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Upper Keys Bluewater Spearing - Islamorada

Upper Keys Bluewater Spearing - Islamorada

Upper Keys Bluewater Spearing - Islamorada

We at neptonics just had the opportunity to make a last minute trip down to the Florida Keys to target Bluewater species with Forever Young Charters out of Islamorada. The weather window turned out to be perfect, and that was reason enough to make the 6 hour drive down from our shop in Tampa. 

This whole trip became real to me the day before when Neptonics owner Jerry Guerra asked me what I was doing the next few days. I started rattling off all the work I had on the schedule and the various tasks involved. Then Jerry just said “Want to go down to the keys for a few days and shoot Wahoo?” Suddenly I found myself scrambling to clear my schedule. You never want to miss an opportunity like that.

 

Driving Down to the Keys

Like any last minute trip, the plan changed several times the day of. The decision of who was driving and when was up in the Air. We added Ritchie Zacker and Julie Higgs to the day of the trip, which was an awesome treat. It's about 240 miles from Tampa to Islamorada, but the drive doesn’t feel too long with a couple good friends. We talk about past trips, future trips, and whatever else to make the drive pass. We settled in to our hotel around 10:30 PM knowing we have to wake up early the next day for a long day of diving. 

 

Day One: Wrecks and Wahoo

The alarm on all of our phones went off at 5:15AM to get to the boat on time. The plus side to waking up that early is that the overseas highway doesn’t have its normal traffic before the sun comes up. We loaded the boat with everyone’s gear and got moving just before sunrise. We got out to the wrecks before any of the other fishing or diving charters and we started up some alternating drifts. Too many floats and floatlines in the water together gets to be a hassle, so we limited it to groups of three divers. Two of the divers in each group used floatlines and the third used a reelgun. Each of the alternating groups of divers were using a flasher float rig to help bring in the fish. 

 

Shooting Jacks on the Wreck

There was tons of life all over the wrecks as we drift over. A school of amberjacks (AJ) cruised through, and one of us dropped down and shot a nice one! The AJ ended up weighting in at 35 pounds. On the same drift, Julie shot a nice yellow jack that got pulled into the wreck by a goliath grouper. Jerry then did a quick drop down to about 90 feet to cut her reel line off the wreck and cut our losses. We all did a few more drifts, and a few more delicious yellow jacks ended up on the boat. 

 

Wahoo and Chaos

We hopped over to another wreck nearby and started our drift cycle. Towards the end of the drift, both groups ended up in close proximity to one another. Just as we were about to reset our drift, a pair of Wahoo cruise by. Everyone then dropped down to try and take a quick shot on these fish. Ritchie managed a shot on one. Julie took a long shot on the other and it dodged its way over towards me. I ended up taking another long shot on the fish and it dodged the spear. Ritchie’s Wahoo is now everyone’s top priority. Wahoo have such soft flesh that you really need to put a second shot in them to make sure they end up on the boat. All the chaos resulted in multiple diver’s gear all tangled up in the water, but the result was a beautiful wahoo on the boat to top off a solid cooler of fish. 

 

Winding Down of Day One

After finishing out the day of diving, we headed in and everyone helped with all the tasks that need to happen to get the boat cleaned and organized for the next day. The boat got washed down, the fish were cleaned and bagged, and the gear was rinsed and stored for the next day. After that, it was a quick dinner and getting to bed a little later than we had hoped. 

 

Day Two: Deep Wrecks and Scalloped Hammerheads

The problem with staying out too late is you tend to oversleep. As a result of forgetting to set an alarm, we ended up having to rush to the marina. It was no big deal, but we ended up not getting out until after the sun was up. Just like the day before, we were back on the wrecks.

 

Getting over a Slump

I had a bit of a slump on shooting fish the day before, so I was eager just to land something. There was suddenly a school of jack crevalle that cruised by, so I dropped down and shot about a 12 pound jack figuring it would make decent chum later. Of course, I caught flak from everyone on the boat about shooting a less desirable fish, but it did break my slump.

 

Recovering a Spear

We happen to head back to the same wreck where Julie lost her shaft because the yellow jack was pulled into the wreck. Tony then has the exact same thing happen with a yellow jack he nearly stoned. This time, we had a scuba rig stashed on the boat in case this situation happened again. Hunter rolled in and pulled out Tony’s fish, and also managed to recover Julie’s shaft from the day before. 

 

King Mackerel

On the second day we were seeing tons of king mackerel, but they were all running a bit deep. Some of the more skilled divers were dropping down to 80 feet or more to take shots on the mackerel. By the end of the day we ended up with two nice kings in the cooler. 

 

Scalloped Hammerheads

We finished out the day on a deep wreck and swimming with a school of scalloped hammerheads that came by. The jack crevalle ended up coming in handy to getting to see these creatures up close. We cubed it up for chum to get them to come close enough to reach out and touch.

 

Fish Stories and Food

After we finished diving, we were back to the dock to get everything looking spotless and packing up for the drive back home the next morning. After getting everything ready for Tony’s next trip we eded up heading back to his place and cooking up some of our catch. We stayed up way too late telling fish stories and eating too much, but that's part of the fun of a bluewater trip with great friends.
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