December 30, 2011

Flats Guides Offshore

A couple of buddies with the same day off, nice weather and reports of great offshore fishing, the shallow water boys headed out to the deep blue to kill something.

Thursday, I, Captain Peter Heydon and Captain Tony Skinner headed way out west toward the Marquesas for a day of bottom fishing.  Pete got some numbers from a friend of a killer grouper and snapper area.  Loaded with bottom fishing gear, chum and bunch of dead stuff for bait we headed out with great anticipation.  The weather was cool, calm and cloudy.  First area, first drop and boom, big 'ole red grouper.  Second bait down gets railed and its a big mutton snapper.  A few more grouper that we had to throw back from that spot and we moved to the next mark.  Drop down a bait and it gets railed by another keeper grouper.  This continued for most of the morning and then another little flurry at the end of the day.  In total we put six red grouper and two mutton snappers in the box along with a few mackerel.

Friday, day 2 of the flats guides adventure offshore, Captain Peter and I headed out to the Gulf Stream for some trolling.  Good reports of wahoo, dolphin and tuna the last few days, hope we aren't too late.  Pete and I have pretty good system, he rigs the baits and sets the rods and I drive the boat around, hopefully not in circles.  We ended up having a really good day of draggin' bait.  Four dolphin (Mahi Mahi), three blackfin tuna (mmm sushi) and a pile of bonitas and skip jacks we kept for shark bait on the flats.  The highlight of our day was a strike on the downrigger that pulled line of the TLD 30 like I had never heard.  Obviously a wahoo, this must have been quite a specimen.  Their initial runs are absolutely incredible, their is no comparison to the screaming drag in fishing like from a wahoo.  Well this fish hit another gear and we both said "Holy sh...."  Unfortunately the hook pulled only a few minutes in, it was such a downer, but absolutely incredible at the same time.

Captain Mike Bartlett

December 27, 2011

Permit on Fly

I fished with my buddy Captain Peter Heydon this morning for some good ole Key West flats fishing.  We started early in hopes of a tarpon since the winds have been out of the south and quite warm.  We saw a couple roll and marked a few but never a bite.  Our hopes of a flats grand slam were dashed in the first hour of the trip.

We headed off to the Gulf side for the beginning of the incoming tide.  Pete was on the bow armed with a 10 weight and his personally hand-crafted crab fly.  We had a couple of shots at permit in deeper water, but they were hard to see and behind us so the angles weren't great.  Finally we both were staring at an area in front of the boat that I think we realized at about the same was alive.  It turned out to be a school of about 10 or so smaller permit and Pete presented his fly to the middle of the school.  The permit were chasing the fly and zipping all around it when about half way back to the boat that most awesome of feelings when fly fishing for permit, his line come tight and the fly rod developed a deep bend.

He's not the biggest permit out there but he had the biggest heart.  It took what seemed like an eternity for Pete's permit to finally come boat side.  I snatched him out of the water for many photos and Pete made the release.

This is also the first permit on fly on my Beavertail BT3 skiff.

Captain Mike Bartlett

December 14, 2011

Redfish and Barracudas

My buddy Captain Tony Skinner and I went on a field research trip the other day in the Key West backcountry.  We fished a couple of flats we haven't fished in a good while in hopes of finding redfish.  With low winter tides, a ton of mullet around and good light, we had the right conditions.

Tony spotted the first redfish not too long after we started working the flat.  We ran over a few but Tony spotted a couple of slot redfish ahead of the boat.  I managed to get a cast near the fish and the shrimp we were using were instantly eaten.  You'd think these fish haven't eaten in a month the way they jumped on the baits.

As we went along we spotted a few barracudas landing two and few other follows.  We saw lots of small lemon sharks and a nice surprise was two tarpon with one of those eating a shrimp Tony placed in front of it.

Great day on the water!!

Captain Mike Bartlett

December 07, 2011

Food Porn

The grouper from my previous post was this evening's dinner, very yummy.  The grouper was seasoned with a little sea salt, pepper and rosemary then sauteed in pastured butter and organic coconut oil.  I added some unsweetened organic shredded coconut to one of the grouper chunks for me.  The fish had almost a creamy texture to it, it was sooo good!!  The veggie is mashed cauliflower with some more pastured butter, a little shredded swiss cheese and sour cream.

Triggerfish ceviche tomorrow, can't wait.

Captain Mike Bartlett

Yellowtails, Grouper, Mutton Snapper - Key West Reef Fishing

My buddy Captain Peter Heydon and I took advantage of the beautiful weather we had today and ventured out to the reef for some yellowtailing.  The bite on the reef was on all morning and we filled the cooler in only a few hours. I first dropped a bait down to the bottom while the chum was working.  Bait hit the bottom and was instantly eaten by the big red grouper pictured below.  A few other drops to the bottom resulted in smaller hinds which were released.  Pete freelined his first bait back for yellowtail and hooked something big that went straight to the bottom and got hung up.  A few minutes of patience and it came free.  Pete landed the big mutton snapper pictured below.  Wow what a start!!

We settled in for yellowtailin' and we each caught a triggerfish, which will make some nice ceviche for tomorrow.  We finally got a yellowtail after all that and it was a quality fish.  We topped of the cooler with a bunch of  yellowtails, we kept nothing under 16 inches.  We also caught a few mackerel and a couple of small bonitas.

Captain Mike Bartlett

December 03, 2011

Thomas & Thomas Fly Rods on Sale

The Angling Company has several Thomas & Thomas HII and Axis fly rods at 50% off retail price, various weights.  Stop in or give a call at 305-292-6306.

December 01, 2011

Fishmonster Magazine

The December issue of FishMonster Magazine is now available.  In the Keys, pick up a copy at one of the many marinas and tackle shops that carry FishMonster Magazine or get the electronic version available at

FishMonster Magazine is loaded with a ton of great fishing, boating and diving articles by captains and guides throughout the Florida Keys and up to date fishing regulations from the regulatory agencies that govern our waters.

Captain Mike Bartlett