Shark Fishing Florida Keys

Hi guys,
My 1st trip to Florida Keys (Jan 2015) was reasonably successful.

I caught small Bull sharks, Blacktip sharks, sadly no hammerheads (or Bonnetheads)

The general fishing there impressed me very much, I was staying on Ramrod Key, and also took a charter out of Key West to catch Blackfin Tuna, Yellowtail Snappers, Kingfish ect, also tussled with a big shark that snapped me off, but it was not helped by the fact I was not fishing for sharks and only had a 40lb nylon leader on.

We fished the Cudjoe Key Bridge a lot and lost count of the species we caught, the bites were prolific, although many of the fish were small.

I'm already planning a return trip, but want to do it differently, with targeting specific species there. Hammerhead or large sharks generally, and Goliath Grouper trip, maybe Cubera Snapper and Swordfish trips too.

My 1st question is, best time of year to try for a Hammerhead?
Or best time of year for sharks generally?

Are there skippers there that could help me target 1 or more of my hit list species?
I really enjoyed Ramrod, Big Pine area of the Keys and prefer to stay again in this region rather than Key West (it's only a short drive there anyway)

Ideally I'd like to book 2 or 3 charters max, as I will be looking at renting a skiff on my next trip too for around 7 days, something I had planned to do in Jan, but my mate was not keen and this meant I missed out on some better fishing than we had off bridges.

Open to suggestions, tips and links to people or charters I can contact to complete my trip plans for 2016.

Thanks
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

  • fish_stixfish_stix Posts: 1,281 Officer
    Most of us who fish the Keys aren't much interested in sharks; in fact, most of us consider them a pain-in-the a_ _! If you want hammerheads try Bahia Honda bridge or the 7 Mile bridge or any other bridge where tarpon feed. If you hook a tarpon you'll find a big hammerhead almost immediately! You might try contacting piner_wahoo on this forum for local guide service.
  • KenyakevinKenyakevin Posts: 165 Officer
    Thanks for the reply,
    I'm aware of Piner, he was going to be contacted last trip, but as my mate had different views about hiring a Skiff or Centre Console, where in the end we didn't do either, there wasn't much point.

    My plan next trip is to AGREE prior to trip with whoever comes with me what our plans are.
    Then obviously budget accordingly, and save hard.

    This is how I plan it next time......
    Right time of year.
    Stay in the best location for target species.
    Hire a Skiff or Centre Console for 7/10 days.
    Hire a skipper for first 2 days of boat hire.
    Book 2 or 3 charters for the end of my vacation, so last 4 days. (I could do this in my first 4 days there also)
    I'm aware this will mean an expensive trip, and more so with tips added.

    I live in UK and have had an interest in Sharks for many years, especially the Hammerhead which just fascinates me. I have a personal bucket list of fish I would like to catch, and although I'm reaching 53 this year, I'm fit and able to catch big fish still. This also goes with my desire for a Goliath Grouper.
    I'm aware that Florida guys are generally uninterested in catching these, but hopefully that means more chances for me :)
    It's just a one off catch for me, and I'm likely to not want to do it again afterwards. Especially after how hard it is based on what my mates tell me who have caught these there.

    I will look up these bridges you mention in above post and research accommodation in that area if needs be.
    Does this need to be during your annual Tarpon run though?
    Although I am aware there are Tarpon resident all year in smaller numbers.

    These bridges look best served from Big Pine Key :)
    This would suit me fine :)
    Off to research boat hire and charters in that region.

    Thanks
    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.
  • Lobstercatcher229Lobstercatcher229 Posts: 4,843 Captain
    One of the highlights of my life was hooking a 10 foot Hammerhead and doing it from the bow of my boat, which was smooth fiberglass. I was a young teenager and had the hammerhead not spit out the jack I was using for bait he was about to pull me in the water as I stood on my slick bow.

