MARATHON, Florida Keys — This week we were inundated with lots of small dolphin offshore, with a few bigger ones. Break out your ruler because most of them are close. One day there were decent schoolies from 6-9 pounds, real quality fish, but they weren’t eating, and they wouldn’t stay with the boat. The full moon has shorted the bite, but if you leave early the fish should cooperate till 10:00AM. As we get closer to the new moon the bite should lengthen and being overcast can help too. Makes it harder to see the fish, but they seem a little less timid in low light conditions.
Most of the fish have been congregating on the edge of the Gulf Stream and a few miles beyond. Most of the fish are under birds, but when looking for fish, try and find as few birds together as possible. This will indicate dolphin instead of skippies. My magic number is two to three birds for big fish, but five birds can be either schoolies or a bunch of big dolphin. You just never know what going to be under a huge flock of birds either, but in most cases they are skippies. If the skippies are small, you might find wahoo or marlin close by. When I fished in Costa Rica, I learned to troll around the birds and not through them to raise billfish. The billfish are looking for the few bait fish that get separated from the school, it seems that they can take them out easier one at a time than trying to slash into a ball of moving fish. I learned that one on the discovery channel.
The tuna have been biting pretty good on the live bait. Jigs seem to catch a few 10 pounders, but if you’re looking for the big ones, you will need plenty of live pilchards. Getting the pilchards hasn’t been hard if you venture out on the reef after dark. Anchoring anywhere from 18-40 feet of water after dark you can enjoy the great mangrove bite and load up on pilchards for the following day to the hump. If you anchor in 40 feet of water, the pilchards will be a little less dense, but the gogs are much thicker in this deeper water. By using the bigger sabiki rigs you can keep more gogs on the line without as many coming off. The sword fishing report was good, and my Buddy Capt. Brian caught a 350-pound mako with his clients.
You have to get out to the wrecks and catch some muttons! They are still biting ok. Many days I get six or so with all the amberjack action you could want. The muttons have been averaging about 12 pounds, with some into the 25-pound class. Live bait is where it’s been at. Pinfish, cigars, grunts, and crabs have all been producing well. Dead bait which can work well when the fish are stacked up, it really hasn’t been working for lately, but I always keep throwing some dead baits down because sometimes they will get lazy and catching a live bait just seems like too much effort sometimes. Split tailed baits or plugs will work, even strips of bonita are some of my favorite dead bottom baits.
I am headed to the Tortugas for a few days, and I will post again after I get back so check sometime after Tuesday. Have a great “Fourth” and don’t forget that it is our military that we really need to thank so that we can go fishing. Remember that here in Marathon you don’t have to drive home, call a cab and for a few bucks extra they will drive your car home for you.