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Archived Fishing Reports

January 20, 2012 Fishing Report

"Old Man Winter" Brings Red Hot Fishing Action to Key West

Straight from the docks of Hurricane Hole Marina, Key West...the elite Key West Pro Guides team reports outstanding fishing from the flats to offshore!

Here is how the action breaks down on January 20, 2012

With images of Hemingway, battling giant Blue Marlin in the Gulf Stream now is the time to head offshore from Key West. With recent cold fronts dropping the air temperatures into the seventies and more importantly the water temperatures into the high sixties the migratory pelagic species have arrived in massive numbers, aggressively prowling the near shore flow of the Gulf Stream providing the light tackle offshore angler with true world class action. Explosive strikes with long, line stealing runs followed by battles lasting for hours on end await the adventuress a mere 10 miles off the mainland. Captain Tyson states it is a perfect time to experience Sailfish "tail walking" across the surface waters! Locating the massive schools of Ballyhoo is the key. From the antics of schoolie Dolphin to the speed demons of the deep, Wahoo, Kingfish and Black Fin Tuna are all ready to go head to head with you. Captain Chuck reports Black Fin Tuna ranging from 15 to 25 pounds are plentiful. Wahoo are everywhere and feeding aggressively. Yesterday alone in excess of a dozen large Wahoo hit our fish boxes ranging to 44 pounds with one exceptional fish tipping the scales at 53 pounds! Kingfish are falling in the mid 20 to higher 30-pound ballpark. Huge schools of Bonito are patrolling the offshore as well. Conditions indicate this is only the early stages of what promises to be an outstanding offshore bite for the next few weeks and months. From novice to seasoned pro, now is the time to wage war offshore. Book your offshore charter today!

The Deep Wrecks of the Atlantic:
Key West Pro Guides offers the Wreck Angler a unique opportunity! As one of the very few private charter fishing operations in Key West possessing Federal Waters Charter Fishing Permits, Key West Pro Guides guests experience fishing the most remote and isolated fishing grounds anywhere on the planet. These distant locations are known only to the few. Vast areas with 200 plus known wreck sites scattered between the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Straits are home to huge populations of quality species which some have never seen a hook. Anglers are limiting out every time off the dock by deep dropping whole live Ballyhoo and small Runners or easily mastered jigging spoons targeting the massive Amberjacks. Captain Ryon reports Mutton Snapper to 20 pounds and quality Black & Gag Groupers to about 30 pounds are common just now. Schooling Bonito and giant Barracuda to 6' in length are daily visitors to the deep-water wreck sites while Lemon and the super aggressive large Bull Sharks are so numerous they are becoming overwhelming at times. Most recently the Key West Pro Guides Offshore guides have been dealing with a stronger than normal current, about two knots. This is a strong current flow and only the most experienced guides can remain productive day after day…no problem for the KWPG pro's. The next few months offer the rare opportunity to target several quality species on the deep wreck sites of Key West, reserve your charter of a lifetime today!

On the Reef & Gulf Wrecks:
Fishing the endless miles of natural reef near Key West is Nirvana to many knowledgeable anglers during our winter months, and for good reason. Abundant YellowTails beckon, promising "Flags" to 5 pounds as appetizing table fare. However, the distant Gulf wrecks often times offer the best fishing offshore for our winter months. Key West Pro Guides offers the Wreck Angler a unique opportunity! As one of the very few private charter fishing operations in Key West possessing Federal Waters Charter Fishing Permits, Key West Pro Guides guests experience fishing the most remote and isolated fishing grounds anywhere on the planet, those located in Federal Waters of the Gulf. Without these Federal permits "other guides" must remain closer inshore fishing well known and highly pressured "spots" of maps and charts. Guides without permits and locals alike pound these locations daily. Why not target prized Black & Gag Grouper ranging to 30 pounds and Mutton Snapper to 20 pounds all promising to be worthy adversaries for light tackle. Super aggressive Bull Sharks to 10 feet in length patrol the reef and wrecks while Cobia to 50 pounds tag along on their backs. Our Captain Brad laughingly reports "hooking the Cobia is easy…it’s the 300 pound 10’ long Bull Sharks with nothing but dinner on their minds that’s a bit more difficult to handle". Our mild weather and typically calm seas will bring the thrill of reef fishing to the hard-core angler or lend itself well to the family outing as the perfect choice. Captain Zach says, "a perfect species to target if you are looking for fast paced and steady action now and for the next few weeks would be the Mangrove Snapper". More commonly known as the "Gray" Snapper, these structure relating fish ranging to about 5 lbs. Heading to these amazing areas with a live well full of fresh live Pilchards is a can’t miss proposition. Advance reservations are required to fish the most prolific natural reef in North America or the most remote shipwreck sites in the Federal Waters of the Gulf with the Captains of Key West Pro Guides.

