It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas in the Florida Keys!
Marathon & Florida Keys Weekly Fishing Update – Captain Chris Johnson, SeaSquared Charters – December 8, 2010
This cold weather will bring the gift of a big push of coastal pelagic species into the waters of the Florida Keys.
Sailfish on the reef
The sailfish action on the reef edge will get even better than it’s already been. Fish have been seen spraying ballyhoo in the morning and late afternoon on the shallow reefs. Anglers targeting sails at midday are having success with kite fishing and live baiting anywhere from 110 to 180 feet, depending on where the color change is.
Dolphin and wahoo attacking the sailfish bait
The occasional dolphin and good numbers of 40- to 50-pound wahoo are attacking the baits intended for the sailfish. It pays to have a 30-pound class rod rigged with a live bait hook and some wire at the ready to hang on to the wahoo when they show in your spread.
Trolling for wahoo is also proving successful. Iland lures rigged with ballyhoo and large chrome jet heads with skirts of black and purple are producing the best results.
The fishing on the reef has been nothing short of phenomenal
All variety of snapper have been active, and when the weather moderates toward the weekend, the yellowtail bite will pick back up. The grouper bite has also been good with mostly blacks and the occasional gag on the edge of the reef. Just about any large live bait works well.
On the shallower patch reefs in 20 to 35 feet of water, there is excellent snapper action with keeper size yellowtails, large mangroves and good size muttons. Red grouper are spicing the patch catches.
On both the reef and patch reefs, the king, cero and Spanish mackerel are thick. Live baits, such as pilchards, work great. You may also want to give artificials a try. Bucktails or lipped swimming plugs are a good bet, or try a popper for some serious top water action. Be sure to include a short trace of wire to prevent bite offs.
The channel humps are producing good numbers of mangrove snapper plus yellowtails and good size muttons. There has been a real uptick in the quantity of keeper size hogfish and good size porgies. Live shrimp is the ticket here.
Florida Bay and Gulf of Mexico areas
The cold snap will bring a big push of Spanish mackerel into the bay areas, and nothing beats a live shrimp drifted back in your chum slick. These fish can also be taken on small bucktails presented rapidly through your slick. There are a few cobia on the bay and gulf wrecks, and the big kingfish should show up any day now.
Casting for Charity
The Casting for Charity will benefit Toyz for Keyz Kidz on Tuesday, December 14 from 6 to 8 pm. The event takes place at Salty’s Waterfront Grill in the 7 Mile Marina, MM 47.5 in Marathon.
The week’s best catches
Jeff Fiori, of Slingerlands NY, treated his father-in-law, Butch Bowen, and twin 6-year-old sons, Will and Ben, to a half day of fishing with me on the SeaSquared. We went to Hawk Channel, and the crew caught mutton, mangrove and yellowtail snapper plus some good size porgies. They released a few short red, black and gag grouper.
The Fiori group also caught 5 nice size hogfish. Half of one was taken by a barracuda that would eat nothing but hogfish. We lost at least another couple hogs to it. In the end, the group walked away from the dock with 3 big bags of filets to be cooked at restaurants in Marathon.