Over the past two decades I have spent nearly every Thanksgiving fishing here in the Florida Keys with my father. Leave the dock at daybreak; spend the morning catching snapper and sailfish; and then return just in time to watch football and pig out on a delicious Thanksgiving feast.
It’s a holiday tradition that I look forward to every year, and one that I highly recommend starting with your family if you haven’t yet. The weather has been beautiful; the seas calm; and from the far Gulf, to the bridges, to the reef, to offshore, the fishing has been nothing short of phenomenal.
So gas up the boat (or book a trip with a Florida Keys fishing captain or guide), and spend a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend on the water with your loved ones.
As we head into Thanksgiving weekend look for unseasonably mild winds and crystal clear waters to make conditions ideal for sight fishing the reef for sailfish and dolphin. Inshore, between 20-60 feet of water, look for bait showers or frigate birds working the deck, and if you have a tower on your boat, keep an eye out for free swimmers in the sand.
For live baiting or slow trolling, work the 100 to 250 foot range. The sailfish bite is steadily improving (I caught several aboard the Best Bet this past week), and there have also been good numbers of wahoo caught this past week in the same depths as well.
During a trip this past week, while slow trolling ballyhoo in 145-feet of water, a nice school of wahoo came up and slammed our baits. Unfortunately, we were not fishing with wire leaders and were bit off by two fish. However, because we were using circle hooks we were able to hook a third fish in the corner of the mouth, which resulted in a nice 28-pound wahoo for Beverly Smith, her first ever.
On the shallow reefs and patches the mangrove snapper bite continues to steal the show. Over the past month we’ve been catching quality fish in the two to five-pound range and have had no trouble catching our limit on nearly every trip.
If you are out snapper fishing this weekend and you find mangroves swimming around in your chum line that won’t eat, don’t be afraid to lighten up on your leader. Mangrove snapper have incredibly sharp vision and you may need to drop down to as low as a 12-pound fluorocarbon to entice them to eat in these clear water conditions.
In the far Gulf, Captain Mike Biffell reports that the cobia are extremely thick. Mike limited out on several trips this past week with several fish in excess of 40-pounds.
I would like to conclude this week’s fishing report by congratulating Captain Nick Borraccino and Captain Ty Price on their slob 504-pound swordfish caught this past week out of Marathon. Pretty work guys!
Your Best Bet for the Week Ahead: Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Take advantage of the beautiful, mild weather we’ve been experiencing here in the Keys, and head out to enjoy a few days of holiday fishing with your family. From myself, and all of us at the Best Bet Sportfishing team, have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!
Sword Long: From left: Phil Price, myself, Drew Dinan and Ty Price with a 160-pound swordfish caught this week.