Weekly Florida Keys Fishing Update from Capt. Dave Schugar and Sweet E'Nuf Charters
Posts Tagged ‘barracuda fishing’
Saturday, July 10th, 2010
MARATHON, Florida Keys — This past week we fished 40 miles west of Key West for yellowtail and grouper. The bite was on for the yellowtails. We placed a block of chum in the bag and it wasn’t five minutes when we were pulling in our first flag yellowtail. We had blue runners about five pounds swimming around the boat busting on fry which was an incredible site to watch. During the summer the snappers are spawning and fry are all over the place and this brings in other fish that feed upon them. For about three hours we caught jumbo yellowtail and then we finally got a bite one the bottom rod.
The bait was violently hit which then turned into a battle for my client Tom. He fought this fish for nearly 45 minutes and then we caught a glimpse of what it was. We thought it was a shark, but we were close, it was 15-foot sawfish, one of the rarest fish in the ocean. This impressive fish is practically a dinosaur. The saw like bill has one-inch teeth sticking out of it was almost six feet long. The massive body measured four and half feet wide and it was as long as the transom of the boat with is 15 feet. Very cool sighting, most people will never see one in the wild, and this is the second one we have caught in two years.
After sweating out gallon of water we decided to move and try some deep water for muttons and scamp grouper but we never hooked up. We got a few bites but never connected to any of them. There is a ledge out in 250 feet of water out there, and we marked fish all over it, but with no current the fish were not being cooperative. After about two hours of no bites be decided to anchor back up on a yellowtail spot and stay there the night. It was getting late and we caught a few more yellowtails and one large red grouper. As the sun started to go down we started to cook dinner, which consisted of grouper on the grill, grilled asparagus, garlic pasta and some rum. You’ve got to have the rum.
The following day after breakfast we headed to the shallow banks on the inside edge of the Gulf and fished for red grouper. It was like clockwork, dropping down dead gogs, and live grunts we were limited out in a couple of hours. At this time we decided to head back to Key west for a fun filled Fourth of July. Watching the fireworks from the boat while we ate bubba burgers, yellowtail ceviche and garlic pasta with a mozzarella, tomato salad. After the fire works the boat next to us had a cannon, which they fired off and it was deafening.
After the Fourth, we headed to Cay Sal Banks, not getting too close because that would be illegal. You have to check in before you can enter Bahamian waters. There are areas where you can troll and deep drop where you are not actually in Bahamian waters. You have to stay 12 miles outside any land. Unfortunatly, there aren’t any places to check in over here, you would have to go 150 miles to check in, but the Cay Sal Bank is only 50-75 miles away in the opposite direction. While we were over there we caught about fifty barracudas on the troll so we tried deep dropping in 1200 feet of water and caught 10 black snappers and one forty pound misty grouper. After that we headed home which is over three hours from there.
With one day off, I had a guide trip with a great bunch of people — Mike, Jack, Max, Wyatt, and Spencer. We had a goal to yellowtail fish, but with no current it was hard fishing. After about three hours and two spots we decided to go mutton fishing. It was a good thing that we did, because we caught five muttons and lost at least five others. They guys had a great day and some excellent fish for dinner that night. We fished a wreck in 180 feet of water and it was on — we got bites every drop with many double hookups. The bite was on and if you are looking to catch some of these big mutton snappers this is the time to get down here.
Come on down! The weather is hot as the bite. And to all of you who are worried about the oil, don’t be! There is no oil and there isn’t any likelihood of oil in out near future. Listening to the news I found out that they might be able to cap it this weekend, keep your fingers crossed. If the oil does make it to the Gulf Stream it will most likely pass by the Keys out as far as twenty miles, so if it does come this way the reef shouldn’t be harmed. Of course we never know what the weather will do so we still got to keep our fingers crossed that they will be able to contain this spill before a hurricane around the corner scatters it all around. Stay informed about what’s going on down here and keep my web site on your favorites.
Hope to see you down here! Come on down while the fishing is good!
Monday, December 14th, 2009
MARATHON, Florida Keys — Hogfish, it’s what’s for dinner. Hogfish has to be one of the best fish we have down here in the Keys and they are all over the place right now. I have been taking my friends out to the patches and we have been shooting our dinner. Hogfish have to be the easiest fish to shoot; they turn sideways to make it easier to shoot them when confronted. Not very smart for as fish go, but it sure is nice of them. You can find hogfish on reefs, and grass beds. I usually will find them on the outskirts of the patches. These fish can change colors in an instant to blend into the bottom. It is really neat to see these fish change colors and they really do blend in amazingly. Most of the hogfish you will find in shallow water, but if you dive in the deeper reefs they can be abundant out there too. I will usually find bigger ones out in the deeper water, some up to five pounds or better. I donated the fish to the Monkey for a fish fry this week. My buddy Bobby Butler made some fried hogfish poorboys that were out of this world. He took the fillets and marinated them for a couple of hours in Coco Lopez, which is sweetened, condensed coconut milk. Then he breaded them with rice krispies and put coleslaw on a sub roll and man it was amazing. Thanks Bobby.
