ISLAMORADA FISHING TRIP

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TOP WADING SPOTS ISLAMORADA

 

 

Fishing areas:

The most consistent flats fishing in the area, involves the 30 minute run towards Flamingo. Try Snake Bight, Garfield Bight and Tin Can channel.

 

. I waded onto the flats of Lower Matecumbe Key at first light/good area

 

Pennekamp State Park. Or memorial park areas

 

Mile Marker 72 or 76 on the Ocean side. There is a marina and a Texaco on the right side of the road for a land mark.


Long Key State Park
is very wadeable

Just south of Long Key on the bay side


Annes Beach


Long Key state park
(mile marker 69) one of the best places to catch big bones on foot, long rock wall at the edge of the water , just watch for tailing bones on incoming tide early am or late pm , can also hike some of the trails away from the parking lot. Warning, they lock the gate at dark
Hwy Flat(mm76) right along US 1 ocean side(on the left heading south), just pull over , wade out about 75 ft, (don`t move around!) and watch for tails. Late or early on incoming tide
Ohio Key(mm39) flat on ocean side, this place has been extremely frustrating for me but I know they are there, once again early or late on incoming tide, watch the flat near the channel as fish will come up onto the flats out of the channels to feed
.

Also, you can just about park in any of the Hotels on the ocean side, grab your rod and access from their beach. Lots of bones feeding in the early morning before people start waking up and using the hotel beach.

At the 7400 block of the Overseas Highway on the ocean side, there is a great flat located across the street from the Rodus Building, 74560 Overseas Highway. Hurricane Georges stripped away what used to be a lovely stretch of sand dunes covered with sea oats bordering this flat. The flat is still fishable, just not as pretty.
As you are driving south you will see the remnants of a billboard on your left. This marks the flat. You can park right by the billboard. Across the street you will see the Rodus Building, a square white multi-story building. This flat runs North and south for approximately 1/2 mile, good hard bottom and GREAT bonefishing.
Do not park at the North end of the flat as that area is private property and was marked as such the last time I was there. This flat has no rest rooms or any facilities, just very good fishing. Don't pass it up.

 

Anne's Beach
This is my favorite wadefishing spot of all.
A fabulous flat approximately 1/2 mile long with good hard sand bottom. Anne's beach is located just South of the Calusa Marina on the ocean-side.
Anne's Beach has two entrances about 1/2 mile apart. There are rest rooms at the North end and hard, marked parking areas at the North and South ends. Each entrance is connected by a great boardwalk, which runs right along the shoreline and has access walks going down to the water interspersed along the boardwalk making access to the flat very easy. There are also covered picnic areas along the boardwalk with tables and benches, just right for lunch.
The bonefishing here is very good with an excellent chance of seeing a permit on the South end of the flat where it butts up to a deep-water channel.
This is a public park and is very popular with bathers. Avoid the weekends and fish early or late. There is usually plenty of room for fishing particularly in the middle area of the flat.
Long Key State Park Recreational Area
Long Key State Park is located just South of Mile Marker #68 on the ocean-side. This park has an entrance fee of $3.00 per car and is well worth it. The park features camping areas if you are a camper and you can pitch a tent or back your trailer right up to the beach. It also has shower facilities and rest rooms as well as picnic tables. A paved road runs the length of the park and makes access that much easier.
I usually turn right after paying my entrance fee and drive about half way down the park to the South and park facing the ocean. A very short walk, 15-20 feet, and you are fishing.
On a high tide watch the shoreline, as the bonefish will get right in on the beach and tail. I like to start wading in the middle of the flat and work my way slowly up to the North end in close to the shore line and if the light and the wind are right, move out a little and work back to the South. It just doesn't get any better than this. Excellent facilities and very good fishing.

Veterans' Memorial Park
This park is located at Mile Marker #40, right on the South end of the 7-Mile Bridge. Turn left and go down the hill where you will find a good parking area with rest rooms and concrete pavilions which cover picnic tables and benches.
A great flat with a nice hard sandy bottom. Excellent bonefishing with a chance of a permit on a high tide.

