Weekly Florida Keys Fishing Update from Capt. Dave Schugar and Sweet E'Nuf Charters
Posts Tagged ‘florida humps fishing’
Tuesday, February 8th, 2011
This pas week we had a group of business owners who are clients of Auto Profit Masters that came to the Keys for a class and relaxation. What a great group of people from kids to grandparents I was able to find fish for them to catch.
The first day I took out Alan and his son, who fished me a couple of years ago. We headed out to the hump for a day of tuna fishing. When we arrived at the hump we saw an oasis of tuna. Tuna busting the water all over the place, jumping out of the water, terrorizing the bait on the surface. We caught tuna on the first drift and watching the tuna eat right behind the boat still gets my blood flowing. There were a few boats out there and they seemed to gravitate to my stern, causing them to scare the fish behind our boat to go down. To get the big tunas to eat behind the boat can take 100-300 freebees. We can only hold so many baits, so when another boat ruins our drift that’s just one less tuna we can catch. So when you are out at the hump be courteous, don’t troll or run your boat behind anyone, go in front of them so you don’t ruin their fishing.
After getting mugged by the other boats we started to jig the tunas and we were hooked up, mostly smaller ones than we were catching on the live bait. I had a game plan of jigging for a while until some of the boats to leave so we could live bait again. We caught lots of tuna on the jigs, and later in the afternoon we caught a bunch of 20-30 pounders on the live bait. I also dropped a bait down 400 feet to target amberjacks. The hump has some of the largest concentration of amberjacks which we were able to catch one over 50 pounds. What a great trip father and son, having the time of their lives catching and laughing, just a great time had for all.
On the next day I had out Brian and Kobi from Alaska, John and another Alan. Since I fished all last week for snappers, we decided to go out and find some for these guys. I went to one of my patches, which has been smoking hot all last week. We caught some, but it was a little slower than I had liked. We caught mangroves, mackerel, and yellowtail. They were on the smaller side, but they still taste good. We also caught about 15-20 small groupers, just about all the shallow water spices. We caught black, red, grasby, and red hind groupers. Most of them were small blacks around 18 inches long, but a good fight on light tackle. After catching 30 or so snappers we headed to some wrecks for some bigger fish. It was really slow, but I kept hitting different wrecks until we found one that was producing. It was a little weird, we would get bites on all the wrecks, but then after loosing a few the wrecks would shut down. This happens usually when there are predators around, but I think we just lost them in the wreck, which happens when we fish close to them. Finally we found a wreck, which produced a mutton snapper, our target species, and some amberjacks and almaco jacks. We kept one to smoke; they are wonderful for smoked fish.
On the third day I took out some of the staff from Auto Profit Masters, Will, Andy, Jake and Chad. It was a rough day to go to the hump but the bite was better out there then on the reef and wrecks. So we roughed it to the hump, a long trek out there but well worth it. We were the only ones out there and we caught tuna after tuna. The bite was as good or better than a couple days prior. The fish were all over 10 pounds, and some up to 20 pounds. Live bait wasn’t working very well, so we jigged most of them. Even in the rough water, these guys stuck it out and caught a tremendous amount of tuna. We didn’t keep them all, but enough for them to split up to take home. We had a close encounter with a hammerhead shark where I grabbed him by his dorsal fin. That’s how close he was to us, trying to eat our tuna we were able to get some good photos, and I got the silly notion to grab a hold of a green hammerhead shark. Once he noticed I had a hold of him he got upset and took off at a blistering speed. When we got back to the dock I had cut up some of the tuna for some fresh sashimi while my clients waited for their fish to be cleaned, another benefit of keeping my boat behind a restaurant that serves sushi.
On the fourth day I took out one of the Owners of Auto Profit Masters and his family. Since they had to do class that afternoon we were scheduled for a half-day charter, which would mean that we weren’t going back to the hump. So we hit the wrecks and caught amberjacks and almaco jacks. It was as good as it gets, double headers AJ’s take a while to get in, averaging a 30 minute fight we had enough time to catch eight 30-pound jacks. Smiles all around, the brute strength of these fish is tremendous. From catching walleye to 30 pound Jacks, there is just no comparison. Up in Colorado they fish for walleye and they were telling me it is like catching a plastic bag, they weren’t used to fish that fought back, so all in all they were extremely satisfied with there big fish experience.
