I’d like to start this week’s fishing report by congratulating Betty Tyrrell-Pickard for catching her first ever tarpon!  As a charter fishing captain, the only thing I find more gratifying than helping a beginner angler catch his or her first big saltwater fish, is helping a long-time fisherman or woman catch a species that has always eluded them.

Despite being an avid angler who grew up in the Keys and comes back often to visit her daughter and son-in-law (Carolyn & Matt – owners of Sparky’s Landing in Key Colony Beach), Betty has never reeled in a tarpon.

Her father always took her offshore fishing as a child, and while she has caught her share of sails and other large game fish over the years, the opportunity to catch a big silver king never presented itself.

Dolphin- Nice bull dolphin caught this past week aboard the Best Bet. That all changed this past week when I had the privilege of taking Betty and her husband Dean, as well as Carolyn and Matt, tarpon fishing at Long Key Bridge. On our first trip, everyone except Betty hooked up and fought a fish, and I wondered if maybe bad luck had something to do with her not catching a tarpon all these years.

I was determined to get Betty her first tarpon, so three days later we went back to the bridge and Betty redeemed herself by catching and landing an 80-pound class fish (photo shown). Betty bowed to the fish as gracefully as she must have looked when she was crowned Miss Coral Shores in 1959.

Congrats Betty!

Elsewhere on the water, as you’ve undoubtedly been seeing at the docks and hearing in reports, the dolphin fishing has been on fire. The beginning of June marks the peak dolphin season in the Keys and you will definitely catch your share of fish if you spend enough time out searching the blue water.

Look for the dolphin anywhere from the edge of the reef to 30 miles out, and always try to find birds, debris, weed lines and current edges. If you’re having trouble locating the fish, feel free to stop by the charter boat row in Key Colony Beach, and myself, or one of the Best Bet captains will be glad to offer up some local advice.

Once you’ve had your fill of dolphin fishing I suggest heading to the reef to take advantage of the aggressive yellowtail snapper bite. The larger flags can be a little difficult to drift back to at times, but you should have no trouble loading the box with quality keeper fish if you put your time in.

While out on the reef keep an eye out for schools of ballyhoo.  If you are able to catch a few put out a spread just like you would in the winter and troll the edge of the reef. We caught numerous sailfish aboard the Best Bet this past week, and you may even catch a big dolphin as an added bonus while targeting the sails.

Inshore, the tarpon fishing remains superb around the bridges and channels as well as on the flats. Permit and bonefish continue to be caught in good numbers as well, and I would like to congratulate Barb (who you may know from Sparky’s Landing where she tends bar), for catching her first permit while fishing with her husband and lower Keys guide Shelby Bentley. Nice work Barb!

Your Best Bet for the Weeks Ahead: Fish! Fish! Fish!

June provides the perfect combination of calm weather and great fishing and is one of the best months to fish in the Keys. Feel free to stop by the KCB docks and the Best Bet team will be happy hook up a trip for you.

Barb- Barb with her first permit. Barb- Barb with her first permit


Tarpon- Betty finally gets her tarpon.Tarpon- Betty finally gets her tarpon.



Morales lands the big one by Keys Weekly Staff

“It could’ve killed him,” Marathon Vice Mayor Don Vasil joked about the fiercest fight of his city attorney’s life. Last week, former Dade County Commissioner Jimmy Morales was fishing about 12 miles offshore with Vasil and legendary angler Reece Williamson when they hit the school. “When he hooked it that fish must’ve went 15 feet into the air,” Vasil said. “I have never seen anything like it.” According to reports, Morales tried to hand over the rod but ended up fighting through the fatigue.

“This is a fish you can brag about for the rest of your life,” Vasil told him.
Morales lands the big one




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