Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Jacks In The Pass

These medium size jacks were busting bait in the northern part of Matlacha Pass last week from the drawbridge to the Indian Fields.  They're really easy to find right now, just look for the diving birds and toss anything into the fray.  I've been really successful with the all -white Zulus by Strike King that you see pictured above.  These are an insanely tough soft plastic that can be rigged dozens of different ways.  They can survive almost anything and aren't much more expensive than most other soft baits.  A single Zulu survived all three jacks pictured above as well as several trout and a bluefish.  That much action would normally use up half a pack of Exudes or Gulps.  Old Pine Island Marine down in St. James City stocks a variety of these Strike Kings so pick up a few before your next trip.  They work on everything.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Boater's Bash At Two Pines Sandbar

 Here are some shots from last weekend's Boater's Bash sponsored by Seven Seas Bait & Tackle on Matlacha. BMI Docks donated one of their barges for the bands and at least 150 boats showed up at the Two Pines sandbar starting at noon. This was blast and something they should do every month.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Beavertail B-2 For Sale

Update:  This boat has sold.  To see another B-2 currently on the market click here.

The Beavertail B-2 is the ultimate technical poling skiff.  It will silently float in six inches of water with a full tank of gas and two anglers.  As an added bonus Beavertails cost several thousand dollars less than any of their competitors.  This particular B-2 is a 2007 model rigged with a 50-horsepower Mercury Four-Stroke giving it a 35 mph top speed and great fuel economy.  It also has a six foot Power Pole and a moveable casting or poling platform.  This rig is completed by a Blue Rock trailer custom made for Beavertail and allowing the boat to be launched without even wetting the tires.  The B-2 is a highly respected skiff among both serious anglers and guides.  I love these boats and have owned and guided out of one myself for the last three years.  They're a fly fisherman's dream and this lightly used model is one of the very few currently on the market.  It's located in the Florida Keys and you can see more photos and details here.  Feel free to give me a call at (239)565-2960 if you have any questions about this Beavertail or any other flats skiff you might be interested in. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cabbage Key Redfish

Yesterday was the first day of fall and right on schedule the redfish poured into Pine Island Sound.  It was actually kind of an amazing sight to behold.  I'd gone over a week without hooking a decent red, and several days without even seeing any, and suddenly the floodgates opened as soon as summer officially ended.  I've easily come across hundreds of redfish in the last 48 hours. 

Missouri anglers Joanne Butrin and Carol Young were on the bow of my boat for the last two days and we did nothing but sightcast to cruising redfish in Pine Island sound.  The first day hammered us with near 20 knot winds but revealed some huge schools of reds in the shallows near Useppa and Cabbage Key.  Some of these schools easily held over 100 fish but amazingly, they wouldn't eat.  I'd never experienced anything like the constant refusals we kept getting on both arificials and live shrimp.  Normally schooling redfish are notoriously stupid but these SOB's simply wouldn't be fooled.  Maybe they were just getting used to the cooler temps but I had no real explanation.  Carol eventually tossed a shrimp on the back of a mudding stingray and hooked the beautiful 29-inch red pictured in the top photo.  This fish was quickly released.

The winds were a lot more tolerable this morning and Joanne had all the great shots.  She hooked and landed three different reds on live shrimp and two were so close to the 28 inch upper slot limit that we could have won a tournament with them.  Fall is definitely here and the return of these big reds is reason to celebrate.  If you want a shot at the year's best sight fishing start planning a trip to Southwest Florida.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Redbone S.L.A.M. Tournament, Key West

An old friend of mine recently sent me this photo from the last time I guided in the annual Redbone SLAM tournament down in Key West.  This was from 2003, back when my three-day beard still grew in dark instead of pure grey.  The angler was Ned Hammond and his 8 pound bonefish was the second largest caught in the tournament that year.  We missed the trophy by two inches. 

The Redbone is a great series of tournaments that benefit cystic fibrosis research.  They originated in the Keys and are now held throughout the US and are covered by ESPN.  I always enjoyed fishing them for both the competitive aspect and also for the chance to rub elbows with some of the most well known names in angling.  The Redbone also boasts several celebrity participants including the "Big Man" Clarence Clemons from the E-Street Band.  Big Man would often jump on stage with the band at the Schooner Warf bar for several sets after the awards banquets.  That was always a real highlight for everyone down there. 

They have a great website and you can find a tournament near you by clicking here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Luhrs 250 Twin Diesel For Sale: Price Reduced To $29,900

You won't find a better priced twin-diesel express anywhere in Florida, and it's a Luhrs! 

This 1994, 250 Open is one of the most versatile hulls ever produced by the famous builder.  The boat is powered by two exceptionally clean Yanmar turbocharged diesels that give it an 18 knot cruising speed and an exceptionally low fuel consumption. 
Her owner, a USCG licensed captain, has just installed all new electronics and navigation gear to insure that this Luhrs is ready to serve its new owner in either a commercial or recreational role.  The forward berth on this boat makes it a very comfortable overnight cruiser featuring an enclosed head and screened shower.  This boat is ready to go and won't disappoint anyone.  She could cruise up the ICW, run the Great Loop, or go to work offshore tomorrow.  As an added bonus, this Luhrs 250 is located in Key West, Florida.  This gives you the perfect excuse to head down to the Keys and check out a great priced twin-diesel while you're there.  You can see full details and a lot more photos here or call me at (239)565-2960 to arrange a showing.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Another Big Snook From Matlacha

I went out on my own in the Beavertail today to chase some low tide redfish and my third cast produced this 28 inch snook instead.  What the heck is going on here?  The state closes snook season until next fall and all I catch are legal size fish.  It kills me that I won't be able to grill one of these for a year but I'll give the Feds the benefit of the doubt on this one.  While I disagree with their estimates of how many snook we lost in last winter's freeze I'm sure this closure will help increase our stocks.  Anyway, this fish clobbered a weedless white Strike King.  It was also lying in a pothole well out from the mangroves in northern Matlacha Pass.  I was hoping for a nice red but I'll never turn down the chance to fight a big snook on light tackle.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dear Heddon,

     Please put stronger hooks on your Zara Spooks!  Would you look at those things up there?  That's pathetic.  Those bent paper clips you call "hooks" cost me a huge redfish last weekend.  I never even got to see it up close but it was at least 36 inches. That's one of the biggest I'd ever hooked here on Pine Island.  I only got a 10 second run out of it and then, See Ya!  I wasn't even using heavy line, just 20-pound Power Pro with a 30-pound leader on an expensive and super smooth Shimano reel. 

