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Fishing Paradise, the Florida Keys

Fishing Paradise, the Florida Keys Fishing Paradise, the Florida Keys
By Captain Ray Kelly

There are many great locations to fish in this world; Long Island, Massachusetts, North and South Carolina, Florida, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico to name a few. I have a particular love for Florida - especially in the winter. Florida is a fantastic fishing paradise. On this adventure, we fished in the Florida Keys. Islamorada is known as the Sportfishing Capital of the World. Anyone can catch fish in Islamorada and that's exactly what we wanted to show when I asked Keith Orman of Splash Watersports to sponsor an episode of our television show, ADVENTURES IN FISHING WITH CAPT. RAY KELLY. Keith didn't hesitate and said he would be delighted to get involved with the show.

Splash Watersports is located at the beautiful Pelican Cove Resort, at mile marker 84.5 oceanside. Every room overlooks the ocean. The Pelican Cove Resort has sponsored our show in the past and I must say it is one it one of the best resorts that we have ever stayed in during a shoot. The Assistant General Manager, Bill Sampson, makes you feel right at home, and the accomodations are superb.

Splash Watersports is operated by a father and daughter team, Keith Orman and his beautiful daughter Jennifer. A vacationer can rent wave runners, a sea view and most importantly, boats to go fishing. Splash Watersports has six 16' Carolina Skiffs and a 20' Center Console Aquasport that an angler can rent to get to the fish.

Keith set up the Aquasport in Whale Harbor channel, about five minutes from Splash. He set out a chum bag and within five minutes, Keith and Scarlet Decuir both caught one fish after another, just to prove to us how easy it is to catch fish here. The catch included snappers (yellowtail and mangrove), jack cravelle, pinfish, grunts and nurse sharks. They were using shrimp and ballyhoo for bait and made it look so easy, I could see that anyone could do this by themselves.

Two days later, myself and my cameraman, Dwayne Hunt, figured that we would give it a try. Jennifer set us up in one of the 16' Carolina Skiffs and we headed to Whale Harbor Channel. We did exactly what Keith had done. I set out the chum bag, baited our hooks with shrimp on one rod and chunks of ballyhoo on the other. We were using an ultralight set up (8 pound test) on one rod and a heavier set up (15 pound test) on the other. I immediately caught a mangrove snapper and so did Dwayne.

Within fifteen minutes, I was hooked into something big. By the way it fought , I figured it was a nurse shark. When I got it up to the surface we could see it was indeed a three to four foot nurse. Once again we were getting a great show filmed. Also, it's not that often that my cameraman gets to fish and I could see that Dwayne was having as much fun as I was.

Dwayne was amazed when I caught the shark and, within minutes, he was fighting one of his own, although after a few minutes the shark spit the hook. When Dwayne checked the ballyhoo, he found it was bit in half.

He cast again, and not a minute later another shark was on the line. Dwayne fought the fish extremely well but, again, the shark won the battle and spit the bait. I felt bad and I could see the disappointment in Dwayne's face. He put on a fresh ballyhoo and cast the line out one more time.

I was filming Dwayne when the ultralight rod was hit and I grabbed it just in time to prevent it from going overboard. Granted this is a fish story but it is a TRUE fish story.

The line screamed off the reel and the drag was just too light, I tried to palm the reel but this fish just kept running. God only knows what kind of fish that one was because I gave it too much pressure and the line broke. Hey, that's fishing.

We caught a variety of fish throughout the day. Just before heading back, Dwayne was hooked up into another nice fish with the heavy rod. He set the hook much harder this time and the fish was not about to get away. Dwayne fought hard and got the fish to the surface. It was another nurse shark. When he reeled it to the boat, we could see that it was the biggest shark of the day - between four and five feet in length! A smile immediately came upon Dwayne's face. You'd be smiling too if you'd caught this fish!

As you can probably tell by now, Islamorada is a fishing paradise. The waters are so clear; the blues and greens awesome. The wildlife is spectacular. And to boot, literally anyone can get out and consistently catch fish. You can rent a boat yourself from Splash Watersports and go out for a great time catching fish. It's easy, and this is the way to do it... Give Keith or Jennifer of Splash Watersports a call at (305) 664-8892 or call the Pelican Cove Resort at (800)-445-4690 or (305)664-4435.

And remember- "Let's get kids hooked on Fishing...NOT on drugs!"

Visit Capt. Ray at his website or drop him a line at [email protected]

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