Sunday, April 06, 2014

Fishing in the Lower Keys


Cudjoe Key Florida-Venture Out Resort (high 83, low 76)


The thing about living on an island is you are always affected by the sea breezes.

The photo below is of the lower Keys.  The red push pin is where we are located.  You can see how shallow the water is. The dark blue is deep water.

Map picture


Yesterday, for the first time in a while, the winds laid down and we were able to get out in the boat.  Yay!

Our marina at Sunshine Key (where we were previously staying) was wonderful.   It’s in a secluded cove on the bay side of the island, so that it’s protected from currents and winds.  It was so easy to launch your boat there with the long rubber coated floating docks.  I miss it.

Here at Venture Out, the Marina is on the Atlantic side, and while it is somewhat protected, it is still very much affected by wind and currents. 

Venture Out

On top of that, the docks are short and are made of concrete, instead of the floating rubber docks at Sunshine Key.  If you come in too hard, you might just hit concrete.  The ramps are steeper, but the water drop off is shallower.  You can’t get your trailer into the water as much on a lower tide, unless you submerge the rear wheels of your vehicle.

So….  I wasn’t looking forward to launching the boat.  I was spoiled by Sunshine Key’s wonderful boat launch.

Al backed the trailer in, and sure enough we didn’t have enough water to easily float the boat off the trailer.  It’s okay to put your rear truck tires into the water when you’re launching the boat, but you don’t want to have to do that when you’re loading it back up.

Fortunately, we came back in at high tide and had no trouble.  It might be different at low tide.

I was a little bummed about the marina.

Then as we headed out, I was also a little bummed by the shallow waterways and cloudy water.

The waters down here in the Cudjoe Key area, appear to be a lot shallower than it at Sunshine Key.  You really have to watch the channel markers or you’ll end up grounded.

There is no really close place to go and sit and be out of the wind.

For those of you that have never done any boating, the buoy markers direct you to open waters through the channels.  The buoys are numbered and either red or green in color.  The buoys show up on navigational charts as well as Marine GPS systems.

When you’re going out/offshore, you stay between the red and green buoys, making sure the green ones are to your right.

Coming back in, red is to your right.  (red, right, returning)

If you stay between the red and green markers you will be in deep enough water.  Of course if you’re in an inter-coastal waterway, all bets are off because you have to figure which way they consider to be returning.


Venture Out

The waters around Venture Out are very shallow and you really have to watch the channel markers.  Sometimes, they aren’t very close, so you have to really look ahead to find them.

Fortunately, nowadays, with the newest technology, your GPS shows you a nice map of the waters, which includes all the buoy markers, small islands, submerged items, as well as the depth.


You can zoom in or out and the GPS shows you where you are, as well as your previous tracks if you like.  Showing previous tracks helped us yesterday when we were coming back in.  We knew if we followed our tracks back, we would have enough water and not hit anything.  It is very shallow around here.

The different water depths are color coded. White is good, brown or green is not!

After we launched the boat, we had to make a choice.  Atlantic ocean or backwaters? The backwater as it’s known here, is basically an extension of the Gulf of Mexico, but is called Florida Bay.  It’s the north side of the islands.  The Atlantic is on the south side.

map of florida keys   Yahoo Search Results

You wouldn’t think Atlantic waters would be much different from the bay or backwater would you?

The differences really show up down here in Cudjoe Key.


We decided we would go out into the Atlantic side and maybe head to Looe Key Marine Sanctuary.  We put the number in our GPS and determined it was 5.6 miles offshore.  We negotiated our way through the many channel markers out to the open water.  It started getting choppy, so we decided on Plan B, and headed to the calmer backwaters.

It was nice and calm there, but the water wasn’t particularly clear. i wasn’t loving it.  We went under the bridge and then followed along the broken coast line.  We saw a lot of other boats heading out and figured they knew something we didn’t know.   I didn’t take any pictures because I was so busy helping to make sure we didn’t get grounded in the very shallow waters.

We finally got into 19-20 feet of water and saw a few fish showing up on our fish finder.  Al decided to give his new fishing rod and reel a try.

It worked well and he caught a bunch of fish.  We lost count, maybe a dozen.

Here is a small grouper.  It was too small and not in season, so it went back in.

Fishing by Venture Out

He caught several snappers. The white thing in it’s  mouth is the squid he used for bait.

Fishing by Venture Out

They were all small so they all went back in.  He small hooks so they can easily be released.

Fishing by Venture Out

We had fun.  I don’t fish, but I like to watch him fish, so it’s fun for me too.   

It ended up being a good day, even though I was initially not thrilled with the waters around this area.


Al stayed up late watching basketball, so he slept in. 

I was up at really dark- thirty as usual.

We didn’t get down to the marina for sunrise, but found we have a pretty nice one right here at our campsite.





Not sure what today will bring. Stay tuned.


  1. Bummer that your first day began on a negative note but at least it got better. Maybe one of your waterfront neighbors will offer you a tie up spot in the canal.

  2. I'm not a boater, so I enjoyed learning about the buoys and such.

  3. just being that close to the water seems heavenly. . .and having a real boat to get out on the water. . .even more so.

    How late into the summer season will you guys stay?

  4. Glad for you that you got to go out in the boat. You will have to explore and find some new favorite spots.

  5. Sorry to hear your new marina is more difficult. Are you using the GPS on your phone for those maps. They look great. Hope that with more exploring you'll find some areas you really like. Gorgeous fish, too bad none for dinner.

    1. No Sherry. Its a Garmin Marine GPS.

    2. exact question I had, Karen, and you answered it. I have been wanting a new Garmin waterways type of GPS, still looking. I have an old one for hiking, but the imagery on your photo looks way cool. Can you tell me the model you are using? Is it large and mounted in the boat or small enough to take kayaking?

  6. Good explanation for landlubbers about the buoy navigation system. Next you should do a bit on nautical rules of the road. You'd probably be the only person in the world that understands them... ;c)

    Just be careful in your boating expeditions you don't take a wrong turn and end up a "guest" of Fidel!

  7. At least you finally got out in the boat, enjoy it while you can.

  8. Interesting story about how you get around in your boat. I'd probably end up in Guantanamo Bay as I know nothing about boating navigation.

  9. Always fun to have a good fishing day. Glad you got the boat out. You will get used to the marina and figure out where the best spots are around your new place.

  10. They say it's good to learn something new everyday...I learned more about boating navigation!! Thanks!!! I grew up in Daytona Beach but was young so I don't remember what or how my mom and dad navigated the waters. :-)


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