I would like to start by congratulating Captain Josh Gilmartin and the now Krista Gilmartin on their recent marriage. We had the pleasure of traveling to beautiful Treasure Cay in the Abaco Islands of the Bahamas recently for what was truly a memorable wedding. While Treasure Cay is known for having one of the most spectacular beaches in all of the Bahamas – as well as being a great wedding destination – the Abacos are also renowned for their incredible bonefishing.
Upon our arrival, Josh informed us that on Saturday, the morning of his wedding, he had arranged charters for us to target bones. With eight anglers on four boats, we established the first ever Best Bet bonefish tournament. Ann Nash and I took first place in this highly contested competition, squeaking out the victory with nine fish caught and released on time. All joking aside, the Abacos offer an amazing fishery. After having shots at hundreds of bonefish in just a couple of hours I can now see why the Abacos received their reputation as a top fishing locale.
Since our return, it has been business as usual. Inshore, the silver kings have been the main target with the annual McDonald’s tournament among many of the seasonal angling events. A phenomenal turnout of anglers, as well as record catches of tarpon being recorded, made for a historic event. I’d like to congratulate our good friend Captain Kevin Goodwin for taking first prize overall. Pretty work Kevin!
For those of you that have yet to make it out to target these exciting gamefish, there’s still time. The tarpon bite remains phenomenal at the bridges and in the channels, and we’d be happy to arrange a morning or evening charter for your group.
In addition to the great tarpon bite, it was also nice to come back to light breezes and calm seas. The wonderful weather has provided the perfect conditions to run out in search of dolphin, and anywhere from 300 out to 1,000 feet, we’ve been finding schoolies and gaffer-sized fish with a few slammers mixed in.
If heading offshore in search of dolphin your best bet is to fish early, work the weed lines (and birds if you see them), and make sure to have a well full of live baits. With dolphin feeding throughout the night during the recent full moon phase, and with hot temperatures in the afternoon, the dolphin have been less aggressive than they were this past week. Try to get to them early before they swim down to cooler waters, and if you can’t leave the dock until the afternoon, use live bait to entice lethargic fish if they’re refusing your cut baits and trolling lures.
Once you got your fill of dolphin, don’t hesitate to head to the reef. From 50 to 110 feet, the yellowtail snapper bite has been heating up. Try to locate the fish with your bottom machine, then anchor up and get the chum flowing. While anchored up, I also suggest dropping live bait down to the bottom for a shot at landing a keeper black grouper. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been catching numerous legal blacks with a few up to 30 pounds. Just be sure to use a 10-foot stretch of 80- to 100-pound leader to get these fish up before they have an opportunity to swim into the rocks.
For you locals working nine-to-fives or for you visitors who don’t prefer fishing mid-day when it can get a little warm, now’s also a great time to reef fish in the evenings. Yellowtails and mangroves are beginning their spawns, and you should be able to head out and load the box with quality fish.
YOUR BEST BET FOR THE WEEKS AHEAD:
Take advantage of the evening bite
The one negative to light winds and calm seas is the temperatures can get a little hot. For those of you who don’t like the heat, there are tons of excellent evening fishing opportunities here in the Florida Keys. From tarpon fishing at the bridges, to snapper and grouper fishing on the reef, to trying to hook a few big dolphin before the sun goes down, Best Bet Sportfishing will gladly arrange an evening charter for your party.
(L-R) Brian, Stumpy, Rolla, Gene, and Rick enjoyed a day aboard the Best Bet II with Captain Bobby Manske. The group caught their limit of dolphin and a nice wahoo.
The month of May offers mixed bag catches such as this one with dolphin and wahoo offshore and yellowtail and grouper on the reef.