Weekly Florida Keys Fishing Update from Capt. Dave Schugar and Sweet E'Nuf Charters
Posts Tagged ‘reef fishing’
Tuesday, September 6th, 2011
The Florida Keys are a wonderful place year round, as kids go back to school the Keys slow down, but not the fishing.
This is a remarkable time to fish down here, as the winds are calm with scattered showers around, nice warm weather for fishing and diving. Another great reason to come is it is much cheaper to be here, as we leave our tourist season behind, all the hotels and motels drop their rates to try and compete with the loss of tourists. So not only is the fishing good, but it costs cheaper to come and play. It may be hard for some to come as your kids are working hard in school, but for those who have no kids or your kids are grown or in college, this is an amazing time for you.
Hate waiting in lines for dinner, or at the grocer? Or too many people on your fishing spot? Well, this is the time for you. Coming this time of the year you need to watch the weather, but if you can time it right, and as long as there isn’t a hurricane bearing down on us, the Florida Keys at this time of year can be amazing.
The hurricane season has so much to offer fisherman, from snappers to groupers on the reef, to dolphin, wahoo, and tuna offshore. Fishing for muttons, amberjacks, and cubera snappers on the wrecks, and deep-dropping for fish such as barrels, and rosefish in 600-1000 feet of water. As we speak, the ban on the deep-drop fish is being over turned, so we will be able to fish for snowys, tiles and queen snapper, too. During the fall, the Keys have so much to offer, as we don’t want to forget about diving for lobsters and spearfishing for hogfish, snappers and groupers.
With the water temperature around the mid 80s, there is no better time to enjoy your time down here in the Keys. Who knows? After a class on how to handle lionfish, you may want to take a stab of spearfishing these invasive species that seem to be over running the reef. There are lionfish derbies which you might want to get in on for cash and prizes as well.
In October, I will be targeting dolphin as they return from the northern waters as they cool. This dolphin season has been great — plenty of fish on most days — but in October, the small fish will have grown to ten pounds on their journey up the east coast of the United States, and they will follow the warm water back down here to the Keys and the Caribbean to winter in the cold months. Dolphin can travel 1000 miles in a week, so it doesn’t take them long to come back when the waters up north start to turn cold. I really enjoy the October dolphin run; it’s usually close in from 5-15 miles from the beach. And all through the winter while we live bait for the sailfish we catch dolphin as a by-catch.
I will also be looking for some great wahoo action during this time as well, fishing weed lines and floating debris can be very effective this time of the year as well. If you want to catch wahoo, finding good water in 200-400 feet of water is a must…tthese toothy critters love fast moving baits and using large natural baits work well too. Catching large dolphin will be my primary target, but a wahoo will always round out a day especially when they are over 30 pounds, which they are in October.
All of the reef will be back to normal…no more spawning fish. They have all finished this now, so our normal groupings of yellowtail will be schooling around the ledges and the edge of the reef. As the water cools a bit, you will start seeing that the trend will be shallower water as these fish move up into the shallower reefs. As the water cools, the groupers will also start moving back up the reef as they will start to gather for their spawn around the first of December. Fish will gather were the food is present, so when cruising up and down the reef, take note where the schools of yellowtail are, as this will be a beacon for these grouper who are feeding on them.
If you ever had a fish tank, there was always the boss of the group. On the reef, it’s the big black grouper or goliath. They will have the prime spot to ambush their food, usually near large coral heads, holes in the reef, or cracks in the reef. The reef is not the same throughout the Keys; it changes from area to area. The edge may be in 70 feet or 90 feet in other areas, but as long as there are holes and large relief areas you will find the groupers stalking the smaller fish. They are not picky, but it best to have an assortment of bait…it can’t hurt, anyway. If anything, when fishing for black groupers, white grunts — the bigger the better, in most cases — are key, because they come with their own grouper call. If you ever caught a grunt you know what I mean; when they get distressed, they grunt, and as a result this calls in the groupers.
Come on down, and plan a hurricane season fishing excursion! I promise you won’t regret it if you watch the weather and fish. If I am busy, I can always hook you up with some of the other great captains we have down here, so no worries. The only thing you have to worry about is the cooler space that you will need to bring home these excellent tasting fish.
If you haven’t signed up for my E-Book this is an excellent time to do it, it is located on the front page of my website. The E-Book is a great light read and in the process of signing up for it enters you into the data base where you can be informed about specials and new updates with my business.
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, March 10th, 2011
This week the dolphin showed up while were fishing the Leon Shell Tournament that gives money to Hospice, a very worthy cause. The sailfish have been slow but we were able to pull out fourth place. But the real story is about the little green fellers, dolphin season is officially open. All day long we were attacked by 6-10 pound dolphin, I only wish we weren’t in a tournament, otherwise we could have filled the cooler. Most of the fish were from 110 to 140 feet of water. Most of the day they attacked our live baits like a pack of piranhas.