    To attract the Hammerhead we used mackeral as chum. I don't know if sharks especially like Mackeral but it sure attracts them.
  • Lu 1967Lu 1967 Posts: 285 Deckhand
    Hi Kevin,for what it's worth I was told by several guides and locals that March and April are the best months for shark fishing in the Keys I have a similar quest but for a tiger shark or anything 10 foot plus.It's funny every time I go down I bring all my sharking stuff determined to catch the "Big One" just to become totally consumed on trying to find and catch sails.Good luck,Lu~
  • KenyakevinKenyakevin Posts: 165 Officer
    I'm doing Cape Verde Islands July 2016.
    This is to tick off my big Marlin of 500lb+ hopefully, I've had a few 190lb to 220lb.
    They have had several there in recent months well over 1000lb.

    A good chance to get my Tiger Shark there too, and maybe other species such as Amberjack to 100lb and some good Groupers, although not of the Goliath Grouper size.

    Florida Keys
    Boat hire, proving harder than I thought, as I am not an experienced boater.
    I'm solving this by completing a Power Boat Level 2 course here in the UK and doing a Radio course during the same time.
    I've had it made clear to me that some places will NOT hire boats out without experience.

    I may stay at Marathon Key now and hire boat there too.
    Sombrero Beach area.
    Accommodation rates are quite steep and Jan seems highly booked up, this would of been my preferred date again, but it's not essential, I'm self employed.
    I will research March and April dates too.
    Is this the Tarpon run time?
    A nice Tarpon would be a bonus :)
    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.
  • Lobstercatcher229Lobstercatcher229 Posts: 4,843 Captain
    A Google search says that the Key West tarpon run is March-June with May being the peak month.
  • Lu 1967Lu 1967 Posts: 285 Deckhand
    Hmm,April,May does put this fairly close to your other trip.As you well know weather and sea conditions(in Jan) can be tricky this time of year,but the fishing very good.I'd contact Bud&Marys and see what recommendations they have.Here's a strategy for ya, head to the Islamorada humps, and get there by 7:00A.M.Have on board as many pichards as the bait wells will hold ( 1000 if you can) Bring along as many large baits as you can(big cuda,bonita ect) and 2-3 bags of Blood Stream. Start live chumming for the black finns first.Start fishing and catching the tuna.The shark will start cruising shortly.As soon as you start reeling in just heads,out goes the Blood Stream. Keep fishing for tuna and get a frenzy going.The humps are legendary for tuna and sharks.Finding a Captain to do this may be difficult (but money talks) for several reasons. (if someone falls in their probably toast) you will also **** off nearby boats which will be there.Should prove interesting.Any how this would be my approach for what it's worth.I'd also look for a 50 foot sportfish with fighting chair.Good luck,Lu ~P.S can't help on the tarpon we only fish near and offshore.
  • Pescatoral PursuitPescatoral Pursuit Posts: 5,065 Admiral
    These guys have a lot of useful information:

    http://southfloridasharkclub.com/
    cuda-title2_zpsb81e4f1d.jpg
    greggl wrote: »
    Strive for self-sacrificial levels of empathy and sympathy. We are only set free by becoming the scapegoat, or sin eater', rather than picking a target and 'throwing stones.'
    nuevowavo wrote:
    Think you're pretty clever? Think again. Time for a break.
    :rotflmao
  • KenyakevinKenyakevin Posts: 165 Officer
    Mmmm,
    This sounds interesting :)
    Might need to save harder, I was catching Blackfin Tuna out of Key West in Jan, near some sunken submarine well offshore using live pilchards.
    Great fun :)

    But those Kingfish were hard work to get in using nylon leaders, and they were not keen on a wire leader, neither were the Blackfin, but we still caught some of those.
    I dropped a live pilchard down for a Amberjack, got hit and within 3 turns of the reel this Amberjack was hit by a big Shark, which I had on for about 10 min before being bit off.
    It was exciting though.
    Lu 1967 wrote: »
    Hmm,April,May does put this fairly close to your other trip.As you well know weather and sea conditions(in Jan) can be tricky this time of year,but the fishing very good.I'd contact Bud&Marys and see what recommendations they have.Here's a strategy for ya, head to the Islamorada humps, and get there by 7:00A.M.Have on board as many pichards as the bait wells will hold ( 1000 if you can) Bring along as many large baits as you can(big cuda,bonita ect) and 2-3 bags of Blood Stream. Start live chumming for the black finns first.Start fishing and catching the tuna.The shark will start cruising shortly.As soon as you start reeling in just heads,out goes the Blood Stream. Keep fishing for tuna and get a frenzy going.The humps are legendary for tuna and sharks.Finding a Captain to do this may be difficult (but money talks) for several reasons. (if someone falls in their probably toast) you will also **** off nearby boats which will be there.Should prove interesting.Any how this would be my approach for what it's worth.I'd also look for a 50 foot sportfish with fighting chair.Good luck,Lu ~P.S can't help on the tarpon we only fish near and offshore.
    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.
  • KenyakevinKenyakevin Posts: 165 Officer
    These guys have a lot of useful information:

