Lots of delicious snapper dinners in Marathon this week!
Dolphin and tuna offshore
The offshore waters appear to be a dolphin angler’s dream with Sargasso weed and floating debris scattered everywhere. But, someone forgot to tell the dolphin.
Dolphin fishing remains sporadic. Hopefully it will improve with the passing of the full moon last week. Only the dolphin know for sure.
If your fishing plans take you offshore, you may want to make your way toward the humps in the Middle Keys area for some pretty good action on blackfin tuna. They’re taking lures, such as Billy baits and cedar plugs, trolled way back in your spread.
Most of the blackfins are in the eight- to ten-pound range. If you’re willing to put in the extra effort to drop jigs deep, you’re likely to come up with larger specimens in the 15- to 20-pound class.
Snapper on the reef and patches
The reef action remains steady for yellowtail and mangrove snapper, with the occasional mutton still spicing the slicks.
Most charter captains note the fish bite for about 45 to 60 minutes before it slows way down. The best tactic is to move and find another batch of hungry fish.
On the patch reefs, the mangrove bite is very good with lots of fish in the one- to four-pound category. The usual assortment of snapper baits works fine – pieces of ballyhoo and small, live pinfish.
There’s also decent action on cero mackerel, with some pushing the ten-pound mark. The best bait is live ballyhoo presented on a smaller treble hook with a trace of wire tossed back in your snapper slick. The bite can be explosive, with the ceros sky-rocketing your bait.
Early indications are lobstering is very good and certainly should remain so into the fall.
Mangroves in the Bay
On the occasional windy day, mangrove snapper fishing in the Bay is an excellent alternative. Loads of