Captain’s Blog – April 7, 2010 – Marathon Florida Keys – The sailfish bite has been excellent when the proper tailing conditions exist.
This occurs when the Gulf Stream is close to the reef edge and there is a distinct color change in the 150- to 300-foot depths. Tailing is the term used to describe how the sailfish surf the surface currents in the Gulf Stream with their tails exposed as they search for baitfish.
There are numerous cobia tailing along with the sails. Most average 30 pounds, but I’ve had reports of more than a couple approaching 70 pounds. The baits used for the sailfish will also attract the cobia – large pilchards, threadfin herring, cigar minnows or small blue runners.
The hot spot for sailfish and cobia has been American Shoal off Looe Key. The most active venue is completely dependent on the proximity of the Gulf Stream to the reef, which varies day to day.
For those venturing to the blue water, there are more than enough bonita to go around along with some decent catches of dolphin. We are just getting started with the dolphin fishing. By May, it will be full on!
On the wrecks and artificial reefs, the mutton snapper bite is getting better with each day. There are lots of fish in the 10- to 12-pound class. They’re biting pilchards and pinfish. Good numbers of amberjack are in the same areas.
The yellowtail fishing is really coming into its own as the water continues to warm on the reef. Fish are in the 14- to 18-inch range, with a few flags mixed in to spice the catches.
The area to fish is anywhere from the patch reefs out to 40 feet of water on the main reef. The keys to success are abundant quantities of chum and a variety of baits, such as shrimp, cut pieces of ballyhoo and small chunks of sardines.
Among the yellowtails are quite a few mangrove snapper, which seem not to have returned to the bay after the cold winter. King mackerel are also in the mix. They’re averaging 10 to 15 pounds with a few heifers pushing 30 to 40 pounds.
We’re counting the days until grouper season reopens on May 1. Based on the impressive numbers of grouper showing up lately, you may want to consider placing a “reserved” sign on your favorite spot!
In the bay, the mackerel bite is incredible. As the waters warm, it won’t last much longer, so get out there and get them while you can. A sure indication that water temperatures are increasing is the number of ceros mixed with the Spanish macks. The best baits to use are shrimp, but any cut bait, such as chunks of ballyhoo or pinfish, will also do the trick.
Further out on the Gulf wrecks there are very good numbers of gag grouper and mangrove snapper. The cobia should be making their presence known soon. Live pinfish is your bait of choice but you can also use pilchards and threadfin herring.
The bridges and near shore flats are shark central. Blacktips, bulls and lemons are cruising these areas with increasing regularity. The timing couldn’t be better for the 7 Mile Marina Marathon Sharkathon, which takes place this weekend. There are no boundaries set for this tournament, so it’s a great opportunity for anglers Keys-wide to get involved in this all-release challenge.
Tarpon fishing is in full swing in Key West, but the silver kings are just beginning to show at the bridges in the Middle Keys.