MARATHON, Florida Keys — Cloudy skies, windy, rain in the distance, looks like a great day to fish.
Well when you only have one day to fish, sometimes you take what you can get. This week was no exception. Even though the conditions were lousy, we still crushed them this week. For us locals, when we are given a day which might be windy or maybe the forecast is predicting rain, we can always fish another day, but when someone only gets one or two weeks out of the year for vacation, they seem to grin and bare it, and usually they get rewarded with a cooler full of fish, too.
Well at least this is what happened with my clients this week. We fished the hump and the tunas were eating everything we threw at them. Doubles and triples all day and our biggest tuna was 20 pounds. Most of the fish were around ten pounds, but some bigger and some smaller were flying over the rails the entire trip. After we had enough for my clients to take home, we played a little game called “catch and release.” Some people just have never heard of that one before. Only take what you can use or eat…this will ensure that we have more bigger tuna next year. Just because there is no size limit and limit of how many you are allowed to keep, think about the future and how much fun you’re going to have when those fish double in size the following year.
We caught all of them on butterfly jigs, where as last week we were able to troll up some lunkers on a ballyhoo-Islander combo. As a matter of fact we caught all of big ones this way. We would drift over the hump and catch fish and then we would troll back to the spot were we would start our next drift and catch some tuna. Deep dropping wasn’t on fire but we produced some quality fish. Earlier in the week we pulled up some barrelfish, and tiles which could have been the next all-tackle record except for the fact that were using too many hooks and the IGFA seems to frown upon the electric reel. But it doesn’t matter, its all about the meat elevator.
People ask me if I feel guilty about using the electric reel, and I ask them “Do you feel guilty about driving to the store and picking out a steak at the meat market?” To me it isn’t any different…it is all about “what’s for dinner.”
Later in the week we did a few drops and caught a nice snowy grouper and big 15-pound queen snapper. I guess there are still a few of them still around too. My clients seemed to be avid anglers and extreme sportsman…well they would have to be to go out there in ten-foot seas! Yup, it was big out there but the fish are chewing.
Towards the end of the week I did a little yellow tailing in the afternoon and it was a steady pick of two-pound fish. The first spot I went to was great except for the fact that they didn’t want to eat. I had 3- to 5-pound yellowtails eating almost out of the bag but they were very line shy and tuned away from the bait every time except twice. We only caught two at that spot but it was so cool to see so many dinosaurs that close to the boat. They looked as big as schoolie dolphin.
The second spot was a complete bust, but as we drove off after fishing for only a half hour, I marked a tremendous school of fish holding close to the bottom. Maybe we didn’t wait long enough, but I needed to put fish in the box and yellowtail can be some of the most challenging fish to catch sometimes.
Our third spot was the ticket, almost all the fish were two pounds or close to it. No sharks like the first spot, and we picked fish till we hit our quota which is ten fish apiece.
Good luck! And if any of you need a shove in the right direction, don’t hesitate to call. I also can guide your boat so you can learn with your own equipment. You can read all you want, but when it comes down to it, hands-on training seems to work much better for most people. Be safe out there, and be courteous to your fellow anglers.
Tags: butterfly jig, Capt. Dave Schugar, florida humps fishing, Florida Keys Fishing, florida keys fishing charter, Marathon fishing, queen snapper fishing, Sweet E'Nuf Charters, tuna fishing, yellowtail snapper fishing