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Keys launch spots

cranker789cranker789 Senior MemberMiamiPosts: 530 Officer
Anyone know of a good launch spot in the upper/middle keys on the ocean side? I'm having trouble finding a spot. I'm coming down from Miami, and I like getting out for the early morning bite so id prefer if it was a 24 hour spot but any suggestions are appreciated. Is garden cove a good launch spot in key largo? I used to go out of Indian Key ramp, in Islamorada, but its under construction. I'd like to do some yellowtail snapper fishing on the motorized kayak. 

Also what are the rules for anchoring in the keys? I know you're not supposed to anchor in certain areas because of the coral reef. Probably looking to target somewhere between 50 and 90 ft. 

Thanks. 

Replies

  • mdiaczykmdiaczyk Senior Member Posts: 151 Deckhand
    If you have a trailer it will help on the ramps for parking.  Ramps in marathon near 7 mile bridge.   There are more spots for boats with trailers.  I am sure you can find places to launch in keywest using google earth. The rules for anchoring as I understand it. Have enough anchor line there was something about the wind and the tide I dont remember.    In certain protected areas use a mooring buoy.  Be respectful of dive flags.  I am not sure about the yellow and red buoys in the keys marine sanctuary.  The yellow buoys are close to shore to protect sea birds I think   The red buoys are in areas that have elkorn coral and things like that maybe. I would google the keys marine sanctuary.   I would go to the upper keys. Try fishing  hawk channel.  Even fishing back in the mangroves when the tide is the highest and goes out.  For flats fish even Redfish.  The thing about yellowtails is chumming.  They will come up and use pilchards drifting behind the boat.   For spots use the fish finder look for rough bottom in 50 to 100 ft. Find a few spots even fish on some inshore spots if you want the shallower ones.  I use google earth to find fishing spots in general if you are fishing real close to shore.  .Marathon or key west is the best bet I think for snapper and other fishing.   Sorry for the long reply.  Catch some fish 
  • John McKroidJohn McKroid Senior Member Fort LauderdalePosts: 4,179 Captain
    It's been over 5 years since I tried fishing the keys with a kayak, but When I did launch out of Key Largo, Garden Cove was where I launched.   Free parking, it was 24hr?  The launch is a little rocky, but very doable.  I would definitely google up regs for anchoring and no-fishing zones.  Good luck.  Look forward to seeing your report.  
  • cranker789cranker789 Senior Member MiamiPosts: 530 Officer
    Thanks for the info guys... i got some detailed info about anchoring in the keys section... also i think garden cove launch will be best as i think its fine to park early am and its close to miami. Hope my hobie balloon wheels will be ok over those rocks though!  Ive been so busy lately with family i havent even been looking at the weather, but ill be back at it soon.
  • John McKroidJohn McKroid Senior Member Fort LauderdalePosts: 4,179 Captain
    Thanks for the info guys... i got some detailed info about anchoring in the keys section... also i think garden cove launch will be best as i think its fine to park early am and its close to miami. Hope my hobie balloon wheels will be ok over those rocks though!  Ive been so busy lately with family i havent even been looking at the weather, but ill be back at it soon.
    Going over the limestone with the balloon wheels was not a problem for me.  The hull getting scratched up by the limestone was the main concern.  It would have been easier had I had a second person to pick the kayak up to minimize the scraping.  A sacrificial towel could be used to mitigate that issue.
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Senior Member Posts: 4,796 Captain
    Years ago we did a lot of fishing out of Garden Cove - some great bonefish flats all along the outside shoreline north and south... 
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • cranker789cranker789 Senior Member MiamiPosts: 530 Officer
    Ah ok I’ll have to be careful with the stones. Never caught a bonefish, maybe something to plan in the future. 
  • cranker789cranker789 Senior Member MiamiPosts: 530 Officer
    So I went to the launch yesterday, targeting yellowtail. The launch is very rocky, I was nervous about my wheels but they held up. I think my hull might have gotten a few new scars as well from the last couple feet dragging into the water. Motored out to the spot took a little over an hour and set up in 65ft. Burned though two blocks of chum pretty quickly with the chubs in a frenzy at the bag, they were so annoying. Only a few yellowtails showed up after burning through the second block. Couldn’t get them to bite. Only caught one yellowtail on the bottom that got cut in half by a cuda. The day was saved by a 20” mutton caught on bottom with a live ballyhoo. Also caught a large trigger that was released. 
  • Lake-LinkerLake-Linker Junior Member Posts: 184 Deckhand
    I'm curious about what you're using for a motor mount and motor. Care to share?

