted to the door handles and back window missing, had to be 50 fishing rods sticking out that back window!

Everybody loved Lefty Regan!
Lefty guided until he was 89 years old, then for a couple years he was the Phluger Taxidermy Rep. I would see him everyday on the Key West Charter boat docks, smiling and laughing at him self for losing his big old Dodge Phluger the parking lot!

Then he was gone from the dock... at home with his wife, who at that point was guiding Lefty.

Last time I saw Lefty was in the grocery store in Key West.I was standing infront of the
popcorn display, staring a the selection, when I felt eyes on me. There he was beside a potato
chip rack pointed in my direction with that glazed Alzheimers stare.

I looked up and said "hey you old Barracuda, you just layin there waiting to strike?"
and after a long look, he whispered......." Chaser"

Everybody loved Lefy Regan................mike

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Key West Fly Fishing Report

We are at it again, changing fly lines, sorting through Tarpon fly's and getting
ready for sustained Tarpon Tusker battles that have been ongoing in March and April.

May and Junes Tarpon wars will be even more intense as the migrating schools from central
America, Mexico and the islands south of us, converge on the lower Florida Keys for the annual
love fest.

Most of the spawner Tarpon will be in the 40-80 lb class but the big cows from the gulf will be here to do their share and those Tarpon can grow into the high triple digit numbers, many over
150lbs a few 170's and who knows how many in the 200 lb class, a few anyway.

All Tarpon are a blast on fly rods and the smaller fish can be more acrobatic, having power to jump 8-10 times without the burden of the extra 100lbs to carry skyward.

But there is nothing like that big Brahma Bull like roaring Tusker, snorting fire out of his nostrals and lightning bolts out of his arse.

Softball size angry red eye balls and a stare in your direction as he launches 61/2 feet of iron
plated badness in the air........... gets you out of bed at 4AM!


Monday, April 11, 2005

Key West Fishing Shakespeare Tackle Update

Last Month I was bragging about Shakespeare's new fishing tackle

I can report the Pflueger Metalist spinning reels are really great!
I am hard on everything I own, tackle, cars, motorcycles, hell shoes.
So far Tarpon, Permit, Pompano, sharks everything has been smoken the drag on these
Medalists and they have great. Sure I did repack them with good silicone grease out of the box and rinse them everyday, great buy and look like a 200 dollar reel!

Now I will tell you about another surprise from this old American company.
Pflueger Trion fly reels, large arbor, machined aluminum, super drag and very light weight.
This reel looks like and has the same features as $400-$600 saltwater reels.

First fish on a 8-10 Trion was a Permit that went about 18lbs, kicked his butt bad.

Buy 3 and have cash for new fly lines.........mike

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Kermit err Permit fishing in Key West

Why this guy?

Many fishing and hunting guides can relate to this story, you know, biggest buck you have ever seen.........and your client is Ronald McDonald.

One day, years ago, I started out with a guy who is "best bass man in Arkensaw" off to the Permit flat.I was rigged 8lb test on some stiff graphite spinning rods and had a good stash of
Florida Green crabs in the live well.
I ran west of Key west and came off plane down in the lakes region after a short pole I saw
tails, big tails, three very big black sickle's

" Wow!" look at those tails!.....You see them? ahh yaw....OK OK wait tell I get you a little closer, ........Good put that crab on the big one on the right!......Good cast!

Poo, the smaller one ate it.. Got him? ahh yaw....Ok he's going to run alot just hold on I'll get the motor started!........30 minutes later.

I have him at the boat grab this Sailfish size Permit tail with both hands and he pulls me
almost out of the skiff, up to my waist, ball cap in the bay, wet shirt, sunglasses gone!

I could not hold him..........but wait we're still hooked up...........10 minutes later
I grab him two handed again, hook my knee's under the gunnel and hoist that sucker over!

My god! " Thats the biggest Permit I every saw, mens world record on 8 I'm sure!
If you were ever going to mount a fish that's it mister!"

SOOO we race to the dock, Bob Hare the Taxidermy rep and a long time guide, all the
mates and Captains come down to to at the monster Permit.

Bob Hare started to write up the IGFA forms and gave the guy a price to mount the fish
everyone was excited about a 54+ lb Permit on 8.

Arkensaw asked Bob what the price would be to mount the fish, did the curly shuffle,
exclaimed he was'nt going to pay that kinda money to mount a "Kermit!"

He jumped in his car and left without signing the IGFA form's!

