Weekly Florida Keys Fishing Update from Capt. Dave Schugar and Sweet E'Nuf Charters
Posts Tagged ‘mackerel 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.
Sunday, April 11th, 2010
MARATHON, Florida Keys — Spring is here, thank God. It seems that our cold days are in our past. The water temperature has been warming and soon we will be in full swing with lots of dolphin. The Gulf Stream has moved in and out this week, this has caused the shallower water to warm as well as the heat from the sun too. Keep you eyes and ears open because it isn’t going to be long before the dolphin come pouring through.
I have been all over the pace this week. I fished the deep, the shallow and all the places in between. In the beginning of the week we went out for tunas at the hump and did very well. Most of the tunas were perfect size, not too small to eat and not too big where the meat gets really red. I prefer the 10-20 pounders…they have pinkish meat and I believe it is the best tasting. We filled the cooler with all the tuna my clients could eat and then we took a short ride to the west to fish for queen snapper. We caught tilefish, and queen snappers — good size to them as well. The fish have been averaging 12 pounds, but we have been getting a few close to 20 pounds.
The next charter this past week was a guide trip. A guide trip is when I jump on my clients boat and I give hands on training of the rigs, bait, and the area. If anyone is interested in this please give me a call…I would love to help you out! My client Dave wanted to learn about the reef so we went yellow tailing. It took a while for the yellowtails to pop up, but once they did we caught a few before they got spooked off buy the numerous kings and mackerel…or maybe it was the current (or lack of). We tried every trick in the book and they still wouldn’t bite. So I move to another spot out in 88 feet of water.
We marked a nice school, but I hadn’t been in this spot for quite some time now, so who knew that we would get into some great mangrove action? Most of them were 3-4 pounds, but none smaller than 2 pounds. After the bite died off, we switched to a jig, and whipped-jigged kings and mackerel on 8-pound test line. What a blast that was! All throughout the day we were catching grouper on the bottom with a small 1’4 oz jig tipped with a small pinfish. We were targeting muttons, but only caught groupers and mangroves. We probably caught 20 groupers (gags, reds, and blacks) and half of them were keepers, which we released unharmed to get a little bigger. I can’t wait till the grouper season opens, it’s killing me to release such quality fish, but the law is the law.
My next charter was another guide trip and we did our tuna thing for while when we finally caught some small ones, which we bridled up on two Tiagra 50 wides with 80-pound test. My client wanted to troll live tuna around the hump, so we did. We didn’t get any strikes but the anticipation of what might eat our baits really got our blood flowing. One of these days we will get a big marlin or maybe a mako. While we trolled around trying to get the smaller tunas we picked up one dolphin, which was a bonus. After a few hours with no strikes we went deep dropping and we caught a 60-pound wreckfish, rosefish, and a barrelfish. Unfortunately we were unable to keep the wreckfish due to its “no take” status. They are commercially taken but recreational anglers are not allowed to posses this fish.
On Sunday we headed out o look for yellowfin tuna, but we couldn’t find any. It was a desert out there, no dolphin and no yellowfins. We did manage to catch a sailfish on a squid spreader bar. We looked all over for birds but to no avail. I was using an open array radar to search for the birds, but we only found a few and they were just flying.
Good luck and keep it safe.
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.
Monday, February 1st, 2010
ISLAMORADA, Florida Keys — Well I had to converse with my friends and other charter captains to get this weeks report because I was up in Islamorada this week for two tournaments. We had a few days to catch our bait and get ready for the tournaments. The first tournament was the Al Flutie Over The Hill Rip-Off tournament, which is a tournament that supports the Cystic Fibrosis charity. It is a great tournament that usually has at least 25-40 boats in it any given year. Florida Keys Fishing is some of the best in the world.
We fished up by Molasses in the morning, which was completely a total waste of time. We checked the Roth’s chart, which predicts and fills you in where the current edges are going to be which can be useful most of the times but this time it really messed us up. After missing the morning bite we headed to Conch Reef, which is one of my favorite places to sailfish in Islamorada. Like I have told you guys in the past we like to fish for sails around out-cropped pieces of reef. Conch Reef is the nicest out-cropping piece of reef in Islamorada and is a favorite sail fishing spot for all of Islamorada fisherman.
As soon as we set up the kites we were hooked up to a double, which we landed fairly quickly. After setting back up again the bite slowed down all over, with very few fish being called in to the committee boat. After a couple of hours we hooked another double, but loosing one and getting the release of the other one in less then thirty seconds. The bite was really slow now until all of the sudden boats started to call in fish left and right. Once this happened most of the boats left Conch. I knew that it was only going to be a matter of time before Conch turned on again.
