Islamorada Fishing Charter
What can you expect from an Islamorada fishing charter?
First of all, the term “Islamorada fishing charter” actually encompasses several general categories of different fishing trips: Islamorada fishing charters–back country, Islamorada fishing charters–reef, and Islamorada fishing charters–offshore. Many operators choose one specialty, or even a sub-specialty, own a boat suited to that specialty, and take mostly fishing trips within that specialty. Other operators are more generalized.
Ultimate Dream Fishing Adventures would be one of the most generalized, as Capt. Scott Bannerot employs his 20-foot Seacraft Superfisherman everywhere from Islamorada fishing charters–offshore, to Islamorada fishing charters–reef, and all the way west into Florida Bay, the Everglades, and Cape Sable areas on Islamorada fishing charters—back country. Let’s have a look at some of what his clients experience on these assorted adventures
Islamorada Fishing Charters – Reef
The Florida Reef Tract is a three to four-mile wide shallow (less than 30 feet deep) calcium carbonate platform that runs first in a northeast to southwest arc, and further down east to west line, approximately 160 miles from Fowey Light off of Miami and Biscayne Bay, all the way to Sand Key Light just southwest of Key West.
The raised backbone of the Florida Keys themselves form the western/northern border of the reef tract, while offshore about 3 ½ miles mostly the shallow platform gives way to a 40 to 65 foot band of reef, which then drops fairly abruptly to 80 to 120 feet. This is the eastern/southern margin of the reef tract. Departing from Islamorada, we have access to the myriad reefs offshore of Key Largo, the Islamorada area, and south towards Long Key and Duck Key.
We can fish patch reefs starting a mile from shore, out to near the drop-off 3 ½ miles out; we can fish the drop-off itself, either the shallower portions in 40-70 feet, or out along the deeper sections, from 70-110 feet depth or so. There also deeper ledges and wrecks lying out beyond the drop-off, from 80 to 300 feet deep or more.
Approximately 500 species of fish associate with the subtropical and tropical waters of the Florida Reef Tract, so it is no surprise that the potential number of species one can catch on an Islamorada fishing charter–reef is large.
Hogfish, snappers (yellowtail, mangrove, mutton, cubera, dog, mahogany, vermilion, yelloweye, blackfin, red, queen, and schoolmaster), groupers (gag, black, red, Nassau, goliath, scamp, yellowmouth, strawberry, red hind, speckled hind, snowy, misty, for example), porgies and grunts (assorted species), mackerels (king, cero, Spanish), sharks (hammerhead, bull, lemon, Atlantic sharpnose, dusky, silky, tiger, reef, blacktip, and many others) sailfish, wahoo, numerous species of jacks (permit, amberjack, almaco jack, blue runner, rainbow runner, yellow jack, bar jack, jack crevalle, horse-eye jack, black jack), bonito, blackfin tuna, cobia, barracuda…and numerous other species can pop up too.
By and large, though, we target specific species and sizes with very specific locations and techniques. One common example is to anchor along the deeper edges of the drop-off, often in 65 to 110 feet, chum, and freeline baits back in the current for yellowtail snapper. A heavier bottom rod for mutton snappers or groupers might present a live pinfish or other bait close to the seafloor. A flatline or kite bait may offer a pilchard, cigar minnow, ballyhoo, or small blue runner near the surface for sailfish, king or cero mackerel, blackfin tuna, or wahoo. We also catch mahimahi occasionally along the reef. Another strategy would be to anchor on a patch reef in 16 to 25 foot depths, with a similar array of baits, for mangrove snappers, mutton snappers, red and black groupers, cero mackerel, smaller yellowtail snappers, big barracuda. Fishing live shrimp on the bottom garners hogfish and porgies. We also do different specialty trips, fishing live crabs for permit on the wrecks, and even targeting huge cubera snappers at night. Advantages to Islamorada fishing charters–reef are that the ride to the fishing spots is generally quite brief, the sea conditions are often calmer than further offshore, and the color, variety, and eating quality of the fish are all high. For kids and adults alike, it can also be an inspirational lesson in tropical marine biology.
Capt. Scott Bannerot
P.O. Box 880
Tavernier, FL 33070
Post Card Inn Marina
84001 Overseas Highway
Islamorada, FL 33036