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Mini Season Tournament July 29th & 30th

This year we have spiced up our event. Instead of bringing just your bugs to be weighed, you must bring in at least one lionfish too! We need to get these fish out of the water and on to your plates. They are GREAT to eat and they are bad for our fragile ecosystem!! We are not only going to help out the health of our reef this year... We are teaming up with Sanctuary Friends Foundation.

We are donating 50% of all entry fees and 100% of all raffle collections directly to the foundation. This foundation is responsible for everything from maintaining the buoys in the sanctuaries to coral restoration and scientific research both in shallow and deep waters that we dive in. Our sponsorship this year is off the hook. Whether you are avid bug collectors or you just want to help out a great cause, you should participate. All participants receive a cool hat ($20+ value) and an entry in our raffle. We will have so many categories to win and raffles to give away, it would be hard to walk away empty handed!

To Enter call, email or stop by Tilden’s Scuba Center

4650 O/S Hwy • 305-743-7255 • tildensscubacenter@gmail.com Only $30 to enter All participants receive a tournament hat All participants are entered into weigh-in party raffle Categories for Men/Women/ Kiddos Over $7000 in prizes to win and give away Last tournament entry taken at Tilden’s at 9am on July 29th Final Weigh-in at Tilden’s 6:00pm July 30th

INNOVATIVE


Contents Kite boarders fly Keys are prime spot for growing sport.

6

Underwater Music Festival Mark your calendars for annual event.

8

28

Spearfishing Zen Find your peace to get the fish.

10

Packaged fun Trips include parasailing, snorkeling, lunch and more.

12

Gadgets for coastal living

16

Featured Boat Edgewater 28’ fits serious anglers.

20

Summer time dolphin fishing What to do when the mahi get lockjaw.

24

GoPro in the Keys

26

6 24 Custom guns Local man creates custom underwater spearguns.

28

About this issue Publisher Jason Koler jason@keysweekly.com Managing Partner Britt Myers britt@keysweekly.com Editor Sara Matthis sara@keysweekly.com Director of Sales/Marketing Lesley Aaron lesley@keysweekly.com Office Manager Lynn Ritli lynn@keysweekly.com

Published MMXV www.keysweekly.com

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Account Executives Rosario Barrett rosario@keysweekly.com Anneke Patterson anneke@keysweekly.com Michael Paulish michael@keysweekly.com Staff Writers Alex Press alex@keysweekly.com Kristen Livengood kristen@keysweekly.com Art/Design Travis Cready travis@keysweekly.com Javier Reyes javier@keysweekly.com

The Weekly Newspapers 11400 Overseas Hwy, Suite 201 Marathon, FL. 33050 P. 305-743-0844 | F. 305-743-0866 Key West office 5450 MacDonald Ave. No. 5 Key West, FL. 33040 P. 305-453-6928 | F. 305-743-0866


TWO Great Companies

Coco Plum Real Estate, Inc.

VACATION RENTALS

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Kelly Willey, Brok

Kelly Willey , Broker, Coco Plum Real Estate, Inc. www.KeysExpert.com

10875 Overseas Highway, Driftwood Plaza Marathon, FL 33050 • 305-289-2212

Shannon Butler , Realtor, Manager Coco Plum Vacation Rentals, LLC www.KeysRentalsOnline.com


Kite boarders fly Keys are prime spot for growing sport

By Sara Matthis

K

iteboarders inhabit the shorelines and sandbars of the Florida Keys all year round, propelled by the mighty ocean breeze. They shoot across the flats at incredible speeds with occasional dazzling leaps into the air. “The Keys are perfect for kiteboarding because there is tons of flat water, it’s shallow, not crowded, and it’s warm and windy,” said Nick Obea, co-owner of The Kite House in Key West.

During his lessons and free time on the water O’Bea gets serious hang time. “We average 40 feet in the air,” said Obea, “but you don’t have to have muscular arms. The harness does most of the work.” He and Paul Menta have had their shop for more than a dozen years and have instructed people from 13 to 87 years of age. They do beginners to advanced lessons, and it takes about two days to learn the ropes. One of the reasons for kiteboarding’s popularity in the Keys is the amount of flat, shallow water. While some athletes ride over the flats close to shore — near Anne’s Beach in Islamorada or Curry Hammock State Park on Grassy Key — others head out to isolated sandbars of knee-high crystal clear water in the backcountry. It’s a good place to learn — shallow enough to stand up to get your bearings with no danger of being dragged into a nearby high-rise building.

