Posts Tagged ‘barrel fish fishing’

Fishing Hard

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

Hi everyone, sorry for the lack of posts, but it wasn’t for the fact that I wasn’t fishing, but I haven’t had any days off for 30 days. It has been very busy down here. The wreck fishing has been very good with plenty of mutton snappers up to 25 pounds, but most around 10-18 pounds. The amberjacks have been spawning and the bite has been off the chain. One day we caught 30 almaco and amberjacks in 4 hours. That was insane; every drop got hit as soon as it hit the bottom. We also did very well during the full moon, and that cycle is coming again, the week of the full moon should be incredible for the muttons. I am looking to get plenty of them this spawn.

Dolphins have been sporadic, but our tuna fishing is really good in the mornings and afternoons. Most of the fish are around 10-15 pounds, nice eaters. I have gotten a few in the 20’s but only a few. Each time we went tuna fishing we caught more than my clients knew what to do with. But no worries, my friends filled in to take the leftovers. I expect the dolphin to show up any day now, so stay posted, I will let you know when they arrive in full force. Since we caught so many 25+ pounders last year, I believe the ones we didn’t catch will be close to 50 pounds this year. I expect to catch plenty of 40+ fish this year so be prepared to do some battling.

For those of you who aren’t aware of the deep drop closure, we can no longer target queen snapper, tilefish or snowy grouper, but we can still hit the barrel fish and the rose fish, so I plan on attacking those spots while we are out there dolphin fishing. If you haven’t had a chance to eat any barrel fish you are missing out, it is exquisite. We are trying to get this closure over turned, but it is slow and tedious, but all of us fisherman, including my clients are writing their Congressman and telling them this is an unfair closure and is wrong.

The yellowtail bit really well this week, but with such a large shark presence we were not able to get the big ones to the boat before they got eaten. We were hooking 3-5 pound yellowtails and they fight hard, and it isn’t easy to get them to the boat even without the shark presence. As they gear up to spawn the bite should only get better.

Keep in touch drop me a line every once in a while and let me know who everything is going. Take care and keep fighting the closures that NOAA has been dropping in our lap this year.

Offshore Fishing Report: Going Deep And Scoring Big

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

MARATHON, Florida Keys — Boy the fishing has really gotten red hot down here.  My buddy David Rogers from Colorado has come to fish for the week but we were only able to fish one day and dive one day before the wind picked up and forced us off the water.

We had a game plan of deep dropping to get some tasty critters from deep.  Most of the morning we were hitting some of my usual snowy grouper spots, but there was no current.  When deep dropping from 600-700 feet of water we need current to stimulate the fish.  We hit 4 spots with no luck.  I finally made up my mind to go deeper and find some current.  I headed out to my barrel fish spot where we finally found some current; it wasn’t a lot, but it was enough.  We made two drops with a barrel fish on each drop.  Barrel fish is like eating grouper, but a little more firm.  I prefer to freeze these fish before eating to tenderize the meat.  My clients consider barrel fish one of the best fish they have ever eaten.  We caught one around 20 pounds and the other was close to 40 pounds, which is a jumbo.  Dave likes to take home multiple species so that he has an assortment of fish to eat over the winter time where in Colorado most of the water is covered by ice.

After we had enough of barrel fish, we were headed east to find some current further inside as we looked for dolphin.  We found a barrel floating with loads of baitfish underneath it.  It looked very fishy and so we threw some bait in the water and as soon as it hit the water, the baitfish (Baby Almaco Jacks) tore up our baits.  Dave was actually catching them with a bare hook.  Shortly after a few jigs with the butterfly jigs, five dolphins swam past the boat.  We pitched some live bait and the biggest of the five ate the bait and we were on.  We pitched more live bait, but they seemed to be not interested.  We tried every trick in the book, but we were only able to catch three of the five fish, but since they were big dolphin we were ok with that.  The weights of these dolphins were from 15-20 pounds and this size fish has a very good yield of meat.  We were able to get almost 30 pounds of fillets off of them, which is a considerable amount of meat.

