By: Capt. Bruce Andersen
Winter is here, the New Year has come, and it’s the perfect time of year to head offshore and get in on some live bait sportfishing in the Florida Keys. Whether you’re dangling them from kites, slow trolling them on the surface behind the boat, or drifting alongside a wreck with your lines on the bottom, having a well full of frisky live bait is the ticket to success this time of year.
On my charter boat, the Captain Easy, we will usually start each day catching bait. Whether we are cast netting pilchards on the edge of a flat, catching cigar minnows with a sabiki rig on a grass patch, or cast netting ballyhoo on a patch reef we always put in the time to catch fresh live bait when heading offshore.
In addition to the bait we catch each morning, I’ll also often bring baits like goggle eyes that have been caught ahead of time and kept in a bait pen at the dock. The goggle eyes usually must be caught at night. They live really well in a cage or a bait pen at the dock, so we’ll usually head out every couple of weeks and load up with a couple of hundred goggle eyes to store and use on our day trips.
Catching goggle eyes at night can be hard work, but it’s also a lot of fun. In the past I’ve usually gone out with just the crew or family on the boat just for the purpose of catching these bait fish. It’s a unique experience. Heading out at the end of the day and seeing one of the nicest Florida Keys sunsets you’ll ever witness usually with Alligator Reef Lighthouse in the foreground. Once darkness falls and the bait is located, it can be nonstop action. We’ll usually use large Sabiki rigs made specifically for goggle eyes and It’s not unusual to catch five at a time. We try to handle the bait very carefully and not touch them, de-hook them right into the live well so that they don’t bruise and stay extra lively for our fishing charters.
It has often occurred to me that fishing for goggle eyes in the evening is such a cool and unique experience that more of the customers should really get to see what it’s all about. If you’re looking to get out and see for yourself, give me a call and maybe you can join me next time!
You can reach Captain Bruce Andersen at Capt. Easy Charters,
MM 85, call 305.360.2120 or email at: email@example.com