Weekly Florida Keys Fishing Update from Capt. Dave Schugar and Sweet E'Nuf Charters
Posts Tagged ‘tuna fishing’
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.
Thursday, July 14th, 2011
This past month I spent some time in the Bahamas, but the highlight of our Bahamian adventure was visiting a small Island that Christopher Columbus landed on when he claimed he found the New World. For those of you who don’t remember your earlier education, it was San Salvador. This small island, which is surrounded by very deep water, is a feeding area for the Blue marlins’ major migration through May, June and July. These fish travel enormous distances as the tagging program has shown, but little is known of a migration pattern. But what we do know about these fish is that they will travel up the Atlantic seaboard of the United States and across the Atlantic to Portugal, Spain, and West Africa. The tagging program has also shown that they travel from The Gulf of Mexico to the Bahamas, but with the lack of data there seems to be no set pattern, except that at certain times of the year they will show up in different locations in great numbers.
On our way from Harbor Island to San Salvador, we caught a large white marlin around 80 pounds. Not shabby for only fishing for an hour and a half on one of the pinnacles on our way down to San Salvador. Once we got to San Sal (as it is known to us fisherman), we got ready for some of the best blue marlin fishing we had ever seen. To actually get shots at blue marlin every day means that there has to be lots of them around. I also figured out that even when it’s slow the fishing is still good here and to improve your chances they do seem to prefer bait over lures some days. The bait we used was horse ballyhoo and mullet rigged to swim. The ballyhoo we rigged, were some swimmers and some with little chuggers in front of them to help keep them in the water and producing smoke, it seems that the smoky baits draw attention and usually are the one who get hit most often.
On the first day we trolled artificials around most of the day with no bites. It was a little disheartening, but at the buzzer we got a strike on the short bait right behind the squid teaser. Line was peeling off the reel at an incredible rate. By the time everyone got all the other baits and teasers in, the fish had nearly taken 300 yards of line. The fish had never jumped so we still weren’t sure if it was a marlin or not. With my buddy Andy Payne in the chair, it wasn’t long before we started to gain back some of the line that was taken so fast. About half of the line that was taken was back on the reel when the fish decided to go on its second run peeling off all the line we gained back plus some. After a half hour of a fight every fisherman dreams of, we finally got first sight of the fish and it was a marlin. With the owner of the boat at the helm, I was leader man. I was able to muscle the fish to the boat with no wraps. The fish was tired and I decided to get a quick photo of him in the boat. I lifted him into the boat and Andy and I got a great photo before reviving him and setting him free to fight another day. We estimated him over 200 pounds. It was getting close to cocktail hour so we headed for the harbor for some victory drinks.
The next day we headed out around 8:00 in the morning to the north end of the island and we trolled plastics again all morning with no bites. I suggested we ought to switch over to bait and slow the boat down a bit and it wasn’t ten minutes before we were hooked up to a nice fish around 300 pounds. It jumped all around for the first ten minutes; he was a true superstar of a fish. This time the angler was the owner’s father Tom at the age of 85 years old. What a trooper! He fought this fish for over a half hour before it a shark ate it, but in the Bahamas there are no shortages of large sharks.
We set back up and in about fifteen minutes we had our second fish on for the day. This one was bit smaller than the last but another superstar, jumping and thrashing back and forth, just absolutely mad as hell. This fish was very grumpy, but Tom handled it very well for an old timer such as himself. This was one of the things he said that was on his bucket list, catch a blue marlin. Well after a long forty five minutes Tom got to check that one from the list…we had released his first blue marlin that was estimated around 250 pounds.
Later that afternoon, we had a third chance to catch another blue marlin. I was driving the boat when I looked back at the right short bait and it was being beaten up by a huge marlin I estimated it to be 500-600 pounds. It finally slammed the bait and we were hooked up. It was smoking our biggest reel, an 80 Penn International. This fish didn’t jump all that much but he had that reel almost dumped by the time the guys got all the baits and teasers cleared. I was in full reverse water coming over the gunwales and spray covering the pit. After driving backwards for fifteen minutes we were able to get some line back on the reel. I was doing all I could do to keep what line was left on the reel. The fish sounded and I was able to get a lot of line back but still the fish was 150 yards out, or might I say down. I don’t know really how far down he went but we were fighting the good fight when the line just went limp. We thought that this one had got eaten too, but after reeling the line in all the way we noticed that he had just came unglued. That happens; it just sucks when it does.