Patch Reef's:
In the local waters off Key West, there are several smaller areas of bottom structure known as "patch reefs". Because these much-defined bodies are so isolated and remote fish related to them like magnets! As the only real cover for miles in every direction several species of fish co-mingle, becoming very aggressive and competitive for forage.

On these solitary outposts, the fishing can be tremendous at times. The surface action recently has been beyond belief with the elusive Permit reports Captain John J. These sought after sport fish are renowned for their strength & tenacity especially on light tackle and fly gear. Mangrove Snapper to 5 pounds and Grouper are extremely aggressive bottom dwellers. Black Grouper and Gags over 20 pounds are routine. Red Grouper have been abundant averaging 15 to 18 pounds. Both Spanish and Cero Mackerel have taken up residence in numbers with a median weight near 20 pounds! "Wolf Packs" of 3 to 10 marauding Cobia to 30 pounds are common in the Atlantic now. When the patch reefs are holding the population of fish as they do during the winter months here, you cannot get bait to the bottom! If you're ready to experience the most intense action imaginable, reserve your charter today with Key West Pro Guides and tell them..."I want to fish the patch reefs!"

In the Gulf:
The Gulf of Mexico adjacent to Key West and the lower keys offers the finest shallow water wreck fishing anywhere! From ancient shipwrecks to WWII vessels, the smooth bottom of the Gulf is strewn with fish attracting relics of days gone by. A comfortable boat ride across calm Gulf waters brings our anglers in touch with several resident species throughout the year. The Snapper and Grouper bite is always dependable. Most recently, Captain Jason reports Mangrove Snapper to 4 & 5 pounds have been inexhaustible. Larger Gag Grouper are likewise plentiful. Huge schools of ferocious Jack Crevalles police the surface while volatile Permit control the mid level depths. These outlying structures also provide for the behemoth Goliath Grouper. Heavy weight combatants, Goliath Groupers weighing in the hundreds of pounds destroy tackle and render anglers to submission every trip to the Gulf wrecks. Super aggressive Bull Sharks are always present challenging the angler with "winner takes all" battles.

On the outer edges of our accessible Gulf fishing grounds stand the fabled "Gulf Towers". These five man-made monument like structures lure only the most extreme and hard-core anglers. Key West Pro Guides, one of only a few private charter-fishing operations in Key West that possess Federal Waters Charter Fishing Permits can take you there! Well beyond the reach of any weekend enthusiasts, the Gulf Towers receive little or no fishing pressure allowing for massive populations of quality fish. Enormous schools of Permit have always related to the Gulf Towers along with the largest of Cobia, those rare specimens exceeding 50 pounds. Pelagic species from Bonito to the apex predator in our sub-tropical waters, the awe inspiring Hammerhead Shark are all there, waiting, ready for face to face warfare...

Impressions from our Gulf Tower charters by anglers: Unbelievable, Never in my life… Backbreaking, Exhausted, Relentless, like Tug O War, Mercy and most commonly "Uncle" ...are you ready? Call or contact Key West Pro Guides for a fishing adventure remembered for a lifetime!