    Is it similar to KWKF's?

    Also,how do you have your mirage drive attached in the pic?
  • John McKroidJohn McKroid Senior Member Fort LauderdalePosts: 4,179 Captain
    That launch at the garden cove is hard on the hull.  Sorry, your report was not better, but that's a nice-looking mutton! 
  • cranker789cranker789 Senior Member MiamiPosts: 530 Officer
    I'm curious about what you're using for a motor mount and motor. Care to share?

    Is it similar to KWKF's?

    Also,how do you have your mirage drive attached in the pic?
    So the motor mount is made from aluminum, it’s mounted on top of the x bar. Its mostly different from kwkf except the motor. It’s a 2.5 suzuki. I think he using the rod holders for the mount, mine are free. I have an Outback and he has the AI I think. Mine is only 12 ft. The mirage drive is laying on top of the trampoline. I have a trampoline material between the two aka bars where as kwkf has his empty so he can paddle most likely. I like the trampoline for the extra space and don’t really need the paddle.
  • cranker789cranker789 Senior Member MiamiPosts: 530 Officer
    Thanks John, yeah it was a rough launch spot but it was empty which was nice. Yeah not a great report but I’m happy as long as I’m not skunked. It was a lot of action on bottom which I wasn’t expecting, got cut off twice and rocked once. Had issues loosing sinkers as the rubber bands were snapping so gotta rethink that. Maybe buy some clips for the sinker instead of using rubber bands. 
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Senior Member Posts: 4,796 Captain
    In the islands a native will trade a snapper or grouper for a trigger - they're that good to eat.... Don't know if there's a closed season on them now or what the slot size, if any, they have now... I haven't fished blue water in years.... Triggers have a very thick skin - but once you're past that are simple to filet... Great report by the way.  In winter we used to concentrate on the patch reefs outside of Garden Cove in between 15 and 30 feet of water.... and caught mutts up to 13 or 14 lbs while chumming up lots of bally and usually some ceros as well (big ones)...
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • krashkrash Senior Member Cooper City , floridaPosts: 857 Officer
    Simple question, when you setup to fish for Yelowtail are you anchored ?

    I've always gone by boat outside Ocean Reef or Elliott Key, but here;s how we do it. Find patch reef, anchor just off edge. Set out a **** bag, let her sit, have frozen glass minnows thawing, toss a small hand full once in a while. Usually takes 20 minutes or so and first bacg of chum before YT's start to show. Time to start fishing, spinning gear, lightest line & leader  you can get away with preferably all mono.. small hook, weightless, use Glass Minnow, cast and let drift in back in the current and chum trail.. wait for bite.
    Sooner or more often later the YT's will get close enuf you can see them, but then you have to get the bait past the small ones.. Repeat til tired or happy.
    Old Fugger who just likes to fish
  • cranker789cranker789 Senior Member MiamiPosts: 530 Officer
    In the islands a native will trade a snapper or grouper for a trigger - they're that good to eat.... Don't know if there's a closed season on them now or what the slot size, if any, they have now... I haven't fished blue water in years.... Triggers have a very thick skin - but once you're past that are simple to filet... Great report by the way.  In winter we used to concentrate on the patch reefs outside of Garden Cove in between 15 and 30 feet of water.... and caught mutts up to 13 or 14 lbs while chumming up lots of bally and usually some ceros as well (big ones)...
    Thanks Lemay, never tried trigger fish but there were plenty in the slick, I’ll have to give them a try. Maybe fish shallower as well? It would be nice not having to go out so far. 

    krash said:
    Simple question, when you setup to fish for Yelowtail are you anchored ?

