Backcountry Fishing

by Greg Poland

The winter season is upon us here in the Keys & I try to send a text to some of my good friends who are shoveling show and remind them what winter looks like & how great the fishing is here in Islamorada this time of year. In the backcountry we have been finding a steady bite of Snook and Redfish over in the Flamingo. Heading out to the western side of the park there are plenty of Sea Trout and some nice sized Mangrove Snapper along with Triple Tail floating on the surface.

The Gulf of Mexico is where I will be spending a lot of my time this winter, I love it out there and there are so many opportunities from the wrecks to the mackerel fleet. So far the Spanish mackerel bite has been fantastic and they are a bit larger than last season, honestly this is a great time to be out on the water if you want to bend a rod. When I head out to fish the Macks I take 2 boxes of frozen chum and a well full of live bait, if you can find the pilchards load the well but if you don’t like to throw the net buy as many live shrimp as you can afford & let the games begin. I like to go a bit further then most guys and my 25Ft Contender will allow me to make the run out past most of the guys in the flats skiffs, from Islamorada take a path out past Sprigger Bank then keep running till you see a group of boats. When you see the fleet its best to go to the end of the line (nobody likes it when you anchor down current of their chum slick) set your anchor to be in the general group and start heavy chumming, I like to put a bag on both sides of the boat and start throwing pilchards or live shrimp. If you do this it will not take long for the fish to find you and if using a light spinning rod with a trace of wire and a jighead or circle hook you will have bent rods and smiling faces in no time.

After you have caught a few try throwing a Hogy soft bait back through the chum line you will find the larger bait will get strikes from larger fish, we regularly catch Cobia to Kingfish on this rig so I always have one rigged in the rod holder ready to cast. I just got a new Contender 25 bay boat with all the options so if you are looking to get out on the water lets go catch a fish together.

Capt. Greg Poland
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