A blinding bit of everything......

We started off really early this morning, but for some reason the tarpon weren't on at all. But then this is the Keys, and all you need to do is to work with your skipper/guide, listen to their advice, and then make the move they suggest. I can't tell you how much I enjoy fishing with Rodney out here, we always have a serious blast, and he is very good at putting his clients on fish (if you have any desire at all to see this place then contact him here). Anchor up and head some twenty miles into the bay.......

I have never caught a cobia, and I can't pretend that I was actually going for them, but Rodney did say that the best chance for one at that time of day lay on the bottom. I put an 11cm Delalande GT shad rigged Texas style on my lightest travel rod and then let it drop to the bottom and started a slow kind of lift and drop retrieve like we might do for bass. Bang almost straight away. Not a very big cobia (maybe around the 20-25lb mark), but it's my first, and it went like serious stink. Rather pleased. And of course I claimed to the lads that I had been targeting cobia !!

Nick I know has wanted to tangle with a goliath grouper for ages now, and Rodney has this awesome little wreck that lies in under 11' of water. On goes a big bait under a float and out it drifts somewhat ominously towards the wreck marker. Down it goes and then mayhem ensues. Give these goliath grouper one little inch and it's all over very quickly. About as wonderfully unsubtle as fishing gets, and you can't help but get a kick out of it.

This is one seriously made up angler. It is not a monster goliath by any means, indeed it's classed as a small one out here - but it is still well over the 100lb mark !! It's always so cool to fulfil a lifelong ambition. All credit to Nick. We had a few more dropped takes from the grouper, but we then made the decision to put some chum out and see if we could bring some sharks in on the light gear. Rodney had said ever since we got the wreck that there might be a lot of sharks around if we wanted to have a go for them.

Mayhem ensues again almost immediately. To be honest I can take or leave sharks on really heavy gear, but scale down and use essentially bass fishing tackle and it's just a serious blast. Heavier leader and wire trace essential, but we were fishing with nothing more powerful than any of us would use for chucking say a Gataride into a lively sea. We hooked and landed plenty of small sharks, and I had what felt like a proper thing bust me off after it had run perhaps 60 yards on a very, very tight drag. A few fish later and Paul hooks a spinner shark that very quickly came to the surface and thrashed hard before screaming off. Very cool to see the Tenryu Super Mix 240 being put under some more serious pressure. I reckon the shark took Paul three times around the boat before he had it ready for unhooking, but at no point during the fight did I think we was remotely undergunned. It proves once again what our gear can do on serious fish. These rods bottoming out on our bass ? I think not. We are lucky to be experiencing this kind of fishing, but it's not until you put your gear under proper pressure that you realise how far it will go.

We estimated Paul's spinner shark to be around the 80lb mark. What a scrap on that gear. So cool to see the Keys blowing these guys' minds. The more I learn about these waters over the last few years, the more I want to come back. I tend to specialise a lot in my work with heading to very remote places for my fishing photography, but I can't help but love the accessibility of the Keys and its fishing, plus the fact that you have just so many viable options in a single day. Nick caned a load of small jacks and catfish on LRF gear while we at anchor for example, plus the guys had a few small Spanish mackerel and who knows how many other kinds of fish in the chum slick. We headed back for home and then smashed a load of small barracuda on surface lures. Nick outdid us all big time - these barracuda went nuts for the MegaBass XPod. Time for me I think to take a proper look at this lure and spend some time with it on the bass. It's great to work different lures out here and get a chance to see them working so clearly in this water, and the XPod looks outstanding on the surface. The cuda were going nuts for it. Tomorrow's fishing can't come soon enough.......