6

The other factor is the wind. Throughout the year, the wind tends to rotate around the island. During the summer months, winds tend to blow out of the south, making the oceanside of the islands a magnet for kiteboarders. Emily Englehardt learned to kiteboard in the Keys and then became an instructor. It immediately became a passion, she said. “I love the feeling of being so free on the water,” Englehardt said. “You have the wind to propel you, you can feel the water. And I’ve had dolphins come up right next to me. You feel so lucky and so blessed.” Englehardt said the sport is accessible to both men and women. In fact, she said, women tend to pick up the finer points faster. Regardless of gender, novice kiteboarders should start with lessons to learn proper form and standard safety precautions. A two-day starter course costs about $450 and a week of lessons is a little over $1,000.

“Pick a certified instructor with a certification from Professional Air Sports Association or International Kiteboarding Organization,” O’Bea said. Enthusiasts who catch the bug can expect to spend between $2,000 and $5,000 for a kite setup including board. O’Bea said the industry has settled into a standard design for kites — one with a leading edge inflatable. New on the market, however, are the foil boards. They have a long fin that sticks out of the bottom enabling the rider to hydrofoil for even faster speeds. “The only thing in the water is the foil. It’s way faster and you can cut further up wind than on a traditional board,” he said.

Contributed Kiteboarding is an extremely accessible sport in The Florida Keys. Most athletes choose an offshore sandbar to play with shallow water for safety reasons.


Underwater Music Festival Kick-off Par ty Friday, July 10 starting at 6p on the Lower Keys Chamber grounds, MM31. $10 if reserved by July 8 / $15 at the door.

Big Pine Key’s Most Complete Outfitter

Diving & Snorkeling at Looe Key Reef Sat, July 11 from 10a – 2p. Contact our local dive shops to reserve a space on their boat and come in costume.

Come celebrate the 31st Anniversary of the Underwater Music Festival hosted by the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce, Lubell Labs and US 1 Radio.

Bring in this ad & receive

10% off

any Bait, Tackle, Accessory or Ammunition Purchase (305) 872-1040

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Contact

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60-Ton Lift • Dry Storage • Bottom Painting

305-289-0432 13900 O/S Hwy. Marathon (Entrance at Coco Plum, Oceanside Access) keysweekly.com 7


Underwater Music Festival

M

ark your calendars because it only happens once a year. Divers and snorkelers can explore a portion of the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef while rocking to a sub-sea concert during the 31st annual Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival.

Set for Saturday, July 11, the quirky songfest takes place at Looe Key Reef, an area of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary approximately 6 miles south of Big Pine Key. For the past three decades, the event has drawn several hundred divers and snorkelers each year to immerse themselves in the colorful marine environment. The marine musical event is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and staged by Keys radio station US1 Radio 104.1 FM. The music is broadcast underwater via Lubell Laboratory speakers suspended beneath boats positioned above the reef. The concert’s playlist typically ranges from humpback whale recordings to ocean-themed songs such as Jimmy Buffett’s “Fins,” Donovan’s “Atlantis” and the Beatles’ “Octopus’s Garden.” Participants might even spot whimsically costumed divers or “mermaids” tooting their own horns on the ocean floor — pretending to play underwater musical instruments like a trom-bonefish and clam-bourine sculpted by Florida Keys artist August Powers. He makes a special instrument for every festival. Art and ocean lovers can meet Powers and view his creations, all combining elements of marine life and traditional instruments, during a pre-festival party set for 6-8 p.m. Friday, July 10. Divers and snorkelers interested in participating in the Underwater Music Festival can reserve space on boats run by Lower Keys dive operators or launch their own boats from public ramps and marinas in the area.

BOB CARE/Florida Keys News Bureau Samantha Langsdale, costumed as a mermaid, pretends to play a mock musical instrument at the Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival last year.

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As well as offering unique enjoyment for dive enthusiasts, the festival carries a serious message of reef preservation. The broadcast incorporates diver awareness announcements emphasizing ways to enjoy the reef while minimizing impacts on the underwater environment.


FLORIDA KEYS FULL SERVICE BOATING & MARINE CENTER

We are proud to offer quality boat sales by Edgewater, Parker and Mitzi Skiffs. Choose from a great selection of offshore fishing & center console boats.

