Lazy Permit Fishing in the Florida Keys Bridges

It was that time of the year, we set out to go permit fishing, play with some tarpons and perhaps grab a few snappers for dinner at home. We wanted to go at night to play with the tarpons as these are easy to catch when not many boats are around. Tarpon usually hang around under the bridges in the shadow lines produced by the street light and the bridge itself. There was one problem, we forgot it was lobster season opener in Florida. This means that there were thousands of tourists who drove from who knows where to come and catch 6 lobsters per person. So you can imagine grandma, the grand kids, and the uncles all got a fishing license and camped up in a boat so that one of them would go down hunting for their lobsters. And so it was hell trying to fish with boats running all over and divers risking their life getting tangled with our lines. Many don’t understand that lobsters are anywhere and everywhere in the Keys. The key is to find a rocky area and bam! get your limit quick. But hey go buy a boat travel to the keys and fish under a bridge that you could have swam from land as well. I know there is lots of fun in doing this but better yet, just buy the lobsters at the local store it’s a lot cheaper as the matter of fact you can buy live lobsters at $12 bucks a piece from some markets in the keys. You don’t have to waste boat gas money, equipment money, or your life.

Below is a boater getting a few lobsters while bull netting, a quick and much easier way to getting lobsters and not have to dive down. You shine lights in the shallows and the lobsters stare at you like a deer, you place a net on top of them and they get tangled in the net. Easy as pie!

Lobstering

Here is what it looked like:

Boats going for lobster

I enjoy boating my self but always let others enjoy their fishing where ever it is they are doing it. Well enough with the rant here is the outcome of our trip:

Since we had wasted our time trying to look for a bridge where there might not be so many boats we decided to end it and go try out and fish for the permit fish. We got to the bridge and on we went on to set up. Shortly after setting up I got a nice hit and lost my crab. then Jongsoo got a hit and ended being a bonnet head shark, we released it and found out what had  hit my line earlier. The night passed and early morning came I got another hit and run but lost it again, weird thing is my crab was in whole shape. Perhaps a tarpon sucked it and then let it go. Time passed slowly and windy when around 6am I got another hit but I had fallen asleep so took me a bit to get my rod, LOL. Well, I got to my rod a bit late so I was already wrapped around a pylon. I ended loosing this fish.

Retribution! Nilson was next. I looked at his rod and it was shaking I screamed Nilson you are getting hit! Sure enough it was a click click and no run, Nilson picked it up, reeled a few times and the fish ran and it gave him hell. It went under the pylons in the middle of the bridge footings. He pulled the permit fish out very slowly and then brought it to the arches to land it. We had problems with the current and getting the net under the fish. I passed the net to Jongsoo but he ended up getting tangled with the hook on the fish, unfortunately the net was ontop of the fish. It was caught on the hooks that were on the fish mouth. yes, it had two previous hooks in it’s mouth. Jongsoo tried to get the fish tail with a jig, he would then try to flip it into the net but that plan failed as well as he ended getting tangled in the net as well.  In the end I proposed to take a risk and hand line the net slowly but surely until the fish was within our reach. It worked! We flipped the fish and it was all high fives around. it had my hook, it was the same fish I had lost.

Here is Nilson and his fish.Nilsons Permit Fish

The day went on and all bites were the same, the fish were just sitting there with the crabs in their mouth. Jonsoo lost a couple and then the bite died. We ran out of bait so we went to get pin fish, but to our bad luck the flats were full of Bermuda chubs and small snappers. So we decided to go on a bait run. We went from shop to shop looking for small crabs until finally we found them. Crabs in hand and some sandwiches we waiting our next turn. Ouch, Jongsoo lost another. Then it was again my turn the rod went click, click and no run but I picked it up and reeled in like a maniac just in case and there it was, the run!, fish went left themn middle then under the pilons of the bridge footings, I said nice and slow! This one is coming in! and sure did. I brought it in close and again we had a bit of trouble with the current so I did not want to go in between the arches. We stayed were we were and Nilson let the current take the net to the fish and was able to scoop it out.

Here is my fish.

