A Keys Party Boat: The Definitive Florida Saltwater Experience

The fish weren't enormous (for me anyway) but there was a steady bite all day.
The fish weren’t enormous (for me anyway) but there was a steady bite all day.

Florida has a diverse enough ecosystem that all different types of fish call these waters home. Inland there’s tremendous bass fishing, as we’ve experienced, in northern Florida you can find some of the South’s best redfishing, but there are few outings that in my mind capture the Florida fishing dynamic better than a party boat out of the Keys.

At a relatively affordable cost per angler, party boats invite all types of fishermen aboard their decks, and you never know who you’ll meet. So, before turning around to head back northward through the state, I jumped on one of the party boats out of Bud N’ Mary’s Marina for some snapper and grouper fishing. The boats and guides out of Bud N’ Mary’s are as old and legendary as Florida lore gets, and they were some of the pioneers that built the tourist-driven fishing industry in South Florida decades ago.

The main targets for the day were grouper and snapper, both of which are some of Florida’s favorite food fishes. There’s nothing too complicated about these types of trips, most anglers just want to get their dinner in a fun way and enjoy a few hours on the water.

Shrimp bodies and squid strips on a pain J-hook with enough weight to hold bottom is all that you need, and rarely is there a point in the day when a rod’s not bent. I got out-fished by almost everyone on the boat, I have to admit, but I did catch and release five snapper, for a total of three pounds, on the afternoon.

Many of the anglers, like this one, kept themselves sun-safe throughout the trip
Many of the anglers, like this one, kept themselves sun-safe throughout the trip

It was good to see, especially, other sun savvy anglers on the boat taking the necessary precautions before having to find out the hard way that the elements can be dangerous. Long sleeves, pants and Buffs like this man was wearing, were more common than I’d expected.

The day ended with the typical Florida thunderstorms chasing us off the water, but not before many anglers got their meal for the evening, and some for a few to follow.

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