    http://southfloridasharkclub.com/

    Saved to favourites to read through tomorrow.
    Thanks :)
    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.
  • fish_stixfish_stix Posts: 1,281 Officer
    Kevin; as far as renting a boat, the rental dealers in Marathon will deliver your rental boat to BPK and even further down. I rented a boat 2 years ago for a week while staying at Sugarloaf Key; it was delivered right to Sugarloaf and launched for us. Most of the rentals are daytime only, no night fishing, which kills about half of my fishing. Also have a limit as to how far offshore you can go. However, not having a boat in the Keys is enough reason for me to stay home so I take whatever I can get! :wink
  • KenyakevinKenyakevin Posts: 165 Officer
    Agreed, no boat, not much point going.

    I felt very unhappy back in Jan when my mate didn't want a boat option.
    It's obvious the better fishing is going to be from boats to get to those better spots.
    Got interest from my usual fishing groups on FB now too, don't think it will be a problem getting a like minded fishing buddy for the trip.
    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.
  • Lu 1967Lu 1967 Posts: 285 Deckhand
    Some good info there, but those guys mostly fish beaches and piers and at night.The way they jump right in the water to release those things (esp.the hammers)I think those boys are all about half crazy:grin
    Kenyakevin wrote: »
    Saved to favourites to read through tomorrow.
    Thanks :)
  • KenyakevinKenyakevin Posts: 165 Officer
    Question.
    Would I be better visiting Boco Grande region for my charters?
    Or will I get similar chances at most species from say Marathon Key?

    Tarpon, Hammerhead, Goliath Grouper, sharks generally, Cubera Snapper?

    Are these species plentiful in this region, because Internet swings more to Boco Grande region for the better fishing from the search results coming up so far.
    Be interested In your thoughts if you've fished both regions.
    Thx
    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.
  • Lobstercatcher229Lobstercatcher229 Posts: 4,843 Captain
    Boca Grande sure would be great for Sharks and Tarpon and Goliath Grouper. I wonder if the motel prices would be a little more reasonable than Key West also.
  • Lu 1967Lu 1967 Posts: 285 Deckhand
    Sorry Kevin,I can't comment on Boca Grande.The Keys are all about fishing,diving and drinking if there are women involved the gulf side or Miami might be a better choice.For the fish I target I need to be in the upper Keys,I've never considered anywhere else.Good luck,Lu~
  • Lobstercatcher229Lobstercatcher229 Posts: 4,843 Captain
    Lu 1967 wrote: »
    Sorry Kevin,I can't comment on Boca Grande.The Keys are all about fishing,diving and drinking if there are women involved the gulf side or Miami might be a better choice.For the fish I target I need to be in the upper Keys,I've never considered anywhere else.Good luck,Lu~

    I know the Upper Keys best myself. I have had a few days of adventures in the Boca Grande area. During the June Tarpon run there I tried to catch a Tarpon but had to be content to watch other boats catch them. My motor wasn't idling very well and folks complained that I wasn't getting out of the way fast enough as they are fighting those Tarpon so I left. Offshore in the Gulf in some depth over 40 feet I watched my buddy catch and release a nice Goliath.
  • KenyakevinKenyakevin Posts: 165 Officer
    Not likely to be women involved in my fishing trips, the wife hates fishing and has never been on a trip with me yet.

