Posts Tagged ‘swordfish fishing’

Winter is around the corner…Prepare for a bent rod!

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Wintertime fishing is here, so get ready for some bent rods.  The Florida Keys have so much to offer this time of the year.  Fishing offshore you can expect to catch swordfish, dolphin, wahoo and blackfin tuna.  As for the reef, yellowtails, muttons, groupers, cobia and kingfish will be the target for most anglers.  Fishing for such an assortment of species it would be wise to bring many different kinds of baits and tackle.  One of the greatest attributes of the Florida Keys is that our fishing areas overlap in which you can fish for multiple species at the same time.

The biggest draw to the Florida Keys is our world-renowned sailfish.  Catching ten sailfish in a day can be easy on the right day.  When we get the north winds the bait gets piled up on the edges of the reef and become targets of the hungry sailfish.  Watching hundreds to thousands of ballyhoo jumping for their life as sailfish chase them for their morning snack always gets my blood flowing.  Getting positioned to attack these bait sprays can be tough, but if you have a tower it makes it easier, find the bait showers, which will get you in the area.  Once you are in the area look for the sailfish themselves as they chase and ball up the bait.  Once you have a target, position the boat up wind so that your angler will have an easy throw to the sailfish.  I prefer to belly-hook the baits so I can jerk them and cause them to swim down.

Make sure every bait you pitch out is healthy and lively.  If you have pilchards for bait, I like to scoop ten to twenty of them over the side to get the sails eating, and when you pitch yours out it becomes an easy transaction.  Sometimes the sailfish want only ballyhoo and I will hook them through their tail for a quick pitch bait or wrap the bill with wire keeping the hook exposed.

Last years sailfish season was out of this world, and I expect the same for this season.  Since we release all of our sailfish, they are capable to spawn and continually increasing their population.   One of my favorites is a quad, four sails hooked up and going in different directions. There is nothing more fun than watching a sailfish dance across the water as line screams from the reel. Sailfish are such an incredible animal, beautiful and magnificent, king of the Florida Straits.

While fishing the reef we tend to anchor up and chum.  I prefer to use one bag with two blocks in the bag.  The action of the two blocks of chum rubbing together creates a heavy flow.  Some people prefer to have two separate bags with one block in each, which is fine, but what I have found if you want a heavy flow of chum you need two blocks in a bag at a time.  Yellowtails have voracious appetite, and will become balled up on the surface for easy pickings.  To help keep these fish up on top, you must have oats; yes regular rolled oats that you eat for breakfast.   Thaw a block of chum overnight in a five gallon bucket, then mix with water and oats.  Keep scooping this mixture in the water you will see the difference.

While chumming on the reef I love to drop down the heavy rods for grouper and muttons.  I will always drop the heaviest rig first, that’s usually when the biggest one hits.  I am rigging my 50 wide with 80-pound braid on a heavy, but flexible custom standup rod.  Using 100-pound leader to Mustad #9174 8/0-9/0 and enough lead to hold the bottom.  Don’t forget to sharpen your hooks, unless they are the laser sharpened hooks.  I can recall one day out fishing when I had gotten lazy and didn’t sharpen one of my hooks and I missed three bites in a row, and as soon as I sharpened the hook, we had resumed catching again.  Your guess is as good as mine, but I believe it really helps your hookup ratio.  Fishing the reef with this combo will take good form and muscle.  Back when I was learning from my mentor, he called this style of fishing stop-um or pop-um fishing.  Grouper roam a few feet from holes, rusty metal, and ledges, so it is in your best interest to get him coming up.  You can catch plenty of grouper on lighter tackle, but you are almost guaranteed to loose the big one.  The biggest grouper I have ever caught on rod and reel is 450 pounds.  That was a challenge with the rig I use, but eventually I got him coming to the surface.  Goliath grouper are the largest but pound for pound the black grouper is king.  I have gotten nice blacks up to 60 pounds, and without heavy tackle, I would never have seen fish so big.

While anchored up chumming go fly a kite.  Kite fishing can be added to your day quite easily.  When you’re yellowtaling you don’t want live bait flat lines, they will scare the schools of yellowtail snapper.  So, using a kite you can take these baits and place them just out side of the yellowtail school, naturally making it a target for other predatory species.  If you want to catch a big kingfish, wahoo, sailfish, or even cobia, I like to use speedo’s, goggle-eye’s, large pilchards or herring.  If you cant catch those, a blue runner or 12” or better yellowtail will work for bait.  Remember you are creating a feeding frenzy and causing a lot of commotion. Naturally, predators will circle as they look for an easy meal.  By using the Kite you are keeping the lines out of the water and you will still be able to yellowtail fish and drop to the bottom for groupers and muttons.

