It’s holiday sail time!
Yes, folks, it’s that time of year when the sailfish are making merry on the reef, gobbling ballyhoo with abandon.
And their friends – king mackerel, dolphin and blackfin tuna – are joining in the festivities.
When they’re not chomping on the free-flowing ballyhoo candy, the sailfish can be taken off the reef edge by live baiting with pilchards, ballyhoo, goggle eyes, cigar minnows and small blue runners.
Sailfish not on your wish list?
December ranks as the second best time of year to fulfill your dreams of catching a magnificent black grouper before the season closes on January 1.
Mixed in on the reef edge are some rather nice red grouper along with the whole snapper gang – yellowtail, mutton and mangrove.
Up shallower on the patches, yellowtail and mangrove snapper dominate. They are joined by cero, king and Spanish mackerel. So, fire up the smoker; it’s time to load up on smoked mackerel treats.
We fish for the mackerel with live pilchards or ballyhoo. An option is to throw a top water plug. My favorite is the Rapala X-RAP Xtreme Action Slashbait. There are few things more exciting than watching a 40-pound kingfish skyrocketing your surface plug thinking he’s just had a tasty ballyhoo lunch.
This time of year we can get some breezy days, but that’s no reason to stay ashore.
Florida Bay offers up loads of mangrove snapper and Spanish mackerel
Shrimp-tipped jig heads as well as live pilchards and even cut bait, such as chunks of ballyhoo or pinfish, presented back in your chum slick will do the trick. Before you know it, you’ll have a fish box full of smoked fish dip makings.
Venture a little further out in the Gulf, and you’ll have another opportunity to catch grouper before the season closes. Here, it’s gag grouper. There are also cobia, mangrove snapper and very large king mackerel to round out your catch.
December fishing in Marathon truly is a Christmas wonderland, with opportunities for anglers old and young, experienced and novice, to fulfill all their fishing wishes.
Christy and I thank you for following our articles throughout the year and wish a Happy Christmas to all, and to all good fishing!
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.