As the waters continue to smooth into the summer, the dolphin, tarpon and reef action continues to peak.
We do squeeze offshore fishing and reef action into one trip and different types of fishing are quintessential days of Florida Keys fishing.
The inshore bite for tarpon remains red hot with double digit shots on every trip. Target them right before a tide change or right at sunrise or sunset. The bait varies depending on where your fishing ranging from live crabs and mullet to artificial jigs and flies. Offshore, the dolphin bite has steadily picked up and this past week we have found bigger fish just 10 to 15 miles offshore. Just look for frigates, weedline, scattered grass, or rafts of political refugees. The reef continues to be a treasure trove of action and those targeting grouper have been greatly rewarded.
Habitat For Humanity’s 5th Annual Mother’s Day Dolphin Tournament was an absolute blast. 55 boats competed in the tournament and there was some great fishing for everyone involved. The Best Bet tournament team consisted of Mike Long, Dave Chinchar and Best Bets’ favorite fishing granny, Doris Chinchar. We fished long and hard and caught a lot of nice fish including a 24 pounder that Doris landed (pictured with First Mate Mike Nealis-Shiver). Although Team Best Bet did not score enough for a trophy, the Chinchars will host a dolphin feast for friends and family back in New Jersey and have promised to return for next year’s tournament.
The tarpon action throughout the Keys is great. Doug and Sarah Chinchar from Land O’ Lakes Florida were fishing with the Best Bet at Bahia Honda and scored a double header. More times that not you lose one to the bridge pilings but this pair of fish cooperated and we were able to get them both boatside for a quick photo. Each fish was then released unharmed.
The black grouper has been the most common of the groupers caught on the deeper reefs and wrecks since the opening of grouper season on May 1. There are a number of ways to target these fish. Trolling deep diving lures in 30 to 60 feet of water is a productive method. I prefer to anchor on the edge of the reef in 60 to 80 feet and drop live baits to the bottom. Using 60 pound test flourocarbon leader gives you a good shot at stopping these powerful fish from getting back to the rocks.
Best Bet for the Week Ahead:
Take advantage of an early morning dolphin bite by leaving the dock at sunup, but be careful as to not leave too early because you will run past the fish. Get offshore early and then target the reef or the bridge tarpon on your way back in.