Always remember to only keep what you can use and release everything unharmed, so we can keep this great fishery abundant as it is today.  Please don’t forget to support our troops who keep our freedom safe so we can enjoy ishing on our open oceans.

Offshore Fishing Report: The Reef is on Fire!

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.

Offshore Fishing Report: Always Have a Plan B When You Go Fishing

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

MARATHON, Florida Keys — Well one of my buddies Andy wanted to go sword fishing and needed some help, so I came along to catch one of these stupendous creators. We made two drops before his reel crapped out. We couldn’t get it fixed so we went to plan B.

Plan B was to use the electric reel and drop on some spots for some snowys — and if we got lucky, a queen snapper. I have been getting a queeny every once in a while.

On the first drop we manged to get hooked up with something big. We were fishing in 800 feet of water and this fish didn’t want to budge a foot. It actually started to take line, so we figured it was a shark and cranked up the drag. Still this fish wouldn’t budge on our Tanacom 1000. After taking in a little line we finally got it off the bottom. We got it up almost 30 feet when he decided he wanted to go back to the bottom again.

After ten minutes of battling, we hadn’t gained any line. After about 20 minutes, we finally started to get this fish off the bottom. We worked hard and finally we we saw what was on our line. It was a monstrous snowy, with battle scars where it had been injured and healed. This was his last battle and we won. I would estimate this fish is around 50-60 pounds, which would have been a new world record…but we caught it on an electric and we all know that wouldn’t count.

On our next drop we caught a small 8-10 pound queen. One of my favorites, because not everyone knows how to catch them. Certain times of the year are better than others, but humps in deep water will hold large quantities of them from Sept-Jan. You just never know when they will show up. It was starting to get late and we wanted to catch a few tunas before heading home.

At the hump, we trolled all over the place and it seems that the tuna were having lock jaw, even in the late hours that we were fishing. The bite all week has been phenomenal, but they have to take a break sometimes and today seems to be the day. We did get a few, but not as many as we had hoped and the size was a little small compared to what we caught all week.

The jigging slowed down all week and still it was slow. We trolled to get the few we caught. We actually chased birds as far as two miles away from the hump to get the tunas we caught. We also caught one on the back side of the rip. While trolling around the hump we caught two gaffers, well one gaffer and a heavy lifter…and that seems to be all we did.

Offshore Fishing Report: Dolphin, grouper and snapper mean red hot fishing.

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.

Offshore Fishing Report: Warm weather makes ocean-side fishing hot

Monday, January 25th, 2010

MARATHON, Florida Keys — It is feeling more and more like the Keys with temperatures up in the 80’s, just where we like it. The warmer weather has warmed up the shallows, which can be essential for finding our bait for the day. Pilchards are showing back up and as well as the pinfish, so get out there and get your bait for some hot offshore fishing. The ocean side has bee red hot no matter which of the numerous species you like to target.

Sail fishing has been as hot as it can get from the showers in the shallows to the packs of sails tailing down sea off the edge of the reef. I haven’t been sail fishing this week but, from what I gathered from my friends and other charter captains, it is good out there, really good. Using live bait will generally always be better than trolling dead bait, but one of my friend got three sails on dead bait, along with some dolphin and blackfin tuna. There are many different ways to fish for sails down here, so pick the best way you know how and go get some. When the wind blows you shouldn’t let it get you down, you can always anchor up on the reef.

The reef has been producing some quality yellowtails from 45-60 feet of water. While your fishing for your yellowtails, put out a kite with a blue runner or a yellowtail for a chance of a smoker king or wahoo. When your chumming and you have a big school of fish behind your boat, there will be some other predatory fish lurking back there for an easy meal. If your chum is going the same direction as the wind, add a couple of big split shots your kite. This will allow your kite to veer to one side or the other. You don’t want your kite bait back in your yellowtail school for two reasons. The first reason is that it might scare your school of yellowtail, and by placing it amongst all the other fish it may get lost amongst the school of yellowtails. So if you get your kite to skirt to the outside of the school it will be an easy target by the predators. Most predators will attack a bait that gets separated from its school first. I also would recommend that you make your kite go to the side closer to the deeper water. When we have North winds you may not even need any split shots if the current is strong enough. Try out this method, it really works. If you never have used a kite and feel intimidated with it, hire me to run your boat for the day, I will teach you how to work the kite and many other methods, which all of us captains use down here.

