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:
The boys from the boatlessfishing.com forum decided to go permit and snapper fishing during the weekend but my schedule did not allow for an overnight bridge fishing get together so I was to meet them Saturday morning. As I was approaching them on Long Key Bridge I decided to play a little joke and screamed FISH ON! I startled as they hurried up to get their fishing rods wa wa wa sorry guys didn’t mean to scare you all, LOL… Well, I setup my rods and dropped the bait then as soon as I started to walk away from it and was talking to the guys RRRRRRRRRR! zzzzzznnnnnnn znnnnnnnnnn I ran to my rod and picked it up, flipped the lever to engage, got a permit hit going on! OK!!! I have to go under, I am going towards you all, please move the rods, I am under this line, I am over that one! I kept the tension and the fight was over all mayhem slowed down as they were bringing the permit on a bridge net when RRRRRRRRRR! zzzzzznnnnnnn znnnnnnnnnn, CRAP MY SECOND ROD! and so I run and I screamed I GOT THIS! Picked up the rod, flip the lever, start reeling in and the over under mayhem starts again! Wow! nice runs from these fish. I was finally able to land the second which was released after a photo opt. After that Rory caught a nurse shark with 3 hooks hanging from it’s mouth, he was nice enough to remove them and released it. The day went on but I had to leave. Conditions would have been even better if the water color held up, but that’s how it is. I would have gone to another bridge and continue hoping until I found one that had better looking conditions but instead I decided to head home.
We have all heard of the super moons and the blue moons, so this one was it. We just had to fish during a moon that brings in rough tides and lots of bait trying to swim through it. What a perfect hunting ground it is for fish in those bridges, they have the cover to hunt and so we were thinking it may be a good opportunity to go. We started fishing in Channel 5 at night and had some fun with Tarpons as we sometimes do, manytimes we do not intend to catch them but since they are so plentiful in those bridges is almost inevitable to not catch one. Here is Nilson’s account for one of those times as it happened on this night.
“Plenty of poons at night. As soon as it hit water I put the rod down & it bended twice. I thought I had a nice Grover- it hit hoo plug. Then I see this poons jumping up in the air & I’m still fight him. He then heads under the bridge & I am thinking game over. I tip the rod down on the 7 ft rod as much as I can. He then does a U turn & come out the other side of the hole. So he wraps me around & now is in front of me jumping. I got him back in & was till fight when he took one final jump & the 1x wire hook came off. The poon was about 50+ Rory & the guys said it had to be more. It was damn fun with 15lb line & wimpy rod.”
We appreciated the awesomeness of the moon and as we were doing so a bird decided to stop by and watch it with us. Then it left and came back to steal some of our bait but this time it got tangled in our lines. We took our time getting it out and let it fly away unharmed.
The morning time came and the first permit hit Nilsons bait, after fighting it for a bit the permit won by wraping Nilson around a pylon. The second bite was on Rory’s bait and after another nice fight Rory also lost his battle to the pylons. Up next it was me I did the same o’l same o’l the left to right in between pylons dance. The permit move to the right I went left the permit went left I went right always trying to keep the line in between the pylons or as far away from them as possible. I have lost so many of them as well but not this time. Ricky was up next as if we were on a line for permit hits, Ricky did the dance as well, he put pressure on and was also able to land his permit. Nilson kept trying but for some reason he lost all the battles.
Then Rory got another turn at it, he ran like hell to his rod not giving the permit a chance to the pylons and got in the fight on a good crazy positions being able to win a nice price, an invitation to eating permit for dinner for weeks to come. Here is Rory’s account on what happened:
“Was a great time with the crew, lots of laughs, that little permit fought harder then any bigger one I’ve caught, got him on an Accurate 870 w/ 30 lb mono so couldn’t horse him too much with the light line, he took off under the tunnel so I had to lie down on the ground and stick half my body out of the hole in the wall of the bridge, and hold the rod straight down and fight him lying on my stomach…thank goodness I was using a 10 ft rod, anything shorter and I would have lost him for sure.” Nilson added “Rory fighting that permit was epic! I was setup on Rory side with the bridge net & Herb on the other side with the net since the permit went under tunnel. We weren’t going to lose that permit.” Sometimes teamwork is what counts.
