Weekly Florida Keys Fishing Update from Capt. Dave Schugar and Sweet E'Nuf Charters
Posts Tagged ‘Outdoors’
Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011
I had some old friends I met last year — David and his two sons — out for a day of sailfishing. Well, it turned into a day of dolphin, which they didn’t mind. Sometimes you take what you can get. The ocean offers its bounty you don’t get to pick sometimes.
Earlier in the week we did ok with two doubles on one day, but ended up pulling the hooks on one of the sails on each of the doubles, so 2-4 for a half day. Not to shabby for a half day charter with my clients Tom Chambers on the Cara Mia.
There has been great dolphin fishing since May, which is a little unusual, but not unheard of. I kept them busy when we got into the dolphin by keeping up with the baits and getting them up into the riggers. At times we had triple headers on! The boys’ arms were a little tired but they managed to keep up with the fish. It was a little rough in the morning, but it laid down nicely by noon and was one of the most beautiful days this past month.
Tomorrow is looking good as well, as we go bottom fishing for some muttons and amberjacks.
Thursday, July 28th, 2011
Hi everyone, sorry for the lack of reports, but I have been fishing every day and doing doubles and crushing the dolphin. Fishing in the Keys has been great offshore, and on certain days the reef fishing for yellowtails has been good too. The muttons are sporadically biting on the deeper wrecks from 160 to 180 feet of water.
The fishing I want to inform you all about is the dolphin bite, because it has been great. Even with a lack of 30-50 pounders, we have been filling the coolers with 10-15 pounders and of course our masses of schoolies. The fish are on the move, so you won’t whack 20-30 fish out of a school…they just won’t hang around the boat. I have been getting a couple here and there pretty much most of the day. A slow pick of some quality-sized fish. Fishing them on 15-20 pound spin tackle, my clients have had a ball this past month. All the fish have been under birds, moving towards the east and not more than seven birds…any more than that and it has been skipjack tuna. It was a little rough this week, but it didn’t seem to bother the fishing. We just got a little wet.
If you’re looking to do some bottom fishing, the night-time mangrove bite will be good once this moon gets a little smaller. The night-time bite seems best during the new moon and a week on either side of it. Mangrove snappers bite best on the darkest of nights, so plan that when you head out to fish for them. The grouper action has slowed down a bit during the daytime, but we have been getting a few good sized black grouper from 15-30 pounds.
Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to sign up for my E-Book and get a chance to be informed about some upcoming specials this September and October.
Thursday, July 14th, 2011
During our summer months, the Florida Keys can be a bit warm…well actually, just down right hot. The hot summer days can be avoided by fishing at night, without the sun baking you like a roast.
You have many options to choose from, but my favorite is the incredible mangrove snapper bite. During the summer, mangrove snappers congregate out on the reef to spawn and this triggers the need to feed. You can break out the light rods for this style of fishing and make it a little more sporting.
When looking for a good area, it is important to find a nice piece of structure, whether it is in 18 feet or 60 feet of water. What you are also looking for is a nice flat spot where you will park the boat with the current going towards your structure. When you start fishing you will want to fish the bottom with a knocker rig. This rig is quite simple; I like to use a piece of 40 pound fluorocarbon leader which I tie to my main line with a double reinforced uni-knot. The reason I use fluorocarbon leader is not fort its vanishing properties, but for its abrasion resistance. I will slide enough lead on the leader for the amount of current that you have at that moment. Then I tie an offset 3/0 long shanked hook. The offset helps with your hook up ratio, and the long shank makes it easier to remove the hook later.
You don’t need a lot of chum for this style of fishing, just enough to keep a slick going. As the night progresses, you will start to notice the snappers will come off of the bottom. When they do this, I will take off the lead and just free-line my bait. You will also notice that there are plenty of pilchards swimming around the boat so don’t forget to bring your cast net, because you can catch all the bait you need right there. I always bring enough bait just in case the pilchards aren’t very thick, but they usually are. Live bait works well, but I find the fresh cut pilchards are the best. Another good trick is to limit the amount of light emitting from your boat; because the snappers are drawn to the boat by the chum they do not like the light. This is also why we tend to fish for the snappers at night near the new moon, not the full moon. If you have no control of the intensity of the light you will want to cast your bait out into the dark beyond the light.
