Tropical weather, more species than you could shake a stick at, plus fish bigger than I’m ever likely to encounter in the UK, sounded like a pretty good way to celebrate me reaching fifty years young. Rodney Goodship has been trying to persuade me to join him out at Marathon on the Florida Keys for years. My big birthday and an available slot late November/early December sounded the perfect opportunity, so I bit the bullet and booked with Rodney. The plan was to take three pals of mine, Giles, Matthew and Nick. We fished west in Florida Bay Rodney provides all the fishing bait gear required on the boat, but as I’m sure you’ll concur, it’s always an added buzz to catch on your own gear. So in the lead up to the trip, I couldn’t but help put together some rods and reels in readiness! I took two 9’ Sage four piece Fly outfits – an #8 and #10 weight, a light spinning outfit comprising an 8’ Savage Gear Spinning rod and Mitchell Extreme Pro 2000 reel and finally a heavy spinning outfit being a Fox Kayak Trek which is an 8’ 20-40lb class rod. The latter was paired up with a Shimano Stella 8000SW which holds around 300 yards of 40lb braid. At 10.30 am we flew out from Manchester to Atlanta, then changed at Atlanta to our destination of Key West. Flying time was about ten and half hours, but with change overs etc. it was about 11 pm American time before we arrived in our hire car at Rodney’s Florida base. After all that travelling, it only took a couple of bottles of Budweiser each, before all four of us were in the land of nod. We were booked to have seven days fishing, but the early days were plagued by wind which severely limited where we could fish. I really wanted to catch a goliath grouper and the other guys were keen for a decent shark apiece, but to fish the wrecks Rodney had identified for us, would require much less wind. Hopefully, the wind would subside and the fishing would get better as the week went on. To describe each day in detail would bore everyone to death, so I’ll stick to describing the highlights and illustrate the report with pictures where I can. The one thing I should point out beforehand though is that all the fishing we would be doing is in shallow water. Even 20 miles offshore, we would still be fishing in depths of under 15 feet! The water was quite coloured, so for the most of the week, we couldn’t see the bottom, but it was still hard to imagine how little water we were fishing in, comparted to the UK boat scene. Our first day saw a relatively relaxed start with a substantial breakfast and a visit to the tackle shop for permits, bait and chum. Once afloat, we headed south and under the 7 mile bridge to a sheltered mark in the lee of a small island. Virtually all the fishing is done at anchor and pretty much as soon as a frozen chum block is placed overboard in the chum net, the small fish move in, hopefully drawing more and more larger predators with them. Nick with a thingemebob fish. (It was called a slice of pork fish or something like that! Good bit of structure here under the bridges to draw and hold fish!