Florida Keys State Parks

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The Florida State park fishing tour came to an end with our trip to the keys on Thanksgiving week. The wind was not cooperative, as it blew 25-35 mph every day all day through the week.

We did have an enjoyable time staying in Islamorada and Key West. The parks we visited were John Pennekamp, Curry Hammock, Long Key, Bahia Honda, and Fort Zachary. All had plenty of area to fish, and I recommend all of them whether you like to wade or Kayak.

John Pennekamp is in Key Largo, and we decided to take out a Kayak even with the 25 plus mph wind. They have a mangrove trail so it was very manageable, as long as we stayed in the trail and did not venture into the gulf. The Barracuda were biting and I caught the largest one of the trip that was nearly 23 inches. I caught 3 and had a few others that either broke my line or jumped off. I did mange to catch a small Jack as well.

john Pennekamp1

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I quickly noticed that in all parks in the Keys, that the redfish, trout, and snook were going to be hard to find, especially with the aggressive barracuda. After talking to a guide, most of the traditional in-shore fish I am accustomed to, were not going to be found. I would have to settle for what was biting on artificial lures, which was the rule I set for myself before starting the tour.

The next park was Curry Hammock in between Marathon and Islamorada.

The action here was by far the best. It has a cut and a grass flat to fish. I started in the cut, and starting slamming Jacks and the more slender fish pictured here.

 

Curry Hammock fish

They were easy to trick with the Yozuri L Minnow, which as you know by now is my lure of choice. I also caught several Barracuda, including this nice one.

The third park we attended was Long Key. Tide was low, so I had to wade out several hundred yards into the grass flat. I watched a shark swim right in front of me, which showed no interest which made me happy. I caught a Jack and a Cuda, and had several other bites and a few that jumped off. I was hoping to catch a bonefish and tried a jig for awhile, but to no avail.

As we made our way to Key West, we visited Bahia Honda. This is a very cool place to visit, as it has an incredible view of the old railroad/car bridge that is still standing. Sharon painted the old bridge, and it turned out beautiful. Be sure to visit her blog at flascenics.wordpress.com

The jacks were biting at the cut that goes into the park. I caught one after another, for a total of 8 before I moved to a different location to fish. I wanted to fish a small bridge with a cut from the gulf near the east side. However, the cut had no parking area, and I had to park about a quarter mile away. I waded and walked through the surf, and finally made it to the cut. It was a super low tide and there was basically no water to fish when I arrived……. Bad timing…. but I did manage to catch this little mangrove snapper under the bridge that ahd about a foot and half of water under it!

 

The last park we attended was Fort Zachary. Sharon and I took pictures of the fort and I highly suggest walking the inside of the fort for some history lessons. I talked to an FWC officer that was on hand at the park, and he gave me a tip to try a larger size minnow/jerk bait lure as Amber Jacks ran along the rocky seawall. After about 3 casts, I hooked one that pulled so hard I could not stop it! It pulled me through the rocks, and as luck would have it, my line broke. That would have been a nice one…… I had another Amber Jack on later, and it pulled straight out of the rocks and out of danger. However, my hooks failed and he just pulled off during the fight. Here is a look at the area I fished close to port for the cruise ships. Check out Iggy enjoying the rocks!

Stay tuned, as I will evaluate the year with total catches broken down by type of fish, and a synopsis of the year, in my next blog. I think it will change your mind about fishing in the Florida State Parks. What a year!

 

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