Summer is here again! We love early summer because its our favorite time for boat trips. The winds typically settle down making for calmer seas and the warm water is ideal for fishing and scuba diving. That is just what we did on our recent trip down to the Dry Tortugas.
The Dry Tortugas are a small grouping of islands 70 miles west of Key West known for its exceptional marine life, clear waters, and Fort Jefferson – the largest masonry structure in the Americas made up of over 16 million bricks. No wonder the tiny coral island it sits on is slowing sinking! Between the fort, its history and the wildlife surrounding it, there is something for every adventurer.
If you haven’t guessed it already, boat and sea plane are the only ways to get to the fort. The Tortugas have been the most remotely located national park since their inception in 1935. The waters are protected and a massive ecological study has been going on for decades. Be careful to know the rules in the park as some parts are closed to boating entirely, others are no fishing zones, etc. The benefit of all of these protections is the reason we make the trip. You will find some of the best diving/fishing here in the entire world. It feels like your own private paradise.
To be honest, our trip bordered on the extreme. Our boat carried four hardcore fishermen, 75 gallons of extra diesel, and three huge coolers full to the brim with bait and ice. We left at 4AM and trolled the 110 miles all the way to the Tortugas to save fuel and arrive by sunset. The trip down was rougher than anticipated and half of the crew felt sick but we were rewarded with Mahi, tuna, and barracuda. Eating fresh Mahi and watching the red sunset over the fort made it all worth while. The weather for the rest of the trip was also incredible. No rain and slick calm winds and seas.
Up at the crack of dawn the next morning, we enjoyed a delicious egg and bacon breakfast on our way out to the fishing grounds. As soon as we put our lines in the water, we were feeling the bites and limited out on yellow tail snapper in under 3 hours. That’s 40 of my favorite eating fish just in the morning. We then switched our attention to some spearfishing. Diving in the crystal clear waters on giant ledges, humps, and coral reefs was exceptionally beautiful. I speared the largest hogfish I have ever seen at almost 30 inches. We then headed back to explore the fort and stretch our legs, after that we enjoyed a seafood feast, some shark fishing, and deep sleep. The next day included more diving, fishing, and fresh seafood. The following morning, we ran the boat home in under 5 hours to clean up and filet a serious amount of fish. Even after eating as much fresh seafood as we could the entire trip, we still ended up with 40 snappers, 5 groupers, and 5 hogfish to share with family and friends. After a couple of days of catching up on sleep I think we are already excited for next years trip! It doesn’t get much better than this.
We have our next big trip to the keys planned for the end of July for some lobstering and Mahi fishing. We can’t wait to tell you all about it. See you on the water!