In Stock New & Used Boats Brokerage Sales Factory Authorized Yamaha Dealer Dry & Wet Storage Re-Power Specialist On Site Ship’s Store & Parts

State of the Art Equipment 60 Ton Travel Lift Fixed Price Work Orders Paint Tent Finish On Time and Within Budget

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(305) 743-6341

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BOAT STUFF INBOARD AND OUTBOARD ENGINE REPAIR TOWING & SALVAGE TRANSPORTING FIBERGLASS REPAIR TRAILER SALES TRAILER PARTS & REPAIRS TRAILER RENTALS

MARATHON AUTO & MARINE SERVICE 2525 OVERSEAS HWY. MARATHON, FL 305-289-9884

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JET SKI SHOP

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REPAIRS • SALES • SERVICE ANY YEAR, MAKE OR MODEL • JET SKI & JET BOATS

Highest Quality Service and best pricing in all the Keys. We are your one-stop shop!

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Used Jet Skis & Jet Boats

MM 91.6 Bayside, 171 Hood Ave Tavernier Anthony McMelon, Owner CALL, TEXT OR EMAIL (305) 393-1219 • jetskishop1@gmail.com

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The Zen of Spearfishing By Dr. Ashley Hoyt

T

he ocean is a great mystery to many people. While we are familiar with it, its life, its culture and its dynamics are still so foreign. My experience is very different. Mine is of a warm, flowing world full of living creatures as conscious and curious as the rest of us. Through experience I learned that the way to capture a fish is to be calm, serene and focused. Any sudden movement, even a flash of sudden emotion, could send a signal to creatures for yards in all directions. Success in spearfishing requires finding peace. When I enter the water I seek that peace. I get comfortable in the waters, my mind grows quiet and I simply observe. As I dive there’s no signal of distress to alert the creatures in the immediate environment. The calmer I am, the longer I can remain submerged. My body relaxes and mind clears, my sole focus is my aim. I look where to shoot. Spearfishing becomes a meditative art of remaining calm and collected with singular focus. Just as hunters immerse themselves in the woods, I commune with an element not my own. I become subservient to the ocean. I remember a particular occasion when a barracuda joined me on the hunt. As it approached, it began to swim parallel to me. I realized by its demeanor that it saw me as a fellow hunter.  If an ocean predator approaches at a perpendicular angle, they indicate that they view the target as a threat or even prey. But by coming alongside me, it told me that I was an ally, a fellow predator and was willing to cede its hunting ground. This is the zen of spearfishing. Peace brings success, and calm yields respect. We become just another fish in the wide ocean. Dr. Ashley Hoyt is the owner of Clinic of Alternative Medicine in Key West. She is a board-certified acupuncture physician and life-long spearfisherman.


MARINE DIESEL OF THE FLORIDA

KEYS, INC. Marine Store Offers:

FACTORY AUTHORIZED DEALER

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We’d like to have YOU as a member! Call 305-743-6739 to arrange a visit!

keysweekly.com 11


Packaged fun

Trips include parasailing, Jet Skiing, snorkeling, lunch and more into a fabulous six hours

By Alex Press

F

or the total watersports experience, there is no better trip than an all-exclusive trip with one of the watersports companies in Key West. I was lucky enough to be a guest on Fury’s “Ultimate Adventure” package that includes parasailing, Jet Skiing, snorkeling, breakfast, lunch, libations and an adultsize playground in the water featuring a rock wall, giant slide and rope climbing platform. I arrived at the Conch Republic Seafood’s docks in Key West at 9 a.m., ready for the adventure. Already, there was a small crowd of excited locals ready to have some fun. Guests sat at tables, talking about what part of the trip they look forward to the most. A big catamaran ferried the guests out to a spot near Wisteria Island, the headquarters so to speak. There are seats on the upper deck, and a shaded space below. It’s just a couple of nautical miles away from the dock.

I was the first group to board the parasailing boat from the catamaran. I had the famous Captain Tony — not Tarricino, but the other one. He’s a wild man with a Monster energy drink in one hand, and the wheel in the other. He plays energetic dance music through the boat’s top-notch sound system. Standing on the parasailing platform, I got the feeling you get when you are about to go on a colossal waterslide or towering rollercoaster. But after lift-off, all I felt was a deep feeling of relaxation. Floating in the air like a feather in the wind, 100plus feet in the air, witnessing the ultimate skyline view of Key West, is astonishing — fluffy clouds above and clear water below, sometimes so clear its possible to see the dolphins and sea turtles on a lucky day.

