Windy days can be dangerous for anglers—and I’m not talking about high waves or the hazards that exist on the water. I’m referring to the trouble we often get into when we’re forced to bide the time until we can get back out to sea. Examples: one Marathon fishing captain and aspiring adrenaline junkie learned this past week just how hard you can fall when high winds aren’t harnessed properly while kite boarding. Another local fisherman discovered why you should always check the bottom of a pinfish trap bringing it onboard and removing the bait. You never know when an angry eel is hiding beneath, ready to latch onto your toe with its sharp teeth. And me, I learned that while I may have my sea legs, my softball legs aren’t what they used to be. Now I’m hobbling around with a black and blue ankle that’s the size of a football—the result of sliding in to second base and taking one for the team.
Fortunately, for us fishermen and women, and the local doctors, lawyers and insurance agents, the winds are expected to lie back down this weekend and we can get back on the water where we belong. Offshore, the blackfin tuna bite remains steady on the Marathon Hump and should continue to yield excellent catches over the week ahead. Captain Josh Gilmartin braved the elements last week on the Best Bet II and had a nice catch of tunas using both vertical jigs and trolling. Unfortunately, Josh witnessed three large blackfins are eaten by sharks, a reminder to try to get the fish to the boat as quickly as possible. Remember, those predators know as well as we do just how delicious blackfins taste.
Also offshore, dolphin fishing remains hit or miss although we have seen a few large fish closer to shore recently. There are still loads of undersized peanuts that you’ll likely need to weed through to find nice keepers, but we’re expecting another strong push of big dolphin any day now. Keep an eye out for birds, weed lines and floating debris, and chances are you’ll get shots at landing a few slammers very soon.
The reef bite continues to be excellent, especially for yellowtail snapper. On the shallow patches we’ve been limiting out on quality tails in just a few hours (a viable option when the wind is blowing), and on the deep reef the big flags are still testing our angling skills and offering meaty rewards. While yellowtailing on the deep reef I always like to send live bait down to the bottom in hopes of catching a nice grouper or mutton snapper. Groupers and muttons have been very active on the deep reef, however the bull sharks have moved in and often are making it difficult to get these fish to the boat. If you are fishing the reef, or anywhere else for that matter, and the sharks eat a few of the fish you’ve hooked, please do the fishery a favor and move on to a new spot. There’s no sense in continuing to feed the sharks.
In the backcountry, Captain Pablo Rodriguez of Slamtime Charters reports a good bite of sea trout with plenty of sharks around to bend the rod and test your strength. Pablo has also been consistently catching snook and redfish over the past couple weeks, and reports that good numbers of tarpon are beginning to show up in the backcountry.
Your Best Bet for the Week Ahead: Take advantage of the weather
Forecasts show favorable conditions this week with light winds and calm seas. Take advantage of the weather and head out to experience the wonderful fishery of the Florida Keys. Stop by one of the Best Bet boats located on the Sadowski Causeway in Key Colony Beach and we’ll be glad to hook you up with a trip.
These guys spend the majority of their time on the golf course in Naples, but my old friend Sean was able to convince them to come down to Marathon and try a little fishing. They were rewarded with a great day on the reef despite the rough conditions this past week.
Sergei Proudnik of Key Colony Inn treated his former military buddies to some red-hot blackfin tuna fishing this past week at the Marathon Hump aboard the Best Best II.