As you cross the bridges you will notice a lot of fishing lines hanging off the electric lines next to the bridge. The Florida Keys bridges are the perfect place for the person who just wants to "wet a line".
When the old railroad bridges that had been converted to a road bridge were replaced, instead of taking the short sighted view of removing the historic bridges which were a combination of fishing pier and artificial reef, the bridges were narrowed to the original width used by the trains. Guard rails and access ramps with parking were added.
You can safely park and walk to a fishing spot where the bay and ocean meet between the islands. The fishermen are away from fast moving cars and motorists no longer have to be concerned about getting a sinker through the windshield or pedestrians on the bridge.
Possible fishing bridges include the Long Key Bridge, both the bridges at Toms Harbor, and the east and west ends of the Old Seven Mile Bridge (west end pictured). The bridge fishing areas are very popular and appear to be fished ‘round the clock.
Equipment: The old Tom's Harbor Bridges and Long Key Bridge are located a short distance away from Hawk's Cay MM 61. Bait and rods are available a little bit south at Coco Palmas MM 59.
Use shrimp, squid or cut bait and get your bait to settle in the bridge's shadow. Ask other bridge fisherman, the folks at the bait shop, or the place where you rent rods for advice.
Out of state and resident licenses are usually available at marinas and bait shops. Chances are adults will need a fishing license. Children may also need a license depending on the age. Bridges are patrolled and marine officers will ask to see your license.
If you are going to be out during the day wear a long sleeved shirt, brimmed hat and of course polarized sunglasses. Wear plenty of sun screen.
The owner of keysboat.com will charge your credit card in advance for the full amount AND then not deliver a boat. I just filed a police report on him and cancelled my credit card. He said he will not refund my money ($596.00) because I did not cancel the boat. This guy has some nerve. My husband told him we still wanted the boat but didn't feel we should be charged the one day we waited all day for him to show up. He is a liar and a con artist. Apparently, had I done more research, I would have found that out. Many unhappy customers.
I don't know if I'll ever see my money again but Mr. Joel Jenison hasn't heard the last of me. The internet is the largest way of letting everyone know of these shameful people and I have all the time in the world and a very BIG mouth.
Fishing the skinny waters with Captain Bryan is an experience that is difficult to describe in pictures and words. I took some videos this time to help capture the moment but it is something that has to be experienced in person. Bryan's knowledge of the waters and experience combined with his skills makes the fishing experience very memorable. He truly enjoys helping people catch fish. His specialty is Permit and Tarpon but when the conditions don't cooperate he is able to save the day by getting you on a large variety of other species. Bryan has really opened my eyes to light tackle shallow water fishing. I'm Hooked!
Equipment: Aboard the Iowa Fortune The finest quality tackle is provided for you if needed. Scott fly rods out fitted with Bauer Fly Reels to give you the advantage with fast loading accurate casts, which are essential for targeting fish in the shallows. The New Scott S3s series from Scott and the Bauer M3,M4, and M5 reels (Tarpon and offshore fishing) are my favorites choices, a very light weightset up which will not tire you out when casting frequently through out the day. G. Loomis Spinning rods and Fin-Nor reels are used for your light tackle needs.
Bring Sunblock and plenty of liquids. If you want to bring your own fishing equipment, contact Bryan so he can adjust his equipment accordingly.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo is the first undersea park in the United States and covers a wide area of coral reefs, mangrove swamps and little keys. This is one of the first spots to make diving mainstream, and even though the reef is not what it used to be, there is still plenty of wildlife to be seen. This is also great place for kayaking and snorkeling.
Another excellent diving option is Looe Key is in the middle keys, around Marathon. It has some great reef diving at great visibility. It is a pretty shallow dive.
There are several operators in the area. Check out http://www.flkeysdiving.com/ for more info about dive site in the Keys.
Equipment: Equipment can be rented. Plenty of Dive Operators
Key West's largest and most pristine reefs are located several miles off shore and are best visited with the help of professional dive and snorkel charter services. However, fascinating snorkeling is also available from shore along the south side of the island in the Key West Marine Park The park is operated by the non-profit group Reef Relief and the City of Key West .
