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Spent 8 days on Little Torch Key and had a great time. Left Cape May with ice on the bay and found temperatures in the 80's everyday. We broke in my new outboard and it ran great. It felt good to wear shorts and be on the water again. Good thing we got a c-map chart for my plotter. Down there 4 foot of water is considered a deep channel. Plotter made us experts in no time. We were running the flats and cuts like we lived there all our lives in a couple of days. You just run at high speed and never dare slow down in water clear as your bathtub.

First day I got down we went over to nearby flats and got some big barracuda up to 52 inches on 5 inch plugs and light spin tackle. The water was 86 and the fish were hanging ontop of the weed beds and a buddy of ours got a nice bonefish on the other side, in the one foot flats.

Next day went back to the same flats with flyrod, some big flies and wire tippet, only to find the water cooled over night to 81 and all I got was baby cudas in the 22 to 24 inch size. Still a ton of fun. While there we were spooking all kinds of huge tarpon in the 5 to 6 foot range. Yea I said 5 to 6 feet. We were working an area with sandy bottom with big weed bottom areas and the fish would cruise inbetween them. From a distance they would look like big moving logs. We saw atleast 15 fish. Some even went right under the boat. We were spooking them because we were contantly casting and not stalking.

Next day we were back with the works. Live crabs, Live shrimp and crab flies and we were hot to trot. This day we would only stalk and cast on targets of opportunity. All looked good on paper. We spotted around 50 tarpon and had good shots at atleast 20 fish. We would cast off to the side sometimes a fish would turn alittle but most of the time the fish would just swim by with out blinking. Even saw a huge permit with its tail out of the water and no luck there.

Next day it was more of the same. It was so frustrating to see the fish, get close enought and no reaction. Later we talked to local guide and he said those big tarpon are only up there to warm up and will not feed. March and April when they come up they will hit with a venengence almost anything. He said this time of year you go for bones and permit on the flats and the tarpon are in the deep water area where the flats drain off.

We had a buddy who was down and he told us of a spot a couple of keys down and on the gulf coast side where there was a mile long strip of 12 to 22 deep water where 2 foot flats drained into it where we would definately find fish feeding. It was about a 12 mile run through the cuts and flats of the back area with miles and miles of nothing as far as you could see. Well we get there to find rolling fish, huge fish, all over a 100lb. We are using 7 to 9 inch deep diving plugs like you would use for blues or tuna and casting them out to the sides of the boat and slowly retrieving them. My buddy hooks up with a monster. It takes a few huge jumps boatside and starts screaming away and the line goes slack. It's abrasive mouth goes through the 30lb leader. They other boat fishing there told us it looked to be the biggest he had ever seen. It could of been a record fish. He estimated 175 to 200 lb.
Dissapointed and excited we will be back tomorrow cause the sun was dropping and we wanted to get back to the dock before dark.

Next after noon on the same out going tide we were back and ready. This time I hook up a big one in the 120 lb range only to have the same thing happen. It was wild we must of seen 75 huge tarpon gulping air and free jumping in this narrow cut. A Buddy comes over and asks us what size leader we are using. He laughs when we tell him 30lb. He tells us we need minimum of 60lb up to 100lb. if we want to land one of these big local fish. While we are there his wife hooks and lands her first tarpon, a nice 125 pounder. Even with the heavy leader there is still no guarantee you will land them. She has hooked many others before but this was the first she ever landed. It was awsome to see the jumps. It must of made 25 to 30 jumps and pulled them all over the place.

Next morning we are down to the local tackle store. We get 60, 80, and 100 lb fluorcarbon leader, six more diving plug and I got some super big flies. (I want one of these bad boys on my fly rod.) Well as things would happen it was warm but the wind was howling. It made the shallow water all milky and a heavy chop all over making the 12 mile run not worth it and I was leaving the next day.

I did have fun with the fly rod. I fished alot around the bridges and drop offs close to the house. I caught tons of small barracuda, all kinds of snappers, grouper, lizardfish, a trigger fish and many types of fish that I couldn't identify. I even fished at night, but it is really dark down there. There are no navigation lights and you can't see where the shallow water is. It is all gps and there are fish pots all over where the water is atleast 4 feet. Most of the fish have some type of teeth so I went through a lot of jiggies and clousers. Pink/white and Yellow/white worked the best.