Bahia Honda State Park
Located on Bahia Honda Key between Mile Markers 36 and 37. This is very large Park, over 2 miles in length and offers some of the best wade fishing available for bonefish.
This flat borders a deep water channel on the North end where there is always the chance of coming upon a permit. It has a good hard bottom and a variety of types of bottom from clean white sand to mottled with some grass.
Bahia Honda offers camping, picnic facilities as well as rest rooms and showers and even a concession stand if your tastes run to a hot lunch [hot dogs and hamburgers]. This facility requires an entrance fee of $3.00 and well worth it. It is very nice at the end of your fishing to be able to take a shower and change into some dry clothes
.
These are five prime locations to get you started. Each location described is public property with easy access and very good fishing at each flat. The State Parks are very popular places, especially during the summer months and should be avoided on the weekends.
One note of caution. Always be sure of where you are wading. Do not attempt to cross areas that are green or dark blue in color-these colors indicate deep water. I very seldom wade deeper than my knees. Be aware of what the tide is doing and do not get caught far off the beach with a fast rising tide or you may have to swim part of the way back. This is very difficult with a 9 foot fly rod.

 

Now as for wading the flats, yes, there are lots of spots.

Starting at the
Mile Marker 126, just south of Florida City, if you see shallow water, there are fish... There are Snook, Red's, Tarpon, Permit, Bones, and just about anything you can cast to, available most of the
year, just not a lot... If you have never tried a fly on a barracuda or shark, I strongly suggest you give them a shot. They are just as fast and spectacular as the Slam fish. You can go after the smaller Bonnet(2lb-6lb) with a 6wt, Cuda(3lb-15lb) with a 8wt-10wt, up through
the Bull/Nurse/Lemon shark with your 12wt, and they are all on the flats. You can wade to them. The only adder is a small piece of wire to ward off sharp teeth,, if you want your fly back... There are also
Jack's, Grunts, Ladyfish, Spotted Trout, and to a lesser extent just about everything else. I have caught King Mackerel to 35lbs in 12 ft of
water between the old and new Bahia Honda bridges. Bull Shark's up to 250lbs.

There is a gap in road side fishing between upper Key Largo(mm 107) and Lower Matecumbe(mm 74) because most of the area is commercial or private
and built up.

The Highway Flat a mm 74 on the ocean side. This is a great flat located across the street from the Rodus Building, 74560 Overseas Highway.
Hurricane Georges stripped away what used to be a lovely stretch of sand dunes covered with sea oats bordering this flat. The flat is still fishable, just not as pretty. You can park across the street from the
Rodus Building, a square white multi-story building. This flat runs east and west for approximately 1/2 mile, good hard bottom and GREAT bone
fishing. Do not park at the East end of the flat as that area is private property and was marked as such the last time I was there. This flat has no rest rooms or any facilities, just very good fishing.

Don't pass it up.
Anne's Beach is a favorite wade fishing spot. A fabulous flat approximately 1/2 mile long with good hard sand bottom.
Anne's beach is located just West of the Calusa Marina on the ocean-side. Anne's Beach has two entrances about 1/2 mile apart. There are rest rooms at the East end and hard, marked parking areas at the
East and West ends. Each entrance is connected by a great boardwalk, which runs right along the shoreline and has access walks going down to
the water interspersed along the boardwalk making access to the flat very easy. There are also covered picnic areas along the boardwalk with
tables and benches, just right for lunch. The bone fishing here is very good with an excellent chance of seeing a permit on the West end of the
flat where it butts up to a deep-water channel. This is a public park and is very popular with bathers. Avoid the weekends and fish early or late. There is usually plenty of room for fishing particularly in the
middle area of the flat.

Long Key State Park Recreational Area Long Key State Park is located just West of MM 68, on the ocean-side. This park has an entrance fee and
is well worth it. The park features camping areas if you are a camper and you can pitch a tent or back your trailer right up to the beach. It
also has shower facilities and rest rooms as well as picnic tables. A paved road runs the length of the park and makes access that much
easier. I usually turn right after paying my entrance fee and drive about half way down the park to the West and park facing the ocean. A
very short walk, 15-20 feet, and you are fishing. On a high tide watch the shoreline, as the bonefish will get right in on the beach and tail.
I like to start lading in the middle of the flat and work my way slowly up to the East end in close to the shore line and if the light and the wind are right, move out a little and work back to the West. It just
doesn't get any better than this. Excellent facilities and very good fishing.