Night fishing can really spice up your vacation! As I can recall, one night we had lots of snappers already so we started to use live bait on a flat line with wire. We got into an impressive kingfish bite. Almost as soon as the bait hit the surface we were hooked up with 10-15 pound kingfish. On this really light tackle we had some good drag screamers. When you put chum in the water you never know what can show up. While out there we caught many small sharks (Atlantic Sharp Nose), moray eels, a few red grouper and what’s really neat is the worm hatch. If you look in the dark you can see little green luminescent creatures. Actually the worm doesn’t glow, but it releases a fluid that glows which actually is spewed out to distract predators. These worms are the food for the pilchards so sometimes when you cut up the pilchards you will see the stomach contents will glow…pretty neat, at least to me it is.
Now remember to only take what you can use and don’t be wasteful with our limited resources. Fishing with conservation will preserve our excellent fishery for kids and their kids so don’t be greedy and enjoy the fun.
Monday, May 2nd, 2011
Well May 1st was the opening day of the long waited grouper season. I was going to take a few friends out for a grouper digging party, but it got belayed due to a last minute charter. I was called by a returning client whose friend was entered in the Seven Mile Marina grouper tournament and their captain had come down with an illness which wouldn’t allow him to fish. My crew consisted of Dave, who owns a construction business down here, John and Gigi who owns DOT PALM, and one of their employees, Shawn, and his girlfriend. So at the last minute, we gathered all the necessary equipment and tackle and left the dock at 8:00am and headed out to get the best grouper bait there is, white grunts. Most people overlook these small pan fish whose notoriety was known for grits and grunts back in the day. They come equipped with a natural grouper call, when they become distressed.
After loading the live well with 30 or so grunts we headed out to a wreck and couldn’t get anchored due to the fact that we had a short anchor line and not enough chain on John’s boat. He said after this day he was going to get the enough chain and anchor line so this never happens again. Since we couldn’t get anchored there, we headed just inside the wreck on the edge of the reef and set up. It wasn’t 30 minutes before we had our first bite, and soon after that we had 14 and 16 pounder in the box. Two very nice black grouper, but not big enough to win the tournament. So we waited for the boat that was on the wreck to leave, and when he did, we anchored right into the structure to get hooked up. After a 10 minute wait, we had a big bite and missed it. But it came back, and we got a solid hook up and John fought the fish for 15 minutes before landing a 21 pound black grouper.
Still not satisfied with the size, we kept fishing. Shortly after that Shawn hooked a monster which we ended up losing when the line got caught on the dive ladder bracket. It was getting late but I knew there are some big ones still here so we waited for another bite and it wasn’t long…but about half way up it got eaten by a shark. Knowing that the sharks are here now, we weren’t going to get anymore to the boat so we left to hit our final spot.
It only took a few minutes at the new spot before we had another 12 pounder in the box. We got another big bite and fought this fish up but lost it due to unseen circumstances…another fish lost due to the bracket on the boat so it was getting late and the weather conditions were getting worse so we headed in and weighed the fish in. Knowing that it would be a miracle that we could hold first place, someone upstairs was looking out for us and it held, we took first place with a 21.7 pound black grouper. If we could have kept the big one on we would have been heroes, because that fish was well over 40 pounds. Since I have caught black upwards of 60 pounds, I’m guessing what we had on I would defiantly say it was 40+ pounder. You couldn’t have a fish story if the fish didn’t get away, but knowing that he is still down there I will be back to capture him on a later date.
Come on down, we got room still left in May, It will be my pleasure to show you a great time and catch some of these powerful bottom dwellers. Book your trip through the web site and act soon to ensure you can get a day of some of the best fishing in Florida.