Offshore Fishing Report: The Reef is on Fire!

September 4th, 2010

MARATHON, Florida Keys — As kids get back to school, the Keys have seen a lack of tourists.  September, October and November can mean a really cheep vacation for those of you who have been eying a trip to the Keys but staying away because of the cost.

Everyone needs some vacation time and it doesn’t get any more relaxing than here in the Keys.  Most of us that live here take our vacations at this time…in fact, you’ll see some local businesses close down for a month or so while those owners take their vacation!

People ask me all the time, “where do you go on vacation, Capt. Dave?”  It is really kind of funny, I tell them…it’s not far, and my couch has always treated me right.  But, serious now, I visit my some of my clients in Colorado, Michigan, Boston, etc.   My business is quite unique, I get to take people fishing which tends to be the highlight of their vacation.  Fishing with people creates a bond which I can’t describe, but it can be strong.  I get to meet all walks of life and to see the diversity of my clients really make me proud to be an American.

The lack of charters hasn’t kept me from fishing.  My friends have been coming down and catching yellowtail snapper, cubera snappers, mutton, and true reds.  I have been able to put my friends on some tuna, and grouper, too.  This time of the year the water starts to cool off and some fish move out as others move in.  The snapper bite on the reef has been great.  We are getting close to a fall run of dolphin, which I can’t wait for.  They are usually decent fish…not too many schoolies, mostly fish from 10-20 pounds.

I have been fishing on the deep reefs from 75-90 feet of water, and I’ve been catching big mangroves from 4-5 pounds if the sharks don’t eat them.  The yellowtails have been ranging from 1-3 pounds.  I have been fishing some new areas and getting yellowtail everywhere.  I have been using a leader rig for the mangroves and flat lining for the yellowtails.  Since the current has let up I have been using no weight for the yellowtail.

Every day is different: sometimes the fish will be close and sometimes far, but they are always there.  I have had to use large amounts of chum, but the payout is worth it.  Since the skippies have been thick, I have been using them a lot on the bottom and flat lining.  Tuna is exceptional bait, and I always keep plenty in the freezer.

There have been some talks about some sailfish being caught, but I haven’t fished for them because my clients and friends would rather catch something they can eat.  I believe that right now the reef has been the best area to fish as well as the hump for the tunas.  As the weather changes up north, the swordfish will be pouring through, too.  Talk about a lot of good eating meat!  Swordfish happens to be one of my favorites.

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