Capt. Barry Hoffman’s fishing report for the Upper Keys and Florida Bay flats and backcountry. February 27th, 2001 Fishing on the flats has been fairly productive this week. A prolonged warming trend has brought life to the flats on both sides of the island chain. Bonefishing has been very productive especially when the wind speed is up. An increased tidal flow across a flat, produced by a strong wind, draws the large bonefish out of the deeper water and onto the flats. Under these conditions the fish feed aggressively and move very fast. Good flats vision and a fast, accurate cast are imperative. A few days of light wind brought permit to the deeper edges of the ocean side flats. A small crab, ready to go, will have you prepared when the wily permit make a sudden appearance.
In the backcountry channels the seatrout bite has slowed. Extend your search to the grass bottom basins in the interior of the Park. Popping corks are a sure way to locate them, then a switch to bucktail jigs or a Clouser if fly fishing is a bit more sporting. On the falling tide there have been redfish on the clear water flats. Fishing leeward flat edges during a falling tide seems to produce clearer water and more fish.
(wind SE 20+) On Tuesday I fished with Peter Stickney and his friend Paul. We started in the backcountry where we found the water very muddy from the stiff breeze. Unable to sight fish for redfish in the heavy cloud cover, We caught some very large ladyfish, and a few seatrout. We also caught a few large Lemon sharks up to 60 pounds. We finished the day with a 12 pound barracuda on a plug.
(wind E 15) Louis Basque fly fished with me on Wednesday. The strong wind provide plenty of opportunities at bonefish. Although we had over 40 shots, Louis unfortunately broke off the only fish we hooked.
(wind E <5) All psyched up from the day before, I took Bill Gilligan and his friend Kenny out in search of bonefish. It was a beautiful day for the beach, but not for bonefishing. The wind died and the fish were less than enthusiast about making an appearance on the flats. We had a handful of shots but couldn't connect.
(wind E <5) Friday brought Charles Lacefield and his daughter Suzanne to fish with me. Just interested in catching fish, we hammered the seatrout. We caught a few very large seatrout that were nearing 4 pounds. Plenty of ladyfish and a large 80 pound nurse shark finished the day.
(wind SE 23+) Saturday provided us with a very strong wind, limiting our abilities in the backcountry. Blind casting a few flats caught Gerry Faigle and his partner Lucius 2 redfish. We found a few small seatrout and ladyfish to finish the day.
(wind E <10) Charles Lacefield was again fishing with me on Monday. The wind was a bit light for bonefishing but Charles did a stellar job. On spinning tackle, Charles caught a 10 and a 10.5 pound fish as measured on the Boga grip. The two fish were full of milt, perhaps an indication they're about to spawn.
Until next week, Practice that casting, stay warm, and Good Luck fishing!
– Capt. Barry Hoffman
For more information please contact Capt. Barry Hoffman at: www.flatsguide.com