Weekly Florida Keys Fishing Update from Capt. Dave Schugar and Sweet E'Nuf Charters
Posts Tagged ‘squid’
Monday, May 10th, 2010
MARATHON, Florida Keys — Dolphin, dolphin, and more dolphin. It still isn’t a full-blown dolphin bite, but there are days which you can be proud of. It seems to be good one day and slow the next. I fished every day this week, but only one day was devoted to dolphin, and it was a little slow on that day. There were some fish caught around 12-15 miles from the beach, with a few big fish in the 30-50 pound range. I even heard of someone getting a 70 pounder…now that is a fish of a lifetime. Most of what I had seen and heard, schoolies have been scattered just about anywhere. Any day now we will see lots of large fish pouring through somewhere, I hope it is tomorrow.
While you’re out offshore, you might as well drop a few times for some snowys and other bottom fish. The bite has been great, but I wouldn’t know personally…I have been stuck on the reef catching my share of the yellowtails and groupers. The spots I have been fishing range from 75-98 feet of water. Finding a good big yellowtail spot isn’t hard to do right now…it’s their time to do the wild thing so they are very aggressive and hungry. I have been fishing this one spot where three bull sharks have taken up residence and occasionally a hammerhead or a tiger shark will show up to get their fill of these yellow delights.
The grouper bite has been great ever since it opened back up on May 1st. Hitting the wrecks and fishing the reef has produced a bunch of nice black groupers from 15-30 pounds. I have landed many goliaths from 30-150 pounds this week. We hooked many fish that I didn’t even slow down. I use a simple leader rig with 80-pound main line with 100-pound leader. Even with the drag locked down, I still can’t stop some of the fish before they get into the structure. I am thinking about going up in test, there are some slobby groupers out there. I am still looking to beat my 63-pound black grouper I got a few years back…one of these days, I can feel it! To fish for these dinosaurs, I like to use large yellowtails, up to 2 pounds, and grunts bigger than your hand. Even small-but-legal grouper can eat either of these baits; they have a voracious appetite and a mouth to match.
The swordfish bite was red hot, from what I heard from the boys. Summer time isn’t the best time to get a lunker, but there are lots of them out there. Even though you still might get lucky and get a 500 pounder, most of the big fish are on their way back up to the North, where they’ll be harvested by long liners up off of New York and Boston. Strip baits still seem to be the best baits along with squid. When you use squid you can sometimes end up with an oilfish, escolar, or even a pompfret. You just never know what you’re going to get when you drop a bait down 2,000 feet.
Good luck, and make sure you got all of your paper work onboard. Law Enforcement has been out in full force, especially if you are diving…those dive flags seem to attract them. Make sure you are abiding by all the new laws, or it could cost you.
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, 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, September 14th, 2009
MARATHON, Florida Keys — The statement that I hear all the time that confirms the notion that fishing can lead to great enjoyment is, “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work” Just imagine coming back from a fishing trip with a cooler full of fish. The people who have been fishing have indeed been filling their coolers.
The dolphin bite has been great, with many fish in the 20-pound class and bigger. There haven’t been very many small dolphins, which isn’t a bad thing, but this concerns me though. This time of year we should have seen thousands of schoolies all summer long. From what I have seen and what I have been told by other captains is that this year there has been a shortage of schoolies. You see the problem is that the schoolies that we see this year will become the 20-40 pound slammers that we will catch next dolphin season. It just might be that they may have migrated closer to the other side of the Gulf stream, we will just never know, or maybe if we have a bad dolphin season next year then maybe we have some concerns about our future stock of migratory fish.
This week the dolphin were scattered under birds from 900-1100 feet of water which would put them from 22-30 miles from shore. There were some reports of some dolphin activity inside of 700 feet, but too much. There were very few small fish with some reaching fifty pounds. The tuna bite has been hot when the current was running, but in the middle of the week the current just died to nothing.
With the current slowing down, deep dropping has been really easy with lighter weights being able to hold the bottom. This would be the time to hand crank for a chance to break an IGFA record. The deep dropping has been good. Snowys, tilefish and many more deep species are the common catch out in the deep. While you are out there deep dropping, keep a bait ready to pitch to a dolphin that might just swim right up to your boat.
Sword fishing has been really good with many fish being caught up in the 200-pound class. With the light current, dropping down 2000 feet has not been a challenge. The favorite baits for sword fishing has been fresh tuna and dolphin plugs. Although the universal bait “squid” always works too. The new gimmick has been adding a squid skirt over the bait, and depending who you talk to the color of the squid changes. The most common colors have been, glow-in-the-dark green, and dark colors, such as black and red or purple and pink. Looks like sword fishing has continued to evolve, as this is the one reason why people love to fish. Changing times, fish getting smarter, or it may just all be in the complex mind of all of us fisherman.
The reef has been ok, with yellowtails and a few mangroves thrown into the mix. Muttons have been around as with plenty of AJ’s. The better mutton bite has been in the 145-180 foot wrecks and live bottom. Searching the edge of the reef can lead to a few muttons and as well as some grouper too. Get your grouper now before they shut it down. Well actually, it will not affect recreational fisherman, except for the fact that you will only be able to keep one black or gag grouper and two of any other species. But for us charter boats, we will not be allowed to keep any grouper from January 1st through April. Unfortunately, they have made this new law for all of the states in the southeastern region. This will include South Carolina down to Florida. This new law has a few flaws, because they wanted to protect the grouper spawn, but here in Florida the spawn doesn’t occur until April through all of May and some late bloomers in June.
Come on down, the weather is great, a few showers, but what’s with a shower here or there, got to get the fish blood off of you somehow.