Also got to go snorkeling two mornings for the first time. We went with another experience couple. We took my flats boat out 3 and half miles to the edge of the reef where they have buoys to tie up to. The water was 17 feet deep and you could see fish on the bottom while standing on the deck of the boat and the water dropped to 150 feet on the otherside. We watched guys hooking up sailfish on the other side less than a quater a mile away. The water was crystal clear and warm. My wife and I loved it. There were thousands of fish and it was just beautiful. My wife wasn't too thrilled with the barracuda that would hang with us. There were two 5 footers that would stalk us and and look you in the eye about three feet away. They wouldn't let you get two close but they were always there. There was no fishing allowed. It is protectected and all the dive and snorkeling boats were there.

The second morning was just as nice except two 6 to 7 foot reef sharks cruised up out of the deep and were swimming around the level where we were.
They circled around and eyeballed us. It was alittle hairy but they seemed to just look us over and swim away. I don't really like being quite that close in their back yard especially knowing how many of their buddies I have killed through the years. It was exciting.

If I had more time I would of liked to have tried for saifish. On a nice day my flats boat would work. It is only another mile past the reef.

Before heading to my brothers in Palm Bay Fla. We spent two days in Key West. Found it to be a neat place. No fishing there, we took in the history found lots of great places to eat, watched the sun set into the gulf and just relaxed and enjoyed life.

It was my first trip to the keys and I am sure it will not be my last. You could probally fish everyday of your life down there in a different spot and never get to them all in your life time.
I think I could live down there full time.
 

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Ray,wow what a trip,thanks for the nice write up,sounds like a blast,and so well written i felt as though i was rite there with ya fishing for those huge tarpon,Thanks,Vinny
 

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Ray Glad you had a nice & safe trip. Very specialplace. We need to talk. Ron
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Sparse, you are right. It is a special place. It was my first time and my eyes couldn't take it all in. On the way back we rode our bikes out the old 7 mile bridge to the little Island in the middle and then stopped at Sports World run by bass pro. Had a nice relaxing lunch on the second floor porch and watched the charter and flats boats come in. Also got some good stuff there. Fishing down there is totally different than what we are use to, but not that hard to learn. Need a flats boat and a offshore boat there to be perfect.
 

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Ray, That was a great post. Brought me back to the Keys for sure. Glad you had a great time!!
 

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ray you hit it on the head. truely a wonderful place. i have been going down to marathon or duck key for 5 years. this year may 14-24. tarpon are just unbelivable that time of year. i finally convinced my wife to move down there and 1 day will be spent looking at homes in the homestead area. looking to move within 12 months. glad you enjoyed it.
 

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Dan Welcome to the board & I welcome your enthusiam. Good luck with your search. Ron
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Dan Mack I would act quick. My buddy was looking for places to rent or buy and the prices are really jumping. They are super restrictive on any more new construction. We looked at a water front one year old home and the week after we looked at it they raised it another 100,000.00
We thought it would go up atleast 200,000.00 to 400,000.00 in the next few years based on all the prices of the houses around it.

Good luck. Flood insurance is high. For the house mentioned above the flood insurance was over 8,000.00 a year and add on regular insurance and it is alot.
 

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Ray,

WOW, thanks for the great report! really warms me up thinking about it. Snorkeled down at Key West on the South side of the island and at the national marine park... next time fishing for sure.
 

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ray, it sounds like you had a great trip. i've gone for tarpon in a spot that sounds just like the place you described. we had the same kind of luck...hook ups, jumps, and then slack line.

it sounds like the place you were snorkeling was looe key. that place is fantastic. i did four dives in key largo about a week ago, and had terrific conditions. lots of BIG grouper and snapper, one small jewfish, and tons of other stuff. i also went to nevis in the west indies, but the diving there was not as great. i did go out fishing for a few hours, and we got some small barracuda and albacore. at one point we came across a school of albies jumping all over the place. beautiful site. that warm weather is hard to leave.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Doyle Looe key reef was the spot. They say it is one of the clearest water spots in the keys because there isn't much sand that can get stirred up. The snorkeling is the next best thing to fishing.
 
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