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Florida Keys Family Fishing Report – April 2024

| By Captain Jeff Shelar

Florida Keys Family Fishing Report – April 2024

With over 25 years of experience as a captain and a lifelong passion for fishing, every journey out on these waters is an opportunity to create unforgettable memories for the families I guide.

With my two boys often accompanying me, I understand the importance of family and strive to make every trip feel like a bonding experience. Recently, I had the pleasure of hosting the Mergen family from Minnesota, who sought to create lasting memories with their four boys. Melinda reached out to book the trip, and from the moment they stepped aboard, I knew it was going to be a special day.


As we ventured out onto the shimmering waters, anticipation filled the air. The Mergen boys were eager to reel in their first catches, and I was determined to make it a day they would never forget. All four of their boys did an awesome job, tag-teaming several big amberjacks and working together to make it a fun half-day.

The excitement was palpable as they reeled in one impressive catch after another. Four out of four with, I believe, the smallest amberjack weighing in at around 40 pounds! But the real highlight was the big jumbo, tipping the scales at a whopping 80 pounds!


Laughter echoed across the deck as the boys celebrated their victories, their faces lit up with excitement and pride. It wasn’t just about the fish; it was about the teamwork, the camaraderie, and the sheer thrill of the experience.


Later that day as the Florida keys sun began to set, painting the sky with brilliant hues, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of fulfillment. The Mergen family had expressed their gratitude in a way that touched my heart, welcoming me into their family and extending an open invitation to visit them in Minnesota anytime.


I recently took Craig Weindorf and his son fishing. Craig had his heart set on an offshore adventure, but with the rough conditions, safety was paramount. So, I made sure they had a safe and fun-filled trip by adjusting our plans.

Instead of venturing far offshore, we headed to the reef for some “groceries,” stocking up on a variety of fish that would make for a memorable day. Craig and his son were thrilled to cast their lines and reel in an assortment of catches, from colorful snappers to feisty groupers and funky filefish. Seeing the excitement on his son’s face as he landed fish after fish was a joy.

yellowtail snapper

But the adventure didn’t end there. I knew Craig was hoping for some big-game action, so I took them to a nearby wreck where the real giants lurked beneath the surface. With anticipation building, we cast our lines and waited for the telltale tug of a monster fish.


Sure enough, it wasn’t long before Craig’s rod bent double, signaling the presence of a powerful adversary. With skill and determination, he battled the beast, his son cheering him on every step of the way. And finally, after a hard-fought struggle, Craig emerged victorious, reeling in a massive amberjack that tested both his strength and his resolve.


As we made our way back to shore, the smiles on Craig and his son’s faces said it all. Despite the change in plans, we had still managed to create an unforgettable day on the water, full of excitement, adventure, and memories that would last a lifetime.


For me, moments like these are what make being a captain truly special. It’s not just about the fish we catch but the connections we forge and the memories we create together. Whether it’s a family outing or an epic battle with a trophy fish, I’m honored to be a part of these moments, making memories that will be cherished for years to come.

Captain Jeff Shelar