Bob Hare looked at me and asked, "what ya going to do?" I said "I'll Eat Kermit Bob!"

mike chaserkeywest

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Key West Tarpon Fishing Agogo

Fly Fishing Key West Tarpon

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Key West Tarpon (allowing pop ups)

Tarpon fishing has always been about pop ups.

Years ago, I had a girl friend that was really bright, not just smart, but
very preceptive and had clever ways to express her observations.

One night we went Tarpon fishing just north of Key West in lower Jewfish basin.

It was one of those hot oilslick calm evenings that promise good Tarpon sightings if not action.

As I idled into the basin you could see silver faces in all directions, happy slurping, Poondogies. I slipped the push pole into the edge of the flat and tied off.

Not a long wait, maybe four turns on her spinning reel and a tusker of about
125 lb. was in the air, headshakin, gills rattlin, really pissed Tarpon.

This guy out weigthed her by 30lb but she hung in even when he jumped close to the boat and wetted both of us several times.

When it was all over she stood in front of me, quite a picture, naked except for the fighting belt, and a big grin.

A few months later we were in Davey Florida to see their little rodeo, she had never been to a rodeo before.

We walked in and leaned against the corral just as the chute opened and out sprang a big big bull with a very small cowboy aboard.

In seconds the bull was splitting the fence right in front of us, throwing the cowboy to the ground and stompen all over him.

She looked up at me and said, " jesus, thats just like Tarpon fishing!"


Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Fly Fishing Key West Spring Tides

The big moon tides are pushing the Big Gulf Tarpon in and we are cook'in.
With clear warm water and south east winds, we are excited about feeding the poons fuzzy fly's
and plopping some merkin crab fly's in front of a few Permit also.
I have a big bag of small baitfish flys and want to wear out Tarpon Tuskers before they wear me
We all have the fever and look forward to the early AM run to the flats.
Most of the Permit I have been seeing on the flats are bigger fish and with a good breeze
are easier to approach.
Feeding them a Merkin is another matter, but if they were easy to catch we would call them

Monday, April 04, 2005

Key West Fishing for Permit

Key West Fishing for Permit

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Key West Tarpon Tango

Key West Tarpon Fishing

Friday, April 01, 2005

Bouncing Key West Tarpon

This morning's treat was finding 4 big happy Tarpon schools on the flat.
Rolling high, sniffen, snorten, fly sucken, Tusher Tarpon!
We had no problen seeing them from hundreds of yards away but, our predicted 9 mph
S.E. winds soon turned into 15 then 20+ mph and getting on top the fish without getting way
on top of the rotating schools was work for the Ol guide.
Suddenly, we were surrounded by three big globs with 20-30 Tarpon in each.
"Tarpon rolling at 9 oclock, Tarpon rolling at 11 oclock, Tarpon at 1 oclock no 2 oclock! Cast dammit!" I laughed and laughed again as Peter struggled with the wind, fly line and bouncing flats skiff.
But Peter's a great caster and fast on his feet, which are hardly ever planted on our bucking skiff.

Finely it all comes together at the same time and after a few charges and misses at the fly,
a Poon Dog , aka 70lb Tarpon, grabs hold and Marlin jumps north towards Texas.

Judge, we pleads insanity, cus we crazy bout Da stuff!

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Tarpon Fishing Key West - Doin The Jelly Roll

Thats what I call it when the Tarpon come up to the top and do that slow, lingering,
happy roll.....its sooo sweet. Tarpon guides get a little randy when they see it.
Today, flat calm and muggy humid early am, had the Poons sliding high in the water but, not exactly gobbling everything in sight.
We got lucky and hooked one first off and fought with the 80lb guy for 30 mins before popping him at the boat.
We made a run to the gulf flats and found more happy Tarpon and in two casts another, also over 80lbs, a 8 Jump rocket that really upset my first timer, he really came unglued and with deer in the headlight eyes and open mouth was a great laugh and a hooked on Tarpon fisherman from now on!
Same guys tomorrow and a chance to fly fish for Tarpon........What are you doing tomorrow?


Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Key West Tarpon,Permit and Bonefish too!

Fussy very fussy fish, after finding Tarpon in several spots and getting refusals of several fly patterns, we went on a Permit and Bonefish quest.
We found some big Bonefish rocketing out of the west under the cover of big puffy clouds.
Although the cast's were executed well under tuff wind and cloud conditions, Peter just couldnt get to them before they made us and smoked away with their tail's between their legs!
Can Bonefish do that? well you get the picture.

