Outdoor Vacation Hotspot: Robbie’s, Florida Keys
Bob McNally 08.04.16
Many Florida Keys visitors and countless internet explorers have sampled the main attraction to this grill-bar-tourist spot on Lower Matecumbe Key (Islamorada) just north of Marathon.
While the food, drink, and open-air gift shops (plus dive and fishing charters) are fun, it’s the abundant, giant, and very hungry schools of free-ranging tarpon that sets this place apart. Robbie’s is clearly visible from the Florida A1A Bridge (Overseas Highway) onto Lower Matecumbe, and on its waterfront docks dozens of people can be seen day or night hanging a few feet over the air-clear water dangling cut baitfish to hand-feed giant tarpon. Many fish are 100- to 150-pounders, with heads the size of your chest and open mouths big enough to devour bowling balls.
Dangle a bait above the water long enough, and a 6-footer will power up and engulf the bait in its massive, toothless maw.
It’s an adrenalin rush not meant for the meek. For anglers, it’s almost as much fun as catching a big one on fly tackle–well, almost.
There are a number of Keys spots that allow hand-tarpon feeding, but Robbie’s is a good one. And the cost of buying cut bait to feed fish is just $3 per bucket. Kids and whole families love it, including old salts like me.