It was starting to get late, so we headed back to the wrecks close to shore to see if we could get a few muttons before heading home.  We were at the right wreck because as soon as the bait hit the bottom we were on — nice ten-pound mutton.  Before the end of the drift, we dropped down another bait and scored another ten-pound mutton.  It was so cool! I love it when the muttons bite this well.  We made another drift and yielded one about 20 pounds.  With a box full of fish we headed home for some cocktails while I filleted the fish.  Fishing couldn’t have gone any better this day…a nice snowy wouldn’t have hurt anything, but I guess they will be waiting for my next trip.

Are you looking for a great time to come down to the Keys?  I would recommend that you come on down during the fall! The weather is changing and can cause some rough days, so when booking your vacation, be sure to book your fishing trips early in your vacation — that way, if we experience some bad weather, we can reschedule later in the week.  Fishing is great this time of the year with many different types of fish to catch, and the heat is dwindling away, making it quite refreshing to fish.  The fall is the time when our swordfishing gets red hot.  We catch more fish over 200 pounds this time of the year than any other.  I offer day and night time fishing for these giants of the deep, so keep that in mind when you are booking your trip.  The sailfish are starting to show up!  It is only a matter of time before we go gung ho for them and the smoker kings.  Sweet E’Nuf Charters specializes in live bait and light tackle fishing.  Lets go fishing!

Offshore Fishing Report: Getting Back in the Groove

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

MARATHON, Florida Keys — After getting back from the Bahamas, I was booked everyday for just about the rest of the month.  We started off the week with some dolphin fishing, which wasn’t how I left it.  All we could find were illegal dolphin.  After running out as far as 40 miles only to find some smaller fish, we decided to do some deep dropping.  Since there wasn’t much current we were dropping five pounds of lead to 1200 feet of water and holding nicely.  We caught eight rose fish and four barrelfish in five drops.  That was pretty good fishing.  On the way in we encountered some more small dolphin and skipjack tuna.

The next day we went wreck fishing.  We caught five amberjacks and three muttons.  The muttons seem to biting from 140-180 feet of water.  They weren’t biting great but we did miss quite a few other fish, which could have been other muttons as well.  We tried heading offshore again for a few days only to catch a few schoolies, which were legal to harvest.  The bite at the hump was slow, too; lack of current seemed to have hindered all the fishing.

I went yellow tailing only to have the lack of current hinder that as well.  So we went mutton fishing and caught a few muttons from 15-20 pounds.  We also got our fair share of amberjacks too.  While we were yellow tailing I dropped some pinfish to the bottom.  The bottom bite was active.  We caught two goliaths from 30-70 pounds, a Nassau grouper weighing in at 25 pounds and plenty of five-pound mangrove snappers.

Towards the end of the week I heard of a few big fish being caught or seen, but not much.  The large schoolies have been numerous east of the Marathon Hump from 1100-1300 feet of water.  Basically all you wanted if you wanted to travel that far to the east.  Most of the fish have been reported from Holiday Isle to Caloosa Cove.

The mangrove spawn is just starting, so get out of the heat and fish at night from 25-70 feet of water.  Lots of bait out on the reef too, so you might want to bring your cast net or sabiki rigs.

Offshore Fishing Report: Grouper season is officially open! Come and get ‘em!

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

MARATHON, Florida Keys — Grouper season is officially open; get them while they are still congregating on the reef!  I wasn’t booked on May first when the season opened, but my buddy Capt. Blaine Lemm and I went out to get our take.  We didn’t leave the dock until 2:00 in the afternoon, but we had some great late afternoon action.  Instead of weeding through the small ones we targeted large grouper with half pound to one-pound baits.  We ended up hooking nine fish and only getting one 30 pounder to the boat.  We got a few heads, before we were able to get a whole one to the boat.  In the process we each caught a goliath grouper in excess of a hundred pounds.

If you’re heading offshore, the dolphin aren’t thick by any means…but if you put your time in you can make a pretty good day of it.  Most of the fish have been from 12 miles out to the edge of the continental shelf.  Almost all the fish have been under birds, with a few exceptions of some extraordinary floaters.  My buddy John Foster found a boat with two motors floating, but half sunk with a school of wahoo on it.  The only problem was that the wahoos weren’t the top predator in this little floating ecosystem.  They were only able to get three whole 20 pounders and four halves.  There must have been a shark or two lingering around.  The tuna bite picked back up after its short break.  Using live bait seems to be the key now…the tunas are not hitting the jigs as well as they have been, but you still are able to get a few.  Using live bait, the tunas were averaging 20-25 pounds with your occasional smaller ones too.