    I loved the Keys in Jan, definitely see myself becoming a regular there, but Chew On This charter sounds good and comes highly recommended by my mate who used them for his Goliaith Grouper trip, they do twin days too, targeting 2 seperate species. That really appeals.
    But it's a long way from Marathon Key and a couple of days there prior to coming to Marathon Key sounds like hard work, but potentially good too.

    Having checked mileage and travel time driving, it's not too bad :)
    Just over 300 miles and just over 5 hours. Half the time of a busy day for me.
    I'm a chauffeur here in the UK doing 500+ miles several times a week when busy.
    Boco Grande to Marathon Key :)
    Just need to time it for off peak traffic.

    More to think about, oh dear :(
    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.
  • Lobstercatcher229Lobstercatcher229 Posts: 4,843 Captain
    Kenyakevin wrote: »
    Not likely to be women involved in my fishing trips, the wife hates fishing and has never been on a trip with me yet.

    I loved the Keys in Jan, definitely see myself becoming a regular there, but Chew On This charter sounds good and comes highly recommended by my mate who used them for his Goliaith Grouper trip, they do twin days too, targeting 2 seperate species. That really appeals.
    But it's a long way from Marathon Key and a couple of days there prior to coming to Marathon Key sounds like hard work, but potentially good too.

    Having checked mileage and travel time driving, it's not too bad :)
    Just over 300 miles and just over 5 hours. Half the time of a busy day for me.
    I'm a chauffeur here in the UK doing 500+ miles several times a week when busy.
    Boco Grande to Marathon Key :)
    Just need to time it for off peak traffic.

    More to think about, oh dear :(

    There also is a fast? boat from Fort Myers to Key West, which is a more direct route than driving. 3.5 hours and as low as 119 round trip. ferryservicestokeywest.com
  • Lu 1967Lu 1967 Posts: 285 Deckhand
    That's what I'd do!It would be a fun roadie, be sure to stop at Joanie's Blue Crab Cafe along the Tamiami for good food and drinks.I know it's the long way but it would worth it if you have never done it. Double check to see if the construction along the trail is done but it should be.(It was a bit of a mess 3 years ago) Good luck, Lu~
  • piner_wahoopiner_wahoo Posts: 3,328 Captain
    hammers- may tigers anytime, silky summer, lemon summer, bulls march backcountry
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  • Lu 1967Lu 1967 Posts: 285 Deckhand
    Wrecks for sure,but chumming properly near one is something I wouldn't feel comfortable doing even if divers weren't around at that time.My 2 buddies got a pic of a monster(I sat on boat drinking beer) at the Duane&Bib last Sept.
  • Permit RatPermit Rat Posts: 2,283 Captain
    I used to target hammerheads from my skiff all the time, when I was a guide. They're actually fairly territorial, meaning that if you see one in one spot one day, he'll be there another day, even weeks later. I fished out of Key West and used light tackle and fly gear. I had my future ex hooked up to what would have been the women's world record on 6 lb. (+/- 120 lbs....back in the late 70's) and another guy hooked up on a slightly smaller fish on a fly rod, in a different spot. But I am thinking you're not a light tackle guy and to boot, that would not work on the bridges, where you want about the heaviest gear you can get.

    IMO, Piner wahoo was pretty accurate in his species/time of year assessment. Of course, there can be plenty of overlap, according to weather conditions and what kind of Winter it has been in general that year.
    .......Rick
  • KenyakevinKenyakevin Posts: 165 Officer
    I've researched and listened to the many good comments given here, and decided how to plan my trip.

    I've also chatted to my mate on his quest last Nov and decided to partly follow in his footsteps, but target some different species too.


    1 week in Boco Grande hopefully with Chew On This charter for
    1 day Tarpon/Goliath
    1 day Hammerheads/sharks (hopefully Bull sharks too)
    Maybe a 3rd charter (not yet decided who with) for either Cubera Snapper, Redfish, Snook ect.
    Some self guiding shore/beach/pier/bridge fishing.
    Drive to Marathon Key......
    2nd week
    Charter a Centre Console, hire Piner 1st day hopefully, maybe a 2nd day.
    And explore the fishing around the Bahia and Seven mile bridges.
    If I can convince whoever comes with me, 1 day charter too.

    Appreaciate all your replies and I started getting my $'s yesterday :)
    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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