2010 was a phenomenal year for fishing the Florida Keys and we should expect the trend to continue in 2011. Currently we are in the middle of our winter fishing season and over the next few months there are a huge variety of fish to target on any given day.
A day on the reef and wrecks can produce great catches of a variety of snapper. Capt. Josh Gilmartin and Captain/First mate Wayne Burre display a catch of mangroves and mutton snappers on a recent day aboard the Best Bet. Prevailing north winds this time of the year allow for a comfortable day on the anchor or while drift fishing over the wrecks.
Look for the sailfishing to remain solid throughout the rest of the winter months and into the spring. St. Petersburg resident Denise Pickard with a little help from Mike Kasting landed her first ever sailfish Christmas morning aboard the Best Bet II.
Not to be outdone by his niece, Gainesville visitor Clint Tyrrell also boated a sailfish on a Christmas Day fishing adventure. Apparently, the entire family asked Santa for sailfish.
One of the best parts of wintertime fishing is being able to take advantage of Hawk Channel. The cooler water temperatures allow for many pelagic species to move close to shore. Look for color changes to hold the cobias and the channel humps to produce big kingfish.
Best bet for the week ahead:
The winter provides us with cooler water temperatures close to shore allowing a number of species to move into shallower waters so don’t pass them up by running to far offshore.
Key West Harbour King Mackerel Tournament Set For Jan. 21-23
KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Big king mackerel migrate to the waters around Key West each winter, prompting a similar migration of anglers to target the species in the annual Key West Harbour King Mackerel Tournament. The 2011 event is set for Friday through Sunday, Jan. 21-23.
The angler who weighs in the heaviest mackerel, also known as kingfish, is to take home a 20-foot Andros boat with an Evinrude outboard and Continental trailer. The prize package is valued at more than $30,000.
The second- and third-place finishers receive $4,000 and $3,000, respectively, and cash prizes are to be presented through 10th place. Award amounts are based on having a field of 100 boats.
Cash awards also await the top anglers fishing on boats that measure 23 feet or shorter, while cash and prizes are to be presented to top female, junior and senior anglers.
The tournament is headquartered at Key West Harbour Yacht Club, 6000 Peninsular Ave. on Stock Island.
Events kick off Friday, Jan. 21, with registration from noon to 7 p.m. at the yacht club. A mandatory captains meeting follows at 7 p.m.
Fishing begins at 7 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, running through 4 p.m. Saturday and 3:30 p.m. Sunday. All boats must return to Key West Harbour for the daily weigh-in.
Awards are to be presented approximately one hour after the last fish is weighed.
Event information: www.fishska.com, Murray Marine (305-296-0364) or Southern Kingfish Association (904-819-0360).
‘Over The Hill Rip-Off’ Senior Sailfish Tournament Scheduled Jan. 24-25
ISLAMORADA, Florida Keys — Known in the Keys as the “Flutie,” the annual Captain Al Flutie Over the Hill Rip-Off caters to fun-loving anglers age 50 and over whose tongue-in-cheek motto is “we give tacky a touch of class.”
Thought to be the world’s only senior sailfish competition of its kind, the Flutie celebrates its 22nd year with a tournament Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 24-25.
Kick-off registration and a captains meeting are to start at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 24, at the Oceanview Inn & Sports Pub, mile marker 84.5 bayside. The pub is owned by former NFL pro Gary Dunn, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Lines-in is to be called at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday and lines-out is set for 4 p.m.
Cocktails and story swapping begin at 6 p.m. followed by a tournament awards banquet and live auction at the Oceanview, known to locals as “the O.V.”
Fees are $175 per angler if pre-registering or $200 on the kick-off night. All proceeds benefit cystic fibrosis research and the Keys’ Monroe Association for ReMARCable Citizens, also called MARC. The tournament is an officially recognized Redbone@Large offshore fishing competition.
Tournament information and application: www.marchouse.org or send an e-mail or Corrine at 305-852-32