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Tag: Fishing


Grab one of the last known bargains in the Keys: Only 70 spots are available in the Rotary Club of Key Largo’s Take Stock in Children Backcountry Challenge. Fees this year are $135 per adult angler, 18 and up, $60 for junior anglers 13-17 and $30 for kids 12 and under. Registration includes an awards banquet catered by Doc’s Diner; a performance, moisture-wicking long-sleeve fishing shirt; a Friday night captain’s party with appetizers and the opportunity to win signature framed art awards by Pasta Pantaleo for the largest redfish, snook and trout caught during the weekend.  If you’re...

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Judge hands man jail time for undersized fish, spearfishing violations

A Hialeah man arrested in May for spearfishing in a restricted area and possessing an array of undersized fish will spend 60 days in jail, following a sentence handed down by Monroe County Judge Sharon Hamilton on Wednesday, Aug. 25.  Not only will Alejandro Ruiz, 47, serve jail time, but he’ll also be on probation for two years and commit 240 hours of community service. His fishing license is also suspended for two years, and he can’t be on the water for the duration of his probation. Ruiz must also take a Florida Fish & Wildlife course.  Monroe County State Attorney Office’s Jorge Jaile,...

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Plenty of recreational lobster-hunters limited out both days of the recent mini-season, which takes place the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July. The two-day event gives recreational harvesters a chance to get six lobsters per person per day before the commercial fishermen set their traps and begin hauling in one of the Keys’ biggest cash crops. Commercial fishermen are allowed to begin placing their lobster traps in the water the Saturday after mini-season, which this year fell on July 31. They can’t pull the traps until the season officially opens for both commercial and recreational...

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In the Florida Keys, there are many places where it’s illegal to take lobster any time of year. For instance, you can’t lobster in Biscayne Bay Card Sound, in the City of Layton or in artificial habitats in state waters.  You also can’t lobster at John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo during the sport season. No person shall harvest any lobster species from or within any coral formation (patch reef) regardless of its proximity to or exclusion from a “Lobster Exclusion Zone.” If you come across a fabulous lobster hole and there’s nobody around, chances are you’ve stumbled into the danger...

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Egg-bearing (berried) spiny lobster and ridged slipper lobster (commonly known as shovelhead or bulldozer lobster) must be released unharmed. Stripping egg bearing females of eggs, and possession of spiny lobster tails from which eggs have been removed is prohibited. Eggs are orange, yellow brown or red mass found covering the underside of the lobster’s tail. Spiny lobster must have a minimum caraspace length greater than 3 inches and the measurement must take place in the water. The caraspace is measured beginning at the forward edge between the rostral horns, excluding soft tissue and proceeding...

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While there are many spots to catch a sizable lobster, there are also many areas protected by a special set of rules that make it against the law to hunt lobster in the Florida Keys. Know where you’re going before you head out. Don’t lobster in these areas: Sanctuary Preservation Areas (SPAs) – Red marker Upper Keys Carysfort Reef Cheeca RocksConch ReefDavis ReefElbow ReefGrecian ReefFrench Reef Hens and ChickensKey Largo Dry RocksMolasses ReefAlligator Reef Middle Keys Coffins PatchSombrero Key Lower Keys Eastern Dry RocksLooe Key Newfound Harbor Sand KeyRock Key Ecological...

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For a third year in a row (okay, not counting pandemic 2020), team Florida Man crushed it. They took top prize in The Emerald Coast Open, the world’s largest lionfish tournament, held off Destin May 14 to May 16.  Marathon local Rachel Bowman is a member of Florida Man or, in her case, Florida Ma’am. The team collected 1,371 fish — or about 40% more than their closest competitor, the Stamps team. The other Florida Man team members are John McCain, Josh Livingston and Carl Antonik. Bowman has high praise for her teammates.  “Those guys are all technical divers and I learn a lot just...

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Marathon man catches 488-pound swordfish on May 2

Okay, it was a swordfish, but “Holy Mackerel!” is the edited version of what angler Rob Helzer and his crew were screaming when the 488-pound swordfish jumped for the first time. He and friends Rob Warburton, Jim and Kathy Carter and John Rooks landed the fish on May 2. “We were straight out of Marathon, about 42 miles, fishing in 1,800 feet of water,” Helzer said. It was their third swordfishing trip and while they had hooked some big ones before, this was the first one they got all the way to the boat. “We had hooked into a few others, but what a dandy this was!” he said. “It was a team effort.” ...

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Bonefish & Tarpon Trust announces 2021 Circle of Honor inductees

Capt. Bob Branham and the late Capt. Bill Curtis are new Bonefish & Tarpon Trust Circle of Honor inductees. Recognized on April 22, they join other legendary anglers, fishing guides and conservation leaders who have made significant contributions to the conservation of the bonefish, tarpon and permit fisheries. The BTT Circle of Honor is housed as a permanent exhibit in the Keys History & Discovery Center, located in Islamorada on the property of the Islander Resort, and features an annually rotating exhibit on those honored as well as educational content about the significance of the...

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The grouper and hogfish seasons both open this Saturday, May 1. Celebrate the day by joining the 2nd Annual Jeff Leonia Reel & Steel Classic, the only fishing/spearfishing tournament in the Keys. There’s a 7 a.m. start, and weigh-ins and afterparty will take place at Angler House Marina (80500 Overseas Hwy., Islamorada).  Jeff Leonia was an avid waterman and captain in the Upper Keys. His passing in Nov. 2019 left a legacy of living large and loving big that his friends and family continue to honor to this day.  Leonia’s friend and fellow captain Tony Young, of Forever Young Charters, said,...

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