Where do you catch pilchards near Islamorada?

I am trying to find out where & how to catch pilchards for live chumming near Islamorada. I am at Futura Yacht Club (mile 88, bayside). I have no idea of how and where to go about catch them. I am ok with a cast net - get all my own ballys - but I don't even know where to start with the pilchards. Net? Sabiki? On the grass beds out back? Do I chum them up? With what? What conditions am I looking for - depth, current, etc? How big are the schools I should expect to see? If they are out back, please point me to a reference point where I should start looking - toilet seat pass, Marker 88, Founder's park, etc. Any help would be great. I promise I will leave some, nor am I going in the pilchard business.


  • triplenettriplenet Posts: 747 Officer
    Aligator Light ....
    Gause Built 26
  • Stuck Not AnchoredStuck Not Anchored Posts: 40 Deckhand
    Thanks. You mean right at the light stand I assume. That is clear with a sand bottom for the most part. Not what I thought. But how to a get them? Surely I just don't starting whipping the net around. How to you raise them?
  • swordslayer71swordslayer71 Posts: 398 Officer
    When I catch pilchards I'm following pelicans, and idling through an area they're in and more or less waiting to make contact. Once I make contact I throw the net and game over. If I'm not following pelicans and am aware pilchards are in the area I'll chum, and usually they'll make an appearance. I'm not familiar in the least with islamorada, but if you know that pilchards will be around, they'll respond to chum. If not, and you're seeing them deep, they'll also respond to sabiki's well.
  • gatormonroegatormonroe Posts: 198 Deckhand
    triplenet wrote: »
    Aligator Light ....

    Alligator is an SPA. The only fishing that is allowed is catch and release trolling. There is an exception for bait fishing if you have a Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary permit. However, there are quite a few rules concerning catching bait including the requirement that you keep and submit a catch log. It would probably be easier to follow the pelicans.

    Information about SPAs is located at http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/zones/spas/welcome.html.
    Baitfishing permit information can be found at http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/permits/baitfish.html.
  • gtrfred27gtrfred27 Posts: 63 Deckhand
    thats interesting about the bait permit. the list of approved species does not include pilchard or cigar minnows - it says herring. does that mean you have to throw the pilchards back as by catch?

    personally i just stay out of the SPAs.
  • gatormonroegatormonroe Posts: 198 Deckhand
    Good point. I didn't catch that part. Anyone who's not a marine biologist could end up losing their boat.

    I go to SPAs to free dive and see what legal yellowtail look like. The ones at Sombrero are huge and swim right up to your boat. I fished a mile west of there on Saturday and couldn't buy one over 11-1/2". :wink
  • Icecat21Icecat21 Posts: 623 Officer
    I have a condo in Futura.
    Most of the times that we look for pilchards we go to Cowpens Cut bayside and then look for pelicans.
    If nothing there, we go oceanside and look around Tav key. If we strike out there, then ballyhoo for bait.
  • captrvcaptrv Posts: 146 Officer
    this time of year night time on the reef. 30' range, chum moderately and you'll get gogs too.
  • Stuck Not AnchoredStuck Not Anchored Posts: 40 Deckhand
    First, thanks for everyone's contribution. The legal part was helpful because I never thought of it.
    And Icecat21- you could have just e-mailed me. You own the unit right above me. I am the guy with the WorldCat with the NJ numbers. Small world.
  • Capt. MilkCapt. Milk Posts: 22 Greenhorn
    I'm in marathon and I usually just look for the pelicans in the morning as well. Usually try to get them for muttons
  • daeucodaeuco Posts: 144 Officer
    Capt. Milk wrote: »
    I'm in marathon and I usually just look for the pelicans in the morning as well. Usually try to get them for muttons

    Oceanside or gulfside?
  • kbkeyskbkeys Posts: 689 Officer
    Cowpens anchorage(look on charts...bayside. before sunup best. chum lightly
  • Stuck Not AnchoredStuck Not Anchored Posts: 40 Deckhand
    Thanks. I know where it is. Just a regular box of chum?

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