Blue Parrotfish from
Houndfish from next to one
of the bridges down in the Keys.
A revelation to us, was the fun
that could be had fishing in or by the hundreds of docks, jetties and bridges
littered throughout Florida. A light rod, a bag of shrimp, a six pack of beers
and a couple of hours in the evening were all that was required to fill your
boots with juveniles of all kinds of species, the like of which you would just
love to see in an aquarium back at home. Several times, after arriving back at
the motel after a days 'serious' fishing for the big boys out on the ocean, we'd
retire for sundowners and a complete change of scenery and tactics by heading
down to the docks to relax and spend a couple of hours sitting on a
jetty, and work our way through a few beers while getting a bite a cast. It
really is lovely fishing, and you just don't know what you're going to catch
next. Snappers, Puffers, Grunts, Jacks, Doctorfish, Mullet, along with several
less common species like Lookdown, Lizardfish and Parrotfish can all put in an
appearance at any point. But don't think it's all strictly small stuff. Watto
dropped out a section of Houndfish flesh on the bottom one evening on a spinning
rod & 15lb BS mono, just to see what happened. Within ten minutes he had a bite, struck... and then
ended up watching his Baitrunner get spooled as the unseen adversary bolted
along the dock, under and around a couple of jetties, out towards the exit to
the ocean before breaking the line with ease! What it was we can't be sure, but
in all probability it was perhaps a large Stingray or Eagle Ray. He was never
gonna get it out, whatever it's identity. In fact, we were sat taking it easy
one evening, and a boat just down from us was throwing the livebaits out of the
live-well at the end of the day... and a Tarpon appeared in the inadvertent
chum-lane at the stern of his boat just snaffling them as they hit the surface.
So his young son hooked up one of the remaining baits, flicked it out... and ten
minutes later had a forty pound Silver King on the boat. Just like that.
Of course, you could soon get
into a shoal of one particular species. So once you've had enough of those, you
just walk 20 yards, change mooring and set about another shoal of something
different at the next one! One has to be careful though, because nearly
everything you bring ashore there has spines, teeth and mucous, and I can vouch
that getting a spine from a Catfish's pectoral scraped across your hand does you
no good at all. If you do, get some antiseptic on it sharpish!
If you're ever in Florida, enjoy
fishing, and are looking to kill a few hours, and yet don't want to fish with a
guide (or can't afford to, which is more to the point...) I don't really think
you can beat it. And it's dead easy, which suits me down to the ground.
are two meanings to the phrase "down the docks" though, as we
found out after a late night down at the Monkey Bar in the Keys. Ho hum.
And a quick shot to show
how lucky I was to get it out... look at those barnacle crushing gnashers,
and yet somehow it didn't bite through the 6lb BS mono!
The ubiquitous Catfish.
Covered in slime and spines, stinks to high heaven, and usually vomits
whatever gunge it's been sucking off the bottom that day upon capture. Not
Lesser Spotted Lizardfish.
I had no idea what this fish was, but fortunately thee was a student from
the university there who had a reference book. It's scales even felt like
A trophy Jack
of only two I've ever caught that didn't pull my arms off!
A species of Doctorfish for
And Watto shows off the
bright red mouth.