With only an hour left in the tournament I was thinking, maybe I made a mistake by staying. You just never know where the fish are going to pop up. With five minutes left to go in the tournament, I figured it was hopeless for us. The two minute warning came over the radio when I saw a sail come up on the left short, as I screamed, ‘Sailfish, left short, sailfish, left short.’ My anglers we getting ready to get hooked up when the sail finally caught the gog and pulled the line out of the kite as he took to the air with some really impressive acrobatics. I called in the fish into the committee boat when I noticed a sail on the left long so I yelled down, ‘Sail on the left long, wind, wind wind,wind!’ Hooked up to a double with two minutes left. I called the double into the committee boat, thinking if we get both of these fish we could be in contention for placing in the tournament. We released the first sail in thirty seconds, as I called that fish in to the committee boat, thinking we really need to get the next one to stay in contention. Exactly as they called in lines out of the water I called in our release of the second fish. Two releases in two minutes, one of my best times ever. If you get cooperative fish this can be done, but if you get some bulldogs you could be on a fish for hours.
When the day was over I found out the first and second place caught 6 fish, and four boats with 5 fish. Since Capt Brian on the Contagious caught his five fish before us he took third place and we took fourth. I had fun and my clients enjoyed themselves too. The IFC tournament we lost most of our fish, and landed two, which didn’t even come close to the leader with 18 fish. The boat Relentless was relentless in this tournament with multiple triples and doubles all day long, it was impressive to hear them on the radio and later in the day I got to see them in action, with a professional crew who works phenomenal together, bar none, it was a pleasure to watch them work.
Now for the report for Marathon. Of course there were sailfish to be had with most of them down to the west, from Bahia Honda to Big Pine. The fish were being reported up in the shallows and from 140-130 feet of water. Plenty of kings and cero mackerel along the reef’s edge too. There were plenty of showers of bait in this are which were mostly mackerel, but a few sails causing the bait to get up out of the water. The bottom fishing has been great and the wahoo bite turned on for a few people fishing some deep wrecks. The yellowtail bite was great from what I heard, as were the muttons biting on the patches too.
Heading way out, there were some swords caught, but I didn’t hear of any jumbos though. The hump has many AJ’s and small tunas. The deep dropping has been great with snowy grouper, tiles, queen snapper, barrel fish and rosefish being caught. I can’t wait to get out there and do some deep dropping. Be prepared for what the weather has to offer this week, get out there and have fun catching some fish.
Monday, January 4th, 2010
MARATHON, Florida Keys — Brrrrrrr, it is just down right cold outside. Global warming, what? Fishing this week was a bit off for the weather we have been having, but it might be caused by the Gulf Stream being so far offshore. Most of the week the Gulf Stream has been around 20-26 miles offshore which puts a big gap between it and the edge of the reef. The green water, which has had little to no current, has pushed all the way out to the beginning edge of the continental shelf. There has been bait all the way out to the blue water, but as soon as you enter the blue water the water temperature jumps up from 74 degrees to 77.5 degrees.
Sail fishing has suffered as did most of the offshore species, but I did find a couple fish each day while fishing in tight to the edge of the reef. The grass has made it hard to troll, but trying to find fish in the shallows is really tough because of the milky water conditions. We found some nice big kings while slow trolling for sails with a deep bait. The ballyhoo are hoarding around the shallow banks on the Oceanside. Catching plenty of bait has not been the problem. I have talked to many captains this week and it seems to be a consensus, the sail fishing is slow, and it won’t get better unless the current comes back.
I ventured out to the deep water this week once to deep drop some, and we did very well with the groceries. We got plenty of queen snappers, barrels, and got one snowy grouper. The tunas at the hump are abundant and small, but if you get way out in front of the hump and drop your jig down 90 seconds you have a better chance of getting a larger tuna from 10-20 pounds. Once you get closer to the hump the small tunas are to ferocious to even get a jig far enough down to where the bigger fish might be. The bait of choice for the queen snapper was tuna, but the barrels only eat squid. When dropping down for snowy grouper use big baits and squid to entice these numerous and tasty fish to bite. There is talk about the closure of these deepwater species, but they have no real data, if they talked to us charter fisherman and the commercial fisherman they would see that there is no need to shut down all of the fishing in the deep reefs from 300-out. They shut down a 25 square mile last year and we all had no problems with that, but I guess it wasn’t enough for them because now they are threatening to shut all the deep water off so that no one can use this resource which is not in any danger of being over fished. They shut the commercial fishing of snowy groupers to 150 pounds. These guys which fish for these fish have no problem catching there limit, and didn’t have a problem catching their limit when they could catch 600 pounds. Something is very fishy, no fishery is safe, someone is behind in ruining the Florida Keys and they are hurting us with all this talk about shutting down all fishing down here. Make limits, we will abide by them; don’t shut down a fishery especially when you don’t have the data. I recommend that everyone join the RFA; this is an organization, which is fighting for our fishing rights while preserving the fish we are so eager to catch and eat.