The following day we decided to go tuna fishing and we trolled for a half day and caught 10 tunas up to 40 pounds. Half blackfin tuna and half yellowfin tuna, we did well for just a half day of fishing on the hump to the north of the island. The very next day we went marlin fishing and caught two nice sized ones off of the north tip of Rum Cay which is about 16 miles to the south west of San Salvador. This area is called Jurassic Park for the sheer size of the fish taken there.
Another day of tuna fishing and a few more days of marlin fishing and our trip was over, but it will be one I will remember for a long time. We ended up catching 5 blue marlins, one white marlin, numerous large dolphin up to 50 pounds and plenty of tuna and weighing in at 50 pounds. Everyone caught one marlin and Andy caught three two blues and a white. We ate fresh sashimi on the dock most nights with seaweed salad which we brought with us. Grilled tuna and dolphin and silk snappers were our proteins most nights, but the steaks we brought weren’t bad either.
If you ever get the chance to fish the Bahamas I recommend the San Salvador and don’t forget to ask for Kim’s bread and cheese cake when you go it is unforgettable like the fishing.
Wednesday, April 20th, 2011
Busy busy. Wow, can’t seem to get a break to write my reports. Sorry guys, I know a lot of you can’t get enough fishing and this is one of your fixes.
I have been dolphin fishing a lot. It has been ok, not great yet, but any week now though the big fish ought to start pouring through. Mostly what I have been catching are schoolies, and some gaffers. I haven’t seen many big schools, but we have been getting a few dozen decent fish, nothing we had to measure and plenty of filets for my clients. We have been tuna fishing too, having a ball jigging and even getting a few big ones in the 20 pound range. Unfortunately the bite isn’t all day, but after a good morning bite, we ended up finding a few schools of dolphin to round out the day.
On the reef it has been hot and cold. The big yellowtails have shown up in full force, but the sharks tend to eat half of what we hook. Some of the tails are in the 3-5 pound range, which is huge, because a normal yellowtail is about one to two pounds. If you have ever caught a five pound yellowtail, you know that’s a big fight. It is amazing how such a small fish fights so hard. Once they get big like this they tend to be hard to catch, but as the spawn is nearing they are starting to eat up the chum bag behind the boat. We have been catching lots of grouper, so I can’t wait to May first when we can keep them.
The permits have been biting really well at a few wrecks, and we smoked them one day catching 14 of them. The next day we caught five. We basically sight fish for them…we just wait till we see them and then cast a crab on a jig and whamo! You’re on. Most of the fish are from 10-15 pounds, but we did manage to catch one over twenty.
If you are waiting to book your trip for May, don’t wait too long, I am almost completely booked up, but I still have some room in June.
Sunday, April 3rd, 2011
Hi everyone, sorry for the lack of posts, but it wasn’t for the fact that I wasn’t fishing, but I haven’t had any days off for 30 days. It has been very busy down here. The wreck fishing has been very good with plenty of mutton snappers up to 25 pounds, but most around 10-18 pounds. The amberjacks have been spawning and the bite has been off the chain. One day we caught 30 almaco and amberjacks in 4 hours. That was insane; every drop got hit as soon as it hit the bottom. We also did very well during the full moon, and that cycle is coming again, the week of the full moon should be incredible for the muttons. I am looking to get plenty of them this spawn.
Dolphins have been sporadic, but our tuna fishing is really good in the mornings and afternoons. Most of the fish are around 10-15 pounds, nice eaters. I have gotten a few in the 20’s but only a few. Each time we went tuna fishing we caught more than my clients knew what to do with. But no worries, my friends filled in to take the leftovers. I expect the dolphin to show up any day now, so stay posted, I will let you know when they arrive in full force. Since we caught so many 25+ pounders last year, I believe the ones we didn’t catch will be close to 50 pounds this year. I expect to catch plenty of 40+ fish this year so be prepared to do some battling.
