Montreal fishing spots

Montreal fishing spots

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Monday, February 27, 2023

Midwinter fishing in Miami, Florida

Took my younger daughter for her first trip to Florida during her week off school for spring break. Between visiting my older daughter and her family in Miami, and driving up to Orlando to visit Universal studios with my younger one, I made sure to schedule a day of saltwater fishing, as well as a bit of freshwater fishing around the corner from my older daughter's apartment.

Being late February, I knew I had a decent shot at hopefully landing my first tarpon. Having done a variety of big game species in both saltwater and freshwater in the past, big tarpons were the last Florida big game species on my bucket list. As well, my younger daughter who's never fished saltwater or been to the ocean, was interested in trying her hand at shark fishing.

After having fished with Captain Carl Ball from Awol fishing last winter, I booked him as our guide for the outing. We met up just before sunrise South of Miami, and headed straight for his first tarpon spot. As we were on our way, we ran into a few schools of some big tarpon rolling near the surface.

We pulled up, both Carl and I cast, and he immediately hooked up to out first fish on his first cast. Talk about a pro... He handed me the rod, and as expected, the big tarpon went ballistic.

Though I eventually brought the big tarpon boatside, it made a good bunch of blistering runs back out again. 

I managed to get the tarpon back to the leader a number of times throughout the battle, deeming it a caught fish. Still, I was praying to get my hands on it for a full / proper release.

Time and time again, I almost had it under control, only to have it start running every time I got it to the leader.

Finally, the magic moment I have been waiting for since a couple decades or so.

What a feeling of relief! Knowing that a good tarpon landing percentage is in the 20% to 25% range, I was very happy to have landed my first one, which was estimated at 125 lbs by captain Carl, slightly over the 80 lbs to 100 lbs range for most tarpons in the area.

Unbelievably, within a few more casts, we hooked into another tarpon, even bigger than the first one. Luckily, this fished was a bit more subdued after the first few initial jumps, but in deep water, it kept dogging down to the bottom.

I was able to get the giant tarpon to the leader boatside about 3 or 4 times. 

By this point, both the tarpon and I were pretty exhausted. Just as I thought the battle was over, it started on another run and broke the leader by chaffing through it.

Again, another fish deemed landed, but unfortunately, no victory shot on this one. Captain estimated it in the 175 lbs to 180 lbs range, close to double the average for the region we were fishing.

Just to give you an idea of what their teeth can do to fluorocarbon leaders...

I compiled a bit of video footage of the tarpon fishing:

By this point, I was both sore and exhausted from nearly 2 hours of intense battle with big tarpons in the Florida sun. I was more than happy to head to our next spot to start fishing for fresh shark bait.

Chaya enjoyed the refreshing run:

We pulled up to our first spot to try catching some ladyfish to be used for bait. Seems like the sharks had other plans. I got "sharked" on my first hookup, and again on my next cast with another jig. More sharks around than bait, and with a light bass style rod with thin braid, I figured we wouldn't have much chance at landing even a small sized blacktip shark.

Eventually I managed to get a ladyfish on board, and lose another one boat side. On my next cast, I hooked another blacktip, but this one didn't cut the line like the others did. I handed the light action rod to my daughter, I she experienced her first shark runs.

When we finally got our first closeup glimpse at the blacktip shark, I noticed that it had hooked itself in the pectoral fin, which would explain why the line hadn't been cut off.

I eventually took the rod, got the shark boatside, and tired to muscle it up for the captain to remove the hook, by thumbing down on the spool. The line snapped, and shark swam off with the jig.

Now that we had bait, we set up the proper shark rod, which made fighting and landing the sharks a lot easier. Chaya and I did battle with a few of these feisty blacktip sharks, also referred to as spinner sharks, due to their tendency to jump and spin once they realize they are hooked.

Here are a few shots we took of the shark fishing action:

All in all, we more than accomplished our mission with the sharks as well, and here are a couple short video clips of the shark action:

Bonus of the day was a surprise barracuda. Captain Carl had spotted a couple lemon sharks, and while they came to inspect the bait a couple times, they turned away. Then, the bobber just took off unexpectedly, and next thing I know, a big cuda is tail dancing on the surface at the end of my line.

At least we were able to get this one on board for a nice pic.


All in all, an amazing 6 hour outing, that resulted in both of our goals being more than accomplished. 

Again, my sincere thanks to Captain Carl Ball / Awol fishing. I highly recommend fishing with him if ever you find yourself looking to fish the Miami area, and the calmer water around Biscayne bay. Srom spin casting, to sight and fly fishing, Carl does it all, and then some...

After returning from a two day trip to Orlando, I returned the car I had rented, due to the exorbitant prices being charged these days. Only fishing option left was to fish the South Glades canal in North Miami beach, a short walk from where I was staying with my older daughter's in laws.

Having fished there last winter, I had an idea of what to expect. Namely, tough sight fishing conditions, with a shot at small bass, and possibly peacock bass or Mayan cichilds.

I headed out for a short 2-3 hour Friday morning outing from shore. Armed with two rods, I was able to alternate between a variety of lures. Eventually, I spotted a big cichild, and teased it into eating a mini tube jig. My first ever of that species.

A bit later on, I was throwing a heavy spinnerbait, and noticed some follows from nice sized peacock bass. As they wouldn't commit, I switched it up to a #4 Mepps spinner, and landed this nice peacock bass, about the upper size of what I've seen in that canal.

Not bad for a short couple hours of morning fishing, and as a bonus, I spotted a decent size grass carp in the 15 lbs range along the shore. Now that I know they are in there, I've set a goal to give them a shot next time I'm there for long enough to do some pre-baiting, and maybe night fishing as well.

As we were leaving sunday night, I got up early enough to hit the canal at sunrise one last time before heading back to Montreal. 

Again, sight fishing was the ticket, I managed to land a largemouth bass on a topwater lure I presented, after spotting it from a raised bank.

All in all, it was a beautiful and memorable father / daughter trip, great weather, amazing fishing, and all around good times spent with family. Couldn't have asked for a better outcome to our trip.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a great trip. Tarpon look very fun. My nephew and his family just moved to Miami.
I do night shark fishing at my cabin on the salt. I release the fish unharmed so i might be able to fight them again. Happy Purim this coming week. All the best. Ralph. Tight lines