NOVEMBER provided some great fishing this year. Usually November is the first month where the Florida Keys actually experience a bit of a cool down. In between fronts the weather can be absolutely priceless. Many days you hardly break a sweat. The change in water temperature typically gets the fish schooled up and moving. Bonefish especially school up during the cooler months of the year. Typically you can find large groups of bonefish migrating down the oceanside on those beautiful, blue-bird sky days. With winds out of the north, the oceanside provides an escape from the wind and one heck of a scenery to look for the large schools of bones. The fish vary in size, but it is not atypical to catch a double digit fish like the 10 pounder shown above. Sometimes the water temperature gets too cold and we run to the backcountry of Islamorada to target snook and redfish. These are a great consolation prize and a lot of fun to stalk on the flats.
OCTOBER was a great month in Islamorada this year. Although we experienced a couple minor cold fronts, the days following those fronts had some of the most beautiful weather I have seen in the Florida Keys in a long time. With air temperatures in the mid-70s and wind speeds at less than 10 mph, fishing conditions were at an all time high if you caught it on the right days.
As with September, October produces some of the higher water we see all year around Islamorada. Anytime you have big water, you can expect to find permit. This October was no exception. Both photos above are anglers of mine with their first permit ever. Sight fishing permit can be very frustrating at times due to the fact that permit are wary feeders when up on the flats. You don’t typically get too many opportunities to cast at them until the gig is up and they are long gone. However, if you can handle the frustration, the payoff can be great. Although tackling a permit on a fly rod can be very difficult at times, most permit will readily eat a well placed live crab delivered by a spinning rod.
Unfortunately, there was a stretch of bad weather this October when one of my good friends and clients from Texas came to visit. Although we did not see sunlight for the entire four days we fished together, we had a number of great afternoons fishing for big, downtown tailing bonefish. After the rain ceased, we would run out and find singles and pairs of these elusive fish feeding aggressively up on the downtown Islamorada flats. It took us a few days to fool one, but on the last day we landed the monster depicted in the picture above. It truly amazes me how camouflaged these bonefish really are. No wonder they are so difficult to see on the flats!
September has been my favorite month to fish since I was just a boy. This past September was no exception. The month of September has a number of benefits that other months don’t offer in Islamorada. First and foremost, there are significantly fewer people in town during the months of September and October. That is turn allows for cheaper hotel rates, no reservations for dinner, and literally miles of flats with hardly anybody fishing them.
By the time September rolls around, the water has cooled off a little bit and big tides occur close to the full and new moon. With the big tides come permit; lots of permit. The flats in and around Islamorada have been incredible for permit fishing during the month of September. Whether taken on a fly rod or with a live crab, we released over 30 permit in the month of September. Along with the spectacular permit fishery, Islamorada has also seen a much-anticipated comeback in the bonefish population. This past September showed some great bonefish days. The downtown Islamorada flats offer opportunities at larger fish, while the oceanside shorelines offer fish in the three to eight pound range.
Lastly, it has been a wonderful sight to see a large number of juvenile tarpon in and around the Florida Bay and Flamingo areas. These little guys hold the same acrobatic tendencies as their larger types but are more apt to eat a fly and are far easier to fight. Stay tuned for October’s report.