While going through old fishing records, I was amazed to find how much time and effort I used to be able to invest in catching fish during brief trips to Florida in the “old days”. A notable sequence started on June 25, 1975 while staying in Islamorada. My “day” started at 2:45 a.m. when I got up to fish for tarpon on the outgoing tide from bridges to the west. I knew that small tarpon would be lining up under lights at the bridges to pick off shrimp and small fish coming out of the Gulf of Mexico. However, in order to get to them at that time I had to hug the rail, with trucks passing by at 60 mph, while using a long rod to flip a live shrimp into the dark so it would float freely into the lighted water and result in a hook up. Then I fought the jumping tarpon as it went under the bridge until it settled down and I could control it around pilings while walking to the end of the bridge and scrambling down to land and release the fish which were in the 15-25-pound class. Years later, I switched to casting lures from the sides of the bridges which was safer and produced some bigger tarpon.

Three tarpon were released before first light stopped the action, and I went to Caloosa Cove to seek a bonefish on a flat just yards from the highway. I found a bone tailing there, and managed to cast a shrimp just far enough ahead of its path so as not to spook it. The bonefish raced all over the flat before I weighed it on my Abu Combi at 8 3/4 pounds and made the release.

Then I started the long drive to Key West where John Mortimer wanted to try catching a tilefish from his outboard boat in the Gulf Stream. We left on a calm day at 11 a.m. and caught a few small dolphin for chunk baits. I didn’t note what tackle we used to get down in 550-600 feet, but I caught two gray tilefish of 4 to 4 1/2 pounds and a 5 1/2-pounder while John added one. I suspect what they were calling gray tilefish were actually bluelines.

There was a lot of driving involved, and no sleep, but I wonder if anyone else has ever caught tarpon and bonefish from shore plus dolphin and tilefish in the same morning?

A gale watch is up from Monday evening through late night. Monday starts OK with north winds at 5-10 knots before going east 10-15 in the afternoon with a chance of snow.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar reported a calm ocean yesterday though the waters were very cold and there was little fish life.

Capt. Nick Stanczyk sent this photo of yet another big swordfish caught aboard his Broad Minded from Bud N’Mary’s Marina i Islamorada. For charter info call him at 305 664-2461.

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