Why the Florida Keys are the perfect spot for fishing
People head to the Florida Keys year-round to fish, but experts say things start to pick up around Christmas
ISLAMORADA, Fla. - Fishermen and women in the Florida Keys are in a prime location, and FOX Weather Multimedia Journalist Brandy Campbell explains why the area is known as the sports fishing capital of the world.
Islamorada is surrounded by diverse bodies of water on the east and west sides of the island, which gives people who are fishing access to almost every type of fish in the Northern Hemisphere.
The owner of Bud N' Mary's Marina told Campbell that many fish were killed in the past. But they realized that releasing them back into the wild helped them live another day. For some, fishing is a hobby. People often take photos of their fish as proof, then release them back into the water.
"The sport in fishing comes from the challenge of actually what they call angling. That means you get a large fish on your line, and a battle ensues between you and the fish. Sometimes the fish win, and sometimes you win," Bud N' Mary's Marina Owner Richard Stanczyk said.
It's all about location.
There's access to the Atlantic Ocean, Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico by traveling between the islands. There's also the benefit of a coral reef.
Those factors contribute to the large variety of fish.
People release the fish after being caught most of the time, but some can be kept to eat.
Fish and Wildlife Officer Bobby Dube makes sure the rules are followed.
"We're here to enforce and regulate and make sure everyone is doing the right thing," he said. "So future generations can come down here to go fishing in clear water and be guaranteed to catch fish for their kids, grandkids and for future generations to come."
There are also size requirements, catch limits and specific dates to reel in certain types of fish.
Stanczyk said that when it comes to fishing in the elements, weather conditions are everything.
"The direction of the wind, the intensity of the wind, all of these things come into play," he said.
So, boat captains check the conditions to make a plan.
"With respect to what they are going to fish for, where they are going to fish and how they are going to fish," he said.
And while captains stay away from thunderstorms and lightning, they can usually find a place to fish in most weather conditions.
"We do get to fish every day in different areas because we have the backcountry and the ocean side," boat captain Robyn Leary said. "Whichever way the wind is blowing, we can hide the other way."
Stanczyk reflected on the impacts of Hurricane Irma and said that while destructive, it came with a bright side.
"That bad hurricane helped cleanse our flats," he said. "It oxygenated the water. Afterward, we had better fishing than before. I don't want to wish for a hurricane, though."
Weather not only impacts day-to-day fishing, but it can have a significant impact on the industry as a whole. But through it all, they have a good time on the water and appreciate nature.
"It's just a conservation thing you get when you see the fish come up you know they're there," Leary said. "It's exciting."
People head to the Florida Keys year-round to fish, but experts say things start to pick up around Christmas.