If you are lucky enough to be here on vacation – or even luckier to live here – you are in for a real treat this week. The fishing has been absolutely fantastic, and there’s no sign of it coming to an end. All venues – offshore, reef, wreck – are producing outstanding catches.
As evidenced by the results in the various recent dolphin tournaments, there are abundant slammer fish here for the taking. According to most Captains I’ve talked with, there seems to be limitless schoolies as far as you can see. A fair number of wahoo have been taken around floating debris that has ranged from trees to rope to netting. Trolling, run-and-gun and chunk baiting are all productive methods.
The floaters also hold a nice surprise in the form of large triple tail. I saw one that had to weigh 15 or 16 pounds hanging with a rack of dolphin, and I heard of a second Captain catching one close to that size. If you are unaware, triple tail are extremely good eating and well worth the effort required to catch them. They may appear slow and prehistoric, but they fight they wage surprises most anglers.
Out at the humps, there have been quite a few large blackfin tuna. Large meaning 20 pounds and up. Most of these have been either live baited or butterfly jigged, but you can also take them by trolling small feathers or cedar plugs placed well back in your spread. There are still some very large amberjack at the humps, as some anglers discover the hard way when they drop their jigs a little too deep.
Inshore, the deeper wrecks and rough bottom patches are still holding good quantities of mutton snapper. Employ a wide variety of live baits, the easiest to acquire right now being pinfish and ballyhoo. Large schools of hungry amberjack, tasty almaco jack and the occasional African pompano are also on the wrecks. The same live baits will tempt these game fish.
The yellowtail bite has been exceptional on the reef, with the intermittent black grouper among the crowd. These are being found in depths from 40 to 90 feet, with the fish getting larger the deeper you venture. Attract them with prodigious amounts of chum and small cut baits.
Beat the heat by going night fishing for delicious mangrove snapper. The bite is good anywhere from 30 to 45 feet with pilchards in your chum slick as your most productive offering.
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 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.
Dot Palm owners, John and Gigi Harrison, treated her parents, Jim and Ann Barfield, to a half day of yellowtailing on the reef. The fishing was as hot as the weather! They fished in 85 feet of water and caught 16 ‘tails up to 4lbs. They lost the current at about 10:30 or they would have caught more. Gigi says she has been fishing in South Florida for 40 years and has never seen yellowtail as big as they caught. Back at the dock are John and Gigi Harrison, Ann and Jim Barfield.
The Kinard family, visiting from Danville GA, spent a half day deep dropping in 150-200 feet of water and caught two mutton snapper in the 10-12lb range and pulled the hooks on a couple more. They also caught large mangrove snapper and some almaco jacks on butterfly jigs. Back at the dock are Avery Kinard, Ray Wooten, Walter and Linda Kinard.
Florida Sportsman Forum member Brian “Banchi” Youngblood treated his family to a half day of yellowtailing for his daughter’s birthday. They fished in 85 feet of water with no current. They caught lots of fish and threw back multitudes in favor of keeping ones 14” and larger. They ended the day with a nice rackful. Brian commented that he learned more about yellowtailing in one trip with SeaSquared than he had on his own in seven years of visiting the Keys. Shown are Ashley, Brian, Debbie and Matthew Youngblood from Stuart.