The beat goes on for all variety of good-eating and fun-catching fish!
Mutton snapper fishing on the wrecks is very productive. A large variety of live baits, such as pinfish or cigar minnows, is providing the best results.
There are still a few amberjack on the wrecks for those looking to stretch their arms out an extra six inches, with the best action on larger live baits.
Snapper and grouper on the reef
The snapper bite on the reef remains successful at all depths from 30 to 100 feet. The muttons are coming in at 10 to 12 pounds, while yellowtail of all sizes, including some real flags, are making their way into the fish boxes.
Remember, the deeper you go, the bigger the fish. And, as always, the cardinal rule of yellowtailing prevails, “He with the most chum wins.”
We thought we’ve been experiencing a Goliath grouper problem on our yellowtail spots, but it turns out it is large black groupers attacking our snappers as we were reel them in. One of our anglers had a hooked five-pound mangrove shoot for the surface followed closely behind by a 50- to 60-pound black grouper trying to eat it.
So, drop a large live bait near the bottom on your favorite yellowtail hole and you’ll be rewarded with a grouper. These hefty black grouper require large tackle and heavy drag settings as they are extremely powerful, and no bait is too big for these bruisers.
Good things come to those who wait. And, the excellent dolphin bite we’ve been waiting for is here.
Most Captains report taking schoolie dolphin on weed lines, whereas they’re finding the big slammers under birds on the edge of the Gulf Stream. In the Middle Keys, the Stream has crept within the 15- to 18-mile range, and it’s even closer as you get toward Key West.
The winds are predicted to kick up quite a bit this week, so pick your best day to get out safely for the dolphin.
Mixed with the dolphin there has been some decent blackfin tuna in the 10- to 15-pound range. Trolling Billy baits or other small bullet-type lures has been most effective.
Tarpon at the bridges
Tarpon fishing at the bridges in the Middle Keys has been spotty this week. Most Captains I’ve spoken too say the run here is winding down. There are still plenty of tarpon here, but they’re just not biting well at the moment. This could change any day, so check with your charter Captain as to the current status before you head out only to be disappointed.
The tarpon fishing in Key West typically runs into mid-July, and they always have some resident tarpon in Key West Harbor to entertain anglers.
Shallow water fishing for sharks is always action-packed fun, but it is especially a great alternative on windy days when you can’t get to the reef or offshore. It provides all the excitement of big game sport fishing for a small game price. You may even get a bonus snapper or two for dinner.
The week’s best catches
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