ISLAMORADA, Florida Keys — Well I had to converse with my friends and other charter captains to get this weeks report because I was up in Islamorada this week for two tournaments. We had a few days to catch our bait and get ready for the tournaments. The first tournament was the Al Flutie Over The Hill Rip-Off tournament, which is a tournament that supports the Cystic Fibrosis charity. It is a great tournament that usually has at least 25-40 boats in it any given year. Florida Keys Fishing is some of the best in the world.
We fished up by Molasses in the morning, which was completely a total waste of time. We checked the Roth’s chart, which predicts and fills you in where the current edges are going to be which can be useful most of the times but this time it really messed us up. After missing the morning bite we headed to Conch Reef, which is one of my favorite places to sailfish in Islamorada. Like I have told you guys in the past we like to fish for sails around out-cropped pieces of reef. Conch Reef is the nicest out-cropping piece of reef in Islamorada and is a favorite sail fishing spot for all of Islamorada fisherman.
As soon as we set up the kites we were hooked up to a double, which we landed fairly quickly. After setting back up again the bite slowed down all over, with very few fish being called in to the committee boat. After a couple of hours we hooked another double, but loosing one and getting the release of the other one in less then thirty seconds. The bite was really slow now until all of the sudden boats started to call in fish left and right. Once this happened most of the boats left Conch. I knew that it was only going to be a matter of time before Conch turned on again.
With only an hour left in the tournament I was thinking, maybe I made a mistake by staying. You just never know where the fish are going to pop up. With five minutes left to go in the tournament, I figured it was hopeless for us. The two minute warning came over the radio when I saw a sail come up on the left short, as I screamed, ‘Sailfish, left short, sailfish, left short.’ My anglers we getting ready to get hooked up when the sail finally caught the gog and pulled the line out of the kite as he took to the air with some really impressive acrobatics. I called in the fish into the committee boat when I noticed a sail on the left long so I yelled down, ‘Sail on the left long, wind, wind wind,wind!’ Hooked up to a double with two minutes left. I called the double into the committee boat, thinking if we get both of these fish we could be in contention for placing in the tournament. We released the first sail in thirty seconds, as I called that fish in to the committee boat, thinking we really need to get the next one to stay in contention. Exactly as they called in lines out of the water I called in our release of the second fish. Two releases in two minutes, one of my best times ever. If you get cooperative fish this can be done, but if you get some bulldogs you could be on a fish for hours.
When the day was over I found out the first and second place caught 6 fish, and four boats with 5 fish. Since Capt Brian on the Contagious caught his five fish before us he took third place and we took fourth. I had fun and my clients enjoyed themselves too. The IFC tournament we lost most of our fish, and landed two, which didn’t even come close to the leader with 18 fish. The boat Relentless was relentless in this tournament with multiple triples and doubles all day long, it was impressive to hear them on the radio and later in the day I got to see them in action, with a professional crew who works phenomenal together, bar none, it was a pleasure to watch them work.
Now for the report for Marathon. Of course there were sailfish to be had with most of them down to the west, from Bahia Honda to Big Pine. The fish were being reported up in the shallows and from 140-130 feet of water. Plenty of kings and cero mackerel along the reef’s edge too. There were plenty of showers of bait in this are which were mostly mackerel, but a few sails causing the bait to get up out of the water. The bottom fishing has been great and the wahoo bite turned on for a few people fishing some deep wrecks. The yellowtail bite was great from what I heard, as were the muttons biting on the patches too.
Heading way out, there were some swords caught, but I didn’t hear of any jumbos though. The hump has many AJ’s and small tunas. The deep dropping has been great with snowy grouper, tiles, queen snapper, barrel fish and rosefish being caught. I can’t wait to get out there and do some deep dropping. Be prepared for what the weather has to offer this week, get out there and have fun catching some fish.