In case you somehow haven’t noticed, summer has arrived. The sun is shining, the seas are calm, and the sunsets over Florida Bay are spectacular. This is the kind of weather that people come to the Florida Keys to enjoy, and one of the reasons that I could never live anywhere else.
But there is a downside to the sunny skies and lack of wind and that is that it can get very hot while out fishing- especially in the middle of the afternoon when the heat is most intense.
Fortunately, for those of you that have already soaked up your share of rays, or just would rather spend the afternoon basking in the AC or lounging around in a swimming pool, the evening hours provide a number of extremely productive fishing opportunities.
If you’re looking for a great family trip; with the thrill of fighting a hard-fighting and prized game fish, I suggest taking an evening tarpon trip. It’s only a short boat ride from the dock to the fishing grounds, and the entire family can take turns doing battle with a silver king.
Tarpon trips usually depart about five pm and come back around nine (give or take), so you won’t get totally baked by the sun- and you’ll get a chance to take in a beautiful Florida Keys sunset from the water.
Should you want to venture a little further, the snapper fishing has been superb on the reef in-between 40-70 feet of water. Nighttime snapper fishing is great light tackle fun and a productive way to fill the cooler with tasty fillets.
Look for the bite to start a little later in the evening- after 7 pm or when the sun begins to set, and be ready to limit out fast on big mangroves when the bite turns on. While you’re setting up and waiting for the mangroves to start feeding make sure to keep an eye out for yellowtails moving into your chum slick. We’ve been catching good numbers of keeper tails before dark.
Continuing deeper into the Atlantic, the mutton snapper fishing has been fantastic out on the wrecks. Just a few nights ago the lovely Ann Nash and I, along with a couple of friends, caught six slob pinks in less than two hours (from the time we left the marina!).
Ann, “the mutton queen”, made it look easy as she hooked and reeled in two monsters like a pro (see photo below). Live baits- large pilchards and pinfish- fished firmly on the bottom, was the bait of choice.
If you want to venture out even further, I suggest heading to the humps for some red hot blackfin tuna action. With the seas as calm as they are you can depart in the evening and still make it there with plenty of daylight to spare.
This past week we tore up the tuna at the Marathon Humps catching a 33 and a 28-pound fish, as well as more than a handful of fish in the 10 to 15-pound class. Jigging produced best for the smaller fish, while live baiting with live pilchards caught the big boys.
For those of you searching for the dolphin, most of the larger fish we have been catching have been a little further offshore (25-30 miles out). Head out past the smaller inshore fish and you should be able to find the larger gaffers and slammers in the deeper depths. As always, keep an eye out for birds, debris, weed lines, and fish waking on the surface.
Your Best Bet for the Week Ahead: Have a Happy Father’s Day. I’d like to wish a Happy Father’s Day to my father Mike Long and to all the Keys dads.
Captain Jason Long and the Best Bet Sportfishing team can be found at the Key Colony Beach Marina (Sadowski Causeway). To book a trip you can stop by the marina, call (305) 395-1376, or visit www.bestbetsportfishing.com.
Ann-mutton: Ann Nash with this nice mutton snapper caught on a wreck this past week.
Blackfin Tuna: 33 and 28-pound blackfins caught at the Marathon hump.
Dolphin: Head further out to find quality dolphin this time of year.