Weekly Florida Keys Fishing Update from Capt. Dave Schugar and Sweet E'Nuf Charters
Posts Tagged ‘deep drop fishing’
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!
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!
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.
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.
Monday, December 7th, 2009
MARATHON, Florida Keys — Rain, rain, go away, come back some other day. Our lawns have been taken care of this week with all the rain we have been having. It has made it very soggy out on the water. Even with all the rain it hasn’t seemed to effected the fishing though.
Sailfish have been pouring down the reef with some pretty good dolphin action too. This really has been the first time I have seen any dolphin in quite some time now. We got a pair of slammers earlier in the week. We found the dolphin right on the color change where there happened to be a really nice rip. You could hear the difference as the Gulf Stream was rushing by. The change was anything but subtle. The color change plus the weed line and the rip all were telling me there were fish there. The inside edge was the cleaner of the two and that’s where we found the dolphin in 150 feet of water. There were some schoolies mixed in as well. There has been plenty of sailfish action most of the days. Only a couple of days this week were the sails hard to come by. Slow trolling was pretty productive for me, but flying the kite might have been tough with all the rain, but I am sure someone was, somewhere. The depths where most of the fish were located at were from 130 feet to 165 feet. The boats with towers did well in with the sails, sight fishing in 20 to 40 feet of water. The cobias are picking up on the ocean side as well. If you have a tower, I would start looking for the rays around noon while sun is high. The overcast conditions, makes it a little more challenging to spot those rays.
The yellow tailing is really good right now with most of the fish from 1-2 pounds. I haven’t hit some of my deeper spots, which have bigger fish because the bite has been so good from the 65-40 foot area. You will find, as the water gets colder, the concentrations of fish in the shallower water will be the ticket. I didn’t hit the patches this week but I was told by many different captains that the bite had turned off. I am sure they are biting somewhere; you just might have to look around a bit. We have been hitting the patches hard so maybe we caught them all, ha-ha, not a chance. Most likely they have turned off because they were feeding at night on the full moon. When we get a full moon the light, which is generated out there is just dumbfounding. It really lights it up and many times you don’t even have to turn on the overhead florescent. Using shrimp on the patches can greatly increase you hogfish catch. I like drifting in the shallows where there isn’t as much rock but mixed with grass patches. I generally use a small jig witch you can drag on the bottom. I like to drag it a bit then I let it stay on the bottom by letting out a little line as we drift slowly. Now this technique can only be done when the wind isn’t honking.
When the wind was down, many boats went out for swords, catching lots. A few 200+ pounders and a bunch of 100-150 pounders were caught this week during the small window we had. I am itching to get a swordfish charter; I just can’t wait to get out there. Well, when I venture out that far it is deep drop time too. I got the itch for some snowys and tiles. It seems like forever since I dropped for them. I really miss my plate full of some deepwater fried fish.
I hope they don’t shut our entire deep dropping down. They are talking about shutting all bottom fishing down from 270 feet of water and out. Say goodbye to all of the deep dropping and all of those tasty critters. If they do that, the tackle shops are going to be stuck with thousands of dollars of merchandise, which will become useless. They wont be able to sell any more electric reels and all the tackle that goes with it. I don’t know if the Government really understands the severity of our problems when they completely shut down a type of fishing. A total shut down is what they are scheming behind closed doors with the tree hugging lobbyists. These people are absolutely off their rocker.
A few months back we went to a meeting about how they want to shut down permit fishing so that you cannot even target the species. And this is a fish where 99% of the fish caught are released unharmed back to fight another day. They openly admit that their data is wrong and incomplete. They showed us a graph, which was showing landings and one year they had 600,000 pounds landed. Right next to the number there was a symbol. This symbol stated, ‘this number was generated by one fisherman landing one permit.’ So they took the liberty to multiply this one mans catch by 100,000 to come up with a number so that they could show this 600,000 pound number, in order to have a reason to shut down the fishery. This is the same thing the scientist, have been doing with the global warming controversy. I believe that there needs to be some sort of system to keep the scientist honest. It seems that they don’t mind fudging the data as long as the grant money keeps flowing in. Now, that I got that off of my chest, have a great week out there, it’s going to be rainy, but you might as well make the most of it while we still can.
