In addition to writing about this week’s hot bite, I thought I would also take a few sentences to inform those of you visiting the islands what a typical day aboard a Florida Keys deep sea fishing boat is like — just in case you’re debating whether or not to give it a try.
A normal trip departs the dock around 7 or 7:30 in the morning. During summer it’s usually a good idea to leave a little early to get extra fishing in before the temperatures heat up. On the Best Bet boats, as well as most of the vessels you will fish from Key West to Key Largo, you just show up, bring along whatever you want to eat or drink (we supply the cooler and ice), hop aboard, and we’re off to the fishing grounds.
What I like to do during this time of year is head straight to the reef to get the morning started with consistent rod-bending action and an opportunity to catch a variety of species. One of the great things about fishing the reef in the Keys (aside from the excellent fishing) is that it’s only a few miles from the dock and a very short trip. So you’ll spend your time fishing- not just going for a boat ride.
Right now the reef bite has been nothing short of superb. Large flag yellowtails, mutton snapper, grouper, and mackerel are just a few of the exciting species you will catch.
Once the sun starts to rise and we’ve loaded up the coolers with tasty fillets at the reef, it’s time to head offshore in search of dolphin fish (mahi mahi) and other large game fish. This week there have been plenty of fish to be caught just beyond the reef in 250 to 300 feet of water, and we’ve had no trouble loading up on schoolies and gaffer-sized fish.
For targeting dolphin, I prefer to sight fish by searching for birds or weed lines and then pitching baits to the fish. What’s nice about this method is that the boat is constantly moving, not anchored up, so you’re still getting a nice ocean breeze from the boat to help you cool off if it gets a little hot.
Another thing I like to do while out dolphin fishing is to stop at the deep-water shipwrecks and drop baits down. Currently on the wrecks we’ve been having great success with mutton snapper, grouper and amberjacks. Wreck fishing is an exciting way to catch a variety of hard-fighting species, and you just never know what you’re going to pull up.
Once a trip is complete, it’s time to head back to the dock where I or another Best Bet captain will clean your fish for you—you don’t even need to wait around. You can head over to Sparky’s Landing located at the end of charter boat row in Key Colony Beach, and get a sandwich and cold beer while we’re getting your fish ready.
Any more questions—just stop by one of the Best Bet boats located off the Sadowski Causeway, or give me a call at the contact information provided in this report.
Elsewhere offshore, the tuna fishing remains outstanding at the humps, and keep an eye out for weedlines on your way out as we have been finding dolphin scattered out to 30 miles. In addition, the daytime swordfishing bite continues to be productive and now is an excellent time to head out and try your luck with a majestic broadbill from the deep.
Block – Your Best Bet for the Weeks Ahead: Go fishing!
Right now you can catch a variety of species close to shore, including dolphin, yellowtails, mutton snapper, grouper, mackerel, amberjacks, and more. And because there aren’t as many tourists in town right now there hasn’t been a great deal of fishing pressure, meaning the fish are hungry and primed for the taking.
Mike Long AJ: Big AJs, like this one caught by my father Mike Long, will test your strength while fishing the wrecks.
Drew Mutton: Keys resident Drew Dinan showing off a mutton snapper caught while fishing at the reef.
Dolphin YTs: Nice mixed bag of dolphin and yellowtail snapper caught this past week aboard the Best Bet.