Don’t let the heat slow you down – Florida Keys Weekly Fishing Report – September 8, 2010

If you feel like you’re cooking in the September heat, imagine what the fish are experiencing in near 90-degree water!

Florida Keys Weekly Fishing Update – Captain Chris Johnson, SeaSquared Charters – September 8, 2010


I talked to a few Captains who went to the humps over the holiday weekend.  They report scattered dolphin catches, but the blackfin tuna and wahoo are virtually nonexistent.


Fishing on the wrecks has also been on the slow side.  A few mutton snapper are making their way into fish boxes along with some large jack crevalle in the 20- to 25-pound range.

I understand there’s been a cold water upwelling that has put a damper on the wreck fishery.  When this subsides, the fishing will be good again.  This occurrence has pushed the bottom-dwelling wreck species up onto the reef.  Although this makes them more accessible, it tends to spread them out, ultimately making them more difficult to target.


Many anglers fishing for yellowtail have been surprised with a good size mutton in their slick.  One of the best ways to target the larger muttons is to cast net or hair hook the ballyhoo that are showing in tremendous numbers along the reef line.  Send one to the bottom with a 20-pound class spinning rod and you’ll most likely be rewarded with a delicious mutton snapper.

There are also numerous cero mackerel attacking the ballyhoo with abandon.  Twenty-pound tackle works well for these macks.  If you prefer more sport, use your yellowtail equipment with a small treble hook and a short trace of wire.  Cast a live ballyhoo back on the surface of your slick where it will inevitably be attacked by the toothy speed demons.

I’ve seen fair numbers of good size yellowjacks among the yellowtail and cero mackerel.  They always make for a nice bonus to any fish box and are delicious on the dinner table.


There are plenty of mangrove snapper in the bay.  Those willing to venture to a wreck or two will be rewarded with quite the variety of fun species.  Everything from medium size jack crevalle, bluefish, ladyfish, goliath grouper to Spanish mackerel, lane and mangrove snapper and even the occasional cobia and permit are waiting to bend your rods.

When targeting the snapper and grouper, be sure to use circle hooks, as they are mandatory in Gulf waters.  Live pinfish is the bait of choice, but cut chunks of ballyhoo or pinfish will also work well.  Either shrimp or crabs will attract the permit.


Sharks are hanging at the Gulf wrecks in abundance.  You can attract them with a freshly filleted jack crevalle drifted back in your chum slick or a live blue runner hung from a kite.  The kite tactic is especially entertaining, as multiple blacktips will attempt to catch the blue runner on the surface.  We like to fish for the blacktip sharks with 20-pound spin tackle or 25-pound conventional tackle.


The week in review on the SeaSquared

The SeaSquared hit the reef for snapper and grouper charters last week.

The Eric Peavey group from Miami caught a nice mess of yellowtail and mangrove snapper, some cero mackerel and a bonus 15-pound yellowjack.

Murray Beatts and his wife, Joan Wuischpard, from Tampa caught yellowtail snapper in the 14- to 20-inch range and a big 17-inch lane snapper.  They threw back some short red and black grouper.

Until next week … Tight Lines!

Capt. Chris Johnson, SeaSquared Charters, Marathon Florida Keys, 305-743-5305


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