Most things here want to pull your arms off
It could almost be wreck fishing back home, only it's not. When do you drop a bait or a lure down back home and actually brick yourself that your target species is going to come and find it ? Amberjack, otherwise known as "wreck donkeys" or AJs, are one of the meanest brutes of a fish I have ever had the luck (or misfortune) to tangle with, and I just dread to think what a monster 100lb plus one of them would do to me.
I will talk pollack fishing up until the cows come home. I love these fish, and especially smashing them from the shore. Their crash dive back to the wreck or rocks always gives me a kick, but now try and imagine about one hundred times that power, add a lot more out and out savagery, and you are getting somewhere towards an AJ abusing you. I tried my best the other day to teach an amberjack all about who was the boss. Big mistake, and the thing was only around 30lb. How hard would a monster scrap ? I honestly dread to think how much it would hurt to tangle with a fish like this. I have seen a proper big-fish angler torn to pieces by one off the coast of South Africa and I remember then being somewhat shocked.
Out here the AJs seem to want to give you a sense of hope when you first connect. "Everything's fine, it's not much of a fish". Up it comes for a few seconds. Breathing nice and easy, almost starting to relax on the fish a bit. But then it obviously decides now is the time to beat the living daylights out of you and wake up. And it hurts, make no mistake. I tried my absolute best to horse that fish the other day, but it just hit back a whole lot harder than I ever did. In no way does the fishing out here in any way belittle all the other kinds of fishing that are so special to me, but the simple fact remains that nearly everything in the Keys is going to try its level best to rip your arms off. Fishing is so special because it offers us so many different experiences, and if you want some of the best sport fishing there is then get yourself out here pronto (check here for one of the best ways you can access this stuff). I can guarantee that you will also find out very quickly how far you can actually push fishing tackle and still not come remotely close to breaking off or "maxxing it out".
Barracuda are a species that never get much sport fishing press, but I have always loved them, and although the fight is rarely long and sustained, that first run is often breathtaking. I hit this fish the other day on a flat and it absolutely screamed off like a scalded cat. Properly fast, to the point where the other guys were creased up laughing. These travel rods I have been using for the first time have really struck a big chord with me, and I will blog about them when I get home. That's me now sorted when it comes to most of my rod needs for going abroad, and believe me when I say that I have tried my utmost to break them with absolutely no joy at all.
We have one more day's fishing left today, and then we fly back home on Thursday - landing in the UK and Ireland respectively on Friday morning. If you come across Nick, Paul or Cian anytime soon, make sure to ask them about their first fishing trip to the Florida Keys, because I think their brains have been fried by the whole outstanding experience. In a very good way I might add. Let's see what wants to pull our arms off today.......oh, and obviously we went back to see and feed the tarpon at Robbie's marina. The lads were determined to man up and hold on as the tarpon engulfed their arms. Mayhem.