Welcome wintertime visitors!
As opposed to the past couple of years, 2014 has brought us a series of much-needed cold fronts, which have caused a drop in water temps to the low- to mid-70’s.
These are ideal conditions for our wintertime fish visitors, primarily mackerel and sailfish.
Kingfish action in the Atlantic and Gulf
You can expect plenty of good kingfish action outside the reef and in Hawk Channel on the Atlantic side of the highway as well as on the Gulf wrecks.
In any venue, your number one live bait of choice is pilchards for kingfish of all sizes. Medium to large pilchards are best as they are more active than the smaller ones we typically use for snappers. When fishing with live pilchards, 15- and 20-pound tackle is required.
A little known trick for catching kings on the Atlantic side is a simple shrimp on a jighead cast back in your chum slick and retrieved in a fast, erratic tempo back to the boat. Kingfish of all sizes will eat this combination. The strike can be quite jarring, and 15-pound tackle is recommended for this technique.
When fishing for kings on the Gulfside, medium to large blue runners work great fished either under a float or a kite. We like to use a two-hook rig for the blue runners, with a larger 1/0 or 2/0 treble near the head and a #1 or #2 treble for the tail hook. And, we recommend #5 or #6 wire for all these applications. If the fish are especially finicky, #4 wire will do the trick.
Sailfish streaming through
February also heralds an impressive wave of sailfish beyond the reef. The usual assortment of baits will all work well. These include pilchards, cigar minnows, goggle eyes and live ballyhoo, if you can get them.
Hawk Channel offerings
One of our favorite areas for fishing this time of year is quite often the humps in Hawk Channel. Here for the catching are all variety of snappers, hogfish, Spanish and cero mackerel and grouper, which must be released as the season is closed until May 1. For greatest success, use small live pilchards or shrimp fished on a ½ ounce jighead on the bottom.
Florida Bay on a windy day
Back in Florida Bay, the Spanish mackerel bite remains excellent through this month and usually into March. Just get yourself out to 8 to 10 feet of water, put the chum in and have at ‘em!
The Spanish mackerel will take all varieties of live baits as well as shrimp and even cut bait. There’s often some quality mangrove snappers mixed in, especially around the near shore wrecks and grass banks.
We are pleased to announce we are now sponsored by ProGuide Direct. PGD is an all-inclusive online retailer where you can obtain all of your fishing and hunting gear. Please click here to peruse our Gear Lists and you, too, can fish with the top notch gear we use on all the SeaSquared boats!
We now have two boats!
We are pleased to announce we have added a new boat to the SeaSquared fleet. In addition to our Parker 28-foot center console, we also have a Pursuit 27-foot center console. This boat is a real workhorse. At 9’ 6” wide, she has ample 360-degree fishing room for up to six anglers. Her name is the Klimax and she is skippered by Capt. Chris Klimas, who provides all the same types of fishing trips that we run on the Parker. We hope you’ll give us a call to fish on the Klimax soon!
Please be sure to LIKE our Facebook page for daily fishing reports and pictures directly from the water!Capt. Chris Johnson SeaSquared Charters Marathon Florida Keys 305-743-5305
Capt. Chris Johnson is a member of the Yamaha National Fishing Team and specializes in offshore, reef/wreck, gulf/bay, sailfish, shark and tarpon fishing with SeaSquared Charters, docked at Porky’s Bayside Restaurant and Marina in Marathon. You can reach him at 305.743.5305, https://seasquaredcharters.com. For daily fishing reports with pictures, please click over to http://Facebook.com/MarathonFishing.