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.
Monday, November 9th, 2009
MARATHON, Florida Keys — Windy days have kept just about everyone at the dock. Just before the wind started the sailfish bit really well, with multiple hook ups and as many as ten fish being released in a day. The sailfish have been just off the edge of the reef from 100-150 feet of water. While live baiting we have caught kingfish and a few cobia to my surprise. The cobia started to migrate through but most of them are being caught on the gulf wrecks. The bait has been easy to get from ballyhoo to pilchards. The bottom fishing has slowed down a bit but I am sure we will get them to push down as the water up north starts to cool down.
The reef has been hot, and yellowtails are chewing really well. The conditions have been close to perfect, with a nice current to the east and when the wind was light it had no effect on the boat in the current. Now we will start having stronger north and southeast winds which, will make us have to bridle the boat so that our chum flows out the back of the boat for optimal performance. When you have a cross wind from the current the boat will swing a lot and the yellowtails will chase the boat back and forth. This will separate the school a bit and cause them to be a little picky. So we want to make sure we bridle the boat and not only does this help to keep the chum flowing back behind the boat, but it also acts like a stabilizer to keep the boat from swinging. Sometimes there is just no stopping the boat from swinging on anchor.
The sword fishing has been good when we are able to get out there, but the deep dropping has slowed down a bit, only a few snowys and tilefish. When I do get out far the barrel fish are still biting, but they slowed down too. This is the time of the year when the swords have migrated south from the northern parts of the east coast and are spreading out all throughout the Caribbean.
To beat the wind a lot of us run out into the bay for some great mangrove snapper fishing. The gags, goliaths, and red are out in full force on those small wrecks in the bay too. Soon the mackerel will show up in full force to make mince meat of whatever you throw at them. Most guys use live pilchards, but shrimp, and most cut bait will work. Even small spoons can be deadly for those toothy critters.
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.
Monday, September 14th, 2009
MARATHON, Florida Keys — The statement that I hear all the time that confirms the notion that fishing can lead to great enjoyment is, “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work” Just imagine coming back from a fishing trip with a cooler full of fish. The people who have been fishing have indeed been filling their coolers.
The dolphin bite has been great, with many fish in the 20-pound class and bigger. There haven’t been very many small dolphins, which isn’t a bad thing, but this concerns me though. This time of year we should have seen thousands of schoolies all summer long. From what I have seen and what I have been told by other captains is that this year there has been a shortage of schoolies. You see the problem is that the schoolies that we see this year will become the 20-40 pound slammers that we will catch next dolphin season. It just might be that they may have migrated closer to the other side of the Gulf stream, we will just never know, or maybe if we have a bad dolphin season next year then maybe we have some concerns about our future stock of migratory fish.
This week the dolphin were scattered under birds from 900-1100 feet of water which would put them from 22-30 miles from shore. There were some reports of some dolphin activity inside of 700 feet, but too much. There were very few small fish with some reaching fifty pounds. The tuna bite has been hot when the current was running, but in the middle of the week the current just died to nothing.
With the current slowing down, deep dropping has been really easy with lighter weights being able to hold the bottom. This would be the time to hand crank for a chance to break an IGFA record. The deep dropping has been good. Snowys, tilefish and many more deep species are the common catch out in the deep. While you are out there deep dropping, keep a bait ready to pitch to a dolphin that might just swim right up to your boat.
Sword fishing has been really good with many fish being caught up in the 200-pound class. With the light current, dropping down 2000 feet has not been a challenge. The favorite baits for sword fishing has been fresh tuna and dolphin plugs. Although the universal bait “squid” always works too. The new gimmick has been adding a squid skirt over the bait, and depending who you talk to the color of the squid changes. The most common colors have been, glow-in-the-dark green, and dark colors, such as black and red or purple and pink. Looks like sword fishing has continued to evolve, as this is the one reason why people love to fish. Changing times, fish getting smarter, or it may just all be in the complex mind of all of us fisherman.
