Not really a fish you want to catch but you way catch one occasionally. Throw it back.
Amberjack – Key West Fishing Boats
Amber Jacks are sometimes called reef donkeys, are known for their large size and tremendous strength. They are usually deep water fish, and are common around deep reef and wrecks throughout the Florida Keys.
They are often caught on large jigs or large live baits fished near the bottom. They are not the best eating fish but can be ok if cooked right. Cooked right usually means smoked and made into a dip or made into a soup.
These fish are much more common and in shallower water in the winter although they can be caught all year round.
Catching more then a couple of them in a day can be hazardous to your back.
Florida Keys Shark Fishing
Shark fishing Guide for tourists
Disclaimer: I’m not a professional fisherman, so if you read something that seems inaccurate please email me and I will make corrections
If you are visiting the Keys and love to fish, but do not have cash flow to hire a guide for multiple days. (Like me, at $600 – $1000 a day for guided fishing there is no way I could afford to fish anywhere nears as much as I need to satisfy me)
Of course if your heart is set on catching Sailfish, bonefish, permit etc … frankly if your heart is set on catching any fish I would suggest you hire a guide. The waters of the Keys are big and it can take some serious know-how in order to catch some of the more sought-after fish.
But anyway’s, if you aren’t scared to take a boat out in strange waters, bait your own fishhooks, land your own fish, and risk spending the day cursing, then something you might want to try is shark fishing,
Sharks are all over the place in the Keys: big ones, little ones from sluggish nurse sharks to aggressive bull sharks they are all over the place.
They are dumb and aggressive eaters, and the bigger ones aren’t even scared of boats. They don’t spook and they aren’t line shy. Basically, they are the ideal fish to try to catch if you are new to saltwater fishing or the Keys.
Now you can try all this stuff from a bridge or shore somewhere but I recommend you rent a boat. There are numerous places you can rent a boat in the Keys. It doesn’t really matter how big the boat is, another thing that is great about shark fishing down here is that there are sharks a stone’s throw away from shore (unlike in NY where I am from).
The first thing you will need is chum. Sharks hunt primarily by scent and have been known to swim miles following a scent trail. The best chum for sharks is fresh fish, the bloodier the better.
Where to get the fresh fish, well if you ask a local they will say just catch a barracuda… in my experience, it’s not always that easy. If you fish on the reef there are tons of barracudas hanging out, but in the nearer shore waters although there are still lots of barracudas they seem to be a bit more hip to people and their bad intentions, especially the big barracudas.
So basically you don’t want to base your whole trip on just catching your chum once you leave shore, at least if you are a beginner.
What I suggest is getting the chum ahead of time, and the best way to accomplish this is to look for a party boat that has just came in and offer the mate a few bucks to give you leftovers when they are done cleaning their catch. So far I have never had a mate say no, but they if they do, or if they have a bad day’s catch you can also go to a fish market. You can usually get fish head/carcasses or Bonito fish (which is bloody tuna type fish) for around .50 cents a pound. If you want to ensure a good trip buy a lot, like try to get a whole 5-gallon bucket full before you go out.
You can put the chum in a chum sack or just run some rope thru the head collection and hang them over the side.
Now, where to go.
There are many places you could go to but I would suggest trying to avoid high traffic areas. If you are on the oceanside, chumming off the edge of the flats seems to work well. In fact, this seems to often draw sharks that are huge. But sometimes they take a long time to show up. The best luck I have had is on the bay side look for more open waters. Chumming in the small sounds around Key Largo wasn’t particularly effective but chumming on the bay side of the 7-mile bridge brought hoards of sharks.
If you put enough blood in the water almost anywhere something will eventually show up, but sometimes it may take a couple hours for the sharks to show up. Often times, when they do it, will be more than one, and you never really know what will show up. Anything from a couple 2-foot bonnet heads to half a dozen 200 pound plus monsters.
For bait, a fish head works well or any piece of bloody fish, but something half-alive works even better. Once you have a lot of chum in the water you should get some other visitors. Live jacks, blue runners, small barracuda, pinfish all make good baits for sharks.
You can free line a bait on the bottom or put it under a cork, bobber or balloon, which in the right conditions is pretty neat because you actually see the shark surface and get the bait.
Ok now for tackle
This is sort of tricky. In the bay, for the most part, ideal tackle would range from something that holds a couple hundred yards of 12-pound line to well honestly the sky’s the limit. I found that something that holds about 220 -280 yards of 30lb line seems to work petty well but even then some fish spooled me.
