Fishing Guide to the Upper Keys and Florida Bay Buy it Now
by Martin Smithson
Shallow Water Fishing Techniques, Pg. 34-35
Fishing the Bridges
When the outgoing tide flows from the hay side out to the ocean side, plenty of shrimp, crabs and mullet are carried through the bridges. This makes the bridges a focal point to fish for tarpon, snook, permit, snapper and a variety of other species.
There are two distinct ways to fish bridges in the Keys. either by land or by boat. Both are very effective approaches. There are some guides that like to fish certain bridges on foot, especially at night.
Here are some pointers when fishing from the land side. First of all, pick your tides. The best tides are around a quarter-moon when they are not too strong. On a full or new moon the tides can really rip through the bridge pilings and make fishing difficult. If the winds are also ripping out of the north or west, forget it, the water will be dirty and moving too fast.
The best rig for fishing the bridges, especially for snook, is a 3/8 oz. HOOKUP leadhead jig, combined with a live shrimp. The most important advice here is on how to fish the jig/shrimp combo. You will most likely see many bridge anglers drifting their lines down current, waiting for a strike. You will also notice a lot of people not catching fish using this technique. The most effective method is to cast up current and slowly, slowly, work the jig back, while smoothly pumping the rod to create the jigging effect and keep the lure just off the bottom structure. Let the lure sweep past the base of a piling. The idea is to simulate a natural presentation of bait drifting through the channel. The downside is that you will lose more rigs than the guys with down current stretched lines, but you should experience more explosive strikes.
When you are on foot it is best to fish near the ends of bridges. You will want to work a hooked fish to the side where you can get down to the water's edge to release or retrieve the catch. A large fish being reeled 20 ft. up in the air from the top of a bridge usually ends in disappointment for the angler and the fish.
When night fishing from bridges, avoid shining bright flashlights and lanterns into the water which will certainly scare away the fish and reduce their tendency to bite. Be careful not to disturb someone else's fishing with a flashlight, too.
The most productive bridges in the upper Keys, day or night, seem to be Channel 2, Channel 5, Long Key and Tom's Harbor. Many other bridges are worth checking out, however.
Reviewer: Capt. Mike Sheen from Islamorada Florida Keys
This book is a must have for anyone fishing or sightseeing on Florida Bay. The information is current and simply stated. The aerial views of the Florida Keys are themselves worth the price of the book. You need two copies - one for your home library and one to keep on the boat! Buy it Now