Friday, December 3rd, 2010
As the leaves change color up north and people are decorating for the holidays, I am down here in the Keys getting my boat ready for all of you. The mad rush of people after the holidays is what I call the great start of our season. For those of you that haven’t booked yet, you better get on it, or you won’t get out on a charter boat. We will all be booked; so don’t miss out on the greatest part of your vacation.
The fishing has been pretty steady, between the sword fishing, sail fishing, grouper and snapper on the reef. This is a great time of year to fish, so many options to choose from. We can target the cobias and goliath grouper in the Gulf or fish the reef for yellowtail snapper, mangrove snapper, mutton snapper, grouper, and kingfish. Just outside the reef we will live baiting for sailfish, and catch some other species as well.
Just this past week I was reef fishing, and the yellowtails were biting good, it wasn’t long before we limited out and we changed our tactics to kingfish and we got a few ten pounders and one forty plus pound king too. My clients had a ball, and they ate well the whole week. One of the greatest ideas our restaurants had is to cook your catch. I don’t know when this started but the Keys have been doing it a long time. Bring in your fresh fish and have the restaurant cook it for you, it doesn’t get any fresher. Every restaurant will do this for you down here so take advantage of not having to cook it and then clean up after you’re stuffed from eating the freshest fish you can get.
I took out a family to the hump for some hot tuna action. It was so hot we hooked 50+ tunas but were only able to land a half dozen. We had a shark problem, which I have never seen it so bad. We had four or five sharks swimming around the boat at any given moment. We hooked tuna and fought them to the boat only to have the shark eat it before we can get it close enough to gaff it. After about 20 shark bite offs, I asked my clients if they wanted to do something else, but they said it was great to hook a fish fight it and then feed it to a shark. So we stayed and kept feeding the sharks. I always try to keep my clients happy and they were smile all around. We had fresh sushi at the dock when we got back and a few cocktails always end a great fishing trip. I look forward to fishing with them again.
I had a shot to go sword fishing this week too, it was stormy and rough but we ventured out there anyways. We had many bites, just couldn’t get them to swallow the bait. We finally got one to eat and we caught him after a short battle. It was too small to keep so we took some quick photos and released him back to grow up. We had a few more bites after we release the small fish but never hooked up again. It can be difficult to get these predators to eat the bait sometimes. But when they do, hold on you will be in for a battle.
I would like to wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season, may this coming year be better than the last, and come on down forget your troubles and lets go fishing.
Saturday, 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.
Sunday, August 15th, 2010
MARATHON, Florida Keys — Well one of my buddies Andy wanted to go sword fishing and needed some help, so I came along to catch one of these stupendous creators. We made two drops before his reel crapped out. We couldn’t get it fixed so we went to plan B.
Plan B was to use the electric reel and drop on some spots for some snowys — and if we got lucky, a queen snapper. I have been getting a queeny every once in a while.
On the first drop we manged to get hooked up with something big. We were fishing in 800 feet of water and this fish didn’t want to budge a foot. It actually started to take line, so we figured it was a shark and cranked up the drag. Still this fish wouldn’t budge on our Tanacom 1000. After taking in a little line we finally got it off the bottom. We got it up almost 30 feet when he decided he wanted to go back to the bottom again.
After ten minutes of battling, we hadn’t gained any line. After about 20 minutes, we finally started to get this fish off the bottom. We worked hard and finally we we saw what was on our line. It was a monstrous snowy, with battle scars where it had been injured and healed. This was his last battle and we won. I would estimate this fish is around 50-60 pounds, which would have been a new world record…but we caught it on an electric and we all know that wouldn’t count.
On our next drop we caught a small 8-10 pound queen. One of my favorites, because not everyone knows how to catch them. Certain times of the year are better than others, but humps in deep water will hold large quantities of them from Sept-Jan. You just never know when they will show up. It was starting to get late and we wanted to catch a few tunas before heading home.
At the hump, we trolled all over the place and it seems that the tuna were having lock jaw, even in the late hours that we were fishing. The bite all week has been phenomenal, but they have to take a break sometimes and today seems to be the day. We did get a few, but not as many as we had hoped and the size was a little small compared to what we caught all week.