Cudamans Permit Fish

With that burden out of my chest I was able to relax and wait for Jongsoo to take on the next bite. Anxiously waiting the weed lines kept playing tricks on us until finally one of the rods started to click louder than the others had been.  Jongsoo ran to it and was able to pick it up on time, the fish gave him a hard time and Jongsoo was able to control it. I ran with the net and again the current gave us a bit of trouble and had to let the current carry the net under the fish. The fish was landed and our goal was accomplished. Each of us landed a permit.

Here is Jongsoo and his fish.Jongsoo and his permit fish

All in all it was a windy day at the beginning and then it turned into extreme heat. The snappers came in and left as fast as they came, we got a couple of baby mutton snappers and a baby black grouper all were released. Besides the walking up and down and the heat, it was fun to be back on the bridges of the Florida Keys where class fishing awaits and as always, it’s about the fishing not the catching. It was all about the team work each of us paid attention to all the rods and screamed to whomever rod was moving. The permit were lazy at the bite, we were able to identify it but they were not lazy runners. As always they gave us hell trying to land them.Here we are with all three permit fish. As I have said it before I do not like to harvest more tan one or two permit fish a year.  I will not do this again until next year. So I can say that the permit are safe from my frying pan.Group pic- Jongsoo-Nilson-Herbert

Thanks for visiting and tight lines 8)

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Permit Fishing at Long Key Bridge 8-23-14 The Run Away Trains

 It was a new moon’s dark night, fair nice breeze, decent current, and the usual short walk we make to one of Long Key’s Bridge fishing platforms. It felt like the day of fishing would be promising. Here is my recollection of this day.

I got off work a bit late and rushed home to eat dinner with my family and then pickup my gear. It was about 7:30 pm by the time I left home to pickup Nilson and then was to our usual stops to get some blue crabs, thread-fin herring, and ballyhoo for bait. The commercial fishing for ballyhoo is closed in August so we had to buy frozen and hoped to be able to catch some bait for snappers at the bridge. We wanted to be there before the tide change but barely made it to slack tide. On this trip I went light meaning I only brought five fishing rods with me. I normally bring 10 to 12 fishing rods since there is always ample room to fish at the bridges in the Florida Keys. I brought two 9 foot bridge rods with6/0  Penn Senators filled with 80 pound test line. Well these are my inexpensive party boat trolling reels and since my Accurate 600’s were filled with braid I did not want to un-spool and re-spool with 50 lb test mono filament line. While fishing in the Florida Keys bridges I like to fish with monofilament line since it does not break so easily on the bridge’s arches or pylon’s barnacles. I took one 9 foot rod to fish for snappers, this one had an old Penn Jigging Master with Accuplates and was filled with 30 lb test mono filament line. Additionally, I brought two small bait rods; One for a sabiki rig and another for hook, line, and sinker to get small grunts and also use it a light snapper rod.

Nilson and I got to the fishing platform and after setting up we waited for Ron and Ricky to show up. We casted our rods for permit fishing and as Nilson was cutting bait for snapper fishing he dropped the only bait cutting knife we brought. We had to improvise so out came a file I use to sharpen my hooks and became a bait shank. We cut a few bits the best we could and out the snapper baits went in the water. A few small snappers were caught but back in the water they went. By this time the tide started to change and zzzzzzzzzzzzz Nilson’s rod started singing but by the time we got to it the permit fish dropped the crab, Nilson missed his first and only permit bite of the midnight tide change.

 Ron and Ricky arrived shortly after and started fishing for snappers. The night was nothing but slow pickings of lady fish, bonnet head sharks, a possible nurse shark, and a few short sized mutton snappers. Bait was scarce but we did manage a few grunts to be used for snapper fishing.

Below is Nilson with one of the Ladyfish caught. It was used for bait and a short while later a nurse shark, a bonnet head and a small mutton snapper was caught.