On Vaca Key(downtown Marathon), you might try Sombrero Beach. It is public, has sand, it right next to a realy good cut, might be worth a try in the early am or at dusk.

Veterans' Memorial Park is located at Mile Marker #40, Little Duck Key,
right on the West end of the 7-Mile Bridge. Turn left and go down the hill where you will find a
good parking area with rest rooms and concrete pavilions which cover picnic tables and benches. A great flat with a nice hard sandy bottom.
Excellent bone fishing with a chance of a permit on a high tide near the edge of the channel. The family can sit and burn in comfort while you hunt world records. The North side of Little Duck is not as accessible
but you might find a fish or two..

Bahia Honda State Park Located on Bahia Honda Key between Mile Markers
36 and 37. This is very large Park, over 2 miles in length and offers
some of the best wade fishing available for bonefish. This flat borders
a deep water channel on the East end where there is always the chance of
coming upon a permit. It has a good hard bottom and a variety of types
of bottom from clean white sand to mottled with some grass. Bahia Honda
offers camping, picnic facilities as well as rest rooms and showers and
even a concession stand if your tastes run to a hot lunch [hot dogs and
hamburgers]. This facility also requires an entrance fee. It is very
nice at the end of your fishing to be able to take a shower and change
into some dry clothes. For up to date information you can call the park
at 305-872-2353.

Just after the new Bahia Honda bridges, is Spanish Harbor Key(it's
labeled West Sugarloaf Key). About 100ft after the bridge ON THE RIGHT
is a small side road the leads down to a parking area. Walk out to the
north and you will find a pit dug by Flagler and his rail road for fill,
it's 35ft deep but is quite shallow on the outsides. Try the area
between the pit and the bridge. Also, on the south side of the road
there are some shallows, but they drop off quick.. Current is also very
fast and strong, up to 7mph. You don't want to be caught in it, kills a
diver every year... At the other end of Spanish Harbor is a public ramp
with shallows on both sides of the street..

On your way through
Big Pine, stop at the Lower Keys CoC, on your left,
MM 31+- and pick up a set of their maps. There are a bunch of free
public ramps hidden on BPK and some of the other lower keys. BPK does
not have much wading and what is there is only accessed via private
property or from the water..

Try the various roads the lead off to the north of the
Torch's(little,middle,big, MM 27) and Ram Rod, MM26..

If you jump down to the area past
Cudjoe, MM 20, there are flats on each
side of US 1, Never tried them but they look fishy. Around MM 19, on the
south side of US 1, there is one of the pits dug by Flagler's crew to
provide fill, most are 15-18 ft deep and hold fish. Further west are
still more spots, going all the way to the beaches of Key West.

Stop at the dock on lower Sugar Loaf, at Sugarloaf lodge, several
Captains launch out of there, buy a cup of coffee and listen to the chat
at the table. The area out behind the ramp may be worth looking at.. "

 

 

 

FLATS FISHING IN THE KEYS

 

 

Flats Fishing In The Florida Keys
Wayne Gilbert

Flats fishing can be an exciting and rewarding experience for fishermen of all ages, whether just beginning or accomplished angler. Flats are long, level, shallow water areas next to deeper water. They are found in bays estuaries and marshes. They are also found atop reefs and atolls, and along shorelines.

The bottom of a flat may be made up of grass, sand, rock, mud, gravel, or a combination of these. Flats with grass or other aquatic vegetation offer cover and food for a variety of fish as well as shrimp and crabs. The most sought after fish when flats fishing include redfish, tarpon, seatrout, bonefish, permit and snook. Other popular catches are striped bass, bluefish, barracuda, shark, cobia and mutton snapper.


When choosing the best areas for flats fishing, look for flats that are 8 feet deep or less. More productive flats usually contain stumps, brush piles, grass beds or other types of cover. Flats that contain shallow ditches or humps are especially attractive to bass. Also look for baitfish, crabs and other fish foods.