The jigging slowed down all week and still it was slow. We trolled to get the few we caught. We actually chased birds as far as two miles away from the hump to get the tunas we caught. We also caught one on the back side of the rip. While trolling around the hump we caught two gaffers, well one gaffer and a heavy lifter…and that seems to be all we did.
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, April 19th, 2010
MARATHON, Florida Keys — Cloudy skies, windy, rain in the distance, looks like a great day to fish.
Well when you only have one day to fish, sometimes you take what you can get. This week was no exception. Even though the conditions were lousy, we still crushed them this week. For us locals, when we are given a day which might be windy or maybe the forecast is predicting rain, we can always fish another day, but when someone only gets one or two weeks out of the year for vacation, they seem to grin and bare it, and usually they get rewarded with a cooler full of fish, too.
Well at least this is what happened with my clients this week. We fished the hump and the tunas were eating everything we threw at them. Doubles and triples all day and our biggest tuna was 20 pounds. Most of the fish were around ten pounds, but some bigger and some smaller were flying over the rails the entire trip. After we had enough for my clients to take home, we played a little game called “catch and release.” Some people just have never heard of that one before. Only take what you can use or eat…this will ensure that we have more bigger tuna next year. Just because there is no size limit and limit of how many you are allowed to keep, think about the future and how much fun you’re going to have when those fish double in size the following year.
We caught all of them on butterfly jigs, where as last week we were able to troll up some lunkers on a ballyhoo-Islander combo. As a matter of fact we caught all of big ones this way. We would drift over the hump and catch fish and then we would troll back to the spot were we would start our next drift and catch some tuna. Deep dropping wasn’t on fire but we produced some quality fish. Earlier in the week we pulled up some barrelfish, and tiles which could have been the next all-tackle record except for the fact that were using too many hooks and the IGFA seems to frown upon the electric reel. But it doesn’t matter, its all about the meat elevator.
People ask me if I feel guilty about using the electric reel, and I ask them “Do you feel guilty about driving to the store and picking out a steak at the meat market?” To me it isn’t any different…it is all about “what’s for dinner.”
Later in the week we did a few drops and caught a nice snowy grouper and big 15-pound queen snapper. I guess there are still a few of them still around too. My clients seemed to be avid anglers and extreme sportsman…well they would have to be to go out there in ten-foot seas! Yup, it was big out there but the fish are chewing.
Towards the end of the week I did a little yellow tailing in the afternoon and it was a steady pick of two-pound fish. The first spot I went to was great except for the fact that they didn’t want to eat. I had 3- to 5-pound yellowtails eating almost out of the bag but they were very line shy and tuned away from the bait every time except twice. We only caught two at that spot but it was so cool to see so many dinosaurs that close to the boat. They looked as big as schoolie dolphin.
The second spot was a complete bust, but as we drove off after fishing for only a half hour, I marked a tremendous school of fish holding close to the bottom. Maybe we didn’t wait long enough, but I needed to put fish in the box and yellowtail can be some of the most challenging fish to catch sometimes.
Our third spot was the ticket, almost all the fish were two pounds or close to it. No sharks like the first spot, and we picked fish till we hit our quota which is ten fish apiece.
Good luck! And if any of you need a shove in the right direction, don’t hesitate to call. I also can guide your boat so you can learn with your own equipment. You can read all you want, but when it comes down to it, hands-on training seems to work much better for most people. Be safe out there, and be courteous to your fellow anglers.
Sunday, April 4th, 2010
MARATHON, Florida Keys — What an enjoyable week compared to the frigid winter we have had! I have been booked all week and there is a lot of fish to be had almost everywhere out there.
Thanks to the East wind, the sails were piling down the pipeline and boats with upper stations had a ball sight fishing for those acrobatic speedsters. Even though they were being finicky, there were many sailfish to be had. With the ballyhoo hard to find, the choice of bait here in Marathon has been pilchards, which really is a better bait for sight fishing. I like to hook the bait in the belly to force the pilchard down which usually entices the sailfish to strike.
There has been an incredible color edge off of Marathon all week with lots of sailfish action on it. The bite had been better the further West you went. Some boats fished all the way down to American shoals (what a hike!), but in order to put up big numbers of fish that’s where you needed to be. Along with the sails, cobia and dolphin are also being caught along that edge.
