As predicted, the winds kicked up and turned to the northeast, which will really ignite a sailfish bite that has already been hot.
Florida Keys Weekly Fishing Update – Captain Chris Johnson, SeaSquared Charters – December 1, 2010
There have been many recent reports of sightings of 15 or more sailfish chasing ballyhoo on the reef. Most boats have caught three or four before switching to other fishing.
The yellowtail snapper fishing on the reef remains good, although a few areas in the Middle and Lower Keys are experiencing difficulties with sharks. If you’re craving a yellowtail dinner and the sharks are on your spot, try moving in a little shallower to 25 or 30 feet of water. There has been a good mix of 13- to 15-inch ‘tails in these depths and the sharks tend not to move in this shallow.
There is more than a fair share of large mangrove and mutton snapper in the same areas. Live shrimp or small live pilchards or pinfish work best for these delicious snappers.
Patch reef and Hawk Channel fishing
All the usual suspects are in place on the patches and channel humps. All kinds of grouper, snapper, all three species of mackerel and assorted other pan fish, such as porgies and hogfish, are being caught with regularity.
It pays to be picky and release smaller fish in favor of the largest specimens. If you move around from channel hump to channel hump and spend no more than 45 to 60 minutes on each hump, you will put together a very respectable catch.
This fishing is especially fun for the kids with constant rod bending action. Another venue that is ideal for family fun fishing is the Bay, where the waters are typically calm and the action non-stop.
Gulf and Bay fishing
In the Bay, the mangrove snapper are still biting as well as some good size gag grouper, but the real story is that the Spanish mackerel have arrived in full force. Now is the time to get in on fast-paced mackerel fishing.
FREE fishing seminar
If you’d like some tips and techniques for successful mackerel fishing, come to the free fishing seminar at the 7 Mile Marina on Tuesday. From 6 to 8 pm, the charter Captains of the marina will conduct a hands-on clinic that will equip you will all you need to know.
The week’s best catches with SeaSquared Charters
Walt Moss, of Vinton VA, fished three days with me. On his first two outings, he brought along Steve Doll and his son Austin. We hit four spots in Hawk Channel and the crew brought back plenty of mangrove, lane, yellowtail and mutton snapper, red grouper and three big hogfish.
Day two was spent in the Gulf and produced a limit of mangrove snapper and a 20-pound gag grouper. We tagged and released four short cobia.
On Walt’s final day with me, we fished the reef and did some dropping. He caught mangrove and lane snapper, a 20-pound black grouper and a good size cobia.
The rest of the week was spent fishing in the Bay with families visiting Marathon for the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Allendorfer family from St. Charles IL, the DeBartolo clan from St. Louis MO and the Gohills from Sanford FL all caught mangrove snapper, Spanish and cero mackerel with a couple of gag grouper thrown in for good measure.
Scott Douglas returned to fish with me with his sons Christopher and Andrew. Along on their charter as well as Mark London and son Daniel. All are from Naples. They caught 20 nice mangrove snapper to 19 inches along with a bunch of Spanish and cero mackerel. Daniel did a great job at landing a gag grouper on his own rod that was just a quarter inch short of keeping.