A few weeks ago I took a much needed vacation to Islamorada in the Florida Keys, my favorite place in the world, to fish on the Relentless. I went down with friends Jose, Farzin and Alex. We stayed at the world famous Hawk’s Cay Resort, renowned for it’s beauty and amenities. I must say that it certainly didn’t disappoint. We stayed in a gorgeous 2 story, 2 bedroom, town home with full amenities – kitchen with stove, dishwasher, washer and dryer, pool – everything.
In other words, it’s amazing!
On our way down to the Keys I had to stop in Homestead to chase peacock bass. Peacock bass are native to Central and South America. However, you don’t have to leave the county to catch them! The only place in the U.S. where you can fish for these guys is in South Florida – hidden gems! They are sporty exotics that provide a great fight, are awesome to look at and can be a challenge to track down and catch at times. The South Florida climate is perfect for them and so limits their range to a the southeast corner of the state.
I have targeted peacocks before with limited success, each time it has been a challenge. Regardless, it’s not everyday that I get to chase these guys so we made a stop.
I knew there were peas in the location that we stopped at. On my last keys trip all four of us who were fishing each caught fish, with one being a solid male. A few months ago my friend Jarek fished the same spot and landed a nice peacock as pictured below.
My first cast resulted in a small peacock bass (see below)
Unfortunately after I caught the fish I was kicked out of the spot and told not to come back. Despite being somewhat annoyed, we had better things ahead, we hit the old dusty trail and continued down US1 towards the Keys.
When we arrived in the keys, but before we checked in at Hawks Cay we had to make the obligatory stop at World Wide Sporsman and Robbie’s to hand feed tarpon.
After our two initial stops we continued on to Hawk’s Cay. We checked in, moved in and hit the pool. Following this, we went to bed early since we knew we had an early day the next day at Bud n’ Mary’s fishing aboard the Relentless.
We woke early the next day, packed the car and took off for Bud n’ Mary’s. We were all jittery, perhaps from the coffee, perhaps from the excitement about the day we were about to have.
Upon arrival we greeted our captain, Paul Ross, a 25 year Key’s fishing vet, piled into the Relentless and subsequently took off for the deep blue of the Atlantic.
The wind was coming in from the north, this unfortunate turn of the forecast had all the fish spread out. Because of this, we only caught one small dolphin all day and one keeper tuna.
Firstly we pulled big chuggers, secondly we pitched ballyhoo, lastly we tried trolling feathers and islanders. Nothing. We drove around empty ocean for what felt like an eternity. A far departure from my last keys trip in comparison. However, this didn’t dissuade our captain. We finally ran back in to do some reef fishing which we knew would be reliable.
We ended the day with a respectable catch of dinner fish. For example, we caught mangrove snappers, yellowtail and a cero mackerel mere yards from Alligator Reef lighthouse, the same spot we stopped at in the morning to catch our bait.
Surprisingly, the trip ended with Jose catching his first sailfish, an absolutely awesome experience.
All and all the fishing was tough, but our crew on the Relentless worked hard and we went home with stories and a respectable catch. The rest of our trip was filled with good relaxation and time away from the work.
We certainly can’t wait to go back.
Until next time, Tight Lines.