The deeper edge further offshore that had the dolphin last week dried right up as if it was never there. I would keep looking for dolphin just beyond the color change and out as far as 400 feet just in case there is another push of fish this week.
The wrecks have been hit hard for the past few weeks and the fishing pressure has made a definite impact on the bite, which was out of this world. The wrecks are still producing amberjacks, muttons, and beautiful grouper, which we have been releasing. I caught a small genuine red snapper, which is not common in these parts except for a few deeper wrecks during certain times of the year.
The bait of choice on the mutton snapper bite has been live pinfish and any small grunts, which I was able to catch. The tomtates, my favorite bait has been hard to come by, but pinfish seem to be doing the job just fine.
Kingfish have been on most of the deeper wrecks from 130-200 feet of water. I was mainly catching them with deep-trolled ballyhoo. I heard that the reef also had kingfish prowling behind the yellowtails. When fishing for yellow tails, the kings will be hanging back waiting for the right time to strike.
The hump has been red hot. The tunas have been biting better in the afternoon verses the morning, but that may be due to the full moon we have had and the tunas must be feasting on the squid all night long. Jigging for the tunas has resulted in more and bigger fish, but when it becomes overcast the larger tunas will hit the trolled baits too.
The live baiter out there have been harassed by all the boat traffic out there, so if you see a boat using live bait, give him some room and respect that he can’t catch his fish when boats come barreling up behind them. While we were out offshore we did a little deep dropping and yielded some quality queen snappers. Most of the queens were up in the 12-18 pound class, which is some quality fish. Snowys and tilefish are abundant right now too in the 800-700 foot range.
I had a charter which took me out in the bay. I normally don’t fish out here but when the weather gets rough and my clients can’t take the big seas we head out there for some action packed fishing. They wanted to catch some goliaths and the bay didn’t let us down. We caught a couple in the 30 pound class and two big ones one was about 100 pounds and the other had to 350 pounds if it wasn’t 400 pounds. Most of the mackerel have left the bay but we did manage to get a dozen or so.
The bluefish on the other hand have been ransacking our baits in packs of 20-50 fish strong. It is pretty cool to se 20 or so fish following the one you have hooked. When this happens I like to throw some cut chunks right behind the hooked fish to get them really fired up before I pitch a spoon or a jig with a ballyhoo on it to get multiple hookups. We had out a shark bait for most of the day but we only had a couple of small ones short strike the bait.
Have a great week and I will see you out there. For those of you who haven’t signed the petition please sign it, we need everyone in on this one. Lets take back our rights to fish here come sign this petition!
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.
Sunday, March 21st, 2010
MARATHON, Florida Keys — It sure has been a while since I had a day off, but you wont hear me complain. Many people who usually come down to the Keys may not make it this year, but since there has been trouble in Mexico, the people who got a few bucks for a good time came down here. Some of my clients this week told me that they were going to go to Cancun but changed their plans due to the problems and threats that heard on the news. Last year it was a swine flu epidemic that caused people to stay in the country.
This week I spent a lot of time offshore, which was very productive as long as you fished the humps and deep dropped on ledges. The humps from Islamorada to Marathon have been packed with boats. The tuna and amberjack bite has been red hot. There have been much bigger amberjacks on the Islamorada Hump but still plenty of them on the Marathon hump to put any tackle you have to the test. The tunas have been smoking hot and their size has been good with many fish from 10 pounds and up. I only caught small ones when we pulled feathers. I only did that to get small ones for bait, the amberjacks love small tunas. You can fish them live or dead, but if you fish them live make sure you use enough lead to take them down three hundred feet to where the amberjacks are holding. It is better to have more lead than less, the tunas are hard swimmers and three pounds may seem like a lot but it will get the tuna down to the amberjacks. Using larger baits will ensure that you can get some of the largest fish out of this gigantic biomass of amberjacks that inhabit the hump.
The dolphin have been almost nonexistent, but there have been a few caught inside of 200 feet and some caught around floating debris out in the 600’s. With the water temperature in the low 70’s the dolphin will not be found in any numbers. I don’t know if it is just me but I can’t wait for the temps to rise, I am looking for the first push of dolphin. It probably won’t happen until the end of April but we can only hope.
