Captain Ron here with the Robbie’s Marina Backcountry Fishing Report!
Most recently we have been catching large mangrove snappers around the bridges, in the channels, in the protection of the mangroves and pretty much anywhere with some structure.
The tarpon bite in the evening still remains strong, as well as in the early morning, especially with live bait.
Large barracuda have also been hanging around many of my fishing spots, and they are aggressive! We caught one today that was five feet long. These guys can run and jump just as well as any tarpon.
The snook have been biting around the cape and the Trout have been around the west side of the bay lately.
Can’t wait to get you out on the water.
The summer is upon us and the kids are out of school. Family vacations are gearing up. The Keys are packed with visitors on and off the water.
On the water, the summer months offer a multitude of species to go after. The best bet is dolphin or mahi-mahi.
Yes, dolphin season is in full swing, and it’s off to a great start. While last season was one of the worst ever in the Keys for dolphin, this summer has been the total opposite. Huge numbers of quality fish are schooling, from the edge of the blue water out to 1,000 feet. The birds are everywhere feeding, working as spotters for us.
The only negative early on has been lack of slammers. I do expect more larger fish to show up in the weeks to come.
Another bonus right now is the red hot snapper bite during the summer spawn. The Keys offer a variety of snappers. The reef produces a great yellowtail and mangrove snapper bite, while the wrecks are teeming with red snapper and big mutton snapper. You just need to decide what you want on the dinner plate. I myself prefer the deeper-water snappers; drift and slow troll for them.
It is hot out there so let’s talk about nighttime snapper fishing. I promise you it’s a blast! If you aren’t comfortable going out on you boat at night, you can always go out on the party boat and charters out of Robbie’s marina. They go nearly every night, so they stay on top of the nighttime bite.
The other big surprise is the sailfish. Plenty are being caught. We’ve had a consistent color change all summer, and have had a good number of sails migrating down the current edge feeding. All it takes is some good live baits fished along the current edges, and you stand a good chance of getting hooked up.
There also are some large tunas in the same depth (150-300 feet).
Don’t forget the summer offers lots of dolphin tournaments that all anglers can enter. Last week, I had the pleasure of fishing the Lady’s dolphin tournament with Cailin Reckwerdt, Devin Tolpin, and Payton Zuloaga . We were into fish right off the bat. I can honestly say we must have seen 2,000 fish that day. We never saw a tournament-winning fish, but caught what earned us 5th overall. Payton won the Junior Division. Cailin caught a beautiful sailfish as well. It was a gorgeous day on the water.
Nearly every weekend offers a tournament somewhere in the Keys. Maybe it can be your chance to win…but you can’t win if you don’t enter!
I know we’re all looking forward to seeing what the rest of summer brings. Hurry up and book a charter to get in on the action!
Capt. Brian Cone
By Laura Myers
Captain Samantha Zeher, 29, owns KeyZ Charters and works out of Islamorada’s popular Robbie’s Marina as its only woman charterboat operator. She’s also been the captain of her own fate — earning her license at just 18 while still a college freshman.
Zeher offers sightseeing charters that include snorkeling and sunset cruises, paddleboard, eco-tours and Everglades excursions. Among her other offerings are island trips exploring Indian Key, Lignumvitae Key and Alligator Lighthouse, each with a history dating back to the 1800s.
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Just under the surface of the waters off Islamorada awaits a hungry beast.
“You don’t use a pole or a hook for this,” explains fourth-grader Ava Stamper.
Rather, you use your hands.
“Down, down, down…” shouts father Dave Bull, from England, as he encourages his son to get close.
“Just do it,” Bull adds, as his son leaps and swears while our camera rolls.
“Don’t swear. You’re on the telly,” Bull tells his son, laughing.
Yes, yes you are. Just off the Overseas Highway in Islamorada is a natural phenomenon of sorts. For decades, tourists from around the world have visited Robbie’s Marina in the Florida Keys to feed tarpon by hand.
“It’s the only way to feed them,” Bull says. “You got to do it and touch — if you’re brave enough.”
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Just off U.S. Highway 1 at the north tip of Lower Matecumbe Key in Islamorada is a little gem called Robbie’s.
This popular tourist pit stop has fishing, snorkeling, shopping and dining options, but the main attraction is feeding the tarpon.
A dollar gets you to the dock, and $3 gets you a bucket of fish to feed the giant fish, which can weigh more than 100 pounds and often linger around the docks all day waiting to be fed by generous visitors.
All you have to do is hold one of the baitfish a couple of feet above the water, and the tarpon will do the rest, jumping up to grab the snack out of your hand.
The Hungry Tarpon, an on-site restaurant and bar, serves up bar food and fresh seafood. It will even cook up your fresh catch of the day.
A variety of shops and booths are also on property.
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