We also got some good Permit shots and even a couple of serious spins on the fly.
But, no fine diners today!
The water temps are up this afternoon and our plan is to surround them all tomorrow.


Monday, March 28, 2005

Monsters Invade Key West Fishing Flats!

Silver Iron Clad Tusker Tarpon and some smaller ones too!
We have enjoyed May like Tarpon conditions the last weeks, dozens of snapping hungry Poons
have been on the Key West flats and we like that!
Several fly patterns have worked for us, mainly Mylar minnows both large and small.
We also have had luck with Crab flys and some standard Tarpon steamers with my Tango fly
doing its share of suicide missions.
We also were jumping Tarpon on plugs and hooked several Permit on sneaky secret jigs.

If the weather holds and it should, with a hickup or two, we'll be really happy Ol' fishen guides.


Friday, March 25, 2005

Key West Permit Fishing

Key West Tarpon and Permit/Shark Pie

Great day for us, good Permit pie for the sharks!

I hate that, feeding sharks Permit.

We started out today over the sand again looking at 5-6 schools of Tarpon, maybe 150 fish altogether. They came close and we would launch a cast, we got a few take's and no hookups for awhile.
Finely we hook a nice Poonie about 60lbs near the skiff and he almost jumped in with us, after a while he was under control and we popped him off at the boat.
We spent the next hour or two, who knows how long when your watching dozens of Tarpon rolling,
and swimming by and around the skiff, its a trip.
After getting into them again a few more times and seversl grabs with out hooking up, we went into the back country and found some more Tarpon and a few Permit schools mixed together.

We hooked a nice Permit and he screemed off 10lb test, then 20 mins into him, Sharked

POO I hate that, those toofisy bastards!

Out of there and missen shots at more Permit, saw a few more Tarpon then the tide turns in our favor.

We hooked another Permit, good runs and a nice fish but 20 mins later.....Sharked again!

I hate it when they get one of my little Permit Buddies...........mike

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Tarpon on the Florida Keys Sands

Nothing like the sight of several hundred 5-6 ft long 50-150lb Silver blue Tarpon
Over the Sand!

Staked out over the Gulf side sand pools and waiting, watching for that 2x2 string moving like
a 20 yard long snake in my direction.
Fly in left hand, Fly rod in the other, eye's popped out.

The leader rolls sixty feet at 1 oclock, big mouth gasping for fresh air, big eye peeking at me.
It will be a back cast, no problem, my best cast is backward! Launch! On him! Grab and go,

The other 60 Tarpon scatter like buck shot.. out of a sawed off shot gun.......mike

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Key West tarpon Fly's

gurgle me Mr. Tarpon

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Key West Tarpon On Fly

Every time I see that silver flash out of the corner of my eye it comes back,that pulsing!
" Was that a Tarpon?" my guide brain askes my eyeballs,watch,watch that spot...ok now I'm thinking Poon gotta be more in here if there's one, gotta be more than one.
You would think after over 30 years of messen with Key West Tarpon I would'nt get that pulsing, you know what I mean,it starts when you pulla wheelie at the red light or when the little
Czech girl at Subway asks you if you want more meat...ahh

" Saw two more roll!! bout 150 yards, hold on I'll pole us down there! Strip out some more line
and keep your eye on that white and red crab float!" HUFF HUFF ak ak there he is 2 oclock
seventy feet..wait I'll spin the boat. see him? there! 11 oclock! Ya! right there, launch that fly!

Sir Sir , ahh what? more meat?.........


Key West Tarpon Gulf Side

Tarpon Fly Fishing April in Key West

April is the month when fly fishing for all flats fish is more consistant.

Permit and Bonefish are more fishable on the Florida Keys flats when the water temps come up and the winter cold front winds subside.
But Tarpon are the species that we are going cover at todays prayer meeting.

The spring migration is still weeks away but, in April the local Poons and their cousins from Florida Bay and Gulf of Mexico stroll inshore from their "grouper holes" 5,10, 20 miles out and begin the spring dance on the north side of the Keys.

They slide in to the basin and rivers looking for minnows, shrimp and crabs.
Sometimes this means using sinking lines in the deeper areas for rolling fish
or even some sight casting for strings moving down the Gulf flat edges.
These fish are not in the love fest mode yet and can produce even more bites and action then the May love birds.