The shallow wrecks have been over run with large amberjacks, and the word got out, the well-known wrecks looked like a parking lot. Everyone has been jockeying for the best position on the wrecks. Being in the right area of the wreck makes a whole lot of difference between catching and watching the boat next to you catching.
Reef fishing hasn’t changed much, it is still kind of slow for the most part, but the patches to the west of the seven mile bridge are producing a bounty of groupers and snappers. Most of the snappers are small muttons, and yellowtails with a few big mangrove snappers thrown in the mix.
The bay is full of mackerel, snappers, and groupers. Fishing the large deepwater grass beds near banks have produced for me very well. It doesn’t matter where you are, the mackerel will find you with a good chum slick. The best areas are about 7-10 miles strait out in front of the Seven Mile Bridge. Spoons and jig-n-shrimp combo works well too.
Get out there and fish and if you enjoy fishing please sign the petition to ensure that our favorite past time is still here to pass on to our kids. The web site for the petition is here.
Sunday, February 28th, 2010
MARATHON, Florida Keys – It is starting to look like spring, as this week’s tides have been extremely low. The temperature has been a little cooler than normal, which hasn’t been good for our tourist population. This week’s full moon made the fishing a little interesting.
The yellowtails on the reef are still sluggish, but the mangroves that have been on the patches have been day savers. Speaking of day savers the kingfish which are most often overlooked can give your light tackle a good run for it’s money. Drag screaming off of a reel gets every fisherman’s blood flowing. These toothy critters love this weather and as the water cleared up the bite was really on. Kingfish rely on their great eyesight to eat. They have very large eyes for their size. Kingfish have a torpedo shaped body, which allows them to have incredible acceleration to surprise its prey. One of the many reasons I love to fish for kings is their ability to launch themselves out of the water and land directly on your bait. Sometimes kingfish can jump twenty feet in the air when they attack bait on the surface. These supersonic jet –like predators can eat very large baits, as they will cut larger baits down to size as they shred apiece off on every pass. You can target these fish on deeper wrecks from 125-180 feet of water. If there are barracudas around the wreck the kings will stay further off the wreck so not to be eaten themselves. You can troll for them with live or dead bait along the edge of the reef or anchor up and chunk for them as well. When you’re anchored up try the kite with a large bait and some flatlines with live baits for the best results. They will readily eat a spoon or jig retrieved very fast. These fish are triggered to attack by fast moving action.
Sail fishing has been a little on the boring side. The current still hasn’t been all that great and this eddy of no current was shortly interrupted for a few days as we did experience some current this week. The bite for sails has been slow all the way up to Miami. When we get some current we will see the action pick back up. There were a few dolphin caught along the reef this week, nothing of any size or numbers but a few is better than none. I heard from one of my friends that a large school of schoolies cam by their boat, but they were too small to keep. If I had to go offshore this upcoming week I would venture out to the humps where the action has been with tuna and amberjacks. The super large jacks have held up residence on the hump and so has many large sharks too. The jacks out there have been averaging 65-80 pounds with some 100 pounders being caught too.
For the up coming week, it looks like we are going to experience cooler waters only in front of Marathon and as far out as 30 miles, but later in the week it will be pushed out by the warm water eddy and the warm water looks like it will push almost to the reef. When we loose the cooler water the Upper Keys will get it for a few days until it pushes around the corner to Miami. Look for warm water East or West till Thursday and then we should have some current and warm water for a few days until a new eddy of cold water will plague us once again. All of this cooler water is being pushed by the warm water out of the Gulf of Mexico and creating a Ying and a Yang mixture of cold and warm water along the Keys. This warm water is swirling the cold water up the coast and this is why we will be experiencing these changes of water temperatures.
I am counting the days till the dolphin run, but I am predicting that it won’t be until the end of April or the beginning of May before we see any major runs, but I hope I am wrong. This was the trend last year, and the only way that we will see the dolphin return early is if we experience some global warming, hahahaha, just kidding, but seriously, we need the warm water for the dolphin to show up early. And everyone hated El Nino, but I think that’s why we had loads of dolphin from March to October. I had amazing Octobers in the past when the water stayed warm late in the season. Keep your eyes peeled for birds working anywhere near the warm water for dolphin. Good luck out there.