Leader. Obviously, you will need steel leader to fish for sharks. For the little sharks, a couple feet of leader is fine but if you are fishing for something bigger you will need a lot of leaders and heavy leader, like 3 or 4 times the pound test of the mono. So like 30# line or 90# leader. Sharks can break the line by whipping it with their tail, so basically you should have more leader then the length of the shark you are fishing for. This can be a real pain to cast but that’s life.
For hooks, use circle hooks; they are sold all over. If you have never used circle hooks before, they look kind of ridiculous but they work great. You let the shark run with free line for about 3-5 seconds depending on the size of the bait. Then just lock the bail and lean back and its hook sets right in the lip.
If you have questions please post them here and I will answer the best I can
Florida Keys Monroe County Wreck and Reef GPS
This s public list of coordinates taken from the http://floridaconservation.org, they are public numbers so reprinting them shouldn’t be a problem
NOTE: The Artificial Reefs database is sorted by DEPLOYMENT DATE, if available. The DEPTH field is the depth of water in feet to the bottom in reef area, while RELIEF is the height that the materials rise above the bottom in feet, if available. The GPS (Global Positioning System), DGPS (Differential GPS), LOR (Loran C) or UK (unknown) entries in the GPS field indicates which format the original coordinates were obtained (if known). The other set of coordinates was mathematically calculated and is probably not as accurate as the original set. If UNKNOWN (UK) is listed then the LORAN is probably the more accurate set of coordinates. In the MATERIALS field, a (W) indicates a shipwreck, (BAY) indicates an inshore reef within a bay, (TM) means Trade Mark and a # symbol, followed by a number, indicates the number of pieces of that material.
|DEPLOYMENT DATE||REEF NAME||MATERIAL||LORAN1||LORAN2||LATITUDE||LONGITUDE||GPS||DESCRIPTION||DEPTH||RELIEF|
|4/9/42||BENWOOD (W)||SHIP STEEL 344′||14132.9||62254.3||2503.160||8020.020||GPS||314 FT. FREIGHTER “BENWOOD”, SUNK DURING WWII||30||15|
|4/26/42||STURTEVANT (W)||SHIP STEEL 314′||13923.0||43728.6||2445.500||8201.300||UK||314 FT. DESTROYER”USS STURTEVANT” SUNK IN WWII||65||20|
|6/15/42||GUNVOR REEF(W)||SHIP STEEL 277′||13972.3||43651.5||2455.413||8146.254||LOR||277 FOOT LONG STEEL SHIP SUNK IN WWII||60||20|
|5/12/72||WILKES BARRE (W)||SHIP STEEL 610′||13951.8||43570.2||2428.466||8133.000||LOR||610 FOOT CRUISER WILKES BARRE SUNK BY US NAVY||220||75|
|12/31/72||ALEXANDER WRECK (W)||SHIP STEEL 300′||13913.3||43710.8||2436.970||8158.910||UK||300 FOOT DESTROYER ESCORT THE “USS ALEXANDER”||40||40|
|12/31/78||ALVA CHAPMAN REEF||SHIP CONCRETE||14160.4||43185.8||2517.667||8009.100||LOR||TWO CONCRETE BOAT HULLS & DREDGE PIPE||220|
|12/31/79||CANABIS CRUISER (W)||SHIP STEEL 75′||14081.8||43313.1||2449.504||8038.590||LOR||75 FOOT TRAWLER SCUTTLED BY CREW||110||25|
|12/31/80||SEVEN MILE BRIDGE REEF||BRIDGE SPANS CONCRETE||14006.8||43480.4||2436.333||8110.000||LOR||620 TONS BRIDGE RUBBLE -OLD SEVEN MILE BRIDGE||90|
