Posts Tagged ‘tilefish fishing’

Fishing the Hurricane Season

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.

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Offshore Fishing Report: Grouper season is officially open! Come and get ‘em!

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

MARATHON, Florida Keys — Grouper season is officially open; get them while they are still congregating on the reef!  I wasn’t booked on May first when the season opened, but my buddy Capt. Blaine Lemm and I went out to get our take.  We didn’t leave the dock until 2:00 in the afternoon, but we had some great late afternoon action.  Instead of weeding through the small ones we targeted large grouper with half pound to one-pound baits.  We ended up hooking nine fish and only getting one 30 pounder to the boat.  We got a few heads, before we were able to get a whole one to the boat.  In the process we each caught a goliath grouper in excess of a hundred pounds.

If you’re heading offshore, the dolphin aren’t thick by any means…but if you put your time in you can make a pretty good day of it.  Most of the fish have been from 12 miles out to the edge of the continental shelf.  Almost all the fish have been under birds, with a few exceptions of some extraordinary floaters.  My buddy John Foster found a boat with two motors floating, but half sunk with a school of wahoo on it.  The only problem was that the wahoos weren’t the top predator in this little floating ecosystem.  They were only able to get three whole 20 pounders and four halves.  There must have been a shark or two lingering around.  The tuna bite picked back up after its short break.  Using live bait seems to be the key now…the tunas are not hitting the jigs as well as they have been, but you still are able to get a few.  Using live bait, the tunas were averaging 20-25 pounds with your occasional smaller ones too.

The deep dropping has been phenomenal! From snowys to queen snappers, to tiles and barrelfish, the current has been perfect for this fishing.  We need some current, but too much or you can’t hold bottom. Right now, its perfect with a knot and half drift slightly northeast.  A few people that I have talked with tell me that that the deep dropping has been as good as it gets.  With the new laws you need to be careful of what you catch because you can only have three groupers on the boat now.  This would include tilefish in your aggregate limits.  So that would mean two snowys and only tilefish, but we can live with a decrease bag limit.  From what I heard coming down the coconut telegraph, they intend to shut it all down…so get what you can while it is still legal.

The reef is on fire! The yellow brick road has formed behind many boats, and many people are reporting the start of a great yellowtail season.  We do catch yellowtails all year round, but it really is in the summer when the yellowtails school in great numbers.  Since they’re competing for the food, they become very aggressive and easier to catch.  We caught a few this week in the 5-pound range, which is an absolute monster when it comes to yellowtail.  There have been a few muttons around, but now that grouper is in season, we have been concentrating on them instead.  Remember, elephants eat peanuts…but to weed out small fish you must use larger baits.

Good luck and I will see you out there!

Offshore Fishing Report: Have you ever seen a Mako shark eat a swordfish?

Monday, April 26th, 2010

MARATHON, Florida Keys — Wow, what a beautiful week we had out on the water.  The weather was almost perfect the entire week.  We still didn’t find many dolphin but while were searching we came across an unusual floater.

We found half of a large swordfish floating, with a mako shark circling.  The swordfish was cut in half, with it’s cobolt blue color still intact.  I cut a chunk off of the swordfish and tried to bait up the mako but he wasn’t interested.  I guess after eating 100 pounds of swordfish he was full.  I t would be just a matter of time before he got hungry again, and I was hoping it would be soon.  I tried to remove the swordfish from the water but the mako just left when we did that.  So I tied the swordfish to the boat and dumped it back in the water.

It took only a few minutes for the mako to come back.  I kept the chunk of bait right behind the carcass, and we just watched this magnificent shark swim around the boat for over a half an hour.  The shark kept swimming circles around the boat and with every minute passing I got more and more frustrated.  I finally took off the bait and pulled in the swordfish.  I took the hook and stuck in the meat of the carcass where the mako had bitten him in half.  I proceeded to let the swordfish out on a dock line.

After ten minutes the mako came up to investigate his prize.  Shortly after that he took a bite out of the swordfish and it was so amazing to see how effortlessly he cut through it.  I noticed that my line was moving away from the swordfish and I set the hook.  I stuck him good, thumbing the drag and repetitively set the hook until the fish thrashed a bit.  He didn’t go anywhere; he just swam around the boat like there was nothing wrong.  Knowing what a mako is capable off I powered the boat away from the fish and then he realized that there was something wrong and he sounded peeling 400 feet of line in seconds.  We fought the fish for about an hour when he finally came up for some jumps and shortly after that we lost him.  He must have gotten wrapped up in the leader and it parted in the middle of a forty-foot leader.  Even though we didn’t land him it was an epic adventure.

