Fishing Report Florida Keys Nov 12 2014: Stay on the reef to fill the cooler

This week, there’s no need to leave the reef to fill your cooler.  Fishing in Marathon Florida Keys is outstanding right now.

This is a gag grouper caught in Marathon Florida Keys with Captain Chris Johnson and SeaSquared Charters

Dolphin and tuna fishing

Even the dolphin bite has been better on the reef than out in the deep.  And, there have been a few blackfin tuna caught off the reef edge by anglers live-baiting for sailfish.

Smoked fish

The wrecks in 150 to 200 feet are providing tons of action on kingfish and amberjack.  So, if you enjoy smoked fish, rig a live bait with a small piece of wire, drop it down 40 to 80 feet and then hang on.  Live pilchards and ballyhoo are working well.


We’re seeing increasing numbers of sailfish, with most caught spraying ballyhoo on top of the reef or live-baiting just off the reef edge in 120 to 130 feet.  Ballyhoo is your bait of choice, but cigar minnows and goggle eyes are attracting their share of sails also.

Snapper and grouper fishing

The snapper bite on the reef is outstanding, and most anglers report limit catches on a regular basis.  Yellowtails and mangroves make up the bulk of the action, with all depths from the deepest edge of the reef all the way up to the patch reefs holding loads of fish.

The dip in water temps to the mid- to high-70’s has ignited the grouper bite.  There are copious numbers of blacks and gags on the reef, while reds join them for the grouper trifecta on the patches and channel humps.  Hogfish are also making an appearance in these areas.

The mangrove snapper bite remains very good in the bay and gulf areas, with the wrecks and grassy banks giving up fish weighing up to four pounds.  Gag grouper and cobia are arriving on the wrecks, and the Spanish mackerel population is exploding.

The week’s best catches

The SeaSquared crews took full advantage of the outstanding reef bite in Marathon Florida Keys.  Our anglers readily put limit catches of snappers together, mostly mangroves, with fish up to seven pounds.  Red, black and gag grouper plus a few hogfish topped off the coolers.

Click here for detailed daily fishing reports with pictures.

November 12, 2014
Capt. Chris Johnson
SeaSquared Charters
Marathon Florida Keys

Capt. Chris Johnson is a member of the Yamaha National Fishing Team and specializes in offshore, gulf/bay, reef/wreck, sailfish, shark and tarpon fishing with SeaSquared Charters in Marathon Florida Keys. You can reach him at 305-743-5305, and

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