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Hey y'all. We're heading down to the Keys in May to hopefully score some big tarpon and a few bones. We'll be staying in Key West. I'm looking for a little advice from people who have fished the area. We think we'll probably use a guide for a day, then strike out on our own after that. The specific questions I have are:
1) How is the fishing in Key West compared to further up the Keys (Marathon, Islamorada, etc...)?
2) Is there good wade fishing that we DO NOT need a boat to get to? If so is this near Key West or further north? (Basically asking here if we will always need a guide, or if we can find some accessible spots ourselves.)
3) Does anyone have any guide recommendations? (Preferably someone they've actually used, not "My brother's friend's uncle......)

Thanks much in advance for any help. We've never fished the area, so obviously we need a little help to maximize our time and money! :thumb
 

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Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
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You can definately go it alone, but your best bet would be to spend at least a day with a good flats guide.The wadeing stuff down there is wide open and accessible.Mostly roadside stuff, and under the bridges and causeway.Try the marinas at night if you can find a nearly empty dock under the lights; that's where the bait will be. Some guys use light tippets at night doing that stuff, from land or structures; they just let the tarpon run a while and then break em off.You have to be a fly tier to appreciate this. Snook,bones, redfish and sea trout then too. Contact Larry kennedy at the Bedford Sportsman South in St Simons Georgia, I think it's : www.stsimonsoutfitters.com . Phone is 912-638-5454. He's an old master down there and knows all the keys guys. You tell him what you want to do and he'll help you out.That way you'll get a broader range of options.
 

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Sounds like a great trip. I didn't make it down this past Spring, but I was down in the Keys the previous two years prior. I have had the best fishing with guides in/around Tavernier/Marathon/Islamorada for sure. Key West may be a good bet to get to the backcountry though (Everlglades).

I last fished with Capt. Mark Johnson - Tailspin Charters / 1-877-664-7419. Tell him you want to go "buggy whip" for a Tarpon. I had great Success - 3 hookups - 2 landed. I used his single piece 10-wt "Billy Baroo". Landed 60+lb, 70+lb and lost one 100+lbs - totally Awesome. No bones though? Mark is out of Pappa Johns marina up towards Marathon I believe. www.tailspincharters.com

From what I have heard, there is some potential shore-flats access out of Big Pin Key, but the area is so expansive it seems like it could be tough. Next time I go, I am going to use a hand held GPS and look to rent a boat for a day. That would be another option, but would go out with a guide for a day or two....well worth the money + plus great gear. I didn't even bother bringing any down my last trip.

Lastly, out of Key West was recommended to me (but didn't go out due to weather) was Capt. Neil Bohannon - (305)745-4634. I was looking at a backcounry trip for snook and baby tarpon.

PS - make sure to stop by Mangrove's Mike for breakfast someday (up towards Islamorada)!

Good Luck :thumb - Bob
 
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