The early birds aren’t the only ones who catch fish in the Florida Keys; the night owls reel in their share as well- especially when they head to the reef for nighttime snapper action.
Over the past couple of weeks the nighttime snapper bite has been on fire and we’ve had no trouble limiting out each trip with quality mangroves. Targeting snapper at night is one favorite types of fishing because of the constant rod-bending action it offers, and because it can be enjoyed by anglers of all ages and skill levels. Whether you’re new to fishing, or an old salt that’s wet your share of lines, you never grow tired of the aggressive strike of a big mangrove on light tackle.
Plus, nighttime snapper fishing is a great way to load the coolers with delicious white and mild filets- and there’s absolutely no better place to watch the Florida Keys sunset than out on the water. Once you’ve had the chance to admire the sun’s colors reflecting off the waves and watch as the giant orange ball dissolves behind the seven-mile bridge and below the horizon, you’ll know what I mean.
If you haven’t yet had a chance to head out to the reef to enjoy the nighttime mangrove snapper bite I highly recommend doing so soon. It’s a fun, relaxing fishing experience, and you only have to travel a few miles from the dock to reach the productive fishing grounds.
In addition to the red hot mangrove snapper bite, the deep reef and wrecks continue to offer up their bounties of mutton snapper. Anglers looking to do drop for big pinks should head to the deep wrecks, or find a hard bottom with structure in the 50 to 250 feet range, for your best shot of finding the fish.
Also, while fishing the wrecks don’t be surprised if your bait gets slammed by a black grouper. It’s not uncommon to find schools of blacks hanging around the wrecks during the month of July, so It’s a good idea to be prepared with a few larger baits in the live well and heavier tackle on the boat should the grouper bite turn on.
Offshore there are still decent numbers of dolphin scattered throughout the Keys but not in the large numbers they were a month ago. Fortunately, the fish that have stuck around are the larger gaffers and slammers, so if you put your time in you should be rewarded by finding quality fish. Make sure to head out past the stained green water before putting your baits out, and don’t be surprised if you have to look 40-miles or further out to find the fish. At the humps the tuna fishing remains consistent, with fish being caught while trolling, jigging and live baiting.
Inshore, many of the larger migratory tarpon have moved out but large packs of the smaller resident tarpon (10-40 #’s) are actively feeding and can be found up and down the Keys.
Out back, Captain Pablo Rodriguez of SlamTime Charters (www.slamtimecharters.com) has been catching great numbers of snook and tarpon. Last week I had the pleasure of fishing with Pablo in the waters of Everglades National Park where we caught and released over 50 snook as well as several tarpon, all in one afternoon!
Your Best Bet for the Weeks Ahead: Take a nighttime snapper trip.
If you’re looking to get on the water I recommend taking an evening trip to fish for mangrove snapper on the reef. It’s an inexpensive way to catch fish, load the freezer, and take in a beautiful sunset. Stop by the Best Bet dock at charter boat row in Key Colony Beach, or give me a call at 305-395-1376 to find out about the discounted nighttime snapper trips we’re currently offering.
Tuna- Another quality blackfin tuna caught at the humps this past week.
Snapper- Head to the reef for the red hot nighttime snapper bite.
Snook- Nice snook caught while fishing with Captain Pablo Rodriguez in the backcountry.