Well, at least we can count on the weather to be inconsistent. Hot. Cold. Sunny. Rainy. Calm. Windy.
While we have to deal with whatever Mother Nature delivers on a daily basis, in any case we can rely on the snapper fishing to provide steady catches of good-eating fish.
The reef depths of 30 to 60 feet are productive for decent-size yellowtail snapper plus eight- to twelve-pound mutton snapper. There are also plenty of cero mackerel along with the occasional kingfish on the reef line.
On the patch reefs, add very good size mangrove snapper to the yellowtails, muttons, ceros and kings. And, Hawk Channel is holding its characteristic assortment of tasty fish, including all the snappers, porgy, hogfish, cero mackerel, some Spanish mackerel and the chance king mackerel.
Your baits of choice run the gamut from chunk baits and small live baits, such as pilchards and pinfish, on the reef to shrimp, live pilchards and ballyhoo on the channel humps.
Bay and Gulf fishing
If the wind sends you to fish in Florida Bay, you’ll find respectable numbers of mangrove snapper and Spanish mackerel. The Gulf wrecks offer more variety with bluefish, jacks of all kinds, Goliath grouper, gag grouper, kingfish, Spanish mackerel and loads of blacktip, spinner and bull sharks.
Your bayside baits are small pinfish, pilchards and shrimp.
Remember, grouper season is closed until May 1, so all must be released unharmed.
The week’s best
The SeaSquared boats spent the week fishing near shore on the reef, in Hawk Channel, on the patches and in the Gulf and Bay. Our anglers caught all the snapper species – lane, yellowtail, mangrove and mutton – plus hogfish, porgy, Spanish mackerel, kingfish.
Matt Leonard and his boys, Max and Luke, from Massachusetts, boated six fatty hogfish along with their snappers.
The Kellems group had quite the outing with Capt. Wayne. Not only did they put huge mangroves in the boat but they also landed an 80lb tarpon on 15lb test with a shrimp bait. In February.
February 17, 2016
Capt. Chris Johnson
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Capt. Chris Johnson specializes in offshore, gulf/bay, reef/wreck, sailfish, shark and tarpon fishing with SeaSquared Charters in Marathon. You can reach him at 305-743-5305, http://SeaSquaredCharters.com and http://Facebook.com/MarathonFishing.