                           Nilson's Lady   Nilson Hooked up

 Ron and his undersized mutton snapper.Ron's Mutton SnapperTime went by, the tide had already fullychanged and the bite slowed down so I fell asleep like a pancake on the floor. I did not bring a chair or a sleeping bag and not even a yoga mat to sleep on. Like Nilson told me “man I have never seen you so unprepared”. Well it was true. I had no tme to think about what I brought to fish with. One thing I was prepared for was to catch a permit which was my main goal. I positioned my weather gear bag next to my fishing rod and used it as a pillow and fell asleep on the pavement right next to my rod. My rod was set on free spool and the clicker was set to prevent the spool from releasing any line unless a permit would pick up my bait and would start swimming away with bait in mouth. What can I say sometimes it’s all about timing I woke up at 6:30 am and as soon as I woke up the loud clicker started to sing zzzz zzzzzzz zzzzzzznnnnnn…   and the line started to rip away from my reel like a run away train. I woke up like a ninja and nefore I knew it I ad the reel and rod in my hands and started to reel in the line making sure not to set the hook as I was using a 7/0 circle hook. I was not able to see which way the line was going since it was still dark but the tide had started to change and the Permit swam 3 bridge arches to my left and headed to go under one of them. The guys were telling me wich way the line was going and I dashed to follow the run away train. If it wasn’t because I had such a heavy line I would have lost the fish.  The guys assisted with the landing of the fish. It was a nice 24.5 pounds fish. The fish had smashed it’s head against the pylons and it’s mouth was destroyed so I decided to keep it.

My permit barely fitting in the landing net.Herbert's Permit 1

 My Permit Fish weighed in at 24.5 pounds.Herbert's Permit 2

There were six rods out in total with crabs on them and as the tide continued to change Nilson’s rod got hit and as he jumps and runs to pick up his rod the line mysteriously popped. This was to be the second permit he lost since midnight but it was not long before he would get another chance and this time it was a longer runaway train that did not want to stop. The fish swam very fast away from the pylons and decided to make a swim towards the arches under the bridge. Nilson ran towards the direction of the run away train trying to catch it. We guided him so he could concentrate on reeling the line in/ It was now the 4th bridge arch and Nilson was able to turn the fish away. We got the fishes head out of the water which usually means the fish gave up and could be ready to be landed, but as Ron drops the landing net in the water the fish flipped and swam with a mad dash towards the bridge arches again, Nilson ran reeling and reeling until finally he caught up with it and again the fish head almost out of the water but zzzzzzzz another mad dash to another arch, and again Nilson runs to catch up with the run away train until finally he turns the fish and the head was once again out of the water. Ron dropped the net in the water but the net got caught up on the bridge so I had to assist him with it and as I guide Nilson to place the fish over the net and I start to pull the fish out his hook tip broke, but the fish was already in the net and with a little difficulty we were able to pull it on the bridge.

And again the fish barely fit in the landing net.Nilson's Permit 3

Nilson proud of his catch.Nilson's Permit 4

On the scale that we used to get the fish weight. The Runaway train weighed i at 29.7Nilson's Permit Weight

Ricky and Ron did not have takers this time but hopefully next time it will be different. As we left the bridge we gave our left over crabs to another fisherman that was to fish the bridges until Sunday. He had already caught some nice size mangrove snappers in the rocky areas of the bridge. As we left in this hot summer afternoon it was off to play Tetris with our gear and our cars. On the way people were asking how we did and so I told them we only got two fish. They looked back at us with the thought that it was not a good day of fishing, but to me it was great fun as it always is with our crew and Nilson and I walked away with fish to last us 6 dinners at home. 🙂

Bridge Fishing in Channel 2 Florida Keys 4-26-14

Gruntking did it again, he put together another http://www.boatlessfishing.com outing and this time it was a fishing one. The agreement came at the BBQ a few months ago. Many of us offered to go and show a few things to people that wanted to learn. If you didn’t go you missed out. Some members of the forum like Grunking Joe, PhishingPhanatic Rory, rare Nilson, Striz Ron, Greentide John, Myles, and many others fished hard core from Thursday till Sunday and some until Monday. My son and I were there only from late Friday night and till noon on Saturday since I had a fishing trip the next day but it was enough time to get my limit on Mangrove snappers and lost a Permit to the water pipes. I did release all snappers under 12″ and kept only 2 over 13″. The highlight of the day was a nice 12.5 pound Mutton Snapper by a member by the name of Myles. Wish I could have taken more pictures of the fishing and all the fish caught but there were over 70 fishing rods and too many people working all the areas of the bridge to do so. So here are the few pictures I took.

The lamp went down around 1 am to get sardines and thread fin herring wich arrived in small numbers at around 2 am.

