MARATHON, Florida Keys — Windy days have kept just about everyone at the dock. Just before the wind started the sailfish bit really well, with multiple hook ups and as many as ten fish being released in a day. The sailfish have been just off the edge of the reef from 100-150 feet of water. While live baiting we have caught kingfish and a few cobia to my surprise. The cobia started to migrate through but most of them are being caught on the gulf wrecks. The bait has been easy to get from ballyhoo to pilchards. The bottom fishing has slowed down a bit but I am sure we will get them to push down as the water up north starts to cool down.
The reef has been hot, and yellowtails are chewing really well. The conditions have been close to perfect, with a nice current to the east and when the wind was light it had no effect on the boat in the current. Now we will start having stronger north and southeast winds which, will make us have to bridle the boat so that our chum flows out the back of the boat for optimal performance. When you have a cross wind from the current the boat will swing a lot and the yellowtails will chase the boat back and forth. This will separate the school a bit and cause them to be a little picky. So we want to make sure we bridle the boat and not only does this help to keep the chum flowing back behind the boat, but it also acts like a stabilizer to keep the boat from swinging. Sometimes there is just no stopping the boat from swinging on anchor.
The sword fishing has been good when we are able to get out there, but the deep dropping has slowed down a bit, only a few snowys and tilefish. When I do get out far the barrel fish are still biting, but they slowed down too. This is the time of the year when the swords have migrated south from the northern parts of the east coast and are spreading out all throughout the Caribbean.
To beat the wind a lot of us run out into the bay for some great mangrove snapper fishing. The gags, goliaths, and red are out in full force on those small wrecks in the bay too. Soon the mackerel will show up in full force to make mince meat of whatever you throw at them. Most guys use live pilchards, but shrimp, and most cut bait will work. Even small spoons can be deadly for those toothy critters.