    I've always gone by boat outside Ocean Reef or Elliott Key, but here;s how we do it. Find patch reef, anchor just off edge. Set out a **** bag, let her sit, have frozen glass minnows thawing, toss a small hand full once in a while. Usually takes 20 minutes or so and first bacg of chum before YT's start to show. Time to start fishing, spinning gear, lightest line & leader  you can get away with preferably all mono.. small hook, weightless, use Glass Minnow, cast and let drift in back in the current and chum trail.. wait for bite.
    Sooner or more often later the YT's will get close enuf you can see them, but then you have to get the bait past the small ones.. Repeat til tired or happy.
    Yes I was anchored in 65 ft. I was using weighted j hooks with ballyhoo chunks or shrimp. I was surprised I didn’t get any as they were showing up after my second block, just no takers. I would let the weighted j hook float back for a while but wouldn’t get any bites so I reeled in. Most of the action was on the bottom. Thinking maybe going shallower next time? 
  • Lake-LinkerLake-Linker Junior Member Posts: 184 Deckhand
    Thanks Cranker

    Mine's very similar to KWKF's and also using a 2.5 Suzuki. I come down for 2 months and fish almost every day while I'm there...I launch mostly w. side 7MB to Cudjoe(ish) fishing gulfside except when it's calm enough to go out to the shallower wrecks off Geiger. Occasionally fish reef,patches or bridges from  BPK to BH.
  • cranker789cranker789 Senior Member MiamiPosts: 530 Officer
    Thanks Cranker

    Mine's very similar to KWKF's and also using a 2.5 Suzuki. I come down for 2 months and fish almost every day while I'm there...I launch mostly w. side 7MB to Cudjoe(ish) fishing gulfside except when it's calm enough to go out to the shallower wrecks off Geiger. Occasionally fish reef,patches or bridges from  BPK to BH.
    Cool, sounds like a good time! The motor makes things easier even though the set up takes longer. I’ve always wanted to rent a house down there for a week or so and just fish but it’s expensive. Maybe sometime in the future. 
  • John McKroidJohn McKroid Senior Member Fort LauderdalePosts: 4,179 Captain
    cranker789 said:

     I’ve always wanted to rent a house down there for a week or so and just fish but it’s expensive. Maybe sometime in the future. 
    Camping is more affordable but fills up fast, best to reserve many months in advance.
  • cranker789cranker789 Senior Member MiamiPosts: 530 Officer
    cranker789 said:

     I’ve always wanted to rent a house down there for a week or so and just fish but it’s expensive. Maybe sometime in the future. 
    Camping is more affordable but fills up fast, best to reserve many months in advance.
    Yeah only problem is the bugs in the keys are terrible at night. 
  • Lake-LinkerLake-Linker Junior Member Posts: 184 Deckhand
    Try Big Pine "resort". (formerly BPKFL ("fish lodge" or campground) There are still sites without full hookup ("rustic" or - more importantly - cheaper) but the new owners are trying to get permits to run electric and sewer/water to all remaining rustic sites...Many long term campers are unhappy with the new corporate owners and have started camping elsewhere. This has created vacancies during "peak" seasons when in years past were very few vacancies.

    In other words,this year may be the last year of any affordability at all for folks like me... Prices went up (for rustic) 25% for what they're calling "legacy" guests this year... I'm not sure what new guests are paying for rustic campsite fees....And it ain't no cheaper anywhere else in the lower keys.

    This is Cove Properties' second year owning the campground. They apparently thought that they could get permitted to run sewer/electric immediately upon applying. lol.. They may have found that Monroe County doesn't give out permits (and variances?) all that easily - especially when the property abuts a NWR.

    I hope there's a couple more years that I can afford to go but I'm also exploring other options.

    Oh - bugs aren't so bad at night during winter...away from the mangroves. Especially if there's a breeze. For wintertime tent campers at BPKR,wind is more a problem than bugs.
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