12

After the parasailing, it was my turn on the Jet Ski. Staff gave detailed instructions on how to operate the personal watercrafts (I still crashed into the dock on my return) and put two of us on each machine to circle in a large marked area. I got it going close to 40 mph with a North Dakotan on the back. Fortunately, I didn’t sling him off the back of it, but I don’t think it would have hurt that bad. Then lunch — lunchmeats, cheeses, fruits and homemade fried chicken served buffet style with pasta and potato salad for sides and brownies and cookies for dessert. The meal gave me just enough energy to climb the giant floating slide and be ready for the next experience, snorkeling.

It was rough out, so Capt. Bill decided to take guests to the lee side of the island, out of the wind. Crew and passengers helped raise the sail on the big catamaran and we cruised for what seemed like 30 minutes to the reef teeming with marine life. Snook, hogfish, grouper, snapper, angelfish and triggerfish were swimming around the vibrant coral. Pleasantly tired and supremely mellow, the guests boarded the last boat of the day to head back to the island. The crew produced wine bottles and tapped the kegs so guests could toast another fabulous day in the Florida Keys. It was the finishing touch to a great day. Sebago, Sunset Water Sports and Barefoot Billy’s also offer similar experiences and more information can be found on the websites. To book with Fury go to furycat.com. Locals get a serious discount, fifty percent on some trips. Don’t forget to bring a towel and sunscreen!


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Ocean views from Lvg Rm & balconies, nice kitchen w/ laundry & sm office work station. 2 Bed 2 Bath, Res mangr, Garden courtyard, $349,900.

BEACHY COTTAGE CANAL FRONT STILTED HALF DUPLEX IN KCB

FLAMINGO ISLAND, MTHN SINGLE FAMILY POOL & CANAL FRONT HOME

Very Cute 2Bed 2 Bath semi-detached home on 10th St with 37.5 ft dock easy access to the Ocean & Gulf. Good Rental History. Work Shop. $575,000.

Lovely Sombrero neighborhood, 2 bedroom 3 bath open floor plan, with under bldg. parking plus room for the motorhome. Some Rental Hist. $829,000.

CANAL FRONT KCB VAULTED CEILING HALF DUPLEX

BOAT HOUSE WET SLIP FOR SALE: 40 FT BOAT W/ 13.42 FT BEAM.

Lovely East Facing, 2 Bedrm 2 Bath unit just right for entertaining w/wet bar, nice kitchen, and fabulous canal-side wide porch. 2-car carport. $599,000.

Adjacent to Coral Lagoon Resort, easy access to Ocean & Gulf, fuel, wash-down facilities, safe dockage & parking. Rentals allowed. $49,900.

Boaters & Golfers

Key Colony Beach Canal Front Stilt half duplex located across from the Golf Course, 2 bedroom 3 bath, vaulted ceilings, open living space, screened porch upsairs and covered patio area in carport. Great opportunity! $549,000. Call today for appointment.

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Cell: (305) 923-9487 lynngoodwinre@gmail.com

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Key Colony Beach Realty, Inc. www.keysproperties.com


WELCOME BOATERS! Please visit us by tender, dinghy, boat or bike!

MARATHON • MM 47.3 (725 11th Street, Ocean) 305-289-0839

ISLAMORADA MM 79.9 Ocean 305-664-5256

www.lazydayssouth.com

www.lazydaysrestaurant.com

Reservations Recommended

Amazing Sunset Views Enjoy Relaxing Oceanfront Dining While Feasting On Exquisite Seafood Dishes Prepared By Chef Lupe & His Culinary Team

Daily Lunch & Dinner Specials!