Wreck fishing has been really good; many different species are being caught in the deeper water. Amberjacks seem to be on all the wrecks, but if you are persistent you might get yourself some nice muttons that have been in the 10-18 pound range. Groupers have been biting well, but unfortunately we will have to release all of them due to the new grouper regulations. The bait has been easier to catch as the warm water returns to the shallows.

Deep dropping is on fire, from snowy grouper to queen snappers. Some tilefish are being caught and of course the barrels have been biting as well. I like to use cut bait and squid when I am deep dropping, it gives them a choice, even fish like a choice. Swords are biting but if you are as unlucky like we were this last trip you can fight a sword for a couple hours only to have a shark eat it before you can get it in. I swear that it was a jumbo because he fought really hard the whole time, and usually when they fight hard on the bottom, it’s a big one. Large swordfish do one of two things when you hook one. They will fight hard and stay down for many hours or fire up to surface faster than you can reel in the line. We had numerous bites and hook ups, but the fish were just coming unglued on this trip. Well I guess that’s why they call it fishing and not catching. The more frustrating thing was that my friend Capt Will Wagner fishing right next to me landed two fish. My mother told me there would be days like this.

Have a great week, and catch some fish!

Offshore Fishing Report:Cold Temperatures Can’t Slow Down Queen Snapper Bites

Monday, January 11th, 2010

MARATHON, Florida Keys — With all the bad weather we had to pick the right days to get out this week. I did manage to get out and find some quality fish. When the wind blows or it’s just too cold to go fishing you can use this time wisely and go over all your safety equipment. Having the operational emergency equipment is important no matter who you are. Even if you never need them, always check your fire extinguishers to make sure they are fully charged and check out your first aid kit to make sure that everything is good and not moldy. We have a problem with mold down here from the humidity and even if you never opened it could be ruined. Most of you already know that your flares have an expiration date so check them and if they are expired keep them onboard and get some new ones. Even though they are expired it couldn’t hurt to have a few extra. They might be out-dated but they will most likely work.

We went sail fishing in the beginning of the week and it wasn’t great but we did catch two fish. Fishing for sails can be a waiting game sometimes and if you are impatient you can miss out, but sometimes making a move can also turn your day around. Sometimes it can be a coin toss, but what I look for is an outcropped piece of reef when I set up for sails. The bait holds up on the shallow patches and will get pushed out by the tide and wind, game fish such as sailfish will gather in these areas. So look on your chart for areas with really shallow water near the drop off. Before you set up, look around, ask yourself a few questions such as; is there any bait around, is there a color change in the area, and is there a temperature change in the area. If you can say yes to at least one of these questions, fish the area and see what happens.

Before the weather broke on Friday I mutton fished two days in all this wind and we caught some choice fish. We didn’t set the world on fire but we were able to put a nice catch of muttons together with numerous amberjacks. I was able to keep my clients with bent rods and smiles on their faces. Live bait was also the key. I like to drop a live pinfish or grunt and a split-tailed ballyhoo to keep them honest. You just never know what they will eat but when they choose one of the two I will drop the same bait on both rods next time. But in this case the live bait was working while the dead bait just didn’t seem to get noticed. Most of the muttons were from 12-15 pounds and the amberjacks were from 20-30 pounds with a few small ones around 10 pounds. The AJ’s were biting on every wreck, but the 140-180 foot wrecks is where we caught the muttons. We also caught some muttons on live bottom in 140-165 feet too.

Finally we got a break from the wind on Friday, so we went offshore to do some tuna fishing, deep dropping, and sword fishing. The tuna bite was hot, but the fish were only a few pounds. I kept a few for bait and we went to my queen spot down to the west and the bite was on. We dropped five times and caught fish every drop. We ended up with two queens around fifteen pounds and two around ten pounds. We also dragged up a big amberjack, which we released unharmed to fight again. Four big queens were enough and the day was getting late so we headed further west to drop for swords. We had a really long first drift and no bite so we started to bring up the bait when all of a sudden we got a bite a couple hundred feet off the bottom. We stopped the retrieval of the bait and slowly dropped the bait down so to put slack in the leader and it was just enough to allow the sword to eat the bait. Hooked up, we ended up landing a 100 pounder, not a big one but it was getting late so we bagged the fish and headed home. What a cooler, four jumbo queens, and a decent sword to boot.

