SEPTEMBER KEYS AND SW FLORIDA

By: Captain Terry Fisher

This year has been no different than past recent summers in regards to enjoying the waters of both Marathon in the Keys and SW Florida. The last three years have been fun and productive the months of June thru September. Last June, 1st Mate Vicki, 2nd Mate Moby ‘Dick’ and I spent a month in Marathon. Only a couple of windy days (and the need to rest) prevented the three of us, family, and a few friends, from catching fish every day of the trip. Every summer I frequently run across my fishing ‘counterpart’, Captain Jay Rodriguez, from Cape Coral (saltynativecharters.com), during the month. During the summer months, Jay runs his boat out of Marathon as well. Like myself, Jay is frequently a ‘Captain for Hire’ on a client’s boat teaching them where to go and how to catch fish, making their fishing trips more fun and productive while enjoying and learning on their own vessel.

I must say, it is interesting the people and things I see and come across when staying in the ‘Keys’. I continually schedule my trips base on weather (winds) and when other clients and friends are able and likely to join in on the action. It adds a totally different and enjoyable element when fishing is a way of life or a big part of their pastime. To see other fishing guides and clients in a different element and fishing environment is very rewarding. Jay and I have been doing this with friends and clients for years now and look forward to each opportunity to leave our home base in Cape Coral and change things up a bit. However, Jay is more committed to the Keys during the summer months than I. Afterall, He was raised there and subsequently stationed with the US Coast Guard in Key West. He has a lot of contacts and knowledge to share with residents and visitors when it comes to fishing and catching. He feels obligated to be available to accommodate charter requests for clients and friends throughout the summer months.

However, I prefer to spend most of my time in SW Florida waters as most of my clients and friends live here. None the less, I do encourage ‘mini’ trips to the east coast to change things up from time to time and enjoy a different style of fishing, more specifically ‘trolling’ for mahi mahi, sailfish, wahoo and tuna. Even though it’s hard to beat reef fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, the deeper reef waters are much closer to shore on the east coast than here and provides a lot of opportunity to ‘mix-it-up’ on a one- day charter excursion when fishing those waters.

Captain Rodriquez and I frequently share locations, catches and experiences for both coasts. During one of his recent trips out of Marathon he came across an abandon ‘drift’ boat (pictured here) that was apparently used by migrants to come from Cuba or another tropical island, with intentions of landing in America.  These kind of finds in the open ocean (as well as driftwood, etc.) are magnets for fish. On this particular charter the group boated over 20 nice size mahi-mahi.

Even though fishing for dolphin, wahoo, sailfish and tuna is much better in the Atlantic Ocean, in my opinion, SW Florida offers the best when it comes to inshore species, such as redfish, snook, seatrouts, mangrove snappers, etc. Winds do not play such an important role and these species are plentiful year-around. Snook, redfish, seatrout and mangrove snappers are plentiful and biting. Pictured are some of the catches from Dick Sharrer’s grandson’s, Josh and Luke from Pennsylvania, catching snook off the point of N. Captiva Island during an incoming tide. A couple of days later, Josh and Luke caught a large 125lb. tarpon while fishing late evening off of Bowman’s Beach on Sanibel. Not to be outdone, my granddaughter, Taylor Mason from St. Louis caught a nice redfish in the back country while vacationing here.

Her stepfather, Brent Walker caught his share of snook and other species during that same week. Brent is an avid fisherman from Missouri. He knows the tributaries and streams like the ‘back of his hand’. He is now interested in ‘ocean-going’ fish, and I suspect will become more active over the next few years.

I look for inshore fishing to become even better this month and throughout October. redfish harvests are now open and with the waters cooling the bite should pick up. Offshore, the reefs have been productive. Lane snapper, grouper have been active and I believe September will produce even better results without having to go 40 plus miles to catch fish, as the water temperatures cool.

This is Captain Terry Fisher with Fish Face Charters, LLC. I am available as ‘Captain for Hire’ on your vessel (by the hour) for navigation, safety, fishing locations and techniques both inshore or offshore in SW Florida or the Keys.  Check out my website at www.fishfacecharters.com. Call me direct at 239-357-6829 or email me at fishfacecharters@yahoo.com with any questions or to book a charter on my vessel or yours.

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