What a great time it is to be in the Florida Keys. The seas have been calm, the temperatures are nice and warm (but not too hot), and the fishing has been fantastic. Offshore, the Gulf Stream has pushed in nice and close, giving us a shot at dolphin, wahoo, tuna, and sailfish, all just a short boat ride from the dock.
Last week we continued to enjoy our great late-season dolphin bite, with the majority of our fish being caught in 200 to 250 foot depths. Most of the fish were large schoolies, but there were gaffers and a few slammers in the mix as well. If you’re heading out in search of dorados plan to tack back and forth from 150 feet out to 600 until you find the fish. The dolphin bite should remain good this week, so take advantage of it while these fish are still around.
Also offshore, the wahoo fishing has been excellent. Captain Ariel Medero of Big Game Sportfishing in Marathon (www.biggamesportfish.com) had multiple trips last week where his anglers hooked into nice hoos’. Ariel had success trolling lures, as well as live baiting in 150 to 200 feet of water.
As far as the sailfishing goes, we’re still not finding a lot of fish in the Middle Keys. We are seeing one or two fish on nearly every trip, both off the edge of the reef and in the sand, but we still haven’t seen a large push of sails yet. The sailfishing should improve once our first cold front hits the Keys, but there’s no telling when that may be.
On the reef, the mangrove snapper bite continues to be the go-to fishery for those that want to keep the rods bent and load the box with tasty fillets. The mangrove bite has been best between 20 and 40 feet of water fishing with live pilchards on jig heads. One common mistake that a lot of anglers make when fishing for mangroves is they use too heavy of leader. If the water is clear, it’s imperative that you go as light as possible with your fluorocarbon leader. You may lose a few big fish in the rocks, but you’ll have a lot more chances of catching the larger mangroves if you adjust your leader strength to match the water clarity.
Also on the reef, the yellowtail snapper bite has been steady. We’ve had a lot of success for medium and large tails in 60 feet of water, with some nice patch tails caught on the shallower reef as well. While yellowtailing, don’t forget to also drop a large live bait to the bottom. We’re running out of time to catch our keeper groupers, so try and hook up with that large black now before the season is closed.
Your Best Bet for the Week Ahead: Head offshore!
Take advantage of the great offshore action between 150 and 600 feet of water. Dolphin, wahoo, tuna, sailfish, and more can be caught in just minutes from the dock.