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January 21, 2009

Freelance Free-for-All

Fish the Gulf's easternmost fringes in late winter to catch anything and everything

In fact, that's pretty much how things went most of the day on the BnM, a 42-foot Crusader out of Bud N' Mary's Fishing Marina in Islamorada. When cobia weren't  chasing our baits and lures, we battled kings, blacktip sharks, jack crevalle, goliath grouper, bluefish, seatrout,   little tunny, yellowtail snapper, small gag grouper, plus a number of other game fish - and, yeah, including Spanish mackerel.
Add to the list still other game fish we might have caught, such as the nice permit at the surface that took a live crab and left a bare hook. We saw tarpon roll, and at one point a tiger shark, man-size-plus, cruised slowly by the boat - an awesome sight (and enhanced by the cobia we could see trailing the big shark).
By the close of our fishing day, everyone in the group - three Florida anglers and two from Washington D.C. - agreed that the outing had been truly memorable thanks to nearly nonstop action from game fish of many sizes and types.
Or put another way, the day had been about as much fun as light-tackle fishing gets, anywhere.
And it taught me a good lesson about fishing the Keys in late winter/early spring: Go freelance.

Just No Telling
"An uncommitted independent"  - that's one definition for the word "freelance" from the American Heritage Dictionary.
And that's exactly the philosophy with which smart skippers and anglers approach fishing the Gulf side of the central Keys from February through April. That is, come prepared for anything and everything because that's just what you're likely to catch.