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Ramrod Key - Jan Fishing Advise Required

Hiya Guys,
I'm a keen fisherman from across the pond in the UK, looking for a little help and advise from you experienced Florida fisherman/fishing ladies.

I've booked for Ramrod Key (houseboat) for 2 weeks in Jan 2015.
I know the seasons and months vary a lot, but this will be the 1st of many trips to Florida Keys and the months I visit will hopefully suit what are the best for fishing over the next few trips.

Jan trip,
So what can you guys tell me works best, species I'm likely to find and best baits for fishing around Ramrod Key. Tackle advise would help too, although I do have 40 years experience as a freshwater Pike angler, and 11 years trolling in Kenya and some spinning and bottom fishing out there too.
We will have a car too, so travelling around looking for good spots won't be a problem, so of you fancy sharing those special fishing spots or deep holes with me, I would be much appreciated :)

I was advised to go Key West, but as I'm buying a lot of tackle at present for other planned trips to Madagascar, Southern Oman, Costa Rica and Maybe Mozambique money for my 1st Florida trip was limited.

We will be looking for a few shared charters too, I woud like to try Jigging and Shark or Grouper fishing, not sure what my mate would like to catch. Hopefully the mangroves around the houseboat might prove good for fishing too

Your replies are much appreciated.
Thx
Kevin
Catch and release some fish
There are anglers tomorrow who want to catch too
Just because there is a upper limit, doesn't mean you keep it all.

Replies

  • piner_wahoopiner_wahoo Posts: 3,702 Captain
    great time 2 be here- LIVE BAIT, LIVE BAIT, LIVE BAIT!!!!SAILS, WAHOO. TUNA, KINGS, MANGROVES IN BACKCOUNTRY. try chartering early in your stay for a day or 2 to get the lay of the and then use what you learn and go on your own.
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  • KenyakevinKenyakevin Posts: 165 Officer
    great time 2 be here- LIVE BAIT, LIVE BAIT, LIVE BAIT!!!!SAILS, WAHOO. TUNA, KINGS, MANGROVES IN BACKCOUNTRY. try chartering early in your stay for a day or 2 to get the lay of the and then use what you learn and go on your own.

    Hi Piner_wahoo,
    Sounds a good idea to me, get some local ideas from a skipper during early charters :)

    Hoping the Mangroves produce some variety though, heard I might pick some small shark up too, as well as Mangrove Snapper, Small Grouper and a good general selection of small fish that will be fun on light tackle.

    I thought more people would have advise o.O
    Or is this such a poor area no one fishes there?

    Come on Florida guys where is your local knowledge advise to a fellow fisherman.
    Catch and release some fish
    There are anglers tomorrow who want to catch too
    Just because there is a upper limit, doesn't mean you keep it all.
  • latitudeajustmentlatitudeajustment Posts: 2,060 Captain
    I think you will find this Keys forum a bit slow at times, at least compared to the other FS forums. Give it a chance as there are plenty of knowledgeable fisherman on the forum and you have plenty of time to prepare. Be aware the grouper fishery will be closed come Jan 1 unless something changes with the regulations, however, do not let this deter you from coming. Also, do some searching on the forum, there is plenty of advice given for others asking the same thing the past few months. Assuming you have a boat, I would at least try to get slightly offshore assuming good seas and fish Hawk's Channel, depths up to 70 feet or so for a variety of snapper and mackeral for that time of year, bring fresh shrimp, lots of chum, squid, ballyhoo, etc. I am not sure from Ramrod how to get out back to the gulf but that would also be productive as well if you could figure it out. I would also consider jumping on one of the head boats, I personally prefer the Marathon Lady which goes out of Marathon, great boat and try to get a stern spot and freeline for yt snapper. There are also other head boats in Key West to consider. Best of luck with your trip!
  • KenyakevinKenyakevin Posts: 165 Officer
    I think you will find this Keys forum a bit slow at times, at least compared to the other FS forums. Give it a chance as there are plenty of knowledgeable fisherman on the forum and you have plenty of time to prepare. Be aware the grouper fishery will be closed come Jan 1 unless something changes with the regulations, however, do not let this deter you from coming. Also, do some searching on the forum, there is plenty of advice given for others asking the same thing the past few months. Assuming you have a boat, I would at least try to get slightly offshore assuming good seas and fish Hawk's Channel, depths up to 70 feet or so for a variety of snapper and mackeral for that time of year, bring fresh shrimp, lots of chum, squid, ballyhoo, etc. I am not sure from Ramrod how to get out back to the gulf but that would also be productive as well if you could figure it out. I would also consider jumping on one of the head boats, I personally prefer the Marathon Lady which goes out of Marathon, great boat and try to get a stern spot and freeline for yt snapper. There are also other head boats in Key West to consider. Best of luck with your trip!

