Marathon Florida Keys Weekly Fishing Update, Capt. Chris Johnson, SeaSquared Charters, February 23, 2011
The great weather that has you smiling is charging up the fishing in a big way too.
The best sailfish action remains in the Islamorada and Key Largo areas. Ballyhoo, pilchards and goggle eyes are getting the attention of these blazing billfish.
There is also a decent cobia bite on the Atlantic side in the Upper Keys, and the fish are taking just about any large live offering thrust in their direction. I’ve heard reports of some cobia approaching 80 pounds.
Tuna fishing at the humps has been sporadic, although when the fish are there, they are quite large in the 20- to 25-pound class.
There is some mutton snapper action on the inshore wrecks, but the real story there is the excellent amberjack and almaco jack fishing.
Some of the AJs have been pulling the scales past the 60-pound mark, so beef up your tackle to handle these giants. Large live baits, such as blue runners, grunts and big pinfish, are all working well.
If you’re really looking to flex your muscles, try the jolting strike of a hefty amberjack on a butterfly jig.
The best activity on the reef has been on the outside patches where all sorts of snapper, including mangrove, yellowtail and mutton, are being caught with abandon.
There have also been nice size porgy and good numbers of hogfish for those anglers willing to invest the time and money spent on shrimp bait. I think it’s well worth it for a delectable Florida Keys dinner.
Plenty of Spanish, cero and king mackerel are attacking all manner of live and dead baits as well as bucktails with abandon on the patches.
The channel humps are offering excellent catches of kingfish and Spanish mackerel. The kings are in the 15- to 25-pound class, while the Spanish average 2 to 4 pounds.
While you’re in Hawk Channel, pick up the usual assortment of snapper, hogfish, porgy and too many grouper that must be released.
It’s all about the mangrove snapper and Spanish mackerel on the bayside, with fishing around the banks and near shore wrecks producing the best results.
The week’s best catches.
The SeaSquared spent the week fishing primarily in Hawk Channel with a few trips to the Seven Mile Bridge and the bay thrown in as well.
Groups from Indiana, Nebraska, Florida, Colorado, Arizona, Minnesota and Illinois all dined at local restaurants on the hogfish and porgy, mangrove, mutton and yellowtail snapper they caught. Countless large kingfish and Spanish mackerel have been enjoying spa days in my smoker.
The Turner and Wiggs families from Bloomington IL
Mike Caron, Tim Garner and Tom Evans from Minnesota
Matt Laws and his crew from Nebraska, Arizona and Minnesota
Greg and Brandie Mills from Columbia City, Indiana
The Ludwigs and Bensens from Nebraska and the Baughmans from Florida