Miami Fishing - How Times Have Changed

Just saw the Rocky come in, the last remaining commercial hook-and-like boat out of the Miami river. Instead of totes of kingfish or baskets of snapper, he unloaded a plastic bag with a couple of Mangroves and a Yellowtail. Forty years ago he would have been catching 500 lbs of kings and some stuff on the bottom in between kingfish bites, like me and a dozen or so other boats were doing. There's a good reason why he's the only one left. Times have truly changed. Looking at the posts on this forum, seems things are pretty slow all over nowadays. Does anyone remember the days when you'd see rows of commercial boats live-baiting for kings off Miami, and the fish were so thick you could see them jumping all over the place? Some even landed inside the boats. Had one land on my head once.
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Replies

  • CyclistCyclist Posts: 22,374 AG
    And some people think Florida fisheries are in great shape...
    133cbf2b243368b1ddb2f591a1988076--beach-posters-florida-travel.jpg
  • area52area52 Posts: 514 Officer
    Cyclist wrote: »
    And some people think Florida fisheries are in great shape...

    Who?
  • CyclistCyclist Posts: 22,374 AG
    area52 wrote: »
    Who?

    snapper and grouper fishermen...
    133cbf2b243368b1ddb2f591a1988076--beach-posters-florida-travel.jpg
  • Plastered2850Plastered2850 Posts: 1,322 Officer
    Its not only kingfish,30 years ago when going trolling
    when we left the dock we would have chunk baits on
    all the spinners cause you knew you would be in the dolphin
    right away.
  • catchemupcatchemup Posts: 80 Greenhorn
    ...and long long before 30 years ago..and long before commercial live baiting...the commercial fleet simply pulled 3 1/2 drone spoons for all the kings they could handle. You'd see the fisherman pulling their hand line back and forth as they trolled to add a little extra action. And you sold your kings for 12 cents a pound ...10 cents when the market was saturated. Snappers and groupers got you 25 cents a pound. As to how long ago that was...the 50's and early 60's. BTW...diesel was 12 cents a gallon but you could go to Belcher Island [now called Fisher Island] and get fuel for 10 1/2 cents.
  • xeniaxenia Posts: 168 Deckhand
    So true. The first swordfish we got in the 70s we sold for $1/lb, and that was big money compared to what we got for kings and snapper. I saw muttons go for as low as 16 cents a pound in Key West, before the fish houses stopped buying them because they were swamped. Boats would come in from Riley's Hump loaded with egg-bearing muttons. Today when someone catches 3 they think they had a great day.
  • rivamunstasteverivamunstasteve Posts: 549 Officer
    I’m 30... I can remember being on the water since I was a child... used to catch dolphin with a blind fold on. From what I remember from 20 years, I’m fortunate enough to still get lucky with them. But I have students who go on their parents boat and are longing to catch their first dolphin- wow. Keeping 50-60 like some of the boats do-especially in the keys. And those guys go every day. When will it end


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  • Flight RiskFlight Risk Posts: 2,370 Captain
    I grew up in South Dade - spent a lot of time on and around Biscayne Bay/Black Point, Chicken Key & the Matheson areas.
    I can remember seeing schools of mullet the size of 'acres' of land all over the bay. We used to go to the Black Point canal where the lock was. The mullet were so thick you could walk on them. Snook were everywhere.
    We used to snag mullet by the trash can load with treble hooks... Things certainly have changed. :fishing

    Pura Vida!
  • CaptJCaptJ Posts: 534 Officer
    Early 70’s you had to be careful throwing your net on a school of bait or you wouldn’t be able to get it back in the boat. Bait = fish.
  • jtnole02jtnole02 Posts: 20 Greenhorn

    What changed? Impact of humans on the reef? Over fishing?

  • stc1993stc1993 Albany, GA Carrabelle, FLPosts: 4,475 Captain

    I remember when I was a kid in the 60's my dad & his friend Jones would go in a jon boat with cane poles & fiddler crabs & catch washtubs full of sheepshead. I don't remember what bridge it was.

  • wayfer3wayfer3 Posts: 1 Greenhorn

    'loaded with egg-bearing muttons'
    'We used to snag mullet by the trash can load'
    'washtubs full of sheepshead'

  • xeniaxenia Posts: 168 Deckhand

    And:
    -Fish Trapping
    -Gill-netting
    -Longlining
    -baitfish slaughtered by the millions to make chum
    -coral die-off
    -beach renourishment
    -seagrass die-off

  • Saltwater JunkieSaltwater Junkie Posts: 992 Officer

    Don't forget water quality....

