The dolphin are back, but will they stay? Florida Keys Weekly Fishing Report – July 28, 2010

Florida Keys Weekly Fishing Report – Captain Chris Johnson, SeaSquared Charters – July 28, 2010

Much to the chagrin of the meteorologists, Tropical Storm Bonnie was a non-event.  However, it did kick up the wind a bit which, as predicted in last week’s column, has accelerated the dolphin bite.

Dolphin

Anglers who braved the higher seas and swells over the weekend found plenty of dolphin 12 to 20 miles offshore of Marathon along a well-formed weed line at the edge of the Gulf Stream. 

The vast majority of the schoolies caught were legal size fish, and there were quite a few slammers mixed in.  For those of you who may not remember what a slammer looks like, it’s a fish over 20 pounds.

The dolphin have been hitting pitch baits as well as lures trolled down the edges of the weed line.

Blackfin Tuna 

At the humps, the blackfin tuna bite has turned on again, with good numbers of 10- to 15-pounders plus some nice size skipjack tuna.

Mutton Snapper, Amberjack, Jack Crevalle 

The inshore wrecks are producing a steady supply of nice mutton snapper in the 10- to 15-pound range.  Numerous amberjack and jack crevalle are hanging on the higher profile wrecks.

Live bait is the ticket for these fish, with pinfish, ballyhoo and cigar minnows being the favored offerings.

Yellowtail and Mangrove Snapper 

The yellowtail and mangrove snapper action continues in force on the reef.  Last night’s full moon should elicit a substantial spawn, producing a bounty of flag size ‘tails and hefty 3- to 5-pound mangroves for the taking. 

As always with snapper fishing, abundant chum is the key to success along with cut pieces of ballyhoo.  Small, 2- to 3-inch baitfish of any kind work great to attract the largest of the mangroves.

We should see a lesser spawn on the new moon in August.  The mangrove snapper then begin their trek back to the patch reefs and the bay, while the yellowtail remain on the reef year round.

Lobster Mini Season 

You don’t need me to remind you today and tomorrow is lobster mini season, and our waters will be congested with boats and divers.  Be especially aware and alert, as you never know who or what may pop up at any time.  Have fun but, please, obey the regulations and respect our environment.

Shark Week 

Sunday kicks off Shark Week on the Discovery Channel.  Their website is chock full of news, pictures, videos and games to educate and entertain.  You can take a virtual shark dive and even upload a photo of yourself and become a shark!

For a more realistic experience, try catch-and-release shark fishing in the calm, shallow grass and sand patches in the Gulf and bay areas.  Shark fishing is excellent sport for anglers of all ages and abilities.  Reeling in a 6 or 7 foot toothy critter on 20-pound tackle is both entertaining and exhilarating.

The week with SeaSquared Charters

SeaSquared first mate, DJ Luppens, spent a day dolphin fishing with his dad, Denny.  They found frigate birds and terns working a weed line 12 miles off Marathon.  They caught and released many legal size fish, keeping just the largest for dinner, a 35-pound beauty.

On Sunday, I teamed up with Capt. Jeff Shelar of Catch-em-All Charters for a shark trip with a group of 9 from Poland.  These folks had never caught a single fish in their lives, so they were pretty stoked to reel in 10 lemon sharks upwards of 7 feet in length on 20-pound tackle. 

SeaSquared Charters hosted 2 additional shark trips last week. 

Mark Mohwinkle and his group from the Jersey Shore had such a great time on their first shark trip on the 17th, they opted for a second rather than get bounced around snapper fishing on the reef.  Bob Mason and his family, from Defiance MO, were all about the “Show-Me” state as they caught and released a half dozen sharks.

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