Bait Fishing

Here is Nilson getting the bait on sabikis at night

Nilson getting bait

The amazing sun came up over the Florida Keys

Sunrise in the Florida Keys

Sunrise in Channel 2 Florida Keys

We all woke up and started to get ready to fish. I know some took some good knowledge from this outing.

Bridge Fishing

Here is the Gruntking with a barracuda he snatched (used a trebel hook with heavy sinker under it, threw it over the barracuda and snatched it. It is a common practice amongst people wanting to get shark bait and not have to use artificial or live bait. It is not as easy as it sounds you still have to know what to do and how to do it.

 Gruntking and his snatched Barracuda

Here is one of the mangrove snappers on a jig head with shrimp.

Herb Mangrove Snapper

Here is John with a gift from a Fishing Guide that was fishing under the bridge.

John with free bait

Here is my son with his grouper caught on a live pinfish with a circle hook. Fish was released.

    Seth and his Black Grouper

 In the end many fish were caught including more mutton snappers, yellow jacks and other species. It was a great day to be out there, and was fun talking to many and helping a couple of people understanding how to fish in the bridges.

Permit Fishing in Florida Keys Bridge 4-6-14

I wanted to go fishing to one of the Florida Key’s bridges this weekend. I had very little time to fish in mind and had to make the best out of this 1.5 hour drive plus stops at the bait shops in the hunt for blue crabs since I wanted to get a shot at catching a Permit Jack.  Anywhere I go fishing  is about 1.5 hour drive upwards to a 4 hours drive so I have to plan things to work out for the best. I had no idea where I needed to go until I saw the tide tables and figured I best go fishing to a bridge where I can fish both sides of the fishing bridge. The closest to me where I could do that was Channel 5 Many of the old bridges have been updated with new railings, and some with platforms. Channel 5 has not fitted with platforms but they did redo the parking lot. In my opinion they did great by not adding these platforms. Lots of people like them, I just have to get used to having them. They kind of get in my way when I have a big fish on, but I have to live with it. Back to the trip; I was happy when my wife offered to come with me since it is a pain to land a fish solo plus I had my personal photographer, what else could I ask for?

We were up by 2:30 a.m. and loaded my little square box of a car, off to get gas and to the first bait shop. We stopped at Jack’s in Florida City and I told my wife “if there are no blue crabs we are going back home”, well, they had 5 crabs so I was ok with 5 since I was only planning to fish 1 hour before the tide change and about 2 hours after the tide change. More than enough time and had to hope that no puffer fish would eat my blue crabs. I also decided to get some of the brined sardines and thread fin herrings they usually keep in a cooler. As always I picked the ones that had better eyes than the others. No glassy looking eyes.  After Jack’s we went to the gas station next door grabbed a few snacks and by now I had wasted 1.5 hours of my time. We got back on the road and wanted to stop at Bud and Mary’s bait shop since they open early sometimes but this time it was closed and would open at their normal 6 a.m. schedule. No time to wait so I kept going. As I was driving I was going on my list of things to bring and realized that I did not bring a bait knife so I had to turn around and make another stop for te knife and also got some frozen shrimp that did not look bad so at least I would have a backup plan in case the permit did not go for my blue crabs. Back in the car and off we went, after so many stops we got there at 5 a.m. right at the slack tide. We unloaded everything and went on the way. When we arrive we took some pics of the sunrise.

Channel 5

We got there, we setup our rods, and a FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) officer passed by inspecting our cooler. I was glad to see the officer doing his job. After he left I cast one of my blue crabs as far as I could and another under the bridge. I used 9 foot long fishing rods and reels loaded with 40 lb test line and 50 lb test line. The one with 40 lb test line could cast farther out and the one with 50 lb was just placed under the bridge and the thicker line could take the abrasiveness of the sharp edges.  The third rod I had was a light tackle rod and reel with 6 lb test monofilament line, this rod was set up for snappers with a troll right jig head (hookups lure). I started using the shrimp and sardines to see what was biting best and found the shrimp was the bait of the day for snappers. A fourth rod was kept with a white buck tail jig in case a school of jacks or mackerels made an appearance.

Below is what the jig head looks like and how I was using the frozen shrimp with it.

 Hookup lure

I started catching a few snappers in the 11″ range, like the one below, but I released all of them.

