• Posted by Nick Honachefsky
  • On April 13, 2018
  • Comments
  •  2

I just walked in the door from a sunny week in the Florida Keys and the smile is still plastered on my face. The reefs were alive.

Cruising out on the 34 foot Bn’M battle wagon with Rich Stanczyk, owner of legendary Bud ‘N Mary’s Marina in Islamorada, Captain Charlie Scoble put us up over a wreck that laid on the coral reef near Alligator Light. Mate Max Gaspeny set up the Shimano Saragosa 20000 reels and 7 foot Ugly Stik Big Water rods spooled with 30-pound monofilament, dropped down a bottom rig with a 6-ounce egg sinker, 200-lb barrel swivel and a 10 foot section of 60-pound fluorocarbon leader with a size 5/0 Octopus hook. A live pilchard was hooked through the nostrils and sent down. It was a total hit job all day long as pilchards were being assaulted by large mutton snapper, black grouper, and flag yellowtail snappers, with a few grouper bites we couldn’t turn the heads of.

Bottom bouncing was an absolute blast, but reefing also meant there was a shot at toothy speedsters that patrol the area looking to pick off any baits or snapper being reeled in. Max sent out a freelined live pilchard on the surface and as we trolled by Alligator Light, the rods went off with scissor-toothed king mackerel taking the baits and smoking the Shimano 25 TLD reels. Another pass of the Light had me hooked into a mongo barracuda that pushed 20 pounds.

Post-Irma fishing on the reefs seems not to have waned one bit, in fact, it appears fishing may even be getting better as Stancyzk suggested the top layer of silt on the reefs was washed away with the surge, promoting new coral and vegetative growth that is providing cover and forage for fish.

When reef fishing in Islamorada, be prepared to bring essentials to cover snapper grouper and toothy species such as AFW fishing wire, size 5/0 to 7/0 Gamakatsu Octopus hooks, 40 to 60-pound Seaguar Fluorocarbon leader, and sabiki rigs to insure you have plenty of the freshest live baits available. No doubt, the Florida Keys reef fishing scene has not lost a step since Irma. My sore arms can attest to that fact.

Gear Used


Saragosa SW Spinning Reels

The Shimano Saragosa SW Spinning reels are saltwater reels made to be durable with new “Cam” oscillation system. These reels are water resistant and provide a comfortable drag. These reels are dedicated to the Blue Water angler.



Tooth Proof Single Strand Wire

Made from specially controlled Type 304 stainless steel alloy, Tooth Proof is hard but not brittle, delivering both flexibility and strength. Our unique pre-straightening process eliminates cast – giving you a straighter leader with improved kink resistance.



Octopus Hooks

The Gamakatsu Octopus Hook has long been known for its durability and strength. The Octopus hook comes in a wide variety of sizes, colors and finishes, including fluorescent finishes.



Fluorocarbon Leader Material

Incredible impact and abrasion resistance. Fast sinking. Superior tensile and knot strength. The original FC (Blue Lable) Seaguar 100% fluorocarbon leader material allows you to use a smaller test leader than the competition.



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