Well even we Guides have to have a day off and so in the company of a good mate I set off last week to the Florida Keys for another real angling adventure……. To be honest I had been looking forward to this one for a while but sometimes with these trips they do not always come up to expectations, but this one really did the business and then a lot more besides. Driving down the highway to the Keys from Miami with blue sea and skies, ZZ Top on the radio and a grin as wide as the Atlantic the stage was set for some really good fishing. You have maybe seen Islamorada on telly as its one of Paul Youngs favourite destinations and with good reason. The fishing is excellent and after two days with guide Sid Bryant we had tarpon to 180lb and sharks to 140 under our belts as well as a host of other specimen fish, most of which put a real bend in the rod, and sitting with a beer in the bar as the sun went down gave us much to smile about. They say to be careful what you wish for, and I had set out with the wish to catch a fish longer than the span of my arms. Having achieved that in Islamorada…little did I know what was waiting in Key West… For those who don’t know, Key West is where Ernest Hemmingway spent a lot of time and it is a crazy, friendly, piratically weird place where anything goes. Our guide- Captain Tony Miller had borrowed a new bigger boat and so we headed out into the vastness that is the Gulf Of Mexico. First day out on the drift we had a hammerhead of around 160lb which took a surface fished livebait under a kite rig as well as loads of other species but next day, fourty miles out in wild seas we dropped anchor in the magic Windermere depth of 42 feet. As the chum drifted away Amberjack and Barracuda were first on the scene and as Ben Haynes battled a big Barracuda on light tackle I dropped a large fillet over the side on heavy gear. Hitting bottom there was a tap then a slow pull and I lifted the rod hard. The next half hour saw me meeting Ben five times round the pitching boat as I battled with the unseen beast. Eventually we saw a little colour and very, very slowly a 300lb lemon shark materialised at the surface. Leaning harder than you’d believe I tried to get the fish to the boat at which point the fighting butt shattered and the rod butt smacked me in the stomach like a pool que in a bar fight. I will spare you the details of my utter exhaustion and long recovery time ( I felt like I had done 15 rounds with Mike Tyson) but as the captain said afterwards.. “that was awesome dude….this is extreme fishing and not for ordinary men!” So yes, be careful what you wish for…. Fourteen feet of shark on the edge of the Bermuda triangle will do me for the time being. In the UK we play fish..out there in the big blue they Fight ‘em! And as for the shattered fighting belt…It hangs as a memento in my rod room. Meanwhile, I’m off to the Eden for a spot of civilised trout fishing and at least for the time being, I’ll leave the wilds of Key West for another occasion. Tarra Eric
A Proper bend in a rod
Yes its a Tarpon .. all 170lbs of it !
Just another Amberjack