From Maryland to Florida
Unfortunately for me this journey began with a plane ride. I don't like planes, needless to say I had an uneasy 2-3 hour ride. The forecast in Florida was not looking good for basically the entire length of my stay, which was disappointing. Hopes were still high as the weather fluctuates so much in Florida. I arrived at the MCO airport and the adventure began.
Staying at a campsite in Big Pine Key each day I awoke with the sunrise and the Tarpon rolling. An entire school of tarpon directly in front of my camp. I ventured out, waist deep casting xraps, and similar jerk baits. I hooked up on multiple occasions, drag pulling , tarpon jumping. Every time the hook getting bent, or spat. I repeated this day after day constantly switching tactics. Trying live bait and artificial.
One morning I walked further down the shoreline. There was no beach, just giant rocks with many crevasses. Stumbling across the slippery rocks I was able to find stable ground and began casting. The seaweed was heavily throughout the entire shoreline. I was throwing a popper. I casted right next to a thick patch of seaweed. One pull of my lure and something exploded on it. First thought was that it was a small tarpon, I had light tackle and the fish was jumping. I was able to land it. A fierce Barracuda. Happy with the catch. I was targeting this species for fresh bait for shark fishing later that night.
Bridge Part One
Fishing is always on our minds. So while riding over one of the many bridges to our campsite in the keys we decided to stop for a quick spin. Mid day, throwing poppers, homemade cuda tubes, and DOA shrimp. The water resolution was great and it was insane to see massive tarpon hanging around the bridges. There were hundreds. They chased the lures but never committed to a bite. We weren't prepared as this was spontaneous. But we were certainly thrilled and knew we needed to get the operate gear. On our way out a friendly fisherman had hooked into a nurse shark. The shark was about 5ft, he had to cut his line, as he was targeting smaller fish.
Bridge Part Two
We located a local bait shop and got all equipment necessary. Bait, hooks, weights. We found our way back to the bridge. It was dark now, and visibility was low. Still able to make out glowing red tarpon eyes. We began casting shrimp and pinfish, we got a few hits but no hook ups. Hours later after multiple encounters with rats we sight casted a big tarpon on a live pinfish. He was big and fighting hard, he made a few jumps. We had him belly up at the bridge. We didn't have a net so we had to walk him down. Unfortunately in this process the hook pulled. Devastated we fished for a while longer without anymore bites.
It is very important when targeting larger fish that you change out all hooks and split rigs. Especially hooks commonly found on xraps and similar lures. This will increase your chances of landing larger fish.
Bride Part Three
The following day we returned to the bridge. We hoped to site cast some tarpon. However a storm was rolling in. The water was extremely choppy. The sky darkened and the rain started. Many casts later we decided to switch up to smaller hooks and bait. Throwing as close to the bridge structure as possible we started getting bites and catching many small fish. The were beautiful with tropical colors each one unique. Grunts, pork fish, and many other species. We had a young 4 year old angler with us who was stoked to land these fish!
Peacock Bass in Miami
Whenever vacationing in Florida I always make a point of targeting Peacock Bass in Homestead. Not only are they a beautiful fish but they fight hard. I hit the nearby bait shop F & F first thing in the morning, getting a few dozen shiners. I knew of a few productive ponds close by. We hit one pond and it wasn't long before the bite was on. Teammate Elli hooked into a nice peacock, first bite of the day. I got a bite not long after. Another beautiful peacock. Each a decent size. The bite turned off and hours went by without any action. We called it.
Returning the next day and the bite was back on. Fighting hard, pulling drag and jumping. We both landed and released another peacock bass. I love targeting this species as they are beautiful with their coloration and also because they fight harder then large mouth bass.
Another must whenever I'm in Florida is Snook fishing. I did some wade fishing and was able to target some nice structure skipping artificials near piers, mangroves, and seawalls. A few bites and 2 snooks landed. Another fun catch. Also while wade fishing we landed some lady fish, a redfish, and had a few hits from jacks.
Not far from my campground was a small canal. Teammate Elli was able to catch some decent size Mangrove Snapper. Also Teammate Britni hooked into a massive tarpon. Unfortunately when leadering him he spit the hook. This was the first tarpon she had ever hooked and the fight was intense. Close quarters, but she was able to get him belly up by the seawall. She was smiling ear to ear.
This was one of my absolute favorite trips. A unforgettable experience shared with friends and family. Epic fishing adventures and beautiful scenery. The trip was amazing. Share the stoke and spend more time fishing!
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