For a different perspective on Key West take a kayak tour around some of the quiet backwaters. I opted for the Wildlife Refuge Tour which lasts about 4 hours. During this time we paddled in crystal clear waters between mangrove islands and I was lucky enough to see several species offish and birds as well as a turtle. The tour finished with us paddling past a mangrove rookery which housed amongst others, cormorants and pelicans. Tour cost $50USD per person.
Equipment: As the tour departs in the late afternoon I found that mosquito repellent was a must. A waterproof camera, sunglasses and sunhat are also advisable as well as shoes which enable you to walk among the tidal pools.
Huge variety of dive sites - reefs and wrecks- the Spiegal Grove was righted during last years hurricane season - there are sites to suit all abilities. Aqua-nuts have two purpose built dive boats that get you to the sites quickly. The crew are very knowlegable and friendly.
A two tank dive costs $65USD as you increase the number of dives you do, the trips reduce in cost by about $5 a time.
Equipment: I have all of my own dive equipment but the equipment available for hire was new and in excellent condition. Cost of hiring dive equipment is an additional $25USD per day.
For my diving in Key West I opted to use a company called Reef Raiders. I enjoyed the diving around this area, most of my dives were not deep but I had not come to Key West to deep dive. I found Reef Raiders to be a friendly outfit, it was relaxing to dive with these guys apart from one day when there were quite a few divers from one of the cruise ships that had docked.
The boat was in tip-top condition with all of the required safety gear. Reef raiders have a variety of dive packages on offer and as none of these suited my requirements I was able to negotiate my own package.
Equipment: I had all of my own gear and so didn't need to rent equipment however the equipment available for rent was well maintained and in in good condition.
Reef Raiders make 2 scheduled half day 2 tank trips to different local reefs, approximate bottom time is 2 hours (unless you are an oxygen bandit %-). Rates are around $65 ( Adults - just tanks & weights) or $75 (full gear package).
Dive times are 8:30am and 1:30pm
Islamorada is known as the sport fishing capital of the world. This is the place to go to fish in tournaments or to charter a boat with fhishing guides who know about catching the big one.
But fishing is popular throughout the Keys. Those that don't own or charter boats simply fish off the piers. These pedestrian bridges adjacent to the Overseas Highway are popular spots for the more casual fisherman.
Scuba diving is a popular pastime in the Florida Keys. Scuba involves the use of an underwater breathing unit which is attached to an oxygen tank. Anyone who wants to go diving must become certified, but most places offer a basic skills course that allows you to try diving with an instructor.
The coral reefs and offshore wrecks are ideal locations for diving. At these depths, you will see numerous tropical fish, an occasional barracuda and even sharks. Diving is an exciting yet relaxing way to see the underwater environment.
Equipment: Tanks, regulators, weight belts and even masks, fins and snorkels are available for rent at any dive shop.
Now, from what I can tell, this can be a costly trip, look at the fishing hooks and gear hanging from the power lines. But you would not believe the amount of people you'll see fishing off the bridges as you drive by to your next adventure. There are hundreds of channels so there is plenty of bridges to try your luck. Just be careful not to aim to high or you will be donating to the power line god!
There is NO shortage of charter boats to go fishing in the Florida Keys, starting with Key Largo all the way to Key West. Check the local visitor center for more details when you get there. Of course you can always bring your own boat and go fishing, you will have no problem finding a public boat ramp.
We spent a fantastic afternoon snorkelling with The dive team from the Amoray resort on the boat Amoray Diver. We snorkelled over a couple of sites, including a WW2 ship wreck and the reef where the statue of christ was situated. The reefs were fantastic, there were plenty of fish to see, and we had the good luck to swim close to a huge sting ray. As we returned to the boat we were met by an enormous barracuda which had positioned itself under the boat. Needless to say I exited the water very quickly, particularly after observing it's teeth at close quarters!!!
Equipment: The snorkelling equipment was provided free as we were hotel guests, but the trips are open to non residents for diving and snorkelling, when all diving and snorkelling equipment can be hired on site.