      That redfish was obviously double-hooked but it came loose after one of the front hook points snapped and two of the rear points just straightend right out like they were warmed over with a blow torch.  Sorry Heddon, but that shouldn't happen with a lure that set me back almost eight bucks.

      I know I could have just replaced your factory hooks myself, (a lot of guides do) but I shouldn't have to resort to that.  Quality tackle should come with no compromises.  I'll gladly spend the extra dollar per lure for some seriously beefy treble hooks if you'll rig them that way at the factory.  C'mon guys, this is supposed to be a SALTWATER lure here!

      Don't get me wrong, Heddon.  I still love the Zara Spook.  It's the best topwater ever invented, but let's do something to make my love unconditional.  When my customers ask me what's my favorite all-around lure, I shouldn't have to say, "The Zara-Spook, but their hooks suck." 

      Let's fix that, OK?

Yours Truly,

Capt. Gregg McKee

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Keeper Trout At Burnt Store

Today was one of those mornings when the sea trout would not stop biting for the last two hours of the outgoing tide.  We were mainly fishing on the outside of the Burnt Store Bar and I was amazed by the sheer amount of big trout we saw.  It was actually rare to hook one that was under the 15 inch size limit.  The fish pictured above was one of the smaller ones we landed but was still a legal 16 incher.  The best bait was the weedless Strike King you see up there which is now my new favorite soft plastic.  These things are really as indestructable as their commercials say.  I rigged one bait this morning and it withstood at least a dozen trout, a blue fish, and a sail cat, and it's ready to fish tomorrow.  Really amazing. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Marine Trader 34 Trawler: SOLD

"Different Drummer" needs a new home.  This 1974 Marine Trader Aft Cabin is a solid boat that has sailed the Great Loop three times in her life.  Powered by a single Lehman 120hp diesel along with a Westerbeke 3KW generator, she's fuel efficient and easy to maintain. 
She also has air conditioning and cabin heat.  This is a running boat that might need some mechanical attention and extensive but not impossible cabin work to make a great liveaboard or family cruiser.  You can see her full specs and a lot more photos by clicking here.  Her owner is motivated to sell and this boat is priced to move at $15,500.  She is currently docked in Matlacha, FL.  If you have any questions about this Marine Trader or would like to see it feel free to call me at (239)565-2960.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Big Pine Island Snook And No, You Can't Keep Any This Year

Despite the fact that FWC canceled the 2010 snook season, you can still catch and release some really impressive ones around the mangroves right now.  My dad and I hit the water in his boat this morning and loaded up the bait well of his big Action Craft with one toss of the cast net.  Schools of greenbacks and threadfins are all over the sand bars in Matlacha Pass right, especially in the Two Pines area.  That's great news because chumming the shoreline with live bait is a guaranteed way to make the snook start popping.

We caught plenty of undersized snook before finally pulling this 29 incher out of a very tight creek that dad and I had been scouting out all summer.  It was a really tough battle in an area not much wider than our boat but the 30# Power Pro kept the fish from getting too far under the mangroves.  We also landed two keeper redfish and an 18 inch trout to round out the Slam.  Everyone I've talked to has had some really great catching right lately thanks to so much easy bait in our waters.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Oversize Redfish in Matlacha Pass

In addition to being really big, these are some of the easiest reds I've caught all year.  We found these fish just north of Matlacha tailing in less than a foot of water.  The surface was covered with grass but I still tried casting to them with a Zara Spook. I'd get about two twitches out of the lure before it would snag a huge clump of crud.  Normally a single blade of grass hanging from a hook will turn them off but these redfish were chasing the fouled lure like it was the last piece of food on earth. 

I caught the beautiful 28 inch red in these photos on my second cast last night.  The small bay I was fishing was full of tailing reds mixed in with tons of jumping mullet.  It was also loaded with more no-see-ums than I've encountered in months and I was slapping myself silly while I was reeing this thing in.  There were no bugs at all two minutes earlier but once the sun turned orange someone cranked the no-see-um switch to full throttle.  If you're fishing the mangroves around sunset this week expect to hook some of these great redfish an get eaten alive while you're doing it.  Just don't forget to bring a few gallons of Deep Woods Off.

Feeding The Tarpon At Robbie's Marina, Islamorada

This place is world famous and I stop here everytime I drive through the Keys. Located at mile marker 79.5, Robbie's Marina is home to a resident school of a hundred or more tarpon and some of them are world record size. This spectacle started out as one injured tarpon that hung around the charter boats in the 70's eating the fish scraps and over the decades hundreds more have joined the party. Most Keys marinas have a school of resident tarpon but none are as impressive or tame as the ones at Robbie's. They charge you $1 to go out on the dock and $2 for a bucket of bait and that's a bargain, especially if you're heading to Key West to go fishing for the silver king.You can really see how these fish feed up close and personal  Also, the food at the Hungry Tarpon restaurant at Robbie's is excellent.