It’s no wonder so many snow birds flock to the Florida Keys each winter. You can’t blame them for wanting to escape the cold and snow up north and head down to enjoy this wonderful weather we’ve been experiencing.
Christmas is only two weeks away and the sun is shining, the winds are light, and the seas are calm. For us anglers, the mild winter has been ideal for targeting all sorts of different fish—both inshore, and out deep. The warm weather has prevented any sudden and prolonged drops in water temperature, and all across the board the fishing has been excellent, with no species turning off for more than a couple of days.
Offshore, and just beyond the reef, the black fin tuna action has been superb. On the Marathon hump we’ve been having success vertical jigging for tuna in the 10 to 15-pound class. Sharks have still been problematic, eating the larger blackfins, but deep jigging seems to work best for targeting quality fish that you can actually get to the boat.
Just beyond the edge of the reef search for frigate birds or bait sprays to find the blackfins, and then live chum with pilchards to get the fish around. Be sure to have a live well loaded to the brim with pilchards, and a long spinning rod on hand to make a long cast if you can’t get close to them.
While fishing the humps keep an eye out for your pelagics such as wahoo and dolphin. Just last week a big bull swam up behind the boat while we were out tuna fishing, and though we were unable to land it, we were able to throw a nice 20-pound cow in the box.
We’ve also been catching scattered dolphin here and there just past the reef, but despite the warm temperatures, dolphin seem to be the one pelagic species that does seem to be thinning out a bit.
As the water on the reef has cleared, the sail fishing has really heated up. Double digit catches are now being reported from the Marquesas up to Key Largo. A good majority of sails have been staying in shallow and feeding on ballyhoo-balls on top of the reef. To target these fish keep your eyes open for frigate birds and pitch a live ballyhoo out beneath them.
Last week I had the pleasure of traveling to Key West with a few local Middle Keys captains to fish with Captain Ralph Delph. I’d like to thank Ralph for an exciting trip, and I recommend that anyone looking to fish in Key West visit his website at www.delphfishing.com and book a trip. He has over 50 years of fishing experience and can teach beginners, as well as pros, a few tricks.
We deep water light tackle fished with Delph and had an amazing day catching large red snapper up to 16-pounds, and several quality muttons.
Your Best Bet for the Weeks Ahead: Take advantage of the weather!
The mild weather is ideal for heading offshore. Whether you’re looking to venture out and target sails, tunas, wahoo, swordfish, or more, don’t be left standing at the dock and wishing you were out fishing. Stop by one of the Best Bet boats located at Key Colony Beach Marina and we’ll take you out for an unforgettable Florida Keys fishing trip