As Ricky says, there always someone with a bad juju, last time it was me at Sebastian Jetty with loosing redfish after redfish and this time it happened to be Nilson and the permits. So in one of the bridges we decided to get a group picture commemorating this day.
We hit a few more bridges afterwards as we did fish for 2 days straight. Below is a picture of an endengred Key Deer we saw as we were on our way to anotherone of the bridges.
Having brought sleeping bags kept us warmed up from the chilled nights. On this night we definitely had to thank John and his wife for an awesome coffee and breakfast. As always it was great pleasure fishing with John and his mellow sound. He retired in the keys and he’s loving fishing with a passion. John landed some short groupers and had his fun with the Tarpons on swimbaits.The rest of the days came with plenty mangrove snappers in the 11” to 12” inch range, the tarpons kept on harassing our baits, a few Spanish macks were caught, and saw some eagle rays jump up in mid air as they many times do. On the last nigh of fishing we ended sacrificing a permit for an awesome ceviche made right on the bridge, I must say it a perfect fish for it. Ricky took his time filleting it and let me tell you not a morsel was wasted.
Below are pics of the delicious Permit Ceviche. Ricky cut the fish in small cubes mixed it with onions, bell peppers, and cilantro then added lime juice and a bit of white vinegar. Let it marinate for one hour in the cooler and then served it with crackers.
You can see the original report and everyone’s individual account on boatlessfishing.com
I always complain about going to Tampa and not fishing, how could you be a fisherman traveling to Tampa and not visit the Skyway Pier? Just had to go, so on a trip going to visit my brother-in-law I told my wife I would pack a few rods and would take my nephews fishing since they always see my fishing pictures they wanted to go. I got them a few small rod setups, and loaded my shark rod and some light rods for use with top water plugs. On to the mission to hook my nephews on their fish fish; Fishing for small fish had a lot of action, some people were catching tiny mangroves every now and then and a small grouper less than than 15 inches here and there. The bait was all over as it always is. Since it was so slow I thought ” What better way to get them on some fish than to do it with some bait”. They were extremely happy about catching those pinfish for my Florida Key trips, it was hot action and very big happy faces for them.
Christian’s first fish
Matthew’s first fish
Mom and Dad
The Vargas family with a bait stringer
On the background you can see the Tampa Skyway Bridge
Below is Matthew happy to catch another and Christian with his curiosity inspecting another pinfish
Below left is a pinfish and to the right a Spanish mackerel that was released
The shark rod had no action, I later found out I was too far out. A 6 to 7 foot bull was caught near the entrance of the Skyway, they killed it and took the meat and jaws
The bridge had a nice current and water was milky at incoming tide but it got very clear after the outgoing. We were using cut cudas and blue runners,The shark hit my 6/0 on a 7 foot 1940’s Montague rod I hand wrapped. The shark gave a powerful run and it jumped 3 times as if it were a figure skater doing triple vaults. I got it out of the poles on its first run and gave it to gonsharkfishin’s (a boatlessfishing.com forum member) friend that came from Virginia to the keys to get married (poor man desn’t know what he got into). The shark went towards the second pole and then back to the first, when we had it closer it tried to get under the bridge, but we steered it to go out again. The shark fight was my wedding gift to him,LOL…
At first we thought that the fight took too long, we were worried that the spinner shark would not make it, but we tried to keep its head in the water at all times ensuring it would have water flowing trhu it. We got it closer to the ledge and it was nice and strong again we did try to tag it but it was way too feisty and would not let me do anything on the ledge. It jumped and had had 3/4 of it’s body sticking out almost hitting me. So we decided to just cut the leader and released it with out getting the information. I we had used a needle on a 6 foot pole we could have safely tagged the spinner sharks.
Here are the pics…
Coaching to get away from the electric utility poles
Walking it to the edge
The Spinner shark
A follower, Tarpon?
Walking away after the release