    Hi,
    Thanks for your response :)
    Sadly I don't have a boat :(
    I am staying on a houseboat that comes with 2 Kayaks and a small Dinghy with small motor to move to and from shore to get to the houseboat moored in a bay.

    This is why finding out what could be caught in the bay at Ramrod Key is of interest to me.
    We are doing our 1st Florida Keys trip on a budget, so looking for self guiding fishing options with a few shared charters maybe early in the visit there.
    .
    Future trips will coincide with fish I intend to target and when the best time to catch these are.
    Shark, Grouper, Amberjacks, Tarpon and general spinning for fish likely to take Stickbaits or Poppers from the shore or inshore fishing.
    Obviously some seasons for certain species are well publicised like the recent run of Tarpon, and I am researching best seasons for certain fish and there is a lot of good information available, which is great.

    If this houseboat works out it will be a regular hire, if not I will need to look closer to where self guided fishing is easier or where fishing generally is more accessible by charters and self guiding to get a good mix.
    Catch and release some fish
    There are anglers tomorrow who want to catch too
    Just because there is a upper limit, doesn't mean you keep it all.
  • BD27BD27 Posts: 1,179 Officer
    OK ...... You post a difficult question ! You will be here for 2 week in January of 2015 , did I get that correct ? You will be on a house boat off Ramrod. Lets narrow that down a little . US-1 runs east and west thru Ramrod . What compass direction will your house boat be sitting in ? Are you going to be in the bay on the SE side North of Little Palm ? Or are you going to be on the west side in Niles Channel ? if Niles will you be North or South of the bridge ?
    The reason that I ask these questions is because you will be limited to the distance you can travel by Yak . Unless you want to carry them to different areas .
    With the information that you have provided I will say that you can catch snapper, grouper (that you will have to release) and sharks , easily at the Niles bridge. Also all 3 thru out the niles channel. As for Tarpon ..... THAT TIME IS RIGHT NOW !!! Amberjacks you will need to get out past the reef to 100 feet or more .
    Have you considered renting a boat that you could moor to the houseboat to give you a little more choices and opportunity ?
    As far as the question that you posted is it such a poor area that no one fishes here ? It is an outstanding area to fish with limitless possibilities. We have every species available almost year round with in a few miles of Ramrod. All the inshores and Pelagics off shore. Typically January is an outstanding Wahoo month , but you have to go off shore .
    I am not trying to give you a hard time, and please don't take it as such. I am just saying that your question lacks info especially if fishing from a Kayak.
    Buy the way there are plenty of excellent charters available in Big Pine, Ramrod, Summerland , Cudjoe.
    Also January is a strange month , it can be 80 degrees or 40 degrees . That will make a huge difference on what species will bite.
  • BD27BD27 Posts: 1,179 Officer
    I just thought of something. Are you going to be able to move the houseboat to different locations ? This could open up a lot more opportunities.
  • KenyakevinKenyakevin Posts: 165 Officer
    BD27 wrote: »
    I just thought of something. Are you going to be able to move the houseboat to different locations ? This could open up a lot more opportunities.

    BD27,
    The Houseboat is south of the Overseas Highway, closer to Ramrod Key than Summerland Key.
    Quite close to Niles Channel, just on the other side of bridge from me.
    That is all I am able to say about location.

    I can not move houseboat, it's in a fixed location.
    Charter boats are definately going to be used early in our stay, but for the most part, we are going to find places to fish from shore, beach, bridge locations, as well as directly off the houseboat.