The dolphins haven’t shown up yet, but there are a few fish out there.  I have found some schoolies in close and a few scattered big fish anywhere from 12-30 miles offshore.  The tunas have slowed down at the hump, but if you get there early or stay out late you can manage a decent catch.  Trolling around really has been a waste of time; if you run and gun you will find more fish under the birds.

The deep dropping was awesome this week.  We found lots of snowys, a few queen snappers, tilefish, rosefish, and barrelfish.  One of the spots we limited out on snowys on the first drop.  We dropped two rods and got a double and a single.  You are only allowed to have one snowy per person, so don’t do another drop in the same place because you are liable to catch another one.  Usually we only catch one or two snowys in one spot but they seem to be on every spot I drop on.  We had to stop deep dropping so we didn’t go over our limit.  I do have spots where snowys won’t be.  We went out to 1,100 feet of water and got some rosefish, and a barrelfish.  This is the time of the year where I do very well catching snowys.

If the reef is more your style, it has been great.  We caught lots of yellowtail and groupers.  I found that the bite is starting to turn on in the deep water.  You will find larger yellowtails in 75-100 feet of water.  Using oats and lots of chum you can get the big boys up in the water column, where your odds of landing the big ones increase.  We did get a few large mangroves on one spot; most of them were from 2-4 pounds, which is decent.  I was fishing in 88 feet of water with a jig tipped with a small pinfish.  This is also how we caught all those grouper.  If you are looking to gear up for this weeks fishing stop in at Big Time Bait and Tackle, it’s where I go to get everything I need.

Once this wind lets down, get offshore and drop while you still can.  And don’t forget to check all of your safety equipment…you never know when you might need it.

Offshore Fishing Report: Spring Brings the Perfect Tuna (Dolphin Will Be Here Soon!)

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.

Offshore Fishing Report: Spring has finally come to the Keys

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

MARATHON, Florida Keys — What an enjoyable week compared to the frigid winter we have had! I have been booked all week and there is a lot of fish to be had almost everywhere out there.

Thanks to the East wind, the sails were piling down the pipeline and boats with upper stations had a ball sight fishing for those acrobatic speedsters. Even though they were being finicky, there were many sailfish to be had. With the ballyhoo hard to find, the choice of bait here in Marathon has been pilchards, which really is a better bait for sight fishing. I like to hook the bait in the belly to force the pilchard down which usually entices the sailfish to strike.

There has been an incredible color edge off of Marathon all week with lots of sailfish action on it. The bite had been better the further West you went. Some boats fished all the way down to American shoals (what a hike!), but in order to put up big numbers of fish that’s where you needed to be. Along with the sails, cobia and dolphin are also being caught along that edge.

The deeper edge further offshore that had the dolphin last week dried right up as if it was never there. I would keep looking for dolphin just beyond the color change and out as far as 400 feet just in case there is another push of fish this week.

The wrecks have been hit hard for the past few weeks and the fishing pressure has made a definite impact on the bite, which was out of this world. The wrecks are still producing amberjacks, muttons, and beautiful grouper, which we have been releasing. I caught a small genuine red snapper, which is not common in these parts except for a few deeper wrecks during certain times of the year.

The bait of choice on the mutton snapper bite has been live pinfish and any small grunts, which I was able to catch. The tomtates, my favorite bait has been hard to come by, but pinfish seem to be doing the job just fine.

Kingfish have been on most of the deeper wrecks from 130-200 feet of water. I was mainly catching them with deep-trolled ballyhoo. I heard that the reef also had kingfish prowling behind the yellowtails. When fishing for yellow tails, the kings will be hanging back waiting for the right time to strike.

The hump has been red hot. The tunas have been biting better in the afternoon verses the morning, but that may be due to the full moon we have had and the tunas must be feasting on the squid all night long. Jigging for the tunas has resulted in more and bigger fish, but when it becomes overcast the larger tunas will hit the trolled baits too.

The live baiter out there have been harassed by all the boat traffic out there, so if you see a boat using live bait, give him some room and respect that he can’t catch his fish when boats come barreling up behind them. While we were out offshore we did a little deep dropping and yielded some quality queen snappers. Most of the queens were up in the 12-18 pound class, which is some quality fish. Snowys and tilefish are abundant right now too in the 800-700 foot range.

