Key West Variety

Inshore and offshore action with the latest tackle from Fin-Nor and Quantum.

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I'd been wanting to fish with this guy for quite some time and managed to do just that not long ago in his home waters of Key West, Florida. His name is Capt. Chris Trosset, son of the legendary Robert "RT" Trosset, and quite an excellent seaman in his own right. Chris and I fished during January's "In The Keys" outing, hosted by Fin-Nor/Quantum/Zebco. Our goal was to….Mike Mazur
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…put a few of their new products, such as this Quantum Boca 80 combo to the test on some of the local game-fish attractions. But first, we needed to…Mike Mazur
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… get bait. Chris tosses the net over a shallow flat, and soon…Mike Mazur
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…the livewell is filled to the brim with frisky pilchards, a staple baitfish here in Key West. We also rounded up a few…Mike Mazur
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…ballyhoos, which are plentiful on the Key West flats in wintertime.Mike Mazur
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Before we left the bait grounds, a familiar face swung by – it was Chris’ dad, and the two chatted about the day’s strategy. It was very windy out, but we figured we’d head to some deep structure to see what might be around.Mike Mazur
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After a lengthy run, Chris puts down the anchor in 150 feet of water, and then…Mike Mazur
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….begins to spice the area with some fresh, lively pilchards. I was really impressed with Chris’ work ethic on the water. Apparently, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree – and before long…Mike Mazur
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….the chummed baits began to congregate in the open waters, which surely would attract some predators. Just then, Chris’ rod…Mike Mazur
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….doubled over! We were hooked up!Mike Mazur
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Something caught Chris’ attention as he was fighting his fish. About a hundred yards out…Mike Mazur
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….a group of fish were slamming into our chummed pilchards. They looked like tunas of some sort, and soon we learned that they were….Mike Mazur
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….false albacores, one of the prettiest and hardest pulling fish in the sea.Mike Mazur
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Soon, my rod was hit and I held on as the fish put my light Quantum Cabo 40 outfit to the test.Mike Mazur
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Mission accomplished – another pretty false albacore is boatside. We’d go on to catch a dozen more in no time flat. They were a blast on the light spinners, which performed flawlessly, but soon…Mike Mazur
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…we pointed the boat to shallower waters to try for something different. We anchored up on a rock pile in about 25 feet of water and Chris started chumming. Then he began casting a Bomber Badonk-a-Donk plug over the rocks. It didn’t take long before…Mike Mazur
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…a fish I’d never seen before crashed the plug. At first, I thought it was an amberjack, but…Mike Mazur
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….as Chris held it out of the water for a couple snapshots, I realized it was instead a yellow jack, a beautiful species commonly found in the Keys.Mike Mazur
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Chris gives us a closer look at the business end of a yellow jack, an excellent eating fish and a dogged fighter, as I would soon learn…Mike Mazur
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….with a monster of my own, taken on a soon-to-be-released Fin-Nor Lethal 40 spinning reel! But then, we decided to have a little fun, catching some assorted reef fish on a…Mike Mazur
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….Zebco 33 outfit (yes, the kind you probably grew up with)! This was the big fish of our day on the 33, a very nice cero mackerel in the neighborhood of 6 or 7 pounds. I must say, the 33 handled it just fine, and the fish served as a nice way to wrap up the day with Chris.Mike Mazur
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The following morning found me in another boat with this guy, Capt. Rich Tudor, of The Saltwater Experience television series.Mike Mazur
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Before we could even get out of Key West harbor, several birds caught our attention. We watched them closely, then saw quite a few diving…Mike Mazur
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…amidst the sail boats in very shallow water. Fish were busting bait, as well, so we ran over to investigate.Mike Mazur
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Plugs were thrown on ultra-light Quantum Smoke outfits and retrieved quickly, then BANG.....Mike Mazur
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….Rich was tight!Mike Mazur
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He wasn’t the only one hooked up, either. John Kushnerick, Quantum’s marketing director, was also in the boat with us that day, and he latched into a fish of his own that proceeded to…Mike Mazur
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….tear up the surface around the bow of Tudor's Yellowfin 24 Bay. But what were these fish?Mike Mazur
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Big jack crevalle, that’s what! These bruisers may not be the most prized of species in the Keys, but they pull like the dickens and are incredibly fun when in the shallows like we found them that morning.Mike Mazur
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Here was another fish – they really are a good-looking species, with big, bulging eyes and wide, silvery flanks that make them very tough battlers.Mike Mazur
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These jacks were feeding on ballyhoos this morning in Key West harbor, spraying the baits everywhere on the flats, and we caught them by the bushels on light gear and Live Target plugs. It was a memorable morning.Mike Mazur
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As the day progressed, the wind picked up to a near-gale and the fishing grew tougher. The water on the flats became clouded so we started fishing for sharks in the channels. A fish picked up one of our baits, but it was no shark. Instead, it was a…Mike Mazur
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….very nice bluefish, in the 4- to 5-pound range. We let it go and resumed our shark fishing, drifting slabs of bait and chumming at the same time. Just then…Mike Mazur
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…John’s rod was hit. It was definitely something much larger, a big shark we figured, and he strained against its weight in the current.Mike Mazur
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The fish finally surfaced and we realized it was no shark! At a distance, it appeared to be a big goliath grouper and John put the pressure on with the Quantum Cabo 60 reel.Mike Mazur
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No doubt, he had a big goliath, and he pulled hard to turn its head towards Rich.Mike Mazur
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Tudor grabs the leader and gingerly pulls on the goliath.Mike Mazur
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There! Rich finally managed to turn his head, and he guides the 200-plus-pounder to the side of the boat, where he…Mike Mazur
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…finally gets a hand on its massive head. John leans over to take a look at his catch, a great accomplishment on the spinner.Mike Mazur
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Mr. Goliath had about had it, and he shook his giant head one last time, pulled the hook free and swam back down to the bottom. The day was over and we were all pooped and happy with the results. We hadn’t found any sharks, but the new gear performed admirably against some of Key West’s toughest battlers.Mike Mazur