The deep dropping has been phenomenal! From snowys to queen snappers, to tiles and barrelfish, the current has been perfect for this fishing.  We need some current, but too much or you can’t hold bottom. Right now, its perfect with a knot and half drift slightly northeast.  A few people that I have talked with tell me that that the deep dropping has been as good as it gets.  With the new laws you need to be careful of what you catch because you can only have three groupers on the boat now.  This would include tilefish in your aggregate limits.  So that would mean two snowys and only tilefish, but we can live with a decrease bag limit.  From what I heard coming down the coconut telegraph, they intend to shut it all down…so get what you can while it is still legal.

The reef is on fire! The yellow brick road has formed behind many boats, and many people are reporting the start of a great yellowtail season.  We do catch yellowtails all year round, but it really is in the summer when the yellowtails school in great numbers.  Since they’re competing for the food, they become very aggressive and easier to catch.  We caught a few this week in the 5-pound range, which is an absolute monster when it comes to yellowtail.  There have been a few muttons around, but now that grouper is in season, we have been concentrating on them instead.  Remember, elephants eat peanuts…but to weed out small fish you must use larger baits.

Good luck and I will see you out there!

Offshore Fishing Report: Have you ever seen a Mako shark eat a swordfish?

Monday, April 26th, 2010

MARATHON, Florida Keys — Wow, what a beautiful week we had out on the water.  The weather was almost perfect the entire week.  We still didn’t find many dolphin but while were searching we came across an unusual floater.

We found half of a large swordfish floating, with a mako shark circling.  The swordfish was cut in half, with it’s cobolt blue color still intact.  I cut a chunk off of the swordfish and tried to bait up the mako but he wasn’t interested.  I guess after eating 100 pounds of swordfish he was full.  I t would be just a matter of time before he got hungry again, and I was hoping it would be soon.  I tried to remove the swordfish from the water but the mako just left when we did that.  So I tied the swordfish to the boat and dumped it back in the water.

It took only a few minutes for the mako to come back.  I kept the chunk of bait right behind the carcass, and we just watched this magnificent shark swim around the boat for over a half an hour.  The shark kept swimming circles around the boat and with every minute passing I got more and more frustrated.  I finally took off the bait and pulled in the swordfish.  I took the hook and stuck in the meat of the carcass where the mako had bitten him in half.  I proceeded to let the swordfish out on a dock line.

After ten minutes the mako came up to investigate his prize.  Shortly after that he took a bite out of the swordfish and it was so amazing to see how effortlessly he cut through it.  I noticed that my line was moving away from the swordfish and I set the hook.  I stuck him good, thumbing the drag and repetitively set the hook until the fish thrashed a bit.  He didn’t go anywhere; he just swam around the boat like there was nothing wrong.  Knowing what a mako is capable off I powered the boat away from the fish and then he realized that there was something wrong and he sounded peeling 400 feet of line in seconds.  We fought the fish for about an hour when he finally came up for some jumps and shortly after that we lost him.  He must have gotten wrapped up in the leader and it parted in the middle of a forty-foot leader.  Even though we didn’t land him it was an epic adventure.

The dolphins haven’t shown up yet, but there are a few fish out there.  I have found some schoolies in close and a few scattered big fish anywhere from 12-30 miles offshore.  The tunas have slowed down at the hump, but if you get there early or stay out late you can manage a decent catch.  Trolling around really has been a waste of time; if you run and gun you will find more fish under the birds.

The deep dropping was awesome this week.  We found lots of snowys, a few queen snappers, tilefish, rosefish, and barrelfish.  One of the spots we limited out on snowys on the first drop.  We dropped two rods and got a double and a single.  You are only allowed to have one snowy per person, so don’t do another drop in the same place because you are liable to catch another one.  Usually we only catch one or two snowys in one spot but they seem to be on every spot I drop on.  We had to stop deep dropping so we didn’t go over our limit.  I do have spots where snowys won’t be.  We went out to 1,100 feet of water and got some rosefish, and a barrelfish.  This is the time of the year where I do very well catching snowys.