  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 7,923 Admiral

    I used to fish off the deerfield pier back in the late 80s and early 90s and I don't remember catching jack ****. But I was 10yrs old and didn't know what the heck I was doing.

    We did go on party boats a couple times, and loaded on kings and yellowtails. That was fun, but the gear was way overmatched, it was just haul em up like on a winch.

    People use statistics the way a drunk uses a street light, for support rather than illumination.
  • evernicevernic Posts: 729 Officer

    @Soda Popinski said:
    I used to fish off the deerfield pier back in the late 80s and early 90s and I don't remember catching jack ****. But I was 10yrs old and didn't know what the heck I was doing.

    We did go on party boats a couple times, and loaded on kings and yellowtails. That was fun, but the gear was way overmatched, it was just haul em up like on a winch.

    Deerfield was good for kings in 70's and spanish macks.

    fished Anglin's pier in FLL '69 thru '79...fall span. macks, Sept thru Dec, 1# to 3# avg...20-30 in 2 hrs...blues so thick they would hit a shiny 2oz sinker...spring 2# to 5# macks, 50-70 plus in 3-4 hrs afternoon.

    1981, macks schooled off Dania pier for 5-6 weeks, best day was 100, 2-4# and I quit cause my hand was cramped holding the rod...used 5/8 oz croc spoon...1 guy there got 151 that day !!!

    buddy and myself went out PE in afternoon 1982 in my 22 ft CC off Hollywood beach in spring...got 36 kings (snakes, 4-8#) in 2 hrs and I got a 20# dolphin that was just swimming by, caught the kings on sidewinder jigs, the dolphin I tossed a 1oz jig with a belly strip when I saw him swimming by the stern. there were 3 drift boats out there loading up also. 1981 macks schooled up south of Haulover for about 6 weeks in 25-35' twice got in them for 90-100 2-5#, came down another day and net boats were dragging and wiped them out !!! they came from Stuart and when they went in the Miami River to sell them, no one would buy...they dumped 10's of thousands #'s in the river, it was written up in the herald...used to live bait kings at Boynton and sell them gutted for $.35-$.50 cents # in the early 70's...to a fish house in FLL. in '78 state made us get saltwater products license to sell them..

    2802 Trophy WA, 2x225Merc EFI's...sunk unamed storm 12-09looking for boat #10
  • andrewthe1andrewthe1 Posts: 505 Officer

    I remember commercial guys out of port canaveral loading up on kings with the little "bugs" and spoons, and dropping big crude jigs and LOADING up on warsaw, misty, gag, and red grouper.

    boats flipping due to being overloaded doesnt sound like such a bad problem anymore LOL

    we need more internet money
  • Ron@.38 SpecialRon@.38 Special Posts: 6,749 Admiral

    @xenia said:
    So true. The first swordfish we got in the 70s we sold for $1/lb, and that was big money compared to what we got for kings and snapper. I saw muttons go for as low as 16 cents a pound in Key West, before the fish houses stopped buying them because they were swamped. Boats would come in from Riley's Hump loaded with egg-bearing muttons. Today when someone catches 3 they think they had a great day.

    Swordfishing is at least as good as the 70's!
    This past week many buoy boats had over 1000 lbs of fish, My buddy had 1500 lbs of core weight with only 9 fish!
    Day time deep drop is off the chart also for a few days. Of course one instagram post had 5 recreational fish in a rec boat with two fisherman! Stupid people posting this crap!

  • xeniaxenia Posts: 168 Deckhand

    Today's Buoy boats have the latest technology and gear. If you really want to compare today's swordfishing with the 70s you need to use the same methods we used back then. Only then can you compare apples to apples.

  • xeniaxenia Posts: 168 Deckhand

    Swords are biting well now, but most of the fish I've seen the last couple of weeks have been <100 lbs whole. This latest run comes after a long dry spell during the fall, so no, it's not like the 70s, where the average whole weight size of the fish was close to 200 lbs, with many in the 300-400 lb range being caught. My dad's best night came in April 1976 with 25 fish up to 300 lbs dressed weight. This was with a 96 hook longline and no lightsticks.

