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Hi guys,


I'm heading down to south florida in a few weeks. I won't have a boat so I'm mostly interested in shore fishing inland water or the canals around the miami area. Perhaps may check out a pier as well for some salt water action. Anyone ever do this? Any tips much appreciated!



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Most of the fishing I've done down that way has been salt water. We have bass at home, so I've always thought why not take the opportunity to try something I can't do in Ontario?


You'll see a lot of people fishing around bridges. Find a bait store and get yourself a bucket of live shrimp, and check when the tide is running. It doesn't matter if it's coming in or going out, as long as it's moving and you have current. When the tide isn't moving, fishing basically sucks. But when it's flowing, the fish all turn on at once.


All you need is a standard bass or walleye rod, and a bunch of jig heads ... 1/8 ounce, 1/4 ounce and 3/8 ounce will work fine. Hook the shrimp either through the head or through the tail (doesn't seem to matter), cast it out, and drift it along bottom. You have no idea what you will catch this way, but it's mainly different types of jacks, blue runners, various snappers, pompano, smaller snook, and other saltwater panfish. Fish go from 1 to 5 pounds for the most part, and they fight 10x as hard as freshwater fish. Be careful unhooking them, because many types of saltwater fish have sharp spines, sharp gill covers, or teeth like a Doberman. Or all of the above. But they fight like stink, and when it's on, it's a fish on every cast.


The causeways that connect Miami to Miami Beach are particularly good spots, since they all cross some deeper water. There are usually some small tarpon hanging around the marina behind the Doubletree hotel, and all along the shoreline between the marina and the MacArthur Causeway. Early in the morning and later in the evening when it's quiet, you can often see them just hanging out in the current, right under the surface. I've never fished that spot, but a couple of times when I've been there I've played with the fish, basically feeding them French Fries. Toss a fry in the water, let it drift down in the current, and more often than not, one of them eats it. They're just little guys for tarpon (2 to 4 feet long, 10 to maybe 30 pounds) but again, all kinds of fun. You can find baby tarpon like that around most of the bridges, as long as there's deep water close by. They're not easy to land on a bass rod.


Every now and then you will hook much, much larger fish, and some of them will kick your butt. Sometimes they're sharks, sometimes they're bigger snook or sheepshead, most of the time you never find out. Always bring an extra spool of line.


There are a few piers and beaches where people catch hammerhead and bull sharks at night. But you have to know where to go, because many areas around Miami can be really sketchy after dark - especially down along the water. If you want to try fishing at night, call a couple of local tackle stores and ask them for suggestions. Better to be safe than to get mugged.


Last thing - always remember to hose off your rods and reels after using them in salt water. Otherwise the corrosion will just destroy them. 10 minutes in the shower usually does the trick.


Have fun!

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Everything Craig said. Make sure you get a license from a bait shop or online before you fish, the CO's are everywhere where I go. Familiarize yourself with the regs. too for the area you are going to fish at. DO NOT fish at night alone. The more with you the better. DO NOT go to a bank machine at night. here are many things you shouldn't do at night in South Florida alone. No not that.

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Thanks for the great posts, much appreciated. I did do a saltwater trip a few years ago with one of the outfitters docked at the marina's. Caught fish but the trip was not fun (like I have been used to here with our guides) and I was not impressed with those operations. Basically they trolled along the ocean about a KM out for three hours, so this time I want to explore the coastline and waterways myself. I don't really care if I target salt or freshwater as long as its got gills and bends my rod! I was thinking of bringing my bass/pike outfit- with 20/30lb braid spinning reel and my musky rod-80lb braid as the hardware. Do I need fluoro leaders here?

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The outfits are fine, and the braid will work perfectly.


Having said that, you tend to go through a lot of line when you fish the ocean from shore. You might think about picking up a bulk spool of 20 pound or 30 pound mono for the muskie stick. Getting spooled isn't really unusual, and when that happens, you might be happier to lose a bunch of cheap mono than a bunch of pricey braid.


You can use two lines at once in salt water. It's harder to do that under a bridge where you have current, but off a pier or a jetty, it's easy. Use the light rod to fish with shrimp, and have a blast catching those different kinds of bottom fish. When you get a smaller fish you can keep, like a pinfish, you slice it up with a fillet knife so it's bleeding a lot, then use it as bait on the muskie outfit. Hook it up on a big single hook (size of a Bic lighter is good), huck it out there, let it lay on bottom, and wait. Something will pick it up, and that something will usually be pretty good since it's eating a foot-long baitfish. Could be a big snook or sheepshead, or it could be a shark the size of your car. Whether you land it or not is a whole other matter. Just make sure you know what kinds of fish you can use for bait, and what kinds need to be released immediately. Check with a tackle shop.


For what it's worth, guys who do this a lot NEVER tie the line to their reel when they spool up. They always attach it with a piece of masking tape. That way when you get spooled (not if), it's a lot less shock to your arms and your reel when you come to the end of the line.


You do NOT need fluoro. These fish are a lot of things, but shy isn't one of them. What I would suggest is you also pick up a small spool of 60 pound mono for leaders. In some spots you get cut off a lot on the rocks and barnacles ... if that's happening, run about two feet of the 60 pound between the hook and your main line and you'll be good to go.

Edited by Craig_Ritchie
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if you get the opportunity to fish saltwater, do it!


you havent fought a fish until youve hooked into a saltwater fish...the only comparable for sheer power is a musky. I have never in my life seen a freshwater fish jump 8 feet into the air though...

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  • 4 weeks later...

Back from south Florida. We spent 3 days in the Keys and 3 days in Miami. As this was my first go at saltwater, I considered any bend in the rod to be a success. Thanks for all the tips they were most helpful. If you have not spent time in the Keys its worth the trip very laid back and a lot of the economy there is based on sport fishing. There are tackle shops every few miles with anything you need and good advice. I fished the bridges near Islamorada, a pier in Miami, and a two mangroves in state parks from a rented yak. I tried to time my fishing with the tides to up my chances for success. My successes were nil on the pier and limited on the bridges, however I did better in the mangroves from the kayak. Fishing the bridges and piers is like trying to find shore spots on a public dock or shoreline around Simcoe. Not easy and tend to be crowded. In Miami, they charged an access fee to the pier as well-I was not impressed with that. A Few times got my lines tangled with other anglers nearby and this was annoying. The mangroves are great place to kayak and fish-not too many large fish but good on numbers. Since I yak here in Ontario, fishing from the yak in Florida was an easy transition. What I learned: People like to use Sabiki Rigs to hook into their baitfish-this rig is also fun for kids because it produces. Its very similar to a pickeral rig that we use for perch. In fact I'll try it out here in the spring and next winter. Rig-it, throw on some shrimp and you'll catch fish. I also had success with slip bobbers and carolina type rigs baited with shrimp. The fish I hooked into were snappers, grunt fish, and puffer fish. I also sighted barracuda, needlefish and stingrays..very cool for a first experience especially from a kayak. Like you guys said..the smaller saltwater fish all fight nicely-like a 1-2lb bass so were lots of fun to catch. All had teeth too so no lipping these guys. As an aside, we made a stop at Robbie's Marina in the Keys-very cool family friendly place to feed tarpon that live in the marina. These fish are huge and can do a good job on your hand if you don't pay attention! Anyway, that's it, hope to go back.. :good: -skdds







Edited by skdds
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