If the seas got you down, don’t let it. You don’t have to go far to have some fun and catch plenty of fish. This past week the mackerel and snappers have been everywhere just inside of hawks channel and you can make a whole day of catching. Putting a large bait on the bottom while your chumming in this area can produce great results from goliaths to sharks. Remember hawks channel is like a super highway for fish, it is like those guys trying to sell flowers at the off ramps, use the bumps and lumps like the flower sellers to catch your fish.
Good luck and be safe.
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, December 21st, 2009
MARATHON, Florida Keys — Happy holidays everyone. It is usually pretty quiet down here the week before Christmas and it seems that this year is following normal trends. With a fresh blanket of snow in the northeast we seem to be pretty cozy down here in paradise.
The sailfish action has been steady with 2-4 fish as a daily average. Most of the fish were found tucking up along the edge of the reef. Putting the time in with slow trolling live baits has produced some nice action with kings and dolphin while waiting to be attacked by wolf packs of sails. During the midday the bite has slowed down and I would recommend dropping down on wrecks and the edge of the reef for some mutton and grouper action until later in the day when the sails pick back up again. There have been some sprays from bait showers inside the reef from 20-40 feet of water and using your tower you will see if they are from mackerels or sails. There has been a great push of mackerels in the shallows.
The mackerel fishing has picked up considerably since last week. Hoards of Spanish and cero mackerel have been feasting on the abundant bait from inside of Hawks Channel out to the patches. Trolling spoons or medium size crank baits works really well to help locate a big school. Once you have located a big school you anchor up and chum. While you’re chumming you can use shrimp, which seems to be the best bait for them, small pilchards, chunks and strips to have fun with these guys on light tackle. You can even use your fly rod, which is pretty cool as the mackerel scream line off of your flimsy noodle of a rod. The current allotment is 15 per person, but you can’t freeze this fish, so only keep as many as your going to eat fresh or put in the smoker, because they do make some of the best smoked fish when done right. My buddy Chris Kilmas has probably the best smoke fish I have ever tried. I have been smoking fish for a long time and he blows past me with his smoked fish. He will be smoking some mackerel I gave him this past weekend, I can’t wait till it gets done.
This time of the year we get heavy north winds which tends to keep people from fishing. This isn’t always necessary if you knew about the great fishing we have in Hawks Channel and on the patches. You might have to move around a bit until you find a good spot when you do, man-o-man it can be some exciting fishing, never knowing what will swim by the boat next. Big sharks, cobia, grouper, kingfish, mackerel, all kinds of snappers, and some pretty big, use hawks channel as a super highway. Finding rock piles scattered through the channel the fish use these as feeding stations, kinda like our rest stops on the turnpike. You never want to fish on top of the rock pile but instead anchor along side of it. If you don’t produce anything after a half-hour move to another rock pile until you find one with fish on it. Sometimes the fish will come to you if you chum long enough.
We need everyone to get involved and band together, because we need to get lobbyists to fight for our cause. There is a two-part amendment, which is going to be devastating to our economy if passed. ‘If approved, the closure will affect federal waters in the South Atlantic region from approximately 240 feet deep seaward and prohibit fishing for or possession of speckled hind, and warsaw grouper, as well as snowy grouper, blueline tilefish, yellowedge grouper, misty grouper, queen snapper, and silk snapper. The deepwater closure excludes golden tilefish, a species generally found over mud bottom and not likely to co-occur over the hard bottom habitat preferred by speckled hind and warsaw grouper. The closure is based on the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee’s recommendation that an Allowable Biological Catch of zero (0) landings be implemented for both speckled hind and warsaw grouper. Currently, fishermen are allowed to keep 1 fish per vessel per trip and sale is prohibited for these two species. The amendment will prohibit all fishing for, possession, and retaining speckled hind and warsaw grouper.’ They are doing this to protect the deep-water reefs not because of over fishing. This is an outrage because they have no idea that there is even a problem, it is just another elaborate scheme that the tree huggers and their lobbyists are trying to do to keep us from making a living from a great renewable resource. Please help us by joining together so we too can get a lobbyist to fight for us. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and join the fight.
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, 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.