Mangrove Snapper

It was the almost 6 a.m. and the tide started to change. Then all of a sudden I hear click click and my wife screams the reel is clicking. I ran to it and it was just seaweed so I tighten the free spool a bit to avoid that from happening again. I cast  again and walked back to the snapper rod. As I cast the rod I hear click click again on the same rod I had just cast, knowing it might be seaweed again I still ran to it. I pick it up engaged the lever, undid the clicker and started to reel it in when zzzzznnnn the line starts going in circles, I immediately tell my wife to please get the landing net and as she does the fish starts to run against the current and heads under the arch of the bridge. I walked left and extend the 9 foot rod out as much as I could and started to reel as slow as possible hoping for the fish to go the other way towards open water and he does, but then again the reel starts buzzing with the fish dashing through the water, another run and this time parallel to the bridge as I run with it reeling line in and keeping tension trying to guide the fish to open water again the fish went under the bridge and doing so while rubbing the cement arches a painful hold and pray the line does not fray. I pointed the rod’s tip towards the water and I asked my wife to hold the rod a second while I went under one of the bridge’s cement rails and this time I had my rod tip pass the concrete arch and was able to slowly reel in the fish as the line rubbed against the opposite end of the bridge. Patiently I reeled inch by inch and I finally had it next to the bridge and with it’s head out of the water so I asked my wife to lower the landing net. It took a few tries as these fish are a bit wider than most, but she finally did it.

Fighting the fish from under the rail

Cudaman

Permit in the water

Permit

Blow is the rigged Blue crab as it would be used to fish for Permit.

Blue Crab as bait

Below is one of the rigs as it would be used for Permit.

3 way swivel rig

Once this permit was landed I did loose a bite on a big strip of threadfin herring due to a ghost lobster trap. I could feel the line rubbing against it and as I was reeling it in I felt the weight of the trap coming in. The line snapped and I lost the fish never to know what it was. I continued to fish for snapper and it was one after another keeper over 10″ mangrove snappers (Grey Snappers), grunt, and under size yellow tails, were caught and released.

Yellow Tail

The water started to clear up a bit and a big school of Tarpon were showing up and a few Permit were with them so I moved to another bridge footing and started to toss the jig head with shrimp on it when all of a sudden I get a bite and my line starts to move sideways typical of a Tarpon bite and then followed by a jump. I was using 6 pound test and so there was nothing more I could do other than wait for it to jump and come loose from my hook hoping not to loose my jig head. There was no jump and so I started to reel in the line and what do I see? I nice big head of a Hog fish, one of my favorite table fish. I call my wife and asked her to once again bring the landing net because if I tried to flip this fish over the line would snap. She brought the net and easily landed my fish. As always she was a trooper and took some pics for me. I have thank her so much for keeping me company and helping me with everything.

Hogfish

The water became clearer and clearer as time past and the almost rule of thumb is if you can see the Permit you will not hook one up. So we decided to leave. On the way out we snapped some pics of the Tarpons.

Tarpon swiming under bridge

More people started to show up and also many birds looking for an easy meal. While I was fishing my wife took some nice pictures of the birds.

pelican flying over us

Pelican and Friend

As we left the bridge I took some pics of interest for others that have never been there and plan to go there.

Common fish from the Florida Keys Bridges   Fishing Bridge Rules

After all the fishing was done we passed by Anne’s Beach Park and took some pictures of it. It is a nice beach with free parking as all the fishing bridges are. It is a very nice beach with small boardwalks that lead into smaller and then more open beaches to be enjoyed.

Florida Keys Anne's Beach Park

 Florida Keys Anne's Beach Park 3    Florida Keys Anne's Beach Park 2

Florida Keys Anne's Beach Park 6 Below are the rules and hours of the beach and a nice set of bicycles. Some days you can observe many colorful and unique bicycles around the Florida Keys.

Florida Keys Anne's Beach Park 4   Kewl Bikes

Before we left we made a stop at Bob’s Bunz for a nice breakfast and a taste of the hot sauce.

Bob's Bunz   Bob's Bunz Hot Sause

 And one last picture for this fishing report slash small tutorial slash public beach information slash restaurant information report. A cool biker taking his belonging that includes a fishing rod into his next destination. Good luck to him and the many others that visit the Florida Keys year after year for a small or big adventure into these eclectic islands.