After the tournament I took out a great family who had never been to the Keys before. Since the dolphin have been around we started with the troll and caught seven nice fish, mostly 10 pounders, but the bite slowed down as the day went on so we switched gears and hit the wrecks. The first drop we hooked a monster, I figured it was an amberjack, but when it came up, I was pleasantly surprised when it was a 20-pound mutton. On the very next drop we had a double header, but lost one shortly after it bit. To my surprise, another 20-pound mutton, we hit the jackpot. Jumbo muttons chewing for some first timers, I couldn’t have planned it any better.
The next drop we got another monster, but this time it was a 50 pound amberjack. Fishing with spinners amberjacks are a grand battle, long strong runs and dogging my clients the whole way up. They are truly a great Sport fish of the Florida Keys. These clients were having so much fun, as was I, when we pulled up another 20-pound mutton. After losing a huge fish we couldn’t stop, most likely a big black grouper we looked at the time and boy; the time flew by, only time for one more drop. Another double header, this time two amberjacks, one 35 pounds and another 50 pounder. What a wonderful day for a family’s first visit to the Keys, memories they will never forget.
The next day I had a sad day, a burial at sea, they always get me choked up, and I never even met the old timer. His last wish was to go fishing one last time and then have his ashes spread into the ocean. It was rough and his family was in good spirits, as we headed out to find some dolphin. It wasn’t long before we had the first fish on, maybe three minutes. It was a nice ten pound dolphin which had a hard time eating a trolled ballyhoo. I had to drop back three times, to finally get him hooked up. Shortly after that we caught another one and then it was like they were never there. I headed out to find some grass, but there was none, so I headed back in where we caught the other two fish along the color edge. We finally got another hit and it turned out to be a nice kingfish. It was rough and some of my clients were getting sick so we decided to head to coffins patch to do the service. On the way there we caught another kingfish. It was a slow day, but you can’t always catch a lot every trip. The service was moving, and with tears flowing, my throat got all tight, and I am glad it was a short service otherwise I would have been joining the rest of them sobbing. He sounded like a great man, from the stories they were remembering, and the fact that he raised his kids, and they felt that he did a wonderful job. It is always sad to see our loved ones go.
On the next day I had a guide trio on the 50 foot Bertram I have been running for a client I have had for over three years. We headed out and started the troll at the reefs edge. There was not much for conditions, but we trolled along and out of the corner of my eye I see a dolphin making a B-line to my right rigger. I yelled down from the tower and said,”Dolphin coming for the right rigger.” He slammed the bait and the line popped out of the rigger, but he wasn’t hooked. Dan Chambers dropped back the bait and the dolphin scarfed it up. After a brief battle on the trolling rod we boated the first fish, a 18 pound cow.
I headed out offshore after an hour with no more bites, and when we hit an area outside the thunderbolt in 250 feet of water we caught a small 6 pound black fin tuna. I kept trolling around in this area and boated many more tunas, as a squall line appeared to the north. It wasn’t long before we got hit with 50kt winds and a water spout of our port side. It got really rough in moments. It went from flat calm seas to 8 foot, six feet apart from each other. We called the trip early, but it had been a great day with a big dolphin and a cooler full of tunas. I am glad I was in that big boat instead of my 33 foot Hydro sport when the winds hit. I was in conditions like this before, and the rain stings like needles at that wind speed. It sure was nice to stay dry up in the flying bridge. The wind was blowing so hard it blew out the outrigger, snapping two cables and bending the outrigger. As soon as we hit the dock, the wind died as if it had never happened, freaky, freaky stuff.
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.
Monday, August 9th, 2010
MARATHON, Florida Keys — Fishing at night has been the ticket. You beat the heat and the snappers are swarming. We headed out to reef the past two days and looked for some good marks in 35-45 feet of water and threw the hook. An hour after dark the bite is on.
I started to fish with a half oz. of lead on my knocker rig and as the night progressed we ended up using a 1/8 oz. sinker. I didn’t switch because of the slowing current, as a matter of fact the current picked up. It is almost free lining, keeping the bait down but not on the bottom. Every once in a while I will hold the line and the bait will rise up and then I feed it back, waiting for the bite.
Last year I cast-netted 180 quarts of sardines, which I am still using. I saved the baits all year so that I would have them for the summer months of nighttime mangrove fishing. Sardines are perfect bait for the snappers because of their size and the amount of oil in them. They don’t stay on the hook real good but they are definitely preferred bait by the mangroves.
Each night we were able to capture a few other species other than mangroves. Almost every night we have caught a legal red grouper and one night we caught a small cubera about 10 pounds and the other night we caught a few mutton snappers around 8 pounds.
The current has been good, in the west-bound direction. It doesn’t take long for the bait to show up so don’t forget the cast net. I will switch back and forth from the sardine to pilchard and I mainly chop up the pilchards into chunks and chum with them, but if you don’t have sardines they will work fine.
Good luck and keep only what you can use — conservation starts with us.
