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November 19, 2008

Brawling at the Bar

Find two-fisted fishing action in the Florida Keys this winter.

The famous bars in Key West, Florida, welcome patrons of all shapes, sizes and demeanors. Another establishment, situated about 18 miles west of the Southernmost City, attracts revelers ready to start a fight with anybody who crosses their path. The Boca Grande Bar hosts a wide variety of bottom-dwelling and pelagic game fish, and draws anglers who relish mixed-bag opportunities.

More than two decades ago, a group of charter captains that included "RT" Trosset, Ken Harris and Jose Wejebe helped refine the fishery in the area known as "the end of the bar." Now, fishing the end of Boca Grande Bar has become a regular event for many Key West guides from November through April.

Winter after winter this hot spot offers anglers excellent light- and heavy-tackle fishing for species ranging from mutton and yellowtail snapper to amberjack, African pompano and king mackerel, to pelagics like wahoo,       sailfish and blackfin tuna.

Location, Location, Location
What makes the end of the bar so fishy? It's actually the end of the reef line, running from Sand Key Light (west of Key West) to slightly southwest of Boca Grande Key. About a  45-minute run from the island city (on a nice day), the end of the bar sticks out like a tongue - an underwater isthmus jutting into the Atlantic Ocean. Its highest spot measures only 60 feet deep. On the reef side, depths drop to more than 100 feet before   rising again on the interior reef. On the seaward side, depths plunge to almost 200 feet before trailing off toward the edge of the continental shelf at a rate of about 100 feet per mile.