We Cook Your Own Catch! Lunch Begins at 11 am Dinner Begins at 4 pm Happy Hour ~ 4-6 Daily (Bar Only)

Local Fish Delivered DAILY at Both Locations by local Keys Captains

Florida Keys Reef Lights Foundation

The FLOATINATOR So Your Drink Won't Sink!™ Saving the world one drink at a time trogers@floatinator.com Table 63 Enterprises 573-239-9870 f Floatinator www.floatinator. com

"To save and preserve all six Florida Keys Reef Lighthouses"

The KEY Campaign results as of 4-25-2015 are $9,050 in donations towards the $10,000 goal.

www.reef lights.org Wholesale pricing and retail opportunities available. 14

Florida Keys Reef Lights Foundation, Inc. is a Non-Profit 501(c)(3) Organization


Grab a bike and be on the historic 7 Mile Bridge in 5 minutes S

BIKE RENTAL

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Enjoy a stress-free summer with a Keys Boat or Engine-Only Loan! as low as

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305-289-1670 • 1700 O/S Hwy, MM48 • www.overseasoutfitters.com

Your local marine lending specialists Download our

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keysweekly.com 15


Gadgets for coastal living

Woodroze Sunglasses

[$75+]

Not only are these stylish woodies making a huge comeback, they are polarized and float. It doesn’t get much better than that when you are out on the boat. Wait, there’s more: 10 percent of all the sales are donated to MOTE Marine for Florida Keys reef restoration and for every tree they harvest to make the frames, they plant a replacement. In the Keys they can be found at Hammerhead Surf Shop in Key West and Otherside Boardsports in Islamorada.

IST Hunter Mask

[$50]

This popular low profile, black skirted mask is flying off the shelves at Tilden’s Scuba Center in Marathon. The clean, clear, high definition lenses help see clearly while diving and snorkeling in Keys waters, making it the go-to choice for local divers.

Hogy Lures

[$8]

These lures are a hot commodity right during tarpon season in the Keys. Apparently, the tarpon can’t resist the black plastic wiggling through the water while traveling by Florida Keys bridges. The hot spot is Bahia Honda. A five pack runs about $8 and can be found at Jigs Bait and Tackle and Lower Keys Tackle in Big Pine Key.

Just imagine how much more fun it could be being pulled by The Reef Surfer from behind the boat when lobster mini season comes around in July. It’s a planer which boasts balanced performance when going under, and provides the ability to actually make turns to the left and right. $390, reefsurfer.com.

The Reef Surfer

[$390] 16

Zookeeper Lionfish Containment Unit

[$85]

With the rise of the invasive lionfish in Keys waters, more and more gear is being invented and perfected to help in the safe removal of the delicious fish. Local lionfish huntress Rachel Bowman swears by it. $85 and up, can be found locally at The REEF Headquarters in Key Largo and Divers Direct in Key West.


Living the “Life” in the Keys? Remember, it all depends on “Reef Life”

PROTECT OUR

REEFS! Support Mote’s mission to restore our valuable marine resources. Help restore and protect our coral reefs by purchasing a Protect Our Reefs license plate today

Jetski Rentals On Site – Guided Tours or Free Riding.

We Offer Storage Services for Boats, Trailers or RV’s

The Real Keys Waterfront Dining Experience

Welcome Boaters! Our Restaurant is Accessible by Boat.

Now Serving Breakfast Daily 7 am – 11 am

Box Lunches for Your Fishing Trip

$1 Oyster Sunday

(min. order of 6) Daily Live Entertainment Daily Specials Happy Hour Every Day 3-6 Locals Discount! · $2 Bottled Domestic Beer

· $3 House Wine · Extensive Happy Hour Menu!

Homemade Desserts

Open Daily 7 am – 10 pm

PorkysBaysideBB@.com Facebook.com/PorkysBaysideBB@FLKeys MM 47.5 Bayside in Marathon • 305-289-2065

Marine Science Camp 100% of the annual $25 donation from the purchase of each Protect Our Reefs license goes to Mote’s coral reef restoration and research programs. Since 2004 this Protect Our Reefs plate has generated more than $10.4 million to help restore our reefs in the Keys.

Snorkel on over to

www.reefplate.com

Daycamp & Overnight Programs Starting in June CAMP ACTIVITIES INCLUDE:

Marine Science • Sailing • SCUBA Snorkeling • Windsurfing • Kayaking

1300 Big Pine Ave. Big Pine Key, FL 33043 • info@seacamp.org 18


Friendly Service & Free Advice Overlooking The Boot Key Harbor Waterway Dockage • Bait • Tackle Ice Cold Beer • Snacks • Ice MARINE AND ENGINE PARTS ALTERNATORS / STARTERS

Clean, Pre-Filtered & Computer Monitored Marine Fuel

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Marina Hours 6:30am - 6PM We monitor Channel 16

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Featured Boat Edgewater 280 Center Console

T

here are as many types of boats in the Florida Keys as there are quirky characters. Big sports fishermen, svelte little backcountry craft and indestructible working lobster boats. For the pretty serious angler, there’s the Edgewater 280CC – a deep v-hull center console. It has all the bells and whistles for fisherman, and can also accommodate the family on Sandbar Sunday.