For those of you who aren’t aware of the deep drop closure, we can no longer target queen snapper, tilefish or snowy grouper, but we can still hit the barrel fish and the rose fish, so I plan on attacking those spots while we are out there dolphin fishing. If you haven’t had a chance to eat any barrel fish you are missing out, it is exquisite. We are trying to get this closure over turned, but it is slow and tedious, but all of us fisherman, including my clients are writing their Congressman and telling them this is an unfair closure and is wrong.
The yellowtail bit really well this week, but with such a large shark presence we were not able to get the big ones to the boat before they got eaten. We were hooking 3-5 pound yellowtails and they fight hard, and it isn’t easy to get them to the boat even without the shark presence. As they gear up to spawn the bite should only get better.
Keep in touch drop me a line every once in a while and let me know who everything is going. Take care and keep fighting the closures that NOAA has been dropping in our lap this year.
Tuesday, February 8th, 2011
This pas week we had a group of business owners who are clients of Auto Profit Masters that came to the Keys for a class and relaxation. What a great group of people from kids to grandparents I was able to find fish for them to catch.
The first day I took out Alan and his son, who fished me a couple of years ago. We headed out to the hump for a day of tuna fishing. When we arrived at the hump we saw an oasis of tuna. Tuna busting the water all over the place, jumping out of the water, terrorizing the bait on the surface. We caught tuna on the first drift and watching the tuna eat right behind the boat still gets my blood flowing. There were a few boats out there and they seemed to gravitate to my stern, causing them to scare the fish behind our boat to go down. To get the big tunas to eat behind the boat can take 100-300 freebees. We can only hold so many baits, so when another boat ruins our drift that’s just one less tuna we can catch. So when you are out at the hump be courteous, don’t troll or run your boat behind anyone, go in front of them so you don’t ruin their fishing.
After getting mugged by the other boats we started to jig the tunas and we were hooked up, mostly smaller ones than we were catching on the live bait. I had a game plan of jigging for a while until some of the boats to leave so we could live bait again. We caught lots of tuna on the jigs, and later in the afternoon we caught a bunch of 20-30 pounders on the live bait. I also dropped a bait down 400 feet to target amberjacks. The hump has some of the largest concentration of amberjacks which we were able to catch one over 50 pounds. What a great trip father and son, having the time of their lives catching and laughing, just a great time had for all.
On the next day I had out Brian and Kobi from Alaska, John and another Alan. Since I fished all last week for snappers, we decided to go out and find some for these guys. I went to one of my patches, which has been smoking hot all last week. We caught some, but it was a little slower than I had liked. We caught mangroves, mackerel, and yellowtail. They were on the smaller side, but they still taste good. We also caught about 15-20 small groupers, just about all the shallow water spices. We caught black, red, grasby, and red hind groupers. Most of them were small blacks around 18 inches long, but a good fight on light tackle. After catching 30 or so snappers we headed to some wrecks for some bigger fish. It was really slow, but I kept hitting different wrecks until we found one that was producing. It was a little weird, we would get bites on all the wrecks, but then after loosing a few the wrecks would shut down. This happens usually when there are predators around, but I think we just lost them in the wreck, which happens when we fish close to them. Finally we found a wreck, which produced a mutton snapper, our target species, and some amberjacks and almaco jacks. We kept one to smoke; they are wonderful for smoked fish.
On the third day I took out some of the staff from Auto Profit Masters, Will, Andy, Jake and Chad. It was a rough day to go to the hump but the bite was better out there then on the reef and wrecks. So we roughed it to the hump, a long trek out there but well worth it. We were the only ones out there and we caught tuna after tuna. The bite was as good or better than a couple days prior. The fish were all over 10 pounds, and some up to 20 pounds. Live bait wasn’t working very well, so we jigged most of them. Even in the rough water, these guys stuck it out and caught a tremendous amount of tuna. We didn’t keep them all, but enough for them to split up to take home. We had a close encounter with a hammerhead shark where I grabbed him by his dorsal fin. That’s how close he was to us, trying to eat our tuna we were able to get some good photos, and I got the silly notion to grab a hold of a green hammerhead shark. Once he noticed I had a hold of him he got upset and took off at a blistering speed. When we got back to the dock I had cut up some of the tuna for some fresh sashimi while my clients waited for their fish to be cleaned, another benefit of keeping my boat behind a restaurant that serves sushi.
