Thanks to family vacations I have been fishing in Florida ever since I was old enough to hold a rod. I first fished the Florida Keys while traveling with a band in the early ’80s.
Later in 1982 I made several solo trips back to the Keys and told of my adventures to some close friends. About 1983 Steve Peace joined me on a trip and he was hooked.
In the early ’90s I took my stepsons. John Robert and Hoke joined my wife at the time, Janie, and I on a trip. Both of the kids enjoyed fishing the Keys. Soon after that, more of my friends followed me to the Keys and one brought his young son, Tyler Brown, with him. At that time Tyler was a true rookie who needed all the help he could get. Tyler turned into an exceptional fisherman. He also attended the first ever Georgia Tout Camp.
Throughout my years fishing in the Keys I have fished many times with my friend Everett. He was a young first mate on a charter boat when we met and was just a kid himself, but he was a great fisherman. Over the years he often brought one of his kids along on our “flats excursions.” Taking a kid fishing is good for the kid and the adults.
Here is a story from Steve Peace about the Keys and his grandkids:
Paul Diprima introduced me to fishing in the Florida Keys about 40 years ago and I am so thankful he did. Every trip since has been an experience. A few years ago I had the opportunity for my grandkids Colton and Callie to join me and it was the most special trip of all. Colton had been freshwater fishing since he could hold a rod and reel, and now he was about to experience something entirely different.
On our earliest trip we started out fishing for barracuda with spoons and plugs. This requires excellent fishing skills as you are casting as close to the mangroves, throwing as close, as you can get. Not once did he get hung up. Pretty good for a 10-year-old! When fishing this method barracuda will come out of nowhere, strike the lure hard and then get airborne. The screaming drag and the crazy jumps put a big smile on Colton’s face. You’ve never seen a kid so excited!
This past year Colton, now 14, finally caught a 30-pound barracuda and it put on a show you wouldn’t believe. Callie also caught a big one and she was done, tough fishing for a 12-year-old.
Now it was shark time. We anchored up on one of the numerous channels on the Gulf side and got the chum line going. In no time you could see the sharks coming in the shallows, and soon he had hooked his first shark! He caught 3 or 4 before he was done. When it comes to shark fishing, he’s caught lemon, blacktip, spinner, nurse, bonnethead and — the most unique of all — a hammerhead. He’s also caught a couple of goliath grouper while shark fishing in Snipe Point Creek.
Next it was time to try his luck at catching a tarpon. After anchoring up in Bow Channel we got our lines set out and, in no time, Colton had his first tarpon on. What a show the 80 pound fish put on. When we got back to the house he had spotted a 10 pound. tarpon in the canal and Colton did not give up until he caught it. Over the past 4 years he’s caught tarpon on every trip, with two being on top water plugs — something none of my old fishing buddies have ever done.
He also loves fishing out on the reef for yellowtail, mangrove and mutton snapper and anything else that shows up. Some really weird fish show up when chumming on the reef. We tried dolphin fishing one day and trolled for hours with no luck, so a big dolphin is still on his bucket list.
Not to be outdone, my granddaughter Callie has also caught sharks, snappers, yellowtail, barracuda, grouper and blue runners.
Fishing the Keys is something every kid that loves to fish needs to experience. Nowhere else can you be fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and 5 minutes later be fishing in the Atlantic Ocean.
Alaska fishing is for meat... Keys fishing is for fun!
Successful workday at Johns Creek
This past Saturday a crew of 20 worked hard at the creek, completing two wood loading structures and doing trail maintenance. The stream banks and the road had a trash pickup and the area around the kiosk was maintained. These new structures will help to improve fishing results in the area.
The next meeting of the Coosa Valley Chapter of TU will be Thursday, Oct. 20, at 6:30 p.m. at the Rome-Floyd ECO Center at Ridge Ferry Park. The public is invited.