If the reef is more your style, it has been great.  We caught lots of yellowtail and groupers.  I found that the bite is starting to turn on in the deep water.  You will find larger yellowtails in 75-100 feet of water.  Using oats and lots of chum you can get the big boys up in the water column, where your odds of landing the big ones increase.  We did get a few large mangroves on one spot; most of them were from 2-4 pounds, which is decent.  I was fishing in 88 feet of water with a jig tipped with a small pinfish.  This is also how we caught all those grouper.  If you are looking to gear up for this weeks fishing stop in at Big Time Bait and Tackle, it’s where I go to get everything I need.

Once this wind lets down, get offshore and drop while you still can.  And don’t forget to check all of your safety equipment…you never know when you might need it.

Offshore Fishing Report: Spring Brings the Perfect Tuna (Dolphin Will Be Here Soon!)

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

MARATHON, Florida Keys — Spring is here, thank God.  It seems that our cold days are in our past.  The water temperature has been warming and soon we will be in full swing with lots of dolphin.  The Gulf Stream has moved in and out this week, this has caused the shallower water to warm as well as the heat from the sun too.  Keep you eyes and ears open because it isn’t going to be long before the dolphin come pouring through.

I have been all over the pace this week.  I fished the deep, the shallow and all the places in between.  In the beginning of the week we went out for tunas at the hump and did very well.  Most of the tunas were perfect size, not too small to eat and not too big where the meat gets really red.  I prefer the 10-20 pounders…they have pinkish meat and I believe it is the best tasting.  We filled the cooler with all the tuna my clients could eat and then we took a short ride to the west to fish for queen snapper.  We caught tilefish, and queen snappers — good size to them as well.  The fish have been averaging 12 pounds, but we have been getting a few close to 20 pounds.

The next charter this past week was a guide trip.  A guide trip is when I jump on my clients boat and I give hands on training of the rigs, bait, and the area.  If anyone is interested in this please give me a call…I would love to help you out!  My client Dave wanted to learn about the reef so we went yellow tailing.  It took a while for the yellowtails to pop up, but once they did we caught a few before they got spooked off buy the numerous kings and mackerel…or maybe it was the current (or lack of).  We tried every trick in the book and they still wouldn’t bite.  So I move to another spot out in 88 feet of water.

We marked a nice school, but I hadn’t been in this spot for quite some time now, so who knew that we would get into some great mangrove action?  Most of them were 3-4 pounds, but none smaller than 2 pounds.  After the bite died off, we switched to a jig, and whipped-jigged kings and mackerel on 8-pound test line.  What a blast that was!  All throughout the day we were catching grouper on the bottom with a small 1’4 oz jig tipped with a small pinfish.  We were targeting muttons, but only caught groupers and mangroves.   We probably caught 20 groupers (gags, reds, and blacks) and half of them were keepers, which we released unharmed to get a little bigger.  I can’t wait till the grouper season opens, it’s killing me to release such quality fish, but the law is the law.

My next charter was another guide trip and we did our tuna thing for while when we finally caught some small ones, which we bridled up on two Tiagra 50 wides with 80-pound test.  My client wanted to troll live tuna around the hump, so we did.  We didn’t get any strikes but the anticipation of what might eat our baits really got our blood flowing.  One of these days we will get a big marlin or maybe a mako.  While we trolled around trying to get the smaller tunas we picked up one dolphin, which was a bonus.  After a few hours with no strikes we went deep dropping and we caught a 60-pound wreckfish, rosefish, and a barrelfish.  Unfortunately we were unable to keep the wreckfish due to its “no take” status.  They are commercially taken but recreational anglers are not allowed to posses this fish.

On Sunday we headed out o look for yellowfin tuna, but we couldn’t find any.  It was a desert out there, no dolphin and no yellowfins.  We did manage to catch a sailfish on a squid spreader bar.  We looked all over for birds but to no avail.  I was using an open array radar to search for the birds, but we only found a few and they were just flying.

Good luck and keep it safe.

