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Inshore Fish!ing Report
Flats Wade Fishing with Fly and Spin
Jun. 8-9, 2006
by: Jim Sawyer
Since starting fly fishing about a year ago most of my fishing has been along the beaches of Broward and Palm Beach Counties. While there is still plenty to learn there I want to expand my horizons a little this year. I also like to include my wife when I can and Bobbie was willing to try wading the flats with spinning gear. We had some time off during June so we decided to do an overnight run to the Keys to give it a try.
The major source of information for this trip was a Florida Sportsman Forum message on Shore Fishing for Bones and a few other articles I found online.
Our first stop was at Anne's Beach at MM 73.5 oceanside. We had not expected to fish there, but we were running a little early so we had an hour from 8-9AM to look around. It was a falling tide with the wind ESE about 5mph. We started at the west entrance to the beach and worked down to the inlet. The water was clean and clear. Small baitfish and crabs were easy to see on the bottom and dolphin were rolling in the channel. The dolphin may have been part of the problem, because there was no sign of bonefish during our stop. The bottom was firm and this was a great place to start. Anne's Beach is very popular with both swimmers and fishermen in Islamorada.
We then went into tourist mode for awhile. We did some shopping, including the World Wide Sportsman , a "Famous Fish Sandwich" at Craig's Restaurant at MM 90.5 in Tavernier and a quick stop at Robbie's to feed the tarpon. At 2:00 PM we checked into our room at the Edgewater Lodge at MM 65.5.
Our second fishing stop for the day was Long Key State Park. We arrived in the park at 4:00 PM. It was an early rising tide and wind had picked up to about 10mph and moved around to the South. The West end of the park road closest to the inlet was restricted to registered campers only. I assume I could have waded on down, but the soft bottom made for slow going. The breeze also made visibility very poor.
At 5:00 we left to try another flat just north of the Park at MM 69.9 bayside. There is an open stretch with a sea wall and room to park. Once you slip over the wall there is a mangrove shoreline extending both east and west. The bottom here was hard and we were sheltered from the wind. I would have liked to spend more time there, but we had to leave at 5:30 to clean up for dinner.
Friday morning started with breakfast at the Stuffed Pig at MM 49 in Marathon. From there we headed south across the Seven Mile Bridge to our first fishing stop, Veterans Memorial Park at MM 40. We had an incoming tide with a light wind from the South and fished from 6:30 to 8:00 AM. The bottom was firm, although it got softer in some areas of grass farther out. The water was clean and clear. There were signs of active fish in the area, including a patch of nervous water that could have been bones. This was the best combination of time, tide and conditions we had during the two days and was really enjoyable fishing.
At 8:00 AM we moved on to Bahia Honda State Park. From the Park entrance you can go west to Logger Head Beach, north to the Bay Side Camping area or back east to Sandspur Beach. The wind had picked up to 10-15mph from the South and Logger Head Beach was too rough and dirty to do much fishing. The Bay Side area was restricted to registered campers and there did not seem to be much access to the bayside flats unless you were camping there. Sandspur Beach was a little better. This was an open sandy beach with a good firm bottom. The wind had made the water choppy and there was a lot of floating grass debris in the water. We tried a couple spots on the high tide until we had to leave at 10:00 AM to checkout from our room. After that it was a leisurely drive back up the keys with a light lunch and a little more shopping.
No fish were caught, hooked, or even truly sighted. We did have a relaxing two days in the Keys and each of us got to do a little of what we liked best. I did all my fishing using an 8wt TFO Pro with a Rio Quick Shooter WF8-F on my Tibor Back Country Wide. Flies were commercially tied Borski patterns. Bobbie was using 10lb spinning with skimmer jigs. Now that we are familiar with the areas I hope to plan some more intensive fishing on later trips. Most sources agree that it is possible, but not easy, to catch bonefish wading from shore. If you give it a try, drop us a line and let us know how you did.
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