Back Country:
The Key West backcountry waters are typically thought of as being crystal clear and pristine, shallow, calm and protected, home to an immense population of marine life and sea birds. As is the nearby Great White Heron Bird Refuge, a National Marine Sanctuary with its beautiful flora and fauna in constant bloom creating a serene environment almost spiritual to many who enter. All absolutely accurate, however to the light tackle angler and fly fisher this is also a place of unequalled competition between predator and prey! These shallow basins and grassy-bottomed bays form into amazing lagoons with remote Mangrove Islands protecting the hidden passages to fishing grounds like none other. Colossal numbers of fish roam the shadows of the shorelines such as the Redfish and Snook reported by Captain Johnny, along with plentiful juvenile Tarpon and Barracuda. Slot-sized (keeper) Redfish most recently have been on the warpath. While targeting Pompano yesterday Captain Paul reports boating eleven quality Redfish and seeing several very large Snook all well beyond the legal keeper size. In the open basins schooling species, Speckled Sea Trout, Pompano, Jacks and Lady Fish provide non-stop action on live baits, perfect for the more novice anglers. Limits of nice size Pompano are routine when fishing with our Captain Dave. Permit affords the serious angler that "once in a life time" experience of multiple fish days now through March. Permit ranging from 14 to 20 pounds are cruising the channel edges enjoying our slightly cooler water temperatures, perfect for that well presented fly or live crab. When found positioned in the deeper "holes" near the flats, schools of Permit to 40 pound trophies are possible. Mangrove Snappers to 4 pounds are everywhere while several shark species search the shallows to feed. Black Tip, Spinner and Lemon sharks are very common with Bull Sharks making regular appearances'. Backcountry fishing by nature is very non-technical. The spinning equipped typically used is most "user friendly" so easily mastered. This is a can't miss fishing trip for everyone! Book your Backcountry Charter today with any one of the islands best shallow water captains at Key West Pro Guides.

On the Flats:
Never has any form of fishing captured the imagination of so many anglers. True flats fishing has often been described as consisting of ½ fishing and ½ hunting. While on the fabled Key West flats it is about the art of guide and angler working in concert first locating elusive fish in mere inches of water, then positioning themselves for a perfectly delivered presentation of live bait, jig combination or fly, culminating in the take by Bonefish, Permit, or Tarpon. The sheer exhilaration of hooking any of these sport fish is palpable as they race away across the flats at break-neck speeds. Although some angling skills are beneficial certainly, they are not necessary to enjoy success on the flats.

The winter months are a superb time frame for interested anglers to pursue Bonefish to 12 pounds, Permit to 20 pounds and juvenile Tarpon on the flats. Recently we are enjoying giant Barracuda warming themselves over darker patches of the bottom while seeing Cobia following the foraging Rays over the white sand and marl bottoms. Sharks constantly cruise the flats including the rare Hammerheads. During a very short window of time, Mutton Snappers appear on our flats, which happen typically very soon. Captain Mike reports being on large schools of Bonefish to 11 pounds recently while fishing the Gulf side of the island back towards the north and east. This is a typical location every year for some of the largest Bonefish taken in the keys and around Key West. Our Captain Pete says Bonefish can swim at 30 miles per hour and faster when spooked or hooked. Until you have experienced the thrill of a large hooked Bonefish, screaming away from you well…you should not call yourself a shallow water flats angler.

Fishing the flats is something most anglers may only dream of. Sight casting to treasured sport fish in the tropics is the type of adventure we cherish. Our flats alone are reason enough to travel to our island home at the end of the road, Key West! Never settle for less…fish with the best, Key West Pro Guides.

To reserve your charter with TailChaser Charters & the elite Key West Pro Guides team call us toll free at 877.290.4413 or after hours dial 305 509 4140. We staff our Reservations and Information desk from 7 AM to 11 PM daily weekends and holidays included. We reply to on- line inquiries immediately 24/7 at or We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Tight lines,

Captain Paul
Captain Roc

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