On the fourth day I took out one of the Owners of Auto Profit Masters and his family. Since they had to do class that afternoon we were scheduled for a half-day charter, which would mean that we weren’t going back to the hump. So we hit the wrecks and caught amberjacks and almaco jacks. It was as good as it gets, double headers AJ’s take a while to get in, averaging a 30 minute fight we had enough time to catch eight 30-pound jacks. Smiles all around, the brute strength of these fish is tremendous. From catching walleye to 30 pound Jacks, there is just no comparison. Up in Colorado they fish for walleye and they were telling me it is like catching a plastic bag, they weren’t used to fish that fought back, so all in all they were extremely satisfied with there big fish experience.
Friday, December 3rd, 2010
As the leaves change color up north and people are decorating for the holidays, I am down here in the Keys getting my boat ready for all of you. The mad rush of people after the holidays is what I call the great start of our season. For those of you that haven’t booked yet, you better get on it, or you won’t get out on a charter boat. We will all be booked; so don’t miss out on the greatest part of your vacation.
The fishing has been pretty steady, between the sword fishing, sail fishing, grouper and snapper on the reef. This is a great time of year to fish, so many options to choose from. We can target the cobias and goliath grouper in the Gulf or fish the reef for yellowtail snapper, mangrove snapper, mutton snapper, grouper, and kingfish. Just outside the reef we will live baiting for sailfish, and catch some other species as well.
Just this past week I was reef fishing, and the yellowtails were biting good, it wasn’t long before we limited out and we changed our tactics to kingfish and we got a few ten pounders and one forty plus pound king too. My clients had a ball, and they ate well the whole week. One of the greatest ideas our restaurants had is to cook your catch. I don’t know when this started but the Keys have been doing it a long time. Bring in your fresh fish and have the restaurant cook it for you, it doesn’t get any fresher. Every restaurant will do this for you down here so take advantage of not having to cook it and then clean up after you’re stuffed from eating the freshest fish you can get.
I took out a family to the hump for some hot tuna action. It was so hot we hooked 50+ tunas but were only able to land a half dozen. We had a shark problem, which I have never seen it so bad. We had four or five sharks swimming around the boat at any given moment. We hooked tuna and fought them to the boat only to have the shark eat it before we can get it close enough to gaff it. After about 20 shark bite offs, I asked my clients if they wanted to do something else, but they said it was great to hook a fish fight it and then feed it to a shark. So we stayed and kept feeding the sharks. I always try to keep my clients happy and they were smile all around. We had fresh sushi at the dock when we got back and a few cocktails always end a great fishing trip. I look forward to fishing with them again.
I had a shot to go sword fishing this week too, it was stormy and rough but we ventured out there anyways. We had many bites, just couldn’t get them to swallow the bait. We finally got one to eat and we caught him after a short battle. It was too small to keep so we took some quick photos and released him back to grow up. We had a few more bites after we release the small fish but never hooked up again. It can be difficult to get these predators to eat the bait sometimes. But when they do, hold on you will be in for a battle.
I would like to wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season, may this coming year be better than the last, and come on down forget your troubles and lets go fishing.
Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
I went to Colorado this past week and visited a good client and friend. Since the Keys are like a graveyard I took some time off to go fishing. I just can’t get enough, and when I travel I always go fishing. Most of us captains vacation around this time because it becomes very desolate this time of year. From kids going back to school to hurricanes forming in the Atlantic, people just don’t seem to start coming down till November. But if you do come down the hotels cut you a break — sometimes you can stay for almost half price! This is also a great time to fish down here. You can catch tuna, dolphin, wahoo, loads of bottom fish, and some sails are already starting to show up. Cobia are starting to show up on the gulf wrecks and permit is showing up, too.
On my vacation, I went to see my buddy Dave Rogers who operates many businesses in the Denver area. He is the one who designed my web site, which I get many compliments from all of my clients. His son Tucker took me fly-fishing on the dream stream. This is a world famous stream with rainbows, browns, and cutthroat and cutbows, which are a hybrid, mix of a rainbow and a cutthroat. Tucker runs one of the Orvis shops in the Denver area and is an expert fly fisherman. Tucker is an amazing fly fisherman with skills beyond the pros. He used to guide, but being a manger for one of Orvis’s best stores, he has no time to pursue his guiding career.
