Pros: Inexpensive entertainment
Cons: It's easy to quickly run out of bait fish.
When my husband and I were planning a short getaway to Key West, for weeks ahead of time, whenever we'd mention our upcoming trip, someone would say, "You just HAVE to stop at Robbie's! You MUST see the tarpon!" I had this happen to me three times in one day in Virginia: once at the grocery store, once at work and once at the post office.
In Florida, we visited with some relatives who again stressed how we absolutely HAD to stop in at Robbie's. It didn't matter if neither of us fished.
I figured this "Robbie's" must be absolutely amazing. But, just what IS Robbie's? It wasn't in any guidebooks I'd read.
Once we got into Islamorada, at Mile Marker 84.5, we were sure to pull over to the right hand side and head right into Robbie's Marina which is right behind the Hungry Tarpon restaurant. We saw a small hand-painted sign proclaiming in large letters: "$1 - SEE the tarpon $2 - FEED the tarpon" How could we resist?
We went inside where we meekly asked to both SEE and FEED the tarpon. After handing over $4 (two SEE's and one FEED), we were given a small bucket of dead bait fish and instructed to walk to the end of the pier.
A small group of people were congregated there, holding similar buckets, while looking off the end of the pier. There was a great deal of splashing, almost as if someone had fallen in the water.
Once we reached the end of the pier, congregated in the green water were dozens of gigantic silvery tarpon, swimming over and under another, jockeying to be in the best position to catch the next bait to be thrown into the nest of writhing fish. I'd never seen anything like this before. It was absolutely amazing and well worth the $1 just to SEE the tarpon.
We really didn't have to spend the $2 to FEED the tarpon although the tarpon seemed to enjoy being fed and there were plenty of other people feeding them. If you have children, you will want to spend the extra $2 for the bucket of dead fish. We were cautioned to toss the bait to the tarpon instead of just holding it out over the water because tarpon can be dangerous if they accidentally grab a finger along with the bait.
Upon asking, it was volunteered that the tarpon have been congregating at Robbie's for years because they used to dump all of their old bait and fish parts left over from cleaning at the end of the pier. The tarpon just started congregating there, knowing they'd be fed and a new industry was born.
Seriously, this was great fun at a very low price. It's hard to find low-tech entertainment these days that everyone in the family would enjoy. Take advantage of it when you can find it!