Offshore Fishing Report: Tailing sailfish and the dolphin have arrived in great numbers

Monday, March 29th, 2010

MARATHON, Florida — Tailing conditions have arrived and the sailfish are on the move.  As many as 25 to 50 sailfish coming down sea in packs of 5 to 20 fish at a time, what a sight.  If you’re looking to put some numbers up, this week was the week to do it.  Unfortunately I was not sail fishing, my clients wanted food so I missed out on the great sail fishing.  This has been the trend and having a tower sure makes it easy to find the fish, but the sails have been finicky, turning on baits but not eating from what I have been hearing.  If you’re looking to try this for the first time, look for an edge from the reef line out to 200 feet and head to the west.  Just keep heading west the hot spots have been from Big Pine Key to Sandy Key Light.  Ballyhoo has been tough to get, but the pilchards are thick, so get in the skinny water and bait shouldn’t be a problem.

If sailfish isn’t your thing the dolphin have showed up in great numbers just not any size to them though.  I have heard of a few gaffer size fish but for the most part the fish are running small from 28 inches to 15 inches.  Lots of throwback dolphin being caught, and lots of fun to be had.  We had caught over 50-60 fish with only 20 keepers one day and 15 keepers the next.  The fish have been out on a current edge just inside of 500 feet of water.  The water temperatures hare cool for them but it hasn’t seemed to influence their appetite.  The fish are moving in small packs and the most fish we hooked at a time was 10 fish, but we never moved far before we hooked up more.  It appears that the fish are loaded up on the edge, with most of them on the inside edge of the slower moving water.  Their isn’t much of a color change but you will have no problem seeing the edge of the current, the rip sticks out like a sore thumb.  I would recommend using the smallest ballyhoo as possible and any small feathers or chuggers.  The fish are small so use smaller baits to help your hookup ratio.

The reef fishing is still kind of slow, but if you put your time in you can manage a good catch of snappers and there are plenty of groupers too.  I had out one of the scientists that is currently doing the grouper research in the Gulf and he was telling me that they have been working hard to get the research done so they can make a decision on the grouper closer.  He was telling me that the groupers have a 20% mortality when they are released.  The way they figure this out is to catch a bunch of groupers and then put them back down in the water in a cage.  Then they come back at different intervals to check how many groupers have died.  The research still points to the decline of the gag groupers in the gulf but the red population is fine.  Hopefully they will open the season on time, but I have serious doubts.

Way offshore the hump has been steady, with plenty of tunas and amberjacks.  Live bait and jigging are the best methods for getting bigger fish and if you happen to get out there on an overcast day the bite has been even better.  My favorite colors for the jigs are chartreuse and pink; I don’t own any other colors.  Well that’s, a lie, I have some purple ones but I haven’t used them in quite some time now.  The 5-7 oz. Stick jigs work the best.  You don’t have to buy shimano but if you want to spend more money for the same results then go for it.  I generally start my drift just before the rise on the hump, which is like 700 feet of water, and this usually gives me an idea where they are holding up that day.  Sometimes I will head out to 800 feet of water, which is pretty far away from the hump and drop down really deep to get the bigger ones.  If you try this on top of the hump your chances of hooking an amberjack on light tackle is sure to happen.

Deep dropping has been good for the brave fisherman who have been heading out to the 650’s and beyond.  I did really well early this week and got a few snowys, tiles, rosefish, and barrels too.  The queen snapper season is over for the most part, but there are a few stragglers left behind.

Good luck this week and keep safe.

Offshore Fishing Report: Al Flutie Over The Hill Rip-Off Sailfish Tournament

Monday, February 1st, 2010

ISLAMORADA, Florida Keys — Well I had to converse with my friends and other charter captains to get this weeks report because I was up in Islamorada this week for two tournaments. We had a few days to catch our bait and get ready for the tournaments. The first tournament was the Al Flutie Over The Hill Rip-Off tournament, which is a tournament that supports the Cystic Fibrosis charity. It is a great tournament that usually has at least 25-40 boats in it any given year. Florida Keys Fishing is some of the best in the world.

We fished up by Molasses in the morning, which was completely a total waste of time. We checked the Roth’s chart, which predicts and fills you in where the current edges are going to be which can be useful most of the times but this time it really messed us up. After missing the morning bite we headed to Conch Reef, which is one of my favorite places to sailfish in Islamorada. Like I have told you guys in the past we like to fish for sails around out-cropped pieces of reef. Conch Reef is the nicest out-cropping piece of reef in Islamorada and is a favorite sail fishing spot for all of Islamorada fisherman.