|12/31/81||ISLAMORADA REEF||BRIDGE SPANS CONCRETE||14093.2||43292.6||2450.307||8033.421||LOR||1981 CONCRTE BRIDGE SPANS||110|
|12/31/82||MARATHON REEF||BRIDGE SPANS CONCRETE||14033.7||43403.9||2438.388||8057.555||LOR||1982 MARATHON’S VACA CUT BRIDGE SPANS||115|
|12/31/82||SEVEN MILE BRIDGE REEF||BRIDGE SPANS CONCRETE||14006.8||43460.4||2434.970||8109.590||LOR||1982 7 MILE BRIDGE, SPANS||115|
|12/31/82||SEVEN MILE BRIDGE REEF||BRIDGE SPANS CONCRETE||14007.0||43459.9||2434.975||8109.484||LOR||1982 7 MILE BRIDGE, SPANS||115|
|11/24/83||USS CURB(W)||SHIP STEEL 300′||13922.2||43639.7||2426.212||8146.127||LOR||213 FT.NAVY CABLE VESSEL “USS CURB”, UPRIGHT||185||60|
|12/31/83||KEY WEST GULFSIDE||SHIP STEEL SMALL||13933.8||43678.8||2440.719||8152.514||LOR||SMALL BOATS||32||4|
|12/31/83||KEY WEST GULFSIDE REEF||STEEL I-BEAMS||13933.5||43679.1||2440.622||8152.579||LOR||STEEL I-BEAMS AND RUBBLE||32||8|
|12/31/83||KEY WEST GULFSIDE REEF||BARGE STEEL 120′||13932.3||43679.1||2439.996||8152.636||LOR||120 FOOT LONG STEEL BARGE||32||10|
|12/31/83||KEY WEST TOURNAMENT REEF||BARGE STEEL 100′||13923.0||43637.8||2427.250||8146.250||LOR||100 FEET STEEL BARGE THE “LOLA”||184||14|
|12/31/83||KEY WEST TOURNAMENT REEF||SHIP STEEL 260′||13923.7||43636.4||2427.250||8146.250||LOR||260 FOOT SHIP L.S.M.R.||180||21|
|12/31/84||ALEXANDER BARGE||BARGE STEEL 120′||14093.0||43293.2||2451.700||8034.100||UK||120′ X 40′ BARGE, THE “ALEXANDER”, & BRIDGE RUBBLE||95||15|
|12/31/84||ISLAMORADA REEF||BRIDGE SPANS CONCRETE||14093.0||43293.2||2450.332||8033.575||LOR||1984 120 FOOT BARGE AND BRIDGE SPANS||110|
|12/31/84||SEVEN MILE BRIDGE REEF||BRIDGE SPANS CONCRETE||14007.3||43459.3||2435.020||8109.359||LOR||1984 7 MILE BRIDGE & STEEL BARGE||115|
|4/30/85||CAYMAN SALVAGE MASTER||SHIP STEEL 187′||13923.4||43638.7||2427.210||8145.980||LOR||187 FT.BUOY TENDER, SUNK IN 1985, UPRIGHT||92|
|12/19/85||EAGLE||SHIP STEEL 287′||14093.2||43292.9||2452.180||8034.210||GPS||287 FT. FREIGHTER “EAGLE” , AKA THE “AARON K”,||110||40|
|12/31/85||AMERICAN SHOAL REEF||BRIDGE SPANS CONCRETE||13968.2||43548.6||2432.124||8127.822||LOR||1985 NILES CHANNEL BRIDGE RUBBLE||40|
|12/31/85||BAHIA HONDA REEF||BRIDGE SPANS CONCRETE||13993.9||43497.2||2435.746||8117.380||LOR||1985 3000 TONS BRIDGE RUBBLE||30|
|12/31/85||GUNBOR REEF||STEEL SCRAP||13974.1||43651.0||2456.800||8146.200||LOR||SUPERSTRUCTURE FROM “CAYMAN SALVAGE”||52||26|
|3/3/86||THUNDERBOLT||SHIP STEEL 188′||14034.0||43403.4||2439.480||8057.900||UK||188 FT. NAVY CABLE VESSEL, “USS THUNDERBOLT”||115|
|12/31/86||ISLAMORADA REEF||BRIDGE SPANS CONCRETE||14094.1||43291.0||2450.517||8033.069||LOR||1986 INDIAN CUT BRIDGE SPANS||115|
|12/31/86||ISLAMORADA REEF||BRIDGE SPANS CONCRETE||14094.0||43291.1||2450.472||8033.084||LOR||1986 OLD TEA TABLE BRRIDGE SPANS||115|
|12/31/86||KEY WEST GULFSIDE REEF||CONCRETE RUBBLE||13933.4||43679.1||2440.571||8152.583||LOR||3000 TONS OF CONCRETE RUBBLE AND STEEL||32|
|12/31/86||LONG KEY REEF||CONCRETE BRIDGE SPANS||14054.9||43365.0||2443.878||8049.832||GPS||LONG KEY BRIDGE MATERIALS||26||8|