The sailfish action was a little slow this week but there was some great wahoo fishing. High speed trolling has been working well from 150-250 feet of water. Most people were using drails and plastics, but I talked to one of my friends up the road a bit and they were having some great luck with live speedos. They caught lots of kingfish and five wahoo from 20-40 pounds. One of my friends caught a few wahoo this week using ballyhoo with cone lures in front. The sailfish action was slow but a couple of days they turned on pretty good in the shallows. Following the bait sprays was the key this week. Finding the frigates diving was also a good indication of some action too. Live bait has been pretty easy to come by right now. There are lots of cigars here in Marathon, which is unusual, and plenty of pilchards on the flats from 79th street up to Valhalla. The ballyhoo can be found just about everywhere, but if you want the green backs they are back in the bay and they are all over the place as well.
The reef is still on fire with yellowtail, jacks, kings, muttons and groupers. Anchoring up can be so much fun this time of year. You can do all sorts of fishing while you’re anchored up on your yellowtail spot. I like to yellowtail fish first and while we are catching yellowtails I put down a couple of bottom rods with one large bait for grouper and a small bait for muttons. After we have enough yellowtails I will switch over and king fish either from a kite or just flat lining from the back of the boat. Big kings will circle your yellowtails and putting one up in the kite off the side of the boat will usually yield some big smoker kings. Most people don’t like to eat kingfish, but I will tell you from my own personal experience, they make great smoked fish dip. Besides, they really are a great sport fish, which is usually overlooked because of their poor food quality. I have caught many kingfish over 50 pounds and they are like fighting a large wahoo. They will make blistering runs and my favorite part is when they strike the bait on the surface, either exploding on the bait or coming fifteen feet out of the water with the bait in their mouth. Wintertime fishing is one of my favorite times of the year because you just never know what you’re going to get. You could catch dolphin, sailfish, wahoo, tuna, white marlin, grouper, muttons, yellowtail and other assorted snappers. There are sharks, and barracudas, and numerous kinds of jacks, which will test your will and your tackle.
Way out has been a virtually barren except for some sword fishing off the shelf and lots of big tuna at the humps. The tunas have been thick but so are the sharks. You just never know when the sharks will be bad, but most days this time of the year they seem to swarm the humps and the reefs. We dove the other day and the first three spots had a big bull shark swimming on them. We only stayed in those areas for a short time, because they bull sharks were starting to investigate us, so not to tempt fate we moved. The jigs and live bait were the only way to get the big tunas to bite. If you trolled you only caught bait size tunas. Fishing further in front of the hump can help keep the sharks from getting your tuna, but you really are at their mercy.
Good luck, it looks like the rain missed us this week, and I looking forward to the next front, hopefully it will spark up the sailfish bite.
Monday, October 26th, 2009
MARATHON, Florida Keys — Fall has been falling short of last year’s phenomenal fishing. We really never got a dolphin run this fall like we usually do. This year has definitely changed for the worse. Not only has the economy hit us charter boat captains hard, the fish seem to be on strike as well. Compared to last fall, this fall has fallen short of normal. Water temperatures have been on the cooler side as was the air temperatures as well. The offshore fishing has slowed to a halt.
With the offshore fishing slow, we have been fishing the reef and wrecks to show our clients a fun filled day of catching. The muttons have been biting well, no size to them but plenty of fish from the 6-10 pounds. One day this week we caught over twenty muttons on a half-day charter. It was blowing over twenty kts. So, we stayed close to shore, fishing Hawks Channel and the patches, which have been full of snappers. The yellowtail snapper have been chewing really well, with some large fish being caught. While fishing for yellowtail snapper we have been catching a few muttons on the bottom as well with a grouper here and there. Always bring some live bait while your fishing on the reef to catch some of the bigger fish off of the bottom. Live bait such as ballyhoo, pinfish, grunts, and even small legal lane snappers work great for the groupers and muttons. Remember when fishing for muttons, a lighter leader is best, but if a grouper eats your bait you will most likely loose him. I will try using a heavy leader first to get the groupers, and as the day goes on, I will drop the leader size.
Wreck fishing has been on fire with amberjacks swarming over most of the wrecks. There are a few African pompanos and muttons being caught. I have been using mostly pinfish and small grunts to target all of these fish. I will use a split-tailed ballyhoo also, it will sometimes be the secret bait which most people overlook. When fishing the wrecks for most of the bottom dwellers I prefer to use a 15-20 foot leader from 40-60 pound floro carbon leader. One other important thing you must get down with dropping long leaders to the bottom is that you have to have the boat moving forward while dropping the bait down to the bottom. This will allow the line to scope out a bit and will prevent tangles while dropping down 150-250 feet of water. This past couple of weeks I have caught, cobia, muttons, amberjacks, jack crevales, grouper, African pompano, mangrove snapper, white margates, yellow jacks, and barracudas. I really have been doing well on the deeper wrecks from 180-250 feet of water.
Deep dropping this past week was a little slow with a few tilefish and barrel fish being caught. I have heard a few people got into a few queen snappers but for the most part the deep dropping has been slow except for the tilefish and an occasional snowy. The sword fishing has been great although the weather has been dictating the days, which we are able to fish for them. I went one for three at the beginning of last week. It wasn’t really big one but a keeper never the less. Sword fishing has been taking most of the attention of a lot of people these days, getting a big one can really change your outlook of the offshore fishing. Fall through the winter the sword fishing should be great as the fish from the North East migrate south to warmer waters. We are in a great place down here in the Keys to catch these fish only 30 miles from shore. If you have never though about it, you should, it is some great fishing and can produce a lot of meat for you meat hunters.
Have a great week and hope to see you down here, stay warm until you get down here.