Friday, July 23rd, 2010
MARATHON, Florida Keys — This has been interesting fishing these past weeks! With the wind blowing from 15-25 knots, I have stayed close to shore. We fished the reef, which yielded nice yellowtail from 1-3 pounds and a few goliath groupers from 20-60 pounds. The current was slow but enough which allowed the chum to trickle down the reef. We also fished the thunderbolt and got mugged by sharks one day and the other day we were invaded by blue runners. Blue runners and small bonita have been swarming all month.
While fishing for grouper on my yellowtail spots we also got a few nassau groupers, which are protected and we released them unharmed to fight another day. When you got your yellowtail spot all chummed up it is always good to drop down some small baits like half of a ballyhoo or small pinfish for some great mangrove action.
Speaking of mangroves, the bite has been great at night. Don’t rush out there, because the bite hasn’t started ’til late. If you leave around 9:00PM you will be able to fish for a few hours to get your limit. Fishing out in Federal waters you are allowed to keep ten mangroves, but if you fish close to shore in state waters you may only keep five mangroves. Make sure you know where you are fishing so as to not accidentally go over your legal limit.
The bait has been abundant so you really don’t need to bring a lot out with you. Pilchards and gogs are swarming, and all you need to catch them is a few sabiki rigs or a cast net if you know how to throw one. I prefer to drift back large baits for the bigger mangroves. The small ones can peck at it until the big one comes and steals it from them. My rig is usually 40-pound leader with a small slip sinker like 1/16th –1/8th oz. I slowly drift back the bait until I get a taker and I feed the bait for about 6-10 feet before a set the hook. You don’t get every one, but if it is a big fish he will have that bait down his throat and you should hook almost all of them. You don’t need lots chum, just enough to keep the bait around the boat, which keeps the snappers there.
Towards the end of this week we fished for muttons and amberjacks. Since this is the last moon of the spawn we took advantage of it. We didn’t set the world on fire but we managed 3-6 muttons each day with lots of other action such as amberjacks, jack crevales, and kingfish. There has been an abundant amount of kingfish this week, which is a little unusual. We have kings all year round, but during the summer months they are few and far in between. We even got one that pushed 40 pounds but most of them are 10-15 pounds. They aren’t the best eating, but if you smoke them they are out of this world.
The dolphin picked up this past week, with fish from 6-30 pounds. I haven’t been out there, but my friends have shot out there a couple of times this week and have come back with some impressive catches. On Thursday, Big Time Bait and Tackle put on a tournament with Maui Jims Sunglass Co. I was one of the lucky individuals who took out one representative and writers from all of the major fishing magazines for a day of fishing. It was supposed to be a dolphin tournament, but since it was blowing 20-25 knots, we all weren’t going offshore…so they changed the rules to heaviest weighable fish.
I ended up winning with a 39-pound amberjack. It was just a friendly tournament, but the writer who caught the biggest fish won a trip to Hawaii. This whole trip was set up to let these writers experience the Maui Jim’s sunglasses. I got to try on a bunch of them and I am hooked. I really saw the difference between my Costa’s and the Maui Jims; I am a Maui Jim guy now. We also caught three large muttons around 18 pounds a piece.
Just to let everyone know, there is no oil down here and hotels are starting to drop their prices so come on down and enjoy the Keys like the rest of us are!
Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
MARATHON, Florida Keys — After getting back from the Bahamas, I was booked everyday for just about the rest of the month. We started off the week with some dolphin fishing, which wasn’t how I left it. All we could find were illegal dolphin. After running out as far as 40 miles only to find some smaller fish, we decided to do some deep dropping. Since there wasn’t much current we were dropping five pounds of lead to 1200 feet of water and holding nicely. We caught eight rose fish and four barrelfish in five drops. That was pretty good fishing. On the way in we encountered some more small dolphin and skipjack tuna.
The next day we went wreck fishing. We caught five amberjacks and three muttons. The muttons seem to biting from 140-180 feet of water. They weren’t biting great but we did miss quite a few other fish, which could have been other muttons as well. We tried heading offshore again for a few days only to catch a few schoolies, which were legal to harvest. The bite at the hump was slow, too; lack of current seemed to have hindered all the fishing.
I went yellow tailing only to have the lack of current hinder that as well. So we went mutton fishing and caught a few muttons from 15-20 pounds. We also got our fair share of amberjacks too. While we were yellow tailing I dropped some pinfish to the bottom. The bottom bite was active. We caught two goliaths from 30-70 pounds, a Nassau grouper weighing in at 25 pounds and plenty of five-pound mangrove snappers.
Towards the end of the week I heard of a few big fish being caught or seen, but not much. The large schoolies have been numerous east of the Marathon Hump from 1100-1300 feet of water. Basically all you wanted if you wanted to travel that far to the east. Most of the fish have been reported from Holiday Isle to Caloosa Cove.
The mangrove spawn is just starting, so get out of the heat and fish at night from 25-70 feet of water. Lots of bait out on the reef too, so you might want to bring your cast net or sabiki rigs.
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.
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.