If your desire is to head offshore this week, go to the humps for some excellent tuna fishing. The fish currently being caught range in size from footballs to 20 pounds and more. Successful tactics include fishing live bait and butterfly jigs as well as trolling small feathers or Dallas darts far behind your boat. As it has a tendency to do this time of year, the dolphin fishing has slowed a bit. There are still fish being caught, but there is a definite lack of consistency and appreciable numbers.
For those willing to invest the time, daytime swordfishing is producing excellent results, with a fair number of fish over 150 pounds landing in boats off the Middle Keys. There are also frequent sightings of both white and blue marlin. Numerous sailfish have been spotted free jumping, with many being taken by anglers dragging ballyhoo in their spreads.
Inshore, the snapper action remains steady, with good size yellowtail biting well during the day and the mangrove bite fantastic at night. Mutton snapper are hitting well in depths ranging from 100 to 200 feet. Quite a few amberjack have moved in to the higher profile wrecks. Most of these are in the 20 to 30-pound class. These fish are great fun on light tackle and, at these sizes, make good eating when cleaned properly.
Here’s some news: the goliath grouper bite is phenomenal throughout the Gulf waters! Just remember, use circle hooks and release these denizens unharmed without lifting them in the boat. There are plenty of mangrove snapper and the occasional yellowtail snapper lingering around the Gulf wrecks. You may also encounter some stray cobia and permit. Be sure to have either crabs or shrimp to tempt these wary game fish.
The two-day Sport Lobster Season (known locally as lobster mini season) is July 29 and 30 this year. We welcome visitors in search of tasty crustaceans and encourage all to join us for some great fun. At the same time, we ask you to exercise caution, as our waters will be congested with boats, snorkelers and divers. Please be gentle with our reef. Please be respectful of your hotel/motel room or vacation rental. Please be courteous to your fellow visitors and the locals. Finally, please adhere to the regulations. Here is a link for complete information: myfwc.com/docs/RulesRegulations/Lobster_Brochure.pdf.
Capt. Chris Johnson has been involved in the charter fishing business since he was a kid at the Jersey Shore. He now specializes in offshore, gulf/bay, bottom, wreck and reef fishing with SeaSquared Charters out of 7 Mile Marina. You can reach him at 305.743.5305 or www.SeaSquaredCharters.com. Follow him on Facebook: SeaSquared Fishing Charters, or Twitter: MarathonFishing. Book now for night snapper fishing on our comfortable 28-foot center console.
Brian Varani of Falls Church VA caught this red snapper while fishing in 125 feet of water with Capt. Chris Johnson and SeaSquared Charters out of 7 Mile Marina. The fish was released unharmed. Brian also caught keeper mutton and lane snapper, a nice 20lb. amberjack and jack crevalle.
While on their annual vacation in Marathon, this group chose a day of fishing with SeaSquared, half spent on the reef and half spent dropping. They caught a nice bunch of yellowtails and two mutton snapper. Shown L-R: Katherine Pepper, Kyle Jones, Hunter Jones, Adam Pepper and Royce Munn. The group is from the Atlanta and Jacksonville areas.
Don Rodgers and his son Sam, from Pittsburgh, went sword fishing with Capt. Billy Turnbull of Snapper Charters. They caught two, releasing an 80-pounder early in the day and keeping this nice 140-pounder, which Sam fought for 45 minutes. They also caught a 25-pound cow dolphin.
Congratulations to Better Bait Systems from Cudjoe Key for winning the Best Terminal Tackle award at the ICAST show in Orlando last week. Capt. Andrew Tippler and the Fricke clan invented this tournament legal rig that simplifies rigging dead bait, such as ballyhoo, and is ready for rigging straight out of the package. For more information, click on their website: www.BetterBaitSystems.com.