By: Capt. Joel Brandenburg
It was a great 2023. The charter business was good, the fish cooperated, and we dodged a few hurricanes yet another year. Tourism seemed to be a little slower than the past Covid years. Hotels, restaurants, and vacation rental owners all seemed to indicate business in the Florida Keys was a little slower in 2023 than the past few years. I attribute this tourism slow down to a few different factors:
During the Covid years families who would typically travel to the Bahama’s or South or Central America or even Europe and Asia to visit sand, sun and crystal clear water didn’t want to get stuck outside of the US for days or weeks waiting for a Covid quarantine to finalize if someone in the group caught Covid while on vacation. Rather than risk being stuck in a 3rd world country away from work and family they chose to vacation as far south as possible in the USA, still enjoying the sand, sun, and crystal-clear water by vacationing in the beautiful Florida Keys. So we got many new visitors who’d never experienced the Florida Keys before. Now that we are practically past Covid, and the travel restrictions and quarantines have been lifted, many people are traveling outside of the US again for their holiday vacations.
I think other factors have been a poor economy, and all the wars going on in the world. A poor economy and war make people save their money and travel less. Unfortunately, all of these factors still exist as we enter into 2024, but hopefully they’ll get better instead of worse. On a more positive note, most of those people during the Covid years who traveled to the Florida Keys for the first time, got a taste of our paradise, and will return and become repeat clients and bring others down here with them. I think the most fortunate thing about living and working in the Florida Keys is that there’s no place like it in the world. Our islands and waters are so unique. We have so many cool places to explore, and so many hidden treasures to be found. Not to mention we’re in the epicenter of the fishing and diving capital of the world. The Florida Keys also has the best group of captains in the world. I tip my cap to my fellow captains. We have Captains in the Florida Keys that are so good at catching mutton snapper for example. We have others that have kite fishing for billfish and other pelagic fish down to a science. Some are deep drop magicians and land swordfish weekly. There are other captains who have perfected the art of free diving to spearfish for Wahoo. Our local commercial Captains, who make the Florida Keys, the spiny lobster and stone crab capital of the world are some of the hardest working Captains around. The commercial Captains Who bring in thousands of pounds of Yellowtail and kingfish each year amaze me as well. Each of these captains have their own specialties, but one thing us Florida Keys captains all seem to have in common is respect for each other, and the environment that we thrive in. Some may laugh when they read that I mentioned about captains having respect for each other, because those who know, know that captains are like feral cats and that sport fishing and commercial fishing is an individual sport, not a team sport and yes we still have the “bloods and the crips”(Captain clans), but if another captain is in danger or in serious need we all come running to help down here. Here’s my New Year’s fishing resolutions:
Use heavier pound test line in murky or less clear water than usual.
Use heavier lead and longer leader while drift fishing for mutton snapper.
Use braided line rather than mono for grouper trolling.
Get better at catching Goggle eyes at night
Get better at keeping bait alive at the dock
Start kite fishing with multiple kites rather than just one
Improve on deep dropping, amber jack fishing and African Pompano fishing and swordfishing.
Rig my own deep drop rigs rather than spending a fortune on inferior rigs.
Perfect the art of trolling with planners.
Catch more wahoo on Bonita and other live baits rather than high speed trolling for them most of the time.
A fishing captain can spend his or her entire life fishing every day in the Florida Keys and still not learn half of everything there is to know. All you can do is try to improve each day and remember that no matter how much experience you have there’s always room for improvement and you never stop learning and trying new things. One thing I love about what I do is that every day is different.
Team Ana Banana Fishing Charters want to wish all of our friends, family, clients and supporters a happy and healthy new year!!
— For a charter with Captain Joel or Jojo Brandenburg of Ana Banana Fishing Company in Marathon Florida Keys call cell 813-267-4401 or office 305-395-4212 or visit www.marathonkeyfishingcharters.com or visit us in person at Ana Banana Marina located at 11699 Overseas Hwy Marathon Florida Keys. Look for the big yellow Ana Banana sign with antlers around it.