|12/31/86||LONG KEY REEF||BRIDGE SPANS CONCRETE||14055.0||43364.3||2442.601||8049.128||LOR||1986 LONG KEY BRIDGE ,5 PATCH REEFS||26|
|12/31/86||LONG KEY REEF||BRIDGE SPANS CONCRETE||14054.9||43364.7||2442.639||8049.226||LOR||1986 LONG KEY BRIDGE, 5 PATCH REEFS||26|
|12/31/86||LONG KEY REEF||BRIDGE SPANS CONCRETE||14054.3||43365.0||2442.295||8049.244||LOR||1987 LONG KEY BRIDGE, 4 PATCH REEFS||26|
|12/31/86||LONG KEY REEF||BRIDGE SPANS CONCRETE||14055.5||43364.9||2443.118||8049.342||LOR||1986 LONG KEY BRIDGE, 9 PATCH REEFS||26|
|12/31/86||LONG KEY REEF||BRIDGE SPANS CONCRETE||14054.4||43365.5||2442.503||8049.390||LOR||1986 LONG KEY BRIDGE, 5 PATCH REEFS||26|
|12/31/86||LONG KEY REEF||BRIDGE SPANS CONCRETE||14054.3||43366.3||2442.650||8049.595||LOR||1986 LONG KEY BRIDGE,5 PATCH REEFS||26|
|7/30/87||MARATHON REEEF SITE||BRIDGE RUBBLE||14033.7||43403.9||2439.050||8057.787||UK||CONCRETE BRIDGE SPANS.||100|
|11/27/87||BIBB||SHIP STEEL 327′ (BIBB)||14122.9||62270.3||2459.710||8022.770||UK||327 FT. “USCG CUTTER BIBB”,ON SIDE, 95′ TO RAIL||130||35|
|11/27/87||DUANE||SHIP STEEL 327′ (DUANE)||14122.2||62270.9||2459.380||8022.920||GPS||327 FT. “USCG CUTTER DUANE”, UPRIGHT||118||50|
|12/31/87||BAHIA HONDA REEF||CONCRETE BRIDGE SPANS||13993.8||43497.5||2435.755||8117.442||LOR||1987 3600 TONS SPANISH HARBOR BRIDGE SPANS||32|
|12/31/87||ISLAMORADA REEF||CONCRETE BRIDGE SPANS||14094.0||43291.1||2450.472||8033.084||LOR||1987 LIGUM VITAE BRIDGE SPANS||115|
|12/31/87||KEY WEST GULFSIDE REEF||CONCRETE RUBBLE||13933.3||43679.8||2440.657||8152.704||LOR||100 TONS OF CONCRETE RUBBLE||32|
|12/31/87||KEY WEST TOURNAMENT REEF||BARGE STEEL||13922.4||43636.8||2425.673||8145.584||LOR||HEAVY STEEL AND BARGE||205||6|
|12/31/87||MARATHON REEF||CONCRETE BRIDGE SPANS||14034.0||43403.4||2438.461||8057.451||LOR||1987 MARATHON CONCRETE SLABS||115|
|6/25/88||BIG PINE REEF||MODULES CONCRETE A-FRAMES||13984.8||43508.1||2432.692||8119.530||LOR||RESEARCH MODULES, HIGH PROFILE||45|
|6/25/88||BIG PINE REEF||MODULES CONCRETE A-FRAMES||13984.7||43507.6||2432.509||8119.419||LOR||RESEARCH MODULES, HIGH PROFILE||80|
|6/27/88||BIG PINE REEF||MODULES CONCRETE A-FRAMES||13985.0||43509.1||2433.056||8119.749||LOR||, RESEARCH MODULES LOW PROFILE||25|
|9/13/88||BIG PINE KEY SITE||MODULES CONCRETE A-FRAMES||13984.7||43507.2||2433.016||8119.498||UK||PRECAST CONCRETE SHALLOW REEF MODULES .||18|
|1/21/89||JOE’S TUG||SHIP STEEL TUGBOAT 90′||13928.7||43630.7||2427.850||8144.270||GPS||90 FOOT LONG TUGBOAT||65||25|
|12/31/92||STARGAZER REEF||STEEL STRUCTURES||13910.7||43669.8||2427.300||8152.000||LOR||UNDERWATER SCULPTURES||13|
|12/31/94||LONG KEY REEF||CONCRETE BRIDGE SPANS||14056.3||43365.8||2443.900||8049.667||GPS||1994,LONG KEY BRIDGE, 3746 TONS BRIDGE, GPS||24|
|12/31/96||LONG KEY REEF||CONCRETE BRIDGE SPANS||14056.3||43365.8||2443.900||8049.667||LOR||1996, LONG KEY BRIDGE, 3942 TONS BRIDGE||24|
|12/5/98||ADOLPHUS BUSCH SR||SHIP STEEL 210′||13968.0||43547.9||2431.841||8127.688||DGPS||210 FT. SHIP AKA THE “OCEAN ALLEY”, NEAR LOOE KEY||100||62|
|N/A||CITY OF WASHINGTON (W)||SHIP STEEL||14151.1||43203.8||2508.820||8015.190||GPS||SHIPWRECK FROM 1891, ADJACENT TO ELBOW REEF||20||8|