  • xeniaxenia Posts: 168 Deckhand

    I hate to beat on the same drum, but there's one more piece of data we can't overlook. This current bite of swordfish the past couple of weeks comes after one of the slowest summers in a few years. And most importantly, most of the fish being taken, at least all the ones I've seen or heard of, are small. For example, a very experienced daytime sword captain in Islamorada which will remain nameless got 3 swords today, all around 50 lbs each. While in the 70s we did catch small swords in the mix, we also caught plenty of mediums and large. These were taken at night near the surface. If the daytime fishery is taking mostly small fish now, where are the bigger fish in large quantities like we had in the 70s?

  • Ron@.38 SpecialRon@.38 Special Posts: 6,749 Admiral

    @xenia said:
    Swords are biting well now, but most of the fish I've seen the last couple of weeks have been <100 lbs whole. This latest run comes after a long dry spell during the fall, so no, it's not like the 70s, where the average whole weight size of the fish was close to 200 lbs, with many in the 300-400 lb range being caught. My dad's best night came in April 1976 with 25 fish up to 300 lbs dressed weight. This was with a 96 hook longline and no lightsticks.

    OK, so a buoy boat last week had 9 fish with a 1500lb total core weight!

  • Ron@.38 SpecialRon@.38 Special Posts: 6,749 Admiral

    According to ICCAT, while we slightly lowered the N Atlantic quota, the fishery is in good shape.

    Why, well one reason is the size of the US quota vs the US landings. If it were not for reduced US landings, we would be over the NAtl quota every year.

    Scarier fishery??? Yellow Fin Tuna! We are going to see some restrictions in the future. Main problem is the FAD fishery in the Eastern Atlantic and all the small tuna being taken.

  • keylargo359keylargo359 Posts: 1,249 Officer
    edited February 15 #25

    I started fishing at the ripe old age of 4 I'm going to be 61 this year. back in the day right off the old concrete Pier at south beach. by the old dog track. when the fall bait runs came down the coast it would make the water black as far as the eye could see a hundred yards wide. coming down the coast. and the edges of the schools of pilchards and mullet would just be exploding with Mack's ,Jacks, cudas, kings. you name it. the water was alive with action. now the bait though it's been improving is not even a tenth of what it was. the netters all but wiped out the bait fish for years. thank God they stopped it. I could go on all day talking about how good things use to be. It a shame my grand kids will never see the things we where lucky enough to experience. we also would go spear fishing in the late 60's
    we would let some one out to check the reef. if there weren't enough fish for all of us to get in and spear several fish each we would move on to the next spot. all the corals where vibrant and just full of colors of different corals and tropical. it was truly a beautiful sight now 3/4 of the coral are dead and gone. there is a medley of reasons for the decline. as stated above.

    The worst day of fishing is still better than the best day of work:\
  • Saltwater JunkieSaltwater Junkie Posts: 992 Officer

    KeyLargo 359 - Nice to hear from another person that grew up here when Miami was a small town and the fishing and diving was out of this world. The last person that I said, Miami as a small town, refers to Miami in those times as Miami BC. I said Miami BC? He laughed and said Miami before cubans.

