I would like to congratulate all the boats that fished the bull and cow dolphin tournament this past weekend. I know I spent about 18 hours in a tuna tower in the two days of fishing and was ready to see a chiropractor on Monday. With seas consistently in the six to eight foot range with the occasional 10+ lurking on the horizon, it was a challenge just to stand up, let alone fight a big fish. Despite the big seas, there were plenty of fish caught and once again Big Time Bait and Tackle put on a first rate tournament.
Offshore, the edge of the Gulf Stream was pushed in by strong southeast winds to four miles off of Sombrero light.
For those of you in search of dolphin, there’s no need to run too far. Head out to about 400-600 feet of water and look for scattered grass and birds. Be prepared for both larger fish and schoolies traveling together. These fish are feeding primarily on flying fish, so a skipping ballyhoo will make a fine imitation.
Floating debris is holding the fish as well. If you do find a floater, be sure and fish different water columns with either a deep diving plug or a vertical jig. More often than not, a wahoo will be your tasty reward. If the winds subside or if you have a larger vessel and can make the journey, the humps have been plentiful with black fin tuna.
On the reef, the grouper are probably starting to get a little worried. After free meals all winter, they are no longer getting the safe passage back to the bottom. There are plenty of grouper from the patch reefs in 25 feet of water out to the deeper wrecks in 200 feet. Trolling for grouper on top of the reef has been productive as well as dropping live baits to the bottom.
The yellow tail snapper bite has also been good this past week on the reef. If strong easterly currents do not allow the fish to come up in the chum, try moving into more shallow waters.
Inshore, the bridges are consistently filling up with tarpon. From Long Key to Bahia Honda, the silver kings are in abundance. On several trips this past week, we caught fish up to 120 pounds. Now is an excellent time to get out there and test you strength and angling skills against a true game fish. Live mullet has been the bait of choice, and if you are not capable of catching them yourself, ask the local tackle shops. They’ll gladly point you in the right direction.
Best Bet Tip of the Week: If the strong winds and high seas are keeping you from going offshore, try tarpon fishing at the bridge. Shallow waters offer a more calm fishing experience, and the silver kings will surely provide a memorable battle.
Sergei of Key Colony Inn and his “Crazy Russians” with a sailfish caught this past week aboard the Best Bet II.
Capt. Bobby Manske aboard the Best Bet I had an active day on the reef and wrecks.