    I would also like to use the small dinghy with motor for a little trolling of Rapala's around the Ramrod Bay area if possible. I love catching Cuda's.
    Almost all fish we catch will be released, and I am aware there are lots of regulations on what can and can't be taken as plate fish, we will have an up to date report on our arrival to ensure we make no mistakes.

    I am an experienced offshore fisherman after over 100 trips out of Kenya trolling for any species, with most fish caught by myself. This trip is more a recreational fun fishing trip as a last minute cheaper vacation.
    This will also give me the chance to find out more about the great fishing you have over there.

    Future trips are going to be timed with best fish runs for species we would like to target, like your current Tarpon run.

    I personally want to find out about Popper and Stickbait fishing opportunities from both boat and beach, but also the chance for Jigging on future trips.
    And shark fishing also holds great appeal to me, but with the condition they are released alive.
    Catch and release some fish
    There are anglers tomorrow who want to catch too
    Just because there is a upper limit, doesn't mean you keep it all.
  • BD27BD27 Posts: 1,179 Officer
    OK , off work for the day.
    First thing is first , you might have turned some people off just by your header . Fishing advise is not required ! It might be requested ?
    That being said and you being from the UK , I understand that you speak English , We speak American ( & some of us don't speak any of them very well .) So on that note all is forgiven.

    Get yourself the Top Spot map for the Middle Keys and also look at Google Earth. You can find snapper and grouper on the west side of Niles Channel bridge. Pay attention on an out going tide you will notice an area with a little more current going thru the bridge. This is due to a 6-12 inches depth change. That is where you will want to be. Also there is an island Due North (Howell Key) the west side of it also holds snapper as does the channel to the west of Howell Key.
    Area 91 on T S Maps is a guaranteed Shark hole ! I don't know if you want to mess with those guys in a yak or dingy though. They are grown , black tips, spinners and bulls in there in January
    Other species that you are likely to encounter in January are jack crevalle in massive schools near the bridge and in the channels . If you aren't keeping them anyways they are IMO the most underated and easiest to catch sport fish in the US salt water. Fast moving small top water chugger in white or pink should do the trick on them as well as spanish mackeral and blue runners that will also be near by. FYI jacks , blue runners , span. macks and ladyfish are all prime shark baits.
    The biggest problem that you will have on your trip in January is 1-wind , it can BLOW IS A$$ off. 2-air temp, if you get some warm sunny days go shallow , that is where you stand a good chance of getting a snook, cuda , and maybe a juv. tarpon. If it's cold stick with the channels and use live bait (shrimp) and be patient.
    Now for tackle , for the snappers , 10lb gear is fine with a 15-20lb leader small circle hooks with live shrimp or cut ballyhoo . and use chum. Same tackle for ladyfish , but small flashy jigs might work better. If you don't want to fish livebait . Try Gulp in new penny (clear water) or Nuclear Chicken in off colored water.
    Same tackle for the jacks , macks and blue runners. But if the jacks run big you might want to go to 20lb with a 40lb leader.
    For grouper on the bridge 30lb with a 60 lb leader , large live pinfish or mullet with a 6/0-8/0 circle hook
    for sharks 30lb with a minimum of 100lb leader at least 8 feet long 8/0 circle hook with large fresh cut bait or a live jack or blue runner.
    You can use wire or cable , but once they chew thru 100lb you got the good part of the fight over with and don't have to worry about them flipping your little boat trying to cut wire. (at least I hope they won't)
    That is all the information that I am going to give you at this time as my fingers are cramping up from all this typing. I hope you get good weather , and I hope you enjoy your stay.

    Good Luck
  • KenyakevinKenyakevin Posts: 165 Officer
    BD27,
    Much appreciated :)
    Your obviously a local to Ramrod Key, if you fancy meeting up to cast a few lines out in Jan I'd be happy to meet, and buy you a couple of beers too.

    Thx
    Kevin
    Catch and release some fish
    There are anglers tomorrow who want to catch too
    Just because there is a upper limit, doesn't mean you keep it all.
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