  • HooganHoogan Right on the edge of the EvergladesPosts: 513 Officer
    I’m 59 years old and grew up in South Beach and literally lived on the old concrete south beach pier next to the old dog track ( not the south beach pier inside government cut) the one before that one was built. 
    -I used to catch yellowtails and lane snapper on the pilings inside biscayne bay.
    -the school of mullets on south beach were several miles long
    -my first time at Hallouver pier with Monofilament wrappep on a soda can and cut squid, I caught 33 pompanos, two macs and two blue fish and I was clueless.
    -Capt. Lee Robinson was a commercial fisherman out of halouver and during season used to catch 150 Gag Grouper a day
    -capt Bobby from the Mucho K used to catch 100 + kingfish on the mouth of halouver inlet during the winter during most half day trips
    -Newport pier was loaded with kingfish and Spanish mackarel
    -Dana pier, my best was 11 Muttons during one sunset
    -there were no Muttons in the 5- 7 pound in dry Tortugas, all fish averaged  10-15 pounds. I don’t buy the “ theory “ that all the mutton holes are covered with ARS and sharks, if that’s the case how come we are not pullling red snapper after red snappper in the mutton grounds, 
    -new hush-hush study and undisclosed google earth photography shows a huge vast DEAD area in the GOM, and evidence of the famous “oil dispersant “ used, creating on-going incredible harm right along with the billions of gallons of crude “ which according to the feds: has already been absorbed by the ecosystem” government coverup at its best, you don’t believe that... do you.
    i can go on and on but my claims and allegations will be greeted with resistance and even anger about exposing even more facts of the gross decline in fishery from Broward all the way past Key West.
  • xeniaxenia Posts: 168 Deckhand
    No resistance from me.  I'm 55 and got to see the tail end of what you just mentioned.  Schools of Kingfish west of Key West over a mile long Casting to muttons behind the boat on the surface as if they were yellowtail, all averaging 12-15 lbs.  61 big muttons off the Miami sewer on just one 100-hook set with a bottom longline.  I could go on and on too, but if one never experienced those days, they'll never believe us!
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 2,817 Captain
    The very first item along the way to restoring Biscayne Bay (and the great fishing that used to exist in and outside all of the ocean inlets from the Bay) is a very simple one.  If we stopped the commercial shrimping in Biscayne Bay -it would come roaring back - and with it the fish...  Fish of all kinds from bonefish to pelagics (macks and kings) are pretty simple critters -they go where the food is - no food and they just keep on trucking until they find food...

    In the early seventies when I came to this area, fresh back from a very bad place, there was relatively little commercial shrimping down here.  Starting with the late seventies when waves of new immigrants showed up here we allowed wing-netting for shrimp to grow and grow and the food fish need (shrimp are a basic staple for fish in this area) were allowed to be harvested - and no one has a handle on it at all.  Wish it weren't so....
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • CaptJCaptJ Posts: 534 Officer
    The good old days were exactly that. With the population explosion in south Florida things can't go back to the way they were. I fished the east coast from Canaveral to The Keys and the same problems are impacting the fisheries everywhere, but in So Fla it's magnified due to the impact on our resources from pollution, habitat destruction, and a host of other societal and political reasons. I agree that a ban on commercial shrimping would no doubt help. It would be a good start, but there is so much to be done.
  • northbiscaynebay1northbiscaynebay1 Posts: 57 Greenhorn

    CaptJ, I agree with what Capt. Bob Lemay is saying and you are right there is so much more to this problem. Stopping the commercial shrimping will definitely help the bay but it won’t fix it.  I like many of us that have lived in South Florida for much of our lives have seen these bays go up and down over the years but now we are seeing things happening that have never happened before. I learned how to fish in North Bay in the late 50’s. The grass flats stretched from Haulover Inlet South to the Florida Keys. For awhile there was grass flats up in Dumbfoundling Bay. The fishing would go up and down every so many years always rebounding. That has changed. 10 years ago, I noticed a grass flat near a canal in North Bay that led to a Salinity Dam going through some changes. The grass flats started showing signs of deterioration. Small circles of sand were now where the grass once was. I thought it was due to the large numbers of manatees that fed on the grasses in this area but as time went by the circles became larger and today that grass flat is totally barer of grass. Only mud, sand and silt.  Soon after I noticed every small grass flat in North Bay had the same thing happening to them. Today from Haulover Inlet south to 79th st. there are but a few patches of grass left. What’s worse is this is also happening to every grass flat south of 79th st with the exception of the turtle grass flats on the east side of South Bay south of Crandon Park. On the western shorelines the grass flats are disappearing at an alarming rate. This has already happened in large areas of Florida Bay as well. Most of this grass was manatee or shoal grass. Once the grass disappears what’s left are large areas of sand, silt and mud. Add some wind, choppy water and waves created by large boats and what you get is a muddy brown water that ends up smothering what is left of the unhealthy grass and then they die as well. The end results no grass, no place for the shrimp to live, no crabs, no pinfish, no pilchards and so on. Where will the sea trout go? How do they hide from the bottle nosed dolphins? Where will the baby lobsters hide and what will the manatees feed on?

    Our bays are in great trouble! Yes, Bob stopping the shrimpers will help but so much more needs to be done to stop the death of our bay grasses. Is it too late?  Maybe so!!!!

    Capt. Alan Sherman

    Get Em Sportfishing Charters

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