From the monthly archives:

December 2009

December 18 – Marquesas Keys, FL. (Pt. 3)

by Capitol Area Fishing on December 18, 2009

Dave with Sam

Dave with Sam

November 20

Day 3 of our trip to the Marquesas: Up at 6:45 to watch the sunrise. We washed down the deck, and made a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, coffee and toast. John took dog Sam ashore for a bathroom break. Sam fishes too and keeps an eagle dog eye out for tarpon. Charlie threw a line from the boat and jumped a tarpon. Dave caught a nice mangrove snapper… and we lost another lure. Damn braid line is not working! But, every day is a good one when you’re fishing! Pulled anchor and headed due north of the Marquesas to night anchorage at Boca Grande. The engine is off and we sailed!

November 21

Vic Barothy

Vic Barothy

Another beautiful morning. It rained last night, which was a good wash-down for the boat. Took a walk ashore to give Sammy some shore legs. Lots of drift wood and fine sand, and I went for a swim. Three days into our trip we were getting kind of funky so I took a freshwater shower & had a shave.

We pulled anchor at 10:15 and headed out to Hawks Channel. Charlie trolling a feather bait. Depth about 15-20 ft. so we turned toward deeper water for bigger fish. Ballast Key was on the port side, water color started changing from the turquoise of shallow waters to the deep blue of the Gulfstream. It was a good swell and we saw a sailfish off the starboard bow. It was a beautiful fish to watch but not one we could go for since we were doing strictly light tackle. But, the site of that sailfish – wow. It was something else.

In the early afternoon we turned ENE back toward Key West. Slowed down to troll for mackerel off the Key West marina. Birds were everywhere. Guess they know their meal tickets in the boats that head back to shore. The fishing was great on this trip but it was also a catalyst for reuniting with old friends and meeting new ones.

Dave, John and Charles

Dave, John and Charles

John

John Duke

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Dec. 6 – Marquesas Keys, FL (Pt. 2)

by Capitol Area Fishing on December 6, 2009

Daybreak off the Marquesas

Daybreak off the Marquesas

Got up at 6:45 and saw the sun rise. Charlie caught another yellowtail and a small red grouper. We pulled anchor and heading 270 degrees toward the Marquesas with clear skies and winds 10-15. Mackerel off the bow so we put out lines.

A few interesting facts: the Marquesas are a coral atoll, and the Attocha was found 9 miles WSW of the Marquesas called the Sands.

Reached the Marquesas mid-morning and went in by skiff. Had two lines out and lost several lures. I was using braid and braid does not like a fisherman knot! Saw several bonefish, and and had quite a few barricuda hookups. Late afternoon we moved over to an entrance channel and I caught a Jack while trolling on the way in.

Jumped two tarpons casting. One was about 30 lbs. and it threw the hook after 4 good jumps. I cast out again and hooked a smaller one, maybe 15-20 lbs. That one also threw the hook after about 3 jumps. What a rush! John caught a nice mangrove snapper, Charlie caight a bluefish off the stern – and we had instant dinner! Heading out again at first light to try again for tarpon.

Charles with Red Grouper

Charles with Red Grouper

The Bonefish Flats

The Bonefish Flats

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December 1 – Marquesas Keys, Fl (Pt. 1)

by Capitol Area Fishing on December 1, 2009

Dreamcatcher from Key West

Dreamcatcher of Key West

Located about 30 miles west of Key West, the Marquesas Keys are a group of mangrove islands and flats that make up part of the Key West National Wildlife Refuge. Up until about 1980 the area was used as a bombing range by the USN (and an occasional wreck or underwater shell can still be found). Except for one privately owned island called Ballast Key, the area is uninhabited – and teeming with fish.  It is truly one of the untouched jewels of the Florida Keys and a saltwater fisherman’s paradise.

Ballast Key

Ballast Key

I spent 3 days motoring and sailing the Marquesas in mid-November with my old friends from Ransom Everglades School in Coconut Grove, Florida: Capt. John Duke and travel writer Charles Greenfield. John’s friend and cohort from the Keys, Capt. Dave Dlugitch came along too. Capt. Dave had a fishing kayak business for years in the lower Keys and is an excellent guide and fisherman in his own right. We traveled in John’s magnificent 70+ ft. steel-hulled schooner (with a retractable centerboard for easy access to shallow water) named the Dreamcatcher.

The first day out I caught a barracuda with a bonefish jig while standing on the rocks off  Ballast Key. Unlike my old days in Belize, the barracuda in these waters can’t be eaten because of ciguatera disease, but it was still a thrill to land. He took out a good 20 yards on my ultralite, and I knew I wasn’t in Maryland anymore!

Vic on Ballast Key

Vic on Ballast Key

That night we were doing some bait fishing with pinfish off the back of the boat, and Charles pulled in 10 yellowtail snapper. We kept 4 of them for a fine fried fish meal with Cuban rice & beans. Slept like a log that night with the quiet rocking of the Dreamcatcher.

Charles Greenfield and Dinner

Charles Greenfield and Dinner

Day two of the trip to follow shortly….

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