Weekly Florida Keys Fishing Update from Capt. Dave Schugar and Sweet E'Nuf Charters
Posts Tagged ‘live bait 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!
Saturday, July 3rd, 2010
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.
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!
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.
Monday, December 28th, 2009
MARATHON, Florida Keys — Flags flying from both sets of riggers is always a good sign. That’s right lots and lots of sailfish this week. I talked with a few buddies from up the road with multiple days of double digits. I was able to get out there and get 2-11 one day and 8-11 another day. I had a lot of miss-haps the first day but we got it together on the second day. Sometimes, clients who have never fished for sails before can be a little frustrating, but hey, if they have fun that’s the goal. You have to let the fish eat and sometimes letting the line fly off of the reel is the last thing inexperienced anglers will let happen. We lost a few fish this way and the others we had just came unglued after a while. All in all we had a great time and these people will never forget the constant action of sailfish action.
I had better luck late in the afternoon with the sailfish. It just might have been the fact that it wasn’t till the afternoon when we ended up ten miles down the road where we had all of our sailfish bites. The bite was absolutely off the chain from 12:00 to 4:00 out in front of Bahia Honda. 90 feet of water was the zone, if you ventured out past 100 feet I had no bites and if you got inside of 90 feet you got ate up by the mackerel. I had a great drift because I never put the engines in gear, I just pointed the boat down sea and turned on the autopilot and away we went for an eight-hour trip. I could have turned the engines off, but I like to have at least one running to keep up the juice to my batteries from the bait-well running. We caught a few kings while we were trolling, nothing huge but decent fish from 10-18 pounds.
The reef took a nosedive later this week but no worries it will return soon. Early in the week the yellowtails were hot along with a few grouper and plenty of cero mackerel if you wanted to catch them. Some muttons have being caught on the bottom and flat-lining while you’re anchored up. If your not getting any bites while you’re yellow tailing, try and drop down in leader to produce some muttons and shy bottom fish.
Looking to get out and catch a broadbill, then get out there while the bite is still hot. Many reports are coming in about how great the fishing has been for them. Picking the right weather is essential for success for sword fishing in the daytime. Many people are a little intimidated with this style of fishing, but it really isn’t that hard. Just get out there and do it. Big Time Bait and Tackle and Cudjoe Sales are very knowledgeable and are glad to get you set up with all the equipment and terminal tack required to fish for these tasty fish. While you’re out there the tunas have been biting at the humps, but watch out for the sharks, they have been bad on some of the days. Jigging and live baiting have been the only way to get the bigger fish, but if you troll, there are some smaller ones readily available to engulf one of your feathers or all of them.
Good luck and happy New Year. For those of you that want to learn or just want to catch fish please call soon, my calendar has been filling up fast for the next two months.
Monday, November 23rd, 2009
MARATHON, Florida Keys — Brrrrrrrrrr, it’s starting to get cold, but the fishing is hot. The only type of fishing which is slow has been the dolphin. The sail fishing has been great, with lots of opportunities to get those beautiful acrobats of the winter. Heading out we witnessed many showers of ballyhoo being chased by mackerel and sailfish. Hundreds and sometimes thousands of baits exiting the water in a mystical ballet of life and death. Frigates birds dropping out of the sky usually is a sure sign of activity, which this time of the year usually means sailfish or dolphin. Since there are not too many dolphin around most likely all the frigates that I have seen are sailfish.
Whichever method of fishing you prefer has been productive this week. I talked to my buddy John Foster and he got sails and wahoo trolling dead baits along and outside the reef’s edge. But to get the numbers live baiting has been the key. Most bait will work but the bigger pilchards, threadfin, and ballyhoo seem to be the best baits. Yeah, nothing really has changed about the baits we use down here, but sometimes we do better on some days with certain baits. When fishing the sprays it is better to use baits, which will move franticly after it has be tossed toward a spray. Cigar minnows, pilchards, and threadfins are perfect for this tactic. If you are new at this or you don’t feel like running all over the place I recommend to use ballyhoo and slow troll from 130-160 feet. This seems to be the best area still. I did get a few fish in 100 feet, but most of the fish I caught trolling was in these depths which I stated above.
