Happy Holidays Nautical Milers!!! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving weekend with family, friends and plenty of over indulgence. I had a nice week of me time as the wife and dogs were visiting friends over the holiday.
These few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are usually the slowest part of the year for me for charters and also in general for tourists visiting Key West. I generally take advantage of the downtime to work on boat projects. The last couple of years there has been little downtime so things got a little neglected and I am now playing catch-up. The list is made and I hope to have the bigger projects done before the end of year.
Now that it gets dark so early in the evening I’ll take advantage of this time to sort through all of my tackle. Pitch anything that is beyond repair, clean up lures and replace banged up and rusty hooks with fresh shiny new ones. I will also make loads of barracuda lures, including tube lures and get fresh wire on the plugs I like to use. Barracuda season is here so I need a ton of lures for the next few months. As you can imagine, barracudas are hard on tackle, so it’s always good to have a good supply on hand and then replenish as needed.
These few weeks are also a weird time on the flats. When the weather is right, I am fishing as normal but this is a turbulent time of year and the weather can be all over the place. We are starting to get a lot more north in the wind and cold fronts are making it through causing drastic shifts in wind direction and barometric pressure. Water temperatures are kind of in a no mans land, not hot enough for tarpon to be reliable and not cold enough for the barracudas and backcountry species to move in good enough numbers to target them specifically.
Over all of the years I have been fishing around Key West, I have come to really enjoy fishing the extremes of water temperature and tides. Basically, I love fishing during the hot dog days of summer for tarpon, bonefish and permit and then the coldest part of winter for big barracudas and the backcountry species. I love the low tide periods in summer for tailing bonefish and permit and the early morning guppy hatches and the bigger high tides in the winter (which are relatively low compared to fall high tides) for everything.
Overall, as long as we have decent weather, sunny days and the wind not ripping 20+ mph for days on end, the fishing will take care of itself. As always, I will work the tides and pay attention to what has been going on. And if the flats prove to be slow for permit and bonefish any particular day, we move on to Plan B and hit the barracuda spots or fish the channels and backcountry for whatever we can get. It’s all fun so might as well enjoy what Mother Nature provides.
Happy Holidays everyone, see you next year!
Capt. Mike Bartlett