As soon as we set up the kites we were hooked up to a double, which we landed fairly quickly. After setting back up again the bite slowed down all over, with very few fish being called in to the committee boat. After a couple of hours we hooked another double, but loosing one and getting the release of the other one in less then thirty seconds. The bite was really slow now until all of the sudden boats started to call in fish left and right. Once this happened most of the boats left Conch. I knew that it was only going to be a matter of time before Conch turned on again.

With only an hour left in the tournament I was thinking, maybe I made a mistake by staying. You just never know where the fish are going to pop up. With five minutes left to go in the tournament, I figured it was hopeless for us. The two minute warning came over the radio when I saw a sail come up on the left short, as I screamed, ‘Sailfish, left short, sailfish, left short.’ My anglers we getting ready to get hooked up when the sail finally caught the gog and pulled the line out of the kite as he took to the air with some really impressive acrobatics. I called in the fish into the committee boat when I noticed a sail on the left long so I yelled down, ‘Sail on the left long, wind, wind wind,wind!’ Hooked up to a double with two minutes left. I called the double into the committee boat, thinking if we get both of these fish we could be in contention for placing in the tournament. We released the first sail in thirty seconds, as I called that fish in to the committee boat, thinking we really need to get the next one to stay in contention. Exactly as they called in lines out of the water I called in our release of the second fish. Two releases in two minutes, one of my best times ever. If you get cooperative fish this can be done, but if you get some bulldogs you could be on a fish for hours.

When the day was over I found out the first and second place caught 6 fish, and four boats with 5 fish. Since Capt Brian on the Contagious caught his five fish before us he took third place and we took fourth. I had fun and my clients enjoyed themselves too. The IFC tournament we lost most of our fish, and landed two, which didn’t even come close to the leader with 18 fish. The boat Relentless was relentless in this tournament with multiple triples and doubles all day long, it was impressive to hear them on the radio and later in the day I got to see them in action, with a professional crew who works phenomenal together, bar none, it was a pleasure to watch them work.

Now for the report for Marathon. Of course there were sailfish to be had with most of them down to the west, from Bahia Honda to Big Pine. The fish were being reported up in the shallows and from 140-130 feet of water. Plenty of kings and cero mackerel along the reef’s edge too. There were plenty of showers of bait in this are which were mostly mackerel, but a few sails causing the bait to get up out of the water. The bottom fishing has been great and the wahoo bite turned on for a few people fishing some deep wrecks. The yellowtail bite was great from what I heard, as were the muttons biting on the patches too.

Heading way out, there were some swords caught, but I didn’t hear of any jumbos though. The hump has many AJ’s and small tunas. The deep dropping has been great with snowy grouper, tiles, queen snapper, barrel fish and rosefish being caught. I can’t wait to get out there and do some deep dropping. Be prepared for what the weather has to offer this week, get out there and have fun catching some fish.

Offshore Fishing Report: Kingfish and Queen Snappers Biting Despite Chilly Weather

Monday, January 4th, 2010

MARATHON, Florida Keys — Brrrrrrr, it is just down right cold outside. Global warming, what? Fishing this week was a bit off for the weather we have been having, but it might be caused by the Gulf Stream being so far offshore. Most of the week the Gulf Stream has been around 20-26 miles offshore which puts a big gap between it and the edge of the reef. The green water, which has had little to no current, has pushed all the way out to the beginning edge of the continental shelf. There has been bait all the way out to the blue water, but as soon as you enter the blue water the water temperature jumps up from 74 degrees to 77.5 degrees.

Sail fishing has suffered as did most of the offshore species, but I did find a couple fish each day while fishing in tight to the edge of the reef. The grass has made it hard to troll, but trying to find fish in the shallows is really tough because of the milky water conditions. We found some nice big kings while slow trolling for sails with a deep bait. The ballyhoo are hoarding around the shallow banks on the Oceanside. Catching plenty of bait has not been the problem. I have talked to many captains this week and it seems to be a consensus, the sail fishing is slow, and it won’t get better unless the current comes back.