I'll be out tomorrow sniffen them out.........mike

Monday, March 21, 2005

Tarpon Fly Fishing in Key West

Today was beautiful, sunny warm and too windy but we survived and found some big
Tarpon schools in the Gulf flats edges, big strings of big old Tapoonies.
We threw fly's at them with the Sage fly rod and mylar minnows.
Feeding them was another matter, not much luck, but we scared a few and had a good time doing it.
Sometimes thats enough and tomorrow we will get even with those sucker's


Key West Permit and Tarpon Fishing

What a great day in the Key West backcountry, after yesterdays cool and breezzy
wind it was a treat to get up on the flats and pole with a clear blue sky and great visability.
We were not on the flat 5 mins when a big Permit tail came up and waved at David.
This was his first attempt at Florida Keys flats fishing, a Texan that is used to the Pea Soup
Red fish flats, it was a kick for Dave to see this big boy Permit in our gin clear water.
But although the Permit ate his Crab the fish smoked off unhooked and unhappy.....we pressed on and thirty mins latter found several strings of Tarpon just off the edge, it was my turn to feed the fish and had a big Tarpon steal my Crab and swim off...crap!

We did see 4 schools with 15 to 40 Tarpon in each school but they were tuff to get to in the gulf swells , ........ so....back
to the skinny water.
Finely Dave hooked a Permit of 15-17 lbs and after a few smoker runs, I grabbed his tail a yanked him out for a few photos.
Dave will be back for more Tarpon and Permit feeding..............mike

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Key West Flats

Key West Fishing for Permit

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Key West Tarpon-Power of the Poon

Jumping Tarpon are some of the most powerful animals on the Planet

Men and women from all over the world get out of their warm comfy beds and get on airplanes, fly thousands of miles, to Key West and the Florida Keys.
They suffer motel beds, restaurant food, tropical sun and some O'l fly fishing guide's demand's
that they rise before 4AM and limp to the marina.
Armed with a $1200 dollar fly rod/reel combo, $80 flats shirts, $150 Tarpon eye goggles.
Then they are catapolted through the dark at breakneck speeds, just to be at Macho Grande
flat for the Tarpon show!
Lots of these Tarpon fishing nuts I first met when they graduated from law school, now they bring their adult sons and we talk about when we can start to addict the grandson or daughter.

Thats the power of the Poon...........mike

Key West Tarpon Fly fishing

Friday, March 18, 2005

Key West Fishing Shakespeare Tackle Test

Shakespeare and Pflueger fishing tackle are back after a number of years of putting out
well, let's be kind and call it budget saltwater fishing tackle, these old American brand names are back!
For 20 years I used Shakespeare Supreme spinning reels and although they had a few minor flaws, the drags( the single most valued feature of any fishing reel) was superior to any spinning reel made anywhere on the planet.
A bold statement? No just the facts mam!
The Pflueger Wonder fly reel, which I refered to as the G.I. reel because of its plain gray metalic
enamel paint, also had a wonder drag that accounted for many butt busting saltwater gamefish landings on fly rod by some of the best Key West-Florida Keys fisherman.
I personally landed many Kingfish, Barracudas, Tarpon, Dorado, and my first( really cast to it)
sailfish, Oh and 42 million Jacks too! But, Wonder reels weighted as much as a 4 slice toaster.
Most guides in the 60's and 70's owned Wonder reels and only gave them up with the introduction of
Fin-nor's and Capt. Mac's Seamaster. They were fussier but had good drags and were lighter,
the main reason we had to have these new reels was, they were gold!

Thats a little history on Shakespeare and Pflueger saltwater reels and after using the current
offering from Pflueger, the new Pflueger Medalist spinning reels, they are back!
I have been using a 6040 on Permit and a few Tarpon and the drag is super, the fit and finish of this inexpensive spinning reel is reely inpressive.
I have ordered four more and a Trion fly reel to try out on Permit and Bonefish.
I will let you know the results.............mike

Tarpon, Permit fishing Key West Spring Tides

Big changes in tides today made Permit and Tarpon fishing challenging.
Yesterday's happy Tarpon deep in the basins became, mouth of channel sleepers. A drastic difference in 24 hours but we figured it out and looked for the poons in all the right places.
Mixed in with the Tarpon were big schools of Permit, a cast into the group can produce either one.
We got lucky and jumped a Tarpon tusker and caught a nice Permit of 20ish lbs.
The weather may be rotating into spring cycle which means more chances everyday at these two Key west flats fishing super heros.
Ol' fishing guides get less sleep from here on out to July but, I'll sleep when I'm dead.