Good luck this week and wear layers to keep warm.

Offshore Fishing Report: Sailfish are Biting!

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.

Offshore Fishing Report: Rain Doesn’t Slow Down Sailfish

Monday, December 7th, 2009

MARATHON, Florida Keys — Rain, rain, go away, come back some other day. Our lawns have been taken care of this week with all the rain we have been having. It has made it very soggy out on the water. Even with all the rain it hasn’t seemed to effected the fishing though.

Sailfish have been pouring down the reef with some pretty good dolphin action too. This really has been the first time I have seen any dolphin in quite some time now. We got a pair of slammers earlier in the week. We found the dolphin right on the color change where there happened to be a really nice rip. You could hear the difference as the Gulf Stream was rushing by. The change was anything but subtle. The color change plus the weed line and the rip all were telling me there were fish there. The inside edge was the cleaner of the two and that’s where we found the dolphin in 150 feet of water. There were some schoolies mixed in as well. There has been plenty of sailfish action most of the days. Only a couple of days this week were the sails hard to come by. Slow trolling was pretty productive for me, but flying the kite might have been tough with all the rain, but I am sure someone was, somewhere. The depths where most of the fish were located at were from 130 feet to 165 feet. The boats with towers did well in with the sails, sight fishing in 20 to 40 feet of water. The cobias are picking up on the ocean side as well. If you have a tower, I would start looking for the rays around noon while sun is high. The overcast conditions, makes it a little more challenging to spot those rays.

The yellow tailing is really good right now with most of the fish from 1-2 pounds. I haven’t hit some of my deeper spots, which have bigger fish because the bite has been so good from the 65-40 foot area. You will find, as the water gets colder, the concentrations of fish in the shallower water will be the ticket. I didn’t hit the patches this week but I was told by many different captains that the bite had turned off. I am sure they are biting somewhere; you just might have to look around a bit. We have been hitting the patches hard so maybe we caught them all, ha-ha, not a chance. Most likely they have turned off because they were feeding at night on the full moon. When we get a full moon the light, which is generated out there is just dumbfounding. It really lights it up and many times you don’t even have to turn on the overhead florescent. Using shrimp on the patches can greatly increase you hogfish catch. I like drifting in the shallows where there isn’t as much rock but mixed with grass patches. I generally use a small jig witch you can drag on the bottom. I like to drag it a bit then I let it stay on the bottom by letting out a little line as we drift slowly. Now this technique can only be done when the wind isn’t honking.

When the wind was down, many boats went out for swords, catching lots. A few 200+ pounders and a bunch of 100-150 pounders were caught this week during the small window we had. I am itching to get a swordfish charter; I just can’t wait to get out there. Well, when I venture out that far it is deep drop time too. I got the itch for some snowys and tiles. It seems like forever since I dropped for them. I really miss my plate full of some deepwater fried fish.

I hope they don’t shut our entire deep dropping down. They are talking about shutting all bottom fishing down from 270 feet of water and out. Say goodbye to all of the deep dropping and all of those tasty critters. If they do that, the tackle shops are going to be stuck with thousands of dollars of merchandise, which will become useless. They wont be able to sell any more electric reels and all the tackle that goes with it. I don’t know if the Government really understands the severity of our problems when they completely shut down a type of fishing. A total shut down is what they are scheming behind closed doors with the tree hugging lobbyists. These people are absolutely off their rocker.

A few months back we went to a meeting about how they want to shut down permit fishing so that you cannot even target the species. And this is a fish where 99% of the fish caught are released unharmed back to fight another day. They openly admit that their data is wrong and incomplete. They showed us a graph, which was showing landings and one year they had 600,000 pounds landed. Right next to the number there was a symbol. This symbol stated, ‘this number was generated by one fisherman landing one permit.’ So they took the liberty to multiply this one mans catch by 100,000 to come up with a number so that they could show this 600,000 pound number, in order to have a reason to shut down the fishery. This is the same thing the scientist, have been doing with the global warming controversy. I believe that there needs to be some sort of system to keep the scientist honest. It seems that they don’t mind fudging the data as long as the grant money keeps flowing in. Now, that I got that off of my chest, have a great week out there, it’s going to be rainy, but you might as well make the most of it while we still can.

Offshore Fishing Report: Sailfish, Yellowtail Bites are Hot

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.

Offshore Fishing Report: Until Windy Days Keep Boats Docked, Sailfish Bite is Strong

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.