The snapper fishing is still awesome, and you don’t even need to go further than patches. This time of the year you will find that your deeper spots will not do as well as they did during the long summer months. If you come into a situation where your fish have moved off of your deeper spots, try finding your fish just up on top of the reef inside your original numbers. These fish are moving in closer this time of the year and you may not think of reef fish to be migratory, but they are, they will move a considerable distance because of food and temperature. I did very well this week with big mangroves and yellowtails on the patches, it seems with the clients that I had it was the best thing going for six people on a boat that wants lots of action. Fishing families is one of my favorite things to do because I can still remember long a go when my father used to take me fishing on charters. I also think that teaching kids to fish is also ensuring our future and showing kids what a beautiful place the ocean is.
If cobia is your game, we got a really nice one inside the reef, and it also seems that they are starting to show up on the rays in the 20-40 foot sandy patches from Tennessee Reef up to Caloosa Cove. If you are going the other direction, look for the rays from the west end of the 7-Mile Bridge to Bahia Honda Bridge. These patches seem to hold rays holding cobia. What you’re looking for are patches with plenty of sand around them. The gulf and bay are slap full of cobia if you don’t mind the run. I found some cobia only12 miles out from shore and the schools are getting bigger.
Good luck and be courteous to your fellow fisherman out there.
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 21st, 2009
MARATHON, Florida Keys — The season has been slow lately, but I did get out a couple of times this week. One day we went offshore for tuna and dolphin. The tuna fishing was so good we only fished for two hours and got ten fish from 20-30 pounds. Live baiting was the key, with only a couple of other boats out there the fish seemed to never go down. The current was only about one knot, which meant we could have some long drifts. Watching the tunas busting and sky rocketing on the freebies was absolutely awesome, it reminded me of a Guy Harvey T-shirt. Fresh sashimi was on my mind once we hit the dock.
After the tuna frenzy on the hump we shot out to the edge of the wall looking for some dolphin, and it didn’t take long to find the first of many schools of dolphin. They weren’t too picky. I have caught lots of sardines lately and they scarfed them up like Scooby snacks. There were lots of fish from 3-8 pounds and we did manage to get a few in the twenties too. There was scattered grass all over out there, just enough to keep an eye on the baits while we were trolling so that we weren’t dragging grass skirts on our naked ballyhoos.
A few days later we went sword fishing and on the first drop we landed a 150-pound pumpkin. We made three other drifts only to get our baits all beat up, but since we got one on the first drop we were satisfied with what we got. The fish were a little shallower than usual, we kept getting bites around 1500 feet. Usually we get bites as soon as we get down there at 1890 to 1780 feet. The new rig I am using has two hooks on it like a chicken rig with long leaders. It seems to be working well for all the captains who are using it. When we got back to the dock we took some photos and when I cut into it, there were two dozen freshly eaten squids in it’s stomach. The squids were in such great shape we bagged them up for later use. Once I cut into the fish we realized that this fish was a pumpkin. What we mean “pumpkin” is that the meat has an orangeish color and it is far superior to the ones, which have white meat. I believe it is the result of lots of food and the fish have been fattening up. Fish don’t really have fat around their bodies like we do, they have a fat sack in their gut which will swell as they store energy as fat for their long trips up and down the east coast of North and South America. They also store fat in the form of oil in their meat as well. This high concentration of oil in the meat will cause the meat to turn orange in color. Thus, someone named it after a pumpkin’s color.
From what I here the reef has been very productive, many guys who did get out didn’t have any trouble catching, yellowtail, mutton, AJ’s, and a few grouper. There has been some great current and it has caused the big yellowtails to turn on. One of my friends got his limit of four to five pound fish, which if you didn’t know, that is absolutely as good as yellow tailing can get. We really don’t get fish in any numbers bigger than that, so excellent job Don.
So if you are looking to visit during the next couple of months, take advantage of the fishing as you are with the hotel rates for this time of year. You will almost cut your hotel accommodations in half during this time of the year. Click on over to the helpful links page and get hooked up with some of the best facilities down here for the money. You can stay at one of our big resorts and get pampered as well, but it will cost you a bunch more, and in these troubled times I am sure everyone could use a discount. Good luck and if you don’t charter me out, I will see you out there.
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.