After a record-breaking cold
winter, where the cold weather (and water) drug into early
March, the warm spring air finally returned and brought the
flats of the Florida Keys back to life. Cold winters usually
mean great fishing during the following springtime, and this
year was no exception.
March is one of the prime months
for chasing Permit in the Lower Florida Keys and comprises the
majority of my fishing during this month. The weather held
strong for most of the month allowing my clients to get a good
number of shots and catch a lot of great permit.
Tim Wilhelmy with an early March Key West permit.
Jim Carter with 30# fly-caught Key West permit.
One of the first fish tagged in the new Permit Tagging Research
Joe with a nice Lower Keys permit. Shark at tail off at the
The annual March Merkin
Permit Tournament is held every March. A brief cold snap
(and rain!) during the 3-day event made the fishing extremely
difficult. The permit fishing was great leading up to the
tournament before the front rolled in and shut the fishing down.
My angler Greg Smith and I were fortunate to carry our great
pre-fishing into the first morning of the event. Early on the
first day we had a few shots. Then Greg made a phenomenal shot
at a mudding fish which inhaled the fly and allowed us to land
the fish. As the conditions deteriorated, so did the shots. Over
the next two and half days we saw only a handful of fish, which
hardly gave us another quality shot. It was just as tough for
everyone as our one fish turned out to be larger than the only
one other fish caught in the tournament. Congratulations to Greg
for becoming the 2010 March Merkin grand champion!
Greg Smith with his champion permit.
As the water continues to warm
during April, the annual flood of giant tarpon begin to fill the
Florida Keys backcountry waters. Many areas of the Keys were
holding fish throughout the month.
Greg Smith puttin the wood to a huge poon.
One of many for Smitty.
The annual tarpon migration
through the Florida Keys is in full swing during this time. No
doubt, itís some of the best fishing in the world, and this year
was no exception.
There are three fly fishing
tarpon tournaments, and all take place during May and June.
Competition in these events is fierce, but they are a lot of
fun. My anglers and I had great fishing and took third place in
all three events. Congratulations to David Dalu for placing
third in both the Golden Fly and Gold Cup Tarpon Tournaments.
Also congratulations to Greg Smith for taking third in the Don
Hawley Tarpon Tournament.
David Dalu lands a giant tarpon in the 2010 Golden Fly tarpon
The girth of the fish is measured with a large strap.
Dalu gets a surprise while casting to a pod of tarpon and lands
this 15# Mutton Snapper. Yep, we released it! ;-)
Reviving a large tarpon during the 2010 Gold Cup Tarpon
Early July rounds out the annual
tarpon migration here in the Keys. Tarpon will continue to
populate all the waters of the Keys and Everglades into the
Fall, but July is when the majority of the fish spread out and
move beyond the Keys. So, we take advantage of the great tarpon
fishing while it lasts.
John Klar with a large July tarpon taken on fly.
July is another peak month for
permit. Actually, the great permit fishing begins in June as the
permit return from spawning in deep water. Itís often tough to
break away from the large tarpon to chase permit. So as July
rolls on, I look forward to getting back to concentrating on
permit. July also offers excellent fishing for bonefish, small
tarpon, redfish, and snook. With so many choices, itís hard to
decide what to do!
Greg Smith with a July permit on fly.
September and October offer the
best all-around flats fishing of the year. Large tarpon frequent
the backcountry in certain areas, small tarpon are common,
bonefish and permit are at their peak.
The bonefishing in the Lower
Keys has been great, as well as the permit. The small tarpon
have been a little harder to find this year, but they are
around. Redfishing in Florida Bay has been great as we move into
September has been good for the
large tarpon in Florida Bay as they chase mullet. Weíve also
been running into a fair amount of tarpon around Key West as we
David Dalu with a September fly caught 11# Islamorada Bonefish.
Rob with a nice September Marathon permit.
Mike with a typical September Big Pine Key small tarpon.