A great fishing day in Florida Bay yields 13 species

In many ways, Florida Bay is the ideal wintertime, shallow-water fishing spot. As long as winds don’t blow from the west and water temperatures don’t drop to the 50s or below and stay there, this shallow estuary adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico fairly shouts quality variety fishing.

“It gives us the possibility of everything,” said captain Rick Stanczyk, a five-year veteran light-tackle guide whose dad Richard owns Bud ‘n’ Mary’s Marina in Islamorada.

Stanczyk, 30, wasn’t kidding. On a recent day of calm winds and warm temperatures, he and his dad and their friend Ron Modra of Hollywood set out to see how many species they could catch in a single day. Armed with live shrimp, popping corks, jigs, and a couple dozen pinfish, they caught and released 13 species — redfish, black drum, sea trout, ladyfish, jack, sheepshead, pompano, permit, tripletail, cobia, Goliath grouper, Spanish mackerel and bluefish. The species count would have been 14, but for the elder Stanczyk’s losing a nice snook that broke his line.

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