I ventured out to the deep water this week once to deep drop some, and we did very well with the groceries. We got plenty of queen snappers, barrels, and got one snowy grouper. The tunas at the hump are abundant and small, but if you get way out in front of the hump and drop your jig down 90 seconds you have a better chance of getting a larger tuna from 10-20 pounds. Once you get closer to the hump the small tunas are to ferocious to even get a jig far enough down to where the bigger fish might be. The bait of choice for the queen snapper was tuna, but the barrels only eat squid. When dropping down for snowy grouper use big baits and squid to entice these numerous and tasty fish to bite. There is talk about the closure of these deepwater species, but they have no real data, if they talked to us charter fisherman and the commercial fisherman they would see that there is no need to shut down all of the fishing in the deep reefs from 300-out. They shut down a 25 square mile last year and we all had no problems with that, but I guess it wasn’t enough for them because now they are threatening to shut all the deep water off so that no one can use this resource which is not in any danger of being over fished. They shut the commercial fishing of snowy groupers to 150 pounds. These guys which fish for these fish have no problem catching there limit, and didn’t have a problem catching their limit when they could catch 600 pounds. Something is very fishy, no fishery is safe, someone is behind in ruining the Florida Keys and they are hurting us with all this talk about shutting down all fishing down here. Make limits, we will abide by them; don’t shut down a fishery especially when you don’t have the data. I recommend that everyone join the RFA; this is an organization, which is fighting for our fishing rights while preserving the fish we are so eager to catch and eat.

If the seas got you down, don’t let it. You don’t have to go far to have some fun and catch plenty of fish. This past week the mackerel and snappers have been everywhere just inside of hawks channel and you can make a whole day of catching. Putting a large bait on the bottom while your chumming in this area can produce great results from goliaths to sharks. Remember hawks channel is like a super highway for fish, it is like those guys trying to sell flowers at the off ramps, use the bumps and lumps like the flower sellers to catch your fish.

Good luck and be safe.

Offshore Fishing Report: Sailfish, Yellowtail Bites are Hot

Monday, November 16th, 2009

MARATHON, Florida Keys — It sure is good to be writing for the Weekly Fisherman again. This paper has been loved by all; it is back, thank you Elizabeth and Jessica.

The sailfish bite is hot now.  Earlier in the week the bite was good, but not as good as it is now. We just went 5 for 8 on Wednesday, and caught a few each day earlier in the week. There has been some bait showers along the edge of the reef and up inside of 40 feet of water. I found packs of sails in 130-165 feet of water. I mainly have been slow trolling ballyhoo since there aren’t too many birds giving up the sailfish’s locations. I prefer to troll with four baits and sometime with one down for muttons and kings. Using enough weight to keep close to the bottom. If the current is too strong I will keep the down rod about 60 feet down for some king action. Using large blue runners or speedos, you can get some really big ones. You can also get lucky sometimes and catch a nice wahoo.

The reef has been red hot with plenty of yellowtail to be had. The really big yellowtails have been chewing, but the sharks have been just down right scary. I watched two sharks bite each other as they were fighting over a yellowtail. While your fishing on the reef the cero mackerel are showing up good as well. I have been doing a lot of diving lately and I have been seeing plenty of black grouper. I see as many as 10 small ones from 20 inches or so. It’s really tough to get an exact size on them while your down but I never shoot them unless they look really big. This free diving is a hoot, I just started and I am addicted. On the patches I have been shooting some hogfish and mangroves, and an occasional large grouper. So if your looking to have some fun on rough days, the patches have been loaded with fish. With the temps dropping the fish are on the move, and they have been moving to the reef and inside as well.

The sword fishing from what I hear has been good, with some really exceptional catches. I head today that there was a 500+ pounder caught on the Key Colony dock by one of the private boats. Don’t quote me; it’s just what I heard. The guys up the road who have been doing a lot of swording tell me there have been lots of action, but most of the fish from 100-150 pounds. The deep dropping has been a little slow, but the barrel fish are always biting it seems. The queen snapper never showed up this year. I only heard of the a few caught on different occasions. My buddy John Foster destroyed them over in the Bahamas but he only went over there once.

Just for you guys who fish the bay the cobia have been biting and showing up in small schools. We limited out the other day and also got our share of some nice mangroves too. The mackerel have showed up, but they are not really thick yet. If you work hard you can limit out with them too. Just remember to only take fish which you can use; let’s not waste our resources. Have a great week and I will see you out there.