Captain’s Blog – June 2, 2010 – Marathon Florida Keys – Well, folks … better late than never, I guess.
The Palolo worm hatch did not take place on the full moon last week, but we received one report that it was going strong Sunday night.
And the fish responded by devouring the little red delicacies with gusto. For those anglers tarpon fishing at the Middle Keys bridges, the action was stupendous.
Several charter Captains reporting in to us say there may be a second hatch of worms on the new moon in June. All we can do is wait and see.
The rest of the fishing has much less of a mystical aura to it.
The northwest winds that prevailed last week pushed the Gulf Stream very far offshore. The Stream was some 30 miles south of Sombrero Light in Marathon and as far as 45 miles off Key West.
These conditions really slowed the dolphin fishing, and we had only scattered reports of fish caught. Fishing for dolphin should improve as the winds shift back to a more seasonal southeast direction.
There remains respectable offshore action for tuna and wahoo though. The tuna bite at the humps is producing decent size fish, with most caught by butterfly jigging. Wahoo are popping up in the offshore catches as well.
There are good numbers of mutton snapper holding on the wrecks. Most average 12 to 16 pounds, but there are some approaching 18 pounds and better.
Amberjack and jack crevalle are entertaining anglers who choose to drop live baits such as threadfin herring or pinfish. The majority of the AJ’s are in the 30- to 40-pound range, but there’s the occasional bruiser tipping the scales at the 60-pound mark.
Kingfish are attacking live baits with abandon on the wrecks. This is often to the dismay of those in pursuit of the muttons. A wire leader will aid in preventing bite-offs.
The permit are still bountiful on the artificial reefs and higher profile wrecks. They will readily snatch up crabs on a HookUp Lures jig head. I’ve recently heard of some tremendous fish in the 30-pound plus bracket. Just be sure to release most as they are spawning.
The fishing action on the reef has been nothing short of spectacular.
Major quantities of large to flag size yellowtail snapper are making their way into fish boxes throughout the Keys.
The ‘tails will respond to a wide variety of bait, but there’s one constant with yellowtailing. The use of copious amounts of chum will out produce a mere single block.
In a typical half-day charter, I take two cases (12 blocks) of chum and expect to go through every bit of it. It’s not a bad idea to supplement your chum with oats and glass minnows, as these will often tempt the wary flag ‘tails. The more fish you have feeding in your slick, the better your chances of catching the biggest of the school.
Also beginning their spawning rituals, hefty mangrove snapper are spicing the reef catches.
It pays to have a 20-pound spinning rod rigged with a HookUp Lures jig head – at least ¼ ounce, depending on the velocity of the current. Send a small live pinfish, large chunk of ballyhoo or a sardine toward the bottom to attract the toothy mangroves. You might just catch a mutton snapper using the same technique.
Undoubtedly, you will have bull sharks in your slick. But don’t despair. They often have cobia in tow, and you can use the same 20-pound spinning rod to catch them. Again, any live bait, such as pinfish, works best.
While you’re fishing the reef, have a rig set up with a short trace of wire to catch the kingfish and cero mackerel. I prefer to use small blue runners or legal size yellowtail to entice the largest kings, but pinfish work well for the smaller of the mackerel.
Great numbers of black, gag and red grouper are being taken on the reef using live baits, such as pinfish, grunts and blue runners. Make sure your tackle has the muscle to withstand the beatings put on by these grouper.
The patch reefs are rendering their usual cornucopia of small to mid-size yellowtail, nice size mangrove plus plenty of legal and sub-legal grouper and hogfish. Once again, pinfish or shrimp on a HookUp Lures jig head is what’s needed here.
Catch-and-release fishing for various shark species gets hotter as the mercury rises. Summer is an awesome time of year for Florida Keys shark fishing adventures. You can beat this action for family fun fishing!