I was a little rusty casting flies, but as the day wore on I seemed to pick up where I left off a year ago, the last time I picked up my fly rod. Fishing for a living I just don’t seem to get enough time to play with my fly rod. My first fish was a rainbow about two pounds, but looking at the photos, it looks smaller. That’s why I hate getting into the photos because I just make fish look small. Tucker taught me to look for rising fish which are active fish feeding on the hatch. It is really important to match the hatch, and as the day goes on you have to change your flies to what flies are hatching. It was raining and cool so the hatches were small. But as the day heated up more and more bugs started to emerge. After a long day of catching trout, I went to Wyoming for a couple days of walleye fishing in Glendo.
Glendo is a small town of 229 people, but people travel all over this country for its excellent walleye fishing. As fishing goes it was slow, but we did catch a few and some carp and catfish. I got to vertical jig, trolled, and we used flee flies, clackers, and cranks baits of all sizes and colors. I learned that walleye fishing is hard and lots of work when the fish aren’t biting. Switching back and forth between colors and different styles we covered it all with little success. I had a great time spending time with my friends, though, and that’s what really counts. Catching fish was a bonus. I have been told that last year during this week it was off the chain and people were limiting out in a few hours. But this year just like down here in the Keys, the fishing was all mixed up — fish showing up late and leaving early. We had a great year, but it threw us a curve ball, and made us captains work a little harder to find the fish.
I will be fishing this next week as long as the storms aren’t too bad, so give me a call. I still have a few days open, but days are slowly filling in. Don’t forget to consider fishing in the off-season — the fish don’t know that there are less people down here! So come on down, beat the crowds and save some money coming during the fall.
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.
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.
Thursday, August 12th, 2010
MARATHON, Florida Keys — People go many places on vacation, but a few of them visit the Keys and get hooked. We live in an extraordinary place — good fishing and sophisticated food. I don’t mean just fried fish and Key Lime Pie, but out on top…the cutting edge. The people that fish down here come from every walk of life and that is no joke.
The reef at night has been great, many big mangroves, muttons, and some jumbo yellowtail. As well in the daytime, yellowtails have been chewing, but fishing them in the fast current was a little challenging. The patches yielded small yellowtail, but big enough to keep and make a meal. Fishing the wrecks has produced a few good fish, but since the spawns are over for the most part, mutton fishing here in Marathon has slowed down. Don’t get me wrong; there are a few nice fish to be had on any given day.
Offshore is where I finished these past couple of days, and the Tuna bite has been decent late in the afternoon. It was good during most of the day on Thursday, but with people operating their boat like morons, I had to slow down, and in some cases I had to just pick my baits up and move from the area. I actually had a guy troll over top of me on the hump. His bait came flying over the gunwale, smacking my center consol before making a hasty exit. Thank god my clients were back at the stern reeling in fish. I mean, we were stopped fighting fish and somehow this guy came that close to literally troll through my boat.
On Wednesday, I fished a half-day snapper in the morning and then left for a full day from 1:00pm to 9:00 pm. The afternoon full day can only happen in the summer, we had just enough light to fish the whole time and then came home in the dark. We caught some nice dolphin and tuna…well, we saw two dolphin and caught them, and then fished the hump where large fish were actually eating trolled baits. Trolled ballyhoo or cedar plugs did the trick that day.
After all the fishing, it is always nice to sit down and eat a nice meal. After a day of fishing, some sushi and oysters sounds good to me. I ordered some Oysters Moscow from Castaways, which is a raw oyster with two types of caviar and horseradish sauce on it. Very good, it gives it another step up from just a great oyster. The flavor just pops in your mouth.
I also ordered two of their special sushi rolls, a 2-year roll, and a surf and turf roll. The 2-year roll has chopped tuna on top, with an inside-out roll of shrimp tempura and asparagus, cream cheese, and something else I can’t remember. The surf and turf roll has prime rib on top with lobster tempura and some other ingredients too.
Let me tell you one thing though, the custom champagne hand rolls are off the hook. My favorite is the salmon, tuna, white tuna, with Japanese mayo, massago, and a quails egg yolk. Yummmmmm that’s some good eating.