Adventure Bike

 

Fishing in the Florida Keys Bridges is always fun, a lot of work sometimes and a lot of walking, but it pays off the more you go. The peacefulness of the night and the sound of the line buzzing out of the fishing reel is what gets the adrenaline jumping and is what many fishermen seek. Again thanks for reading and I hope this post helps someone in the future to land their prize catch or at least dinner.

 

Bridge Fishing the Keys With My Nephews 7-2-2011

After a long time of saying I will go fishing with my nephew’s (from my wife’s side) we finally came up with a day to go bridge fishing, Friday July 2nd, not such a great day since normally the 4th of July weekend is full of people rushing to the Florida Keys to have fun in the sun and water to celebrate this great country’s independence. Well, they had great expectations of this trip as they have seeing many pictures and heard great fishing stories from the Florida Keys, only one of them had gone fishing with me before and that was to Channel #2  on a Memorial day weekend that was a nightmare to drive to and from the Keys, but was a great day of fishing to catch and release sharks and keep some dinner snappers.

The only fishing experience they had were some previous bass fishing. I set them up with the basic rigs. I decided: Knocker rigs and troll rights with jig loop knots should be the best choice. They were fast learners and had it good after 2 hours of fishing, WOW! That was quick!.  I worked hard on getting them on a fish, no matter what it was, but absolutely wanted to get them on at least one quality fish. Expecting many fishermen and fisherwomen to come to the bridge that weekend I thought that it would be best to scheduled our trip to be on the bridge at a time in which most bridges are empty.  All bridges in the Florida Keys are good and you can catch many species of fish from them but in this task I had to bring them to a place where they didn’t have to drive so much, walk so much,  and catch some keeper snappers for dinner and at least one quality fish to keep them interested.

DSC01670-small - 2_ - 3

The time went on and we discovered that we were surrounded by alien looking like creatures that kept on giving us the finger, but as you can imagine they were scared of these creatures, and what is the first thought? Get rid of them or they might bite us! LAND CRABS all over! There were dozens of them at a time. One of the family members I brought was a peanut that had the courage to try and grab one and guess what? OUCH I GOT PINCHED!!! They all panicked and started pushing them back to sea. I had to watch them and constantly tell them they were creatures that were more scared of us than us of them. The crabs were appearing claw less and come to find out there was a group of people hopping bridges looking for their claws, locals that knew what was going on.

DSC01664 - 2_4 - 3_2_small  DSC01658-small

Now the fishing report: The weather was great, no rain (which I wanted some) the water was not clear and this was great, the current was not ripping when we got there and almost seemed slack to a point until it changed to incoming which is when all the action started with the clouds gathering and the winds picking up a bit.

Well, the fishing story/ report got too long so let’s go back to the report, this time with pics:

DSC01669-small

The peanut got his first fish ever and a keeper 12.5” snapper, which he told the story on how he caught it and fought it for the whole night and ride back home, LOL

   DSC01645-small

The oldest nephew got his first fish, one hell of a Hog Snapper!

DSC01651_ - 3_ - 2_small

My nephew’s brother-in-law got a bonnet head that he didn’t want to touch, LOL

DSC01648-small

I was able to get a nice size permit

Herbert Hans Muller Permit Keys Bridge

One of my nephew’s went home blank so I still owe him another trip. My other nephew also had no luck on this trip but he had come bridge fishing with me before and caught some nice lemon sharks and snappers. All in all it was a successful and very nice bridge fishing trip. I just have to find the time when they all can get off work at the same time again to go fishing with them again.

Bridge Fishing in the Florida Keys 6-12-2011

Herbert Hans Muller

My permit

My friends had met the night before and started fishing, by the time I arrived they had gotten some mutton snappers and mangrove snappers…. I had a lot of plans that did not happen on the weekend because of Mr. weatherman, they never get it completely right, LOL . When I got to the bridge the water color was still a bit cloudy and had just started to clear up which was not too good for my likings but started off good with losing a nice run, possibly a mutton, then I got a 14.5″ mangrove that I kept and threw back  3 keepers that were less than 12 inches. After the permit hit it was over for me and we started getting ready to go back home. It were a good 3 hours of fishing for me. Like always it was great fishing with the crew.  Here is a pic of my permit and one of the crew:

Part of the crew

Part of the crew