Duck key, Florida 4th June 2012.
Two days after the Tarpon battle I was still feeling the effects, back ache and a bruised groin(from the rod butt). In spite of this there was still an itch to get out on the water so I booked a half day with Captain Billy Whitney aboard his skiff, Soc-Et-Tu-Um (Only in America!). We met at 7.15am in Tom's dock where the Tarpon are permanent residents but you are not allowed to fish for them.
These are the clever ones, they know that if they hang around they have an easy meal of the remains of the gutted fish brought in by the fishermen.
I had decided that this trip was to be a more leisurely and sedate affair targeting Snapper, Jacks, Sea Trout and Redfish if we were lucky.
Several buckets of Shrimp were loaded and put on ice and off we went. I would have liked to have tried to catch a Bonefish but they have not been seen in this part of the Keys for a couple of years. A cold front came through and destroyed a whole year group and moved the bigger ones further along the coast. This makes the Florida grand slam(Tarpon, Bonefish and Permit) very difficult nowadays. To add to the problems the Keys angler has already is a proliferation of seaweed that has began to flourish in the area. On top of that there is an abundance of Pinfish (small and inedible critters) that attack the baits before the sought after species can get a look in. With all that against us we sped out beyond the weed about twenty minutes to a relatively clear area. Tactics out here is a fluffy luminous green jig head weighted lure tipped with a real Shrimp tail over the hook shank.
|Shrimp on ice|
These are cast out as far as possible and retrieved 'sink and draw' style to the boat. Within seconds the annoying pinfish are on the bait and the Shrimp gets obliterated nine times out of ten. When we could keep a bait on we caught well, hard fighting Mangrove Snapper, Jack Trevally that dived in the weed and Sea Trout. The Sea Trout were a different species to our own, they look similar in terms of spots and silver coloration but have a dorsal fin similar to a Bass with spines. I lost count of how many fish were caught in the end but we finished up with a few 'keepers' on ice. These were donated to Mrs Whitney upon our return. An enjoyable mornings angling but not as exciting as fishing for Tarpon.
|A brace of Snapper|