Step outside and you’ll notice a nip in the air as the first major cold front of the season is upon us.
This front cooled the waters considerably. Bayside water temperatures dropped nearly ten degrees, igniting a massive baitfish migration to the Oceanside which will, in turn, fire up the predators on the reef.
The grouper bite on the reef picked up dramatically over the last week or so, with lots of keeper reds along with some gags and blacks mixed in. The most action is on the patch reefs as well as the shallow edge of the reef in 30 to 40 feet. There’s also been a definite increase in cero and king mackerel activity.
I’ve had reports of good dolphin action from the deep edge of the reef out to the 200- to 300-foot areas. These are mostly gaffer size fish chasing ballyhoo under frigate birds and gannets. There are also scattered numbers of blackfin tuna and a few sailfish, which are hitting pilchards and live ballyhoo.
Mutton snapper are hanging on the wrecks and rough bottom spots in the 150- to 200-foot depths. And, there are even a few big muttons showing up on the patches in 20 to 25 feet.
The Hawk Channel coral humps and bumps are coming to life with plenty of hogfish, snapper of all variety, cero and Spanish mackerel. Pilchards and shrimp are your baits of choice.
The significant drop in water temperatures in the bay and gulf areas has spurred on all sorts of activity.
Mangrove snapper in the three- to four-pound class are prevalent on the near-shore wrecks and hard-bottom areas. Cobia and grouper are on the move in the gulf, with loads of gags eating live pinfish or small grunts, and the cobia doing the same.
Spanish mackerel have arrived and their population will swell in the coming weeks. And, expect to see large king mackerel in the same areas, as they are typically on the heels of the Spanish.
The week’s best catches
The SeaSquared crews entertained customers on the reef and in the bay with good action on large mangroves plus yellowtails, big muttons and a couple of red and black grouper. One family chose our Dinner and a Show trip and they caught somewhere around a half dozen lemon sharks and put dinner in the boat in the form of mangrove snappers. Dad Georges was thrilled to catch his first-ever fish.SeaSquared Charters Marathon Florida Keys 305-743-5305
Capt. Chris Johnson is a member of the Yamaha National Fishing Team and specializes in offshore, gulf/bay, reef/wreck, sailfish, shark and tarpon fishing with SeaSquared Charters out of Porky’s Bayside Marina in Marathon. You can reach him at 743-5305, http://SeaSquaredCharters.com and http://Facebook.com/MarathonFishing.