Thursday, March 17, 2005

Bull Sharks Crash Key West Tarpon Party

We were standing in Tarpon at 7:15 am this morning jigs and live crabs in hand. Surrounded by happy silver monsters, many over 100lbs when, 3 big black Bull's slid in and made everyone nervous especially the Poons!
David tossed a mylar jig in the direction on a pod of Tarpon that popped up 40 ft from the boat and he came up tight on a good hard pulling fish that stripped of a lot of line but, didn't jump.
Must be a Permit! says I, no it was a really huge jack that ran up on the flat and then,
the Black Evil's came flying in and the biggest gobbled up Dave's big Jack!
Exciting but, you always feel bad when you helped feed the Big Black Evils.
That was enough to really upset those Tarpon and send them packing, so off we went to fresh
encounters and a new spot.
Don't feel too sorry for David he got a nice Cobia and three hundered (seemed like) Jacks, Lady Fish, Lookdowns and........ a great Shark story.........mike

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Key West Fly Fishing

Monday, March 14, 2005

Key West Tarpon Return To Backcountry

South Winds and High Ho Silver Tarpon in the back basins and cuts, water warming and the humid air bring our Big old Poons in from the Gulf to slurp minnows, crabs, and other little yummy wigglers.
Hopefully our jigs and fly's will end up in a Tarpon tomorrow morning, didn't happen today the Poons came in but the water was still cool and they were not receptive.
Pompano, Big Jacks, Barracudas and a nice Cobia were and the action was really good.
Same guys are fishing the next few days with me and are looking forward to wacken a Poon, we saw a lot of them slipping into a back basin's getting ready for some night feeding and probabily
planning to challenge us to a duel at dawn............mike

Key West Fishing for Permit

Friday, March 11, 2005

Blue Fish Bouncing on Fly's Key West

Cooler Water Brings Blue's Back into the cuts and basins running between the flats.
We started the day on the flats north side of key West looking for Permit on the incoming tide
but, low light pushed us off the flats after throwing flys at a Cobia that would not eat and a few
Barracudas......phoooie, we went to the cuts and wacked dozens of Lady Fish , Jacks and even
6-8 nice Blue Fish that gobbled Mylar Fly's and smoked the backing off.
We also managed to hook a big Black Tip Shark that, after 20 mins chewed through the 30lb mono and spun off.
Crossing fingers for tomorrow as another little cool front is due in tonight, I said cool, no cold!
No Moe Cold please!?........mike

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Thats a Key West Fishing Sun....Son!

Thanks, you Mother Earth, we have our sunshine and Permit fishing winds back after two crap-ola cold front days, tomorrow we will be back on the Key West Flats tossing Merkin Crab Flys to big old Permit piggy's that are sniffen around the flat for a tasty wiggler of some sort.
Thats the plan anyway and a couple of shots at Cobia, maybe even a peek at a tarpon if we are lucky and the water temps come up to their standards.
Trying out a new Permit fly and just recieved a big bag of tarpon candy in a lovely lemon yellow,
they will jump on those flys, like a chicken on a June bug!....Also part of the plan.


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Key West Bonefishing

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Key West Fly Fishing Runaround

Today was run around day, run around town that is, wind and rain gave me a day to get to the tackle shop, scrub skiff and sort through my fly gear.
I have a good supply of bait fish flys, Elf's and Glass minnows all shiny and sharp to feed
Mr. Tarpon in the Key West basins and cuts.
Merkin Crab Flys for Permit fishing and plenty of Bonefish and general "anyone will eat flys"
The next few days will be hoping the weather will cooperate........ and the fishes!

Key West Fly Fishing Flats

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Permit and Cobia Key West Fishing

The sun came out on the Key West Flats and there were Permit, Barracudas, Sharks
and Cobia.
The last two days the water warmed up and the fishing has picked up, I even found some Tarpon in a few back country cuts and was relieved that the last front didnt drive them to far out. We have been hooking Permit and Cobias on rays, Blacktip sharks are everywhere, high in the water, peck fins forward looking for victims.
We sacrificed a couple tube lures to the monsters and almost got striped of our 10lb because of it.
Lots of foolish fun but, thats what we're good for. We'll be after Tarpon and more
Cobia and Permit with the fly rods in the morning.....mike

Friday, March 04, 2005

Key West Tarpon Fishing

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Key West Fishing Weather Gods

