There aren’t too many places in the country where you can wake up on Christmas morning, exchange gifts with your loved ones, and then hop on a boat and spend the day reeling in trophy fish—while dressed in t-shirts and flip flops!
As I write this report forecasters are calling for temperatures to be in the mid-70s Christmas weekend; not as warm as the weather we’ve been experiencing the past few weeks, but not too bad when you consider most of the country is dealing with subfreezing temperatures and snowstorms.
One of the many great things about spending the Holiday Season in the Florida Keys, in addition to the warm weather and even warmer people, is the amazing fishing the Keys has to offer this time of year.
From the Gulf of Mexico wrecks, out to the offshore Atlantic Ocean humps, the fishing has been nothing short of phenomenal.
Beginning on the shallow reefs and out to the edge, the sailfish have been stealing the show. More and more fish seem to be arriving every day and over the past couple of weeks it hasn’t been uncommon to bait up twenty or more sails on a single trip!
From depths of 25-feet out to 200 we’ve been seeing loads of ballyhoo and flying fish, and with them large pods of feeding sailfish.
For those of you that have never had the chance to battle a sailfish, I strongly recommend heading out this Holiday Season and giving it a try. These amazing fish put on a fantastic aerial display and are a light tackle treat for all ages and skill levels.
On the shallow patch reefs we’re still catching a diverse population of species including mangrove, yellowtail and mutton snapper; and the occasional keeper grouper. While it may echo previous reports to say that the patch reef fishing has been red hot, it’s only because it has.
The warm water temperatures, combined with new schools of ballyhoo that keep moving in, have kept the patch reefs extremely lively and have held fish in a steady feeding pattern week in and week out. Fishing on the patches is a great way to load up the coolers and keep the rods bent, all just a short boat ride from the dock.
Offshore, from the edge of the reef out to 200 feet, the big kingfish are slowly beginning to show up. They aren’t as thick yet as they will be when the water temperatures drop, but look for recent cool weather to really send the kingfish, as well as the wahoo into a frenzy.
For those of you (like me) that can’t turn down a delicious cut of sushi, you can’t beat a trip out to the humps to load up on tasty black fin tuna. Not only is their food quality unbeatable, but they also offer an excellent battle on light tackle. I can’t think of a better holiday meal than sitting on the dock, enjoying the Florida Keys sunshine, and eating the freshest tuna your taste buds will ever encounter!
In the Gulf of Mexico the wrecks continue to hold an abundance of fish. Out to 60 miles we’ve been catching big cobia, gag grouper, goliath grouper, kingfish, Spanish mackerel and more. Fishing the Gulf is a fun alternative to fishing in the Atlantic, and if you haven’t ventured out to these wrecks before you will be thoroughly impressed with the constant rod-bending action these structure provide.
Your Best Bet for the Week Ahead: Give the Gift of Fishing
Fishing and Christmas have a lot in common. They’re best spent with your friends and family; they create lasting memories; and just like the anticipation of opening a gift on Christmas Day and not knowing what’s inside, each time you drop a line into the waters of the Florida Keys you never know what you might catch.
From all of us at Best Bet Sportfishing, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays
SNAPPER: The patch reefs have been red hot for a variety of different species, including this mutton snapper caught by Ann Nash.