I had a charter which took me out in the bay. I normally don’t fish out here but when the weather gets rough and my clients can’t take the big seas we head out there for some action packed fishing. They wanted to catch some goliaths and the bay didn’t let us down. We caught a couple in the 30 pound class and two big ones one was about 100 pounds and the other had to 350 pounds if it wasn’t 400 pounds. Most of the mackerel have left the bay but we did manage to get a dozen or so.

The bluefish on the other hand have been ransacking our baits in packs of 20-50 fish strong. It is pretty cool to se 20 or so fish following the one you have hooked. When this happens I like to throw some cut chunks right behind the hooked fish to get them really fired up before I pitch a spoon or a jig with a ballyhoo on it to get multiple hookups. We had out a shark bait for most of the day but we only had a couple of small ones short strike the bait.

Have a great week and I will see you out there. For those of you who haven’t signed the petition please sign it, we need everyone in on this one. Lets take back our rights to fish here come sign this petition!

Offshore Fishing Report: Tailing sailfish and the dolphin have arrived in great numbers

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.

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: 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: Fall Fishing Is Slow This Year, But Mutton Snapper Still Biting on the Reef and Wrecks

Monday, October 26th, 2009

MARATHON, Florida Keys — Fall has been falling short of last year’s phenomenal fishing. We really never got a dolphin run this fall like we usually do. This year has definitely changed for the worse. Not only has the economy hit us charter boat captains hard, the fish seem to be on strike as well. Compared to last fall, this fall has fallen short of normal. Water temperatures have been on the cooler side as was the air temperatures as well. The offshore fishing has slowed to a halt.

With the offshore fishing slow, we have been fishing the reef and wrecks to show our clients a fun filled day of catching. The muttons have been biting well, no size to them but plenty of fish from the 6-10 pounds. One day this week we caught over twenty muttons on a half-day charter. It was blowing over twenty kts. So, we stayed close to shore, fishing Hawks Channel and the patches, which have been full of snappers. The yellowtail snapper have been chewing really well, with some large fish being caught. While fishing for yellowtail snapper we have been catching a few muttons on the bottom as well with a grouper here and there. Always bring some live bait while your fishing on the reef to catch some of the bigger fish off of the bottom. Live bait such as ballyhoo, pinfish, grunts, and even small legal lane snappers work great for the groupers and muttons. Remember when fishing for muttons, a lighter leader is best, but if a grouper eats your bait you will most likely loose him. I will try using a heavy leader first to get the groupers, and as the day goes on, I will drop the leader size.

Wreck fishing has been on fire with amberjacks swarming over most of the wrecks. There are a few African pompanos and muttons being caught. I have been using mostly pinfish and small grunts to target all of these fish. I will use a split-tailed ballyhoo also, it will sometimes be the secret bait which most people overlook. When fishing the wrecks for most of the bottom dwellers I prefer to use a 15-20 foot leader from 40-60 pound floro carbon leader. One other important thing you must get down with dropping long leaders to the bottom is that you have to have the boat moving forward while dropping the bait down to the bottom. This will allow the line to scope out a bit and will prevent tangles while dropping down 150-250 feet of water. This past couple of weeks I have caught, cobia, muttons, amberjacks, jack crevales, grouper, African pompano, mangrove snapper, white margates, yellow jacks, and barracudas. I really have been doing well on the deeper wrecks from 180-250 feet of water.

Deep dropping this past week was a little slow with a few tilefish and barrel fish being caught. I have heard a few people got into a few queen snappers but for the most part the deep dropping has been slow except for the tilefish and an occasional snowy. The sword fishing has been great although the weather has been dictating the days, which we are able to fish for them. I went one for three at the beginning of last week. It wasn’t really big one but a keeper never the less. Sword fishing has been taking most of the attention of a lot of people these days, getting a big one can really change your outlook of the offshore fishing. Fall through the winter the sword fishing should be great as the fish from the North East migrate south to warmer waters. We are in a great place down here in the Keys to catch these fish only 30 miles from shore. If you have never though about it, you should, it is some great fishing and can produce a lot of meat for you meat hunters.

Have a great week and hope to see you down here, stay warm until you get down here.

Offshore Fishing Report: Swordfish and Dolphin are Great Right Now

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.