“It’s a very stable boat, good for offshore fishing and has fantastic fuel economy.

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Rob Parks, a broker at Marathon Boat Yard Marine Center, said it’s a set up for fishing, but is a good multi-tasker, too. “It’s a very stable boat, good for offshore fishing and has fantastic fuel economy. Plus there’s lots of tackle storage, a single-piece windscreen for good visibility, a live well, and a low-profile bow rail,” he said. It also has an integrated cooler, swim platform, walk-through transom, head, shower and a bunk to please the family. “It performs very nicely,” Parks said of the single-piece infused hull. “And the T-top provides plenty of shade.” — Staff Report

Specs Edgewater 280CC Length Beam Draft (Boat Only) Boat Weight (approx) Weight Capacity Person Capacity Person Weight Fuel Capacity Transom Height Max Power Cockpit Depth Cockpit Area Approx. Length Boat/Trailer Bridge Clearance w/T-Top Foam Floatation

28’ 9’6” 20” 6,000lbs 4,500lbs 12 1,980lbs 200gal Twin-25” 600hp 27.5” 116sq.ft. 34’ 9’6” Unsinkable


ARTIC TEMP, INC. Air Conditioning & Refrigeration

Marine Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Ice Machines Sales, Service & Installation

305-743-5288 9699 Overseas Hwy., Marathon (across from the airport, corner of 97th Street)

Where everyone is treated like a local! Kayak, Paddleboard & Canoe Sales

Lic & Ins. Contractor #CAC 053827

Summer Paddle Camp Sessions

June 8th – 12th kids, June 15th-19th teens July 6th – 10th kids, July 13th-17th teens

Over 400 boats & SUPs in stock. Come in and “try before you buy!”

Like us on www.PaddleFloridaKeys.com 104050 O/S Hwy, Key Largo 305-451-3018 keysweekly.com 21


Icey-Tek Coolers

The Original Rotomolded Coolers With Over 17 Years Of Proven Performance Icey-Tek Long Box coolers are available in sizes 55QT to 600QT. Multiple colors available.

h c t a C r u o Y k Coo h s i F r o r e t s b o L r 7 days a week with Open daily for lunch & dinne ppy Hour 4-6pm

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Daily Specials Icey-Tek Cube coolers are available in sizes 25QT to a massive 1100QT. Multiple colors available.

The Frostbite R range is now available in sizes 16QT to 70QT

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Spring Sale Going On Now! yfloatingbar.com

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22

4pm -6pm, Daily 25¢ Shrimp or Wings

Located in the KCB Marina on Sadowski Causeway, MM53.5 Ocean

eway

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Come by car, boat or foot!

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Mon: Carolina BBQ Tues: Jumbo Gumbo Bowls Wed: Wine Time - $15 Featured Bottles Thurs: Prime Rib Night Fri & Sat: House Specials Sun: $10 Spaghetti and Meatballs

305-289-7445 www.sparkyslanding.com

MARINE ELECTRICAL SERVICES ABYC certified

305-289-1150 www.saltservice.net


THE FRIENDLIEST BAIT & TACKLE STORE IN THE FLORIDA KEYS!

29770 Overseas Hwy. Big Pine Key

305-872-7679 www.lowerkeystackle.com

keysweekly.com 23


Summer time dolphin fishing Sometimes it takes everything and the kitchen sink By Capt. Vinny Argiro

D

olphin are the most versatile of all the fish we target here in the Keys. They pull very hard, they jump a lot and they come in sizes to match every angler — not to mention they make a great plate of fish at the end of the day. They will eat just about anything they can catch which gives us fisherman the perfect excuse to head out to the tackle store to buy some more “toys.” This all sounds awesome, and most days it is, but occasionally dolphin will get a bad case of lockjaw. I have heard so many anglers come back to the dock and say, “We saw a huge dolphin, but he just wouldn’t eat.” On those days it’s time to get creative. We like to keep a few live baits on hand while we are trolling in case we run across one of these stubborn fish. Many times a live threadfin herring or a small blue runner will make the difference. Bigger live baits are essential when a giant is surrounded by a bunch of smaller “schoolie” fish that quickly devour a bait before the big guy can get it. Also pay attention to the color of the fish when you have them around the boat. When a dolphin loses his bright blue color and turns a dark green, he is usually turned off by something and may need some extra coaxing to get him to eat. Sometimes a dolphin has been hooked and lost earlier in the day, only to rejoin the school and show up behind your boat with a sore lip.

