This past week has offered the winter cold fronts the Florida Keys are used to, unlike the frigid temperatures we experienced at the beginning of the year. Mild fronts dropping the temperatures 8-10 degrees do not have the drastic effect on the water temps, especially on the reef and offshore. And patch reef fishing remains to be the most active type of fishing for us aboard the Best Bet boats.
Fishing from 20’- 35’ has consistently left our anglers with soar arms at the end of each day, not to mention a cooler full of filets. Besides snapper and grouper (catch and release of course), this past week we have encountered big schools of jack crevales on the patches as well, and for those of you who enjoy a true battle on light tackle, it does not get any better. King mackerels have ventured in to the patch reefs as well, so thick at times it is impossible to get a bait to the bottom. With these pelagics on the surface and the snappers and groupers on the bottom every water column will produce decent catches.
Off the edge of the reef (100’-300’) current edges and color changes have produced schoolie dolphin and Blackfin tuna, along with king mackerel. The north winds have pushed a lot of grass out of the Florida Bay and can make it difficult for trolling on these edges, so you may have to run up and down the line in order to find clean water to fish.
Sailfish, while not as thick as earlier in the season, will be found along these edges as well, and expect that bite to get only better over the upcoming weeks.
With the variety of life found this time of the year only a few miles from the dock, all anglers should be exited for their opportunity to get out on the water and fish. If you don’t have a boat yourself, give me or one of the many professional captains here in Marathon a call.
Your Best Bet for the Week Ahead:
Don’t let cool breezes and north winds keep you at the dock. You don’t have to venture far from shore to have a great day of fishing. Hawk’s Channel and the patch reefs offer lots of action and relatively calm sea conditions.
Butch and Dawn, Best Best regulars from Dallas, Texas with a mixed bag of patch reef fish including mangroves, yellowtails and cero mackerels.
Pictured, from left: Northern Wisconsin anglers Larry, John and Bill. They limited out on king mackerel and mangrove snapper with fishing aboard the Best Best.
18lb mutton snapper boated in 160’ of water with 20lb test. The fish was later served as “mutton parmesan” at the Key Colony Inn.