The reef has been ok, with yellowtails and a few mangroves thrown into the mix. Muttons have been around as with plenty of AJ’s. The better mutton bite has been in the 145-180 foot wrecks and live bottom. Searching the edge of the reef can lead to a few muttons and as well as some grouper too. Get your grouper now before they shut it down. Well actually, it will not affect recreational fisherman, except for the fact that you will only be able to keep one black or gag grouper and two of any other species. But for us charter boats, we will not be allowed to keep any grouper from January 1st through April. Unfortunately, they have made this new law for all of the states in the southeastern region. This will include South Carolina down to Florida. This new law has a few flaws, because they wanted to protect the grouper spawn, but here in Florida the spawn doesn’t occur until April through all of May and some late bloomers in June.
Come on down, the weather is great, a few showers, but what’s with a shower here or there, got to get the fish blood off of you somehow.
Monday, August 17th, 2009
MARATHON, Florida Keys — This time of year the dolphin should still be out there in great numbers, but it seems that this year the fish were here but just not as many as last year. For the most part this week the offshore bite was a bit slow with a few fish being caught in the 600-700 feet of water, which is about 12 miles to 18 miles. But as the week went on when the winds picked up there were 6-10 feet seas in 300 feet where I was told from a captain friend of mine who caught a nice catch of gaffers and some schoolies. Almost all the dolphin have been found under birds and large pieces of debris. You need to look for five birds or less, any more birds and you will most likely find skippies or bonitas.
The humps have slowed down, with mainly small tunas even with live bait. I was out there and we went through 300 pilchards and only got a few small tuna around 6-8 pounds. It was tough because of people not being courteous or just not knowing the ethics of a good fisherman. Basically what was happening was on every drift we had one of three other boats out there trolling right through our chum slick and so close one time actually sucked up one of our lines. We feed him all 300 yards of our braid to teach that jerk a lesson. Hopefully he got home, but I hope his seal on lower unit got breached. It was so frustrating that every time we sent up here comes one of these trollers right up the stern of my boat. There was a reason why these guys kept trolling up our slick, we had pilchards jumping out of the water and five frigates diving and tunas busting all behind the boat. We finally got fed up and left; it was the gross negligence of a fisherman with no concern about his fellow fisherman. I do believe that at least one of those guys just didn’t know what he was doing, but the other two were just blatantly disregarding any common sense.
Deep dropping has saved my offshore trips lately. It has been really great conditions for deep dropping. The snowys have been biting; as a matter of fact I just found a new spot, which is holding an enormous amount of snowy groupers. I found a ledge, which stretches about two miles and after catching two snowys we left. I will keep working the rest of that ledge when I have the right charter. I went to one of my usual spots where I get snowys, barrel fish, and tilefish. This time we only got barrel fish, but we got one that would have shattered the world record. It weighed 30 pounds, which is also the biggest one I have ever seen. I believe the record is 17 pounds and normally we get barrels weighing in at 15-25 pounds, I should try for the record one of these days. I still haven’t found any queens yet this year on my usual spots. I have a few spots where I catch queens but the Government has shut down two of the three spots where I catch queens, but I will find other spots where queens gather. We get queen snapper for about four months during the year on a regular basis.
The nighttime reef action has slowed down; the majorities of the fish have spawned already and are moving back where they came from. The snappers on the reef are still biting but not like they have been. It is still worth going nighttime snapper fishing, but your going to have to work a little harder that’s all. During the daytime the muttons have started biting a little better, it was tough year for us in Marathon on the muttons, but they are scattered along the outer part of the reef and on some of the wrecks, the smaller the wreck the better. The yellowtails are chewing and the size has started to get bigger. As we get closer to the Fall the yellowtails will be getting bigger, well it’s not that the fish are getting bigger it’s the fact that big fish will travel up and down the reef looking for food sources. It is very important to feed your yellowtails. People like to lean out the chum, but you really want to push as much chum as your pocket will allow you. The more chum the healthier and the faster your yellowtail will be. The wrecks have been loaded with amberjacks, and the kings are starting to show up in full force. Take advantage of the good kingfish bite, and you can release them if you have no use for them. I like to make sure I have a good de-hooker so not to harm the fish and to retrieve the hook.
Good luck guys. Oh yeah by the way, from this point on I will be giving away a chance to win a cruise for two to the Caribbean for a week. Every client from now on needs to ask for the application form. Thanks for reading my report and don’t forget about how great the bite will be in October. I only have 14 days left; sometimes November can be great too.