Observe tides carefully when locating good flats to fish. Some will be totally dry during low tide. As the tide rises, game fish will move in to feed whereas when the tide drops gamefish will wait for crabs and baitfish to flee the flat.

Flats are usually fished with fly gear or light spinning gear. Light tackle is the rule. Fly rods should be 8 or 9 weight. If you are using a spinning outfit, load it with no stronger than 12 pound test. Live bait such as mullet, pigfish, pinfish and shrimp works well. If you are using artificial lures, any size with attractor colors may be used from May through June. If you are flats fishing during July through August, natural colored lures work best.

Other equipment to include on your fishing trip is proper footwear, sunscreen, sunglasses, a raincoat and plenty of water to drink. Hydration is important since most flats fishing takes place in sunny climates such as the Florida Keys and the Caribbean, as well as lakes and rivers across the United States and other countries.

The most important equipment required is usually a small skiff with no more than two fishermen aboard. This lets the guide pole across shallow waters with ease, to reach the best flats. Also remember to wear light colored clothing to reflect the suns heat, and be less visible to the fish.

Fishing the Flats

by Mark Sosin and Lefty Kreh

Chapter 5: Finding Fish, Pg. 51-52

NO MATTER HOW GOOD AN ANGLER ONE MAY BE IN northern waters, conditions and techniques are so radically different on the tropical flats that, without a guide, failure is likely. Exploring on your own offers an exciting challenge and a fun way to fish, but it really should not be attempted until you see first-hand how a professional goes about it.

The overall budget of the trip should include the cost of a guide, at least on the first day and possibly the second. He can show you very quickly how to spot fish and the signs for which you should look. You will also get an idea of how he works a flat and the importance of tidal stages. Note how he tends to hang in an area for a while even though he doesn't see fish immediately. Experience tells him the fish are there and he seeks them out. If he is wrong, he moves on to the next spot or changes locations depending on what the tide is doing. If it's windy, he knows where to find a lee.

The majority oF guides recognize that you are seeking information and most will help you. You can check this out before you hire a particular skipper by asking for references or by putting the question directly to him. Be certain he is experienced in the type of fishing you want to do. It does not make sense to book a guide for fly fishing when he prefers spinning. While you have him on the phone, ask about the species that are available during the time of year you plan to fish. IF he levels with you, you won't be disappointed.

WADING

The goal, of course, is to find fish on your own. You can wade for bonefish, but permit and tarpon frequent flats that are too deep to walk on. If you are going to wade, the best advice is to stop in a couple of tackle shops and ask the people where they would recommend you fish and the stage of the tide that is best for each area. They will gladly share this information with you.

Newcomers to wading insist on trying to cover a great amount of terrain in the shortest possible time. A better approach is to move slowly and look for the signals that spell fish. You may see tails, wakes, cross ripples, nervous water, or something else that attracts your attention. Above all, you must see the fish and when you are wading, you lose the advantage of height. Therefore the fish are often much closer to you when you spot them. That is a perfect reason to move slowly and quietly.

Never wade without shoes. The spiny sea urchin makes a home on the flats and, if you step on one, will inflict a painful wound. At the same time, rays sometimes bury themselves in the bottom. Step on one and the barbed tail may cause a problem. Waders must learn to shuffle their feet so that they move a ray out in front of them instead of stepping on it.

Fish use the tide to their advantage if they climb on a flat with rising water, they will work higher and higher as the tide continues to flood. When the tide is falling, they drop back with the receding water. That means you must look in both shallow and deep water, tracing a zigzag pattern until you find the fish. We once recommended a flat to someone who wanted to catch bonefish. Not only was he unable to spot fish, but he worked the wrong part of the flat, remaining deep while the fish were shallow. He later told us disappointedly that he had not seen a fish. Another angler on the same flat noted that he had seen several hundred fish.

Wading offers an economical approach to bonefishing. It also harbors an extra measure of sport, because you stalk the fish on foot. Besides, it affords the perfect opportunity to really study a flat and observe the intricacies of life on it.

 

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