MARATHON, Florida Keys — The mercury is climbing up and so are all the anglers. My phone has been ringing off the hook since the weather broke. Massive fish kills all over South Florida. Any fish that didn’t make it to deep water died from the temperature change. The water temperature got down to 53 degrees from 70 degrees. There is a temporary closure on most of the inshore species such as snook, tarpon, and bonefish, this means that you can’t take, possess or take out of the water. From what I was told, the Everglades got wiped out to the point, which the scientists think that all most every fish that didn’t leave died due to the cold temperatures. There was a weed line in Hawks Channel a couple of days ago, but no weeds, it was composed of all the dead fish and it stretched as far as I could see. The Keys fishing charters are dependent on our resources and if people find out that there aren’t any fish left it could detrimental on our small economy down here. The inshore species have definitely taken a hit but they will return. Just about every year I hear about the red tide up the west coast of Florida and once it clears the fish return, so don’t worry everyone the shallow water fishing will return.
On another note the offshore fishing has been on fire. The reef, and beyond have plenty of fish to bide your time until the shallows heal. The sailfish bite went off this week with many captains getting double digits or at least catching a few. The bite has been better up to the east from Tennessee to the west end of Long Key bridge and east of Sombrero light about two miles. Lots of spraying fish, so those of you with towers take advantage of it, but the rest of us the slow trolling with ballyhoo has been deadly as well. Big kings and wahoo have also been good, so when live baiting use four to six inches of #5 wire in front of your hook. Don’t worry about the sailfish seeing it, they won’t. I use an Albright knot from my leader to the wire but if you don’t know how just use a 50-pound swivel. There has been a few big blackfin tuna and one yellowfin tuna from what I heard from a friend. My friend Jay who runs the Sea Scape hotel got himself a nice yellowfin while trolling the edge so you just never what might pop up. This is why fishing can be so much fun, you just never know what’s going to bite. Put some live bait and you can’t go wrong.
I have been wreck fishing this week in between the eight footers, which can get dicey when you’re backing up into the sea, but we pulled off nice loads of muttons and amberjacks. I found that most of our mutton bites came from split-tailed ballyhoo laid on the bottom where as the AJ’s just wouldn’t leave the live bait alone. Bait was really tough to get, even the pinfish were hard to get. Any spot shallower than 25 feet of water was barren and even out deep the bait was still scarce. We were able to get enough bait for the day after about 2 hours of hunting. When this happens I stay out longer to keep the smiles on my clients faces. Working for all the different Captains and boat owners over the years got me thinking. They always got upset with me when I came in late, so now that I own my own boat, I stay out, as long I want.
Good luck everyone and play safe.