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You usually have a small window of time, so be ready before hand. They can be caught but it takes patience and good presentation. I use small hooks (as small as a 3/0 circle) and fluorocarbon leader to mask the rigging. You may have to go pretty light on the leader (30- to 40-pound test) to keep him from seeing it. This can be a gamble, but if he sees something he doesn’t like you definitely won’t catch him. A very fresh and jumpy bait will usually excite him, but if not, don’t be afraid to try something else. If a dolphin refuses a particular bait, I immediately try a different one. I once had a bull dolphin refuse a live threadfin and went bonkers when I threw him a dead squid. It’s a good idea to save all those leftover or washed-out baits to make chunks. A handful thrown away from the boat will get the little guys moving so you can single out the big dolphin. Never give up. A wise fisherman once said, “Never leave fish to find fish.” If a big dolphin is looking you in the eye, expend every possible option and then try them again. When you’ve tried everything above, and all your other tricks, there is one last option. I like to move away from the scene and rig a fresh pattern of trolled baits and get them all swimming behind the boat and make one last pass through the spot where the fish was last seen. Amazingly enough, sometimes ‘ol Grumpy will give in and take a shot at one of your baits. If he doesn’t eat after that, then it just wasn’t meant to be. Capt. Vinny Argiro has been chartering in Key West since 1989. His number is 305849-2367. His website is captvinny.com.


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GoPro in the Keys DAVID AMBOS/Studiojulie.com

BETTE ZIRKELBACH/turtlehospital.org

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atery vacations in the Florida Keys are pretty great, but there’s one thing that can make them better – a GoPro HERO4 Silver. It’s the only way to capture the action shots without having to put down the rod, drop the paddle, or hand over the ship’s wheel to someone else. The newest GoPro ($400) features a built-in touch display, 12MP photos at 30 frames per second and the ability to tag the best moments and easily find them again later. The standard waterproof housing ($50) is perfect for protecting the camera from splashing fish or a wet ride on the paddleboard. Divers will probably want the dive-class protection ($60); it’s good to almost 200 feet. — Staff Report

CONTRIBUTED/nykitecenter.com

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Custom guns

Local man creates custom underwater spearguns

By Kristen Livengood

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uban mahogany grown in Old Town Key West has become the popular wood choice for 24-year-old Captain Cole Harrison’s Custom Conch Cannons, or Triple C, speargun line. “The wood is grown in Key West and the guns are built in Key West,” he said, while hanging at his mom’s Harrison Gallery, a woodworking shop in Key West. “It makes it pretty unique and pretty popular.” The Key West native started spearing at 11 and built his first speargun by 15. His first gun, he personalized by burning a barracuda onto the side with help from his mom. “It’s still floating around here in Key West,” he said of the gun, which has been continually passed along to novice spear hands learning the waters.

His most popular gun is the Key West Special, a smaller gun that can range from 34 to 52 inches and works best in the backcountry for the general spearo. “Think diving for lobster and coming across a nice looking hogfish,” he said.

Spear•o: noun, singular  1. Spearfisherman, or a person who engages  in spearfishing.

“I have always been around the tools in the gallery,” he said. “So, it just came natural to make these functional pieces of art.” The guns range in price from $700 to $1,000, or more, depending on the details on his custom guns. “I can dial in on what people want to use it for,” he said. “Everything from hand size to band

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tightness to custom lengths to what’s being hunted.” His 27th gun, a teak Custom Conch Cannon, was just shipped to California for the use of hunting yellowtail and sea bass. Harrison loved the design on it so much, he made a sister gun to keep for himself.

His other guns include the Blue Water, made up to 64 inches and best for skittish pelagics, and his Deep Reefer, which he boasts can easily haul in 40 pound wahoos and groupers. Most are made out of teak, which is by far Harrison’s favorite to work with, since it is time tested to stand up well in the water, but he also likes working with African Padauk. Harrison can be found at the gallery when he isn’t taking spearfishing charters off Key West and is also a sponsor of the 4th Annual That’s What She Shot spearfishing tournament in June. His website is customconchcannons.com.


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