Ok, Ok Jumped the gun thinking we were done with old man winter and bragging about
Tarpon fishing and Permit fishing picking up early this year, we got smacked with a cold
snap that we really didnt think would get this far south.
So standing in a cold rain storm for our 80lb Tarpon was a little uncomfortable, still it was a Tarpon and that made it better than ok.
Today was another story Mr. Poon went back to the Gulf until the warm winds come back and
the Pompano did not come in to sniff around the cuts and basins, not everyday is "hero day"
for O'l flats fishing guides.
But hey!.......the sun just popped out..........mike

Monday, February 28, 2005

Raining Tarpon in Key West

Or Rainy Tarpon in Key West is more like it!
This morning, when I left the dock the sky was ugly dark with a promise that I would regret
leaving my rain coat in the other skiff. Well I got wet and several rain bands made sure that I would stay that way, cold butt, prune ass......wet.
The only good part was, we were rewarded for our stupidity with a good Tarpon of about 70lbs and we saw many Ta Poons rolling close to the boat. But just sniffen!
Tomorrow the sun will shine, the fish will be a jumpen, the O'l guide will be dried out and smiling..............mike

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Tarpon Spring Forward Key West

Well thats what happened with the first Tarpon We sorta hooked, then he about landed in the skiff and fell off before we could redrive the hook. A typical Tarpon excuse and thats why they are tuff and very fun.
The water temps are way up and inspite of a minnie cool front headed this way today, the temp forecasts are all in the upper 70s and thats a" gooood thing!"
All my guide pals in the last week have had better Tarpon action in the flats/river's on both Spinning tackle and fly rods.
We'll be back at them tomorrow and also wacken away at the Permit that have been showing
in better numbers also.........mike

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Key West Permit Fishing and Tarpon Two!

What a rush today we were blessed with a little warmer water temps and two Tarpon and a
Permit,........ and that ain't bad!
The first Tarpon ate a Mullet Plug at the boat and almost jumped aboard, woke everyone up and spilled the coffee, later on the flat, after spooken a few Barracudas, we found a big Permit about 28lbs that hit the live crab on the fly and smoked the little Shimano, just about emptied
the 10lb spool, big piggy.
The clouds ran us off the flats so we checked out a little Pompano spot and while I was showing the boys how to jig the hole, ofcourse I hook a Tarpon of 80-90 lbs on one of my weenie rods
and off to the races.
Great jumping Tarpon and a hour later , when he got over the flat and started for Texas, we
snapped him off, sat down and ate some cheese fries........mike

Monday, February 21, 2005

Fly Fishing Permit Some More

Someone's Gotta Do It, I mean we can have those sneaky Permit thinking their in the clear.
Today was beautiful, really one of those perfect late winter days on the flat, 75 degrees, sunny
12-15 mph ESE winds, low incoming tide.
And we found Permit tailing on the flats, slow easy fish, unspookable......cake.....well almost!
If we were throwing live crabs, 3 or 4 Easy! But we were tossing Merkin crab flys and Mr. Permit wasnt buying fake crabs today, thank you very much....... %#+ #en Permit!
We did get a nice Cobia on the fly rod and a few big Jacks following Sting Rays, couldnt resist
a yummy looking Merkin Fly, lots of Big Boy Barracudas too, but they were not on todays list.
Tomorrow we will start on the Permit flat again and look for some Tarpon latter in the day.
Weather should be super a water temps up a few more degrees...........mike


Monday, February 14, 2005

Permit fishing Key West Flats

Glad to See You Again Mr. Permit, good break(up) in the water temps on the flats has brought some Permit back but, their not eating tube lures!
Swifty and I were west of Key West near Cottrell Key tossing tubes for Barracudas (his favorite target) and ran into about a dozen Big Permit and since we were without live crabs and Johnny doesnt fly fish, we decided to try to feed then yellow cuda tubes with predictable results....No bites.
Didnt matter to Swifty so we moved to a small channel and pulled Pompano and Bluefish and later we did manage to hook a few Cudas and a Blacktip Shark about 60lbs on a small Mylar jig.
He was quite a handful on 10lb test and Johnny always giggles like a cheerleader when he almost get spooled.
We have been using some IM8 Shakespear spinning rods that would be best discribed as Weenee rods.
But what fun to watch the bend just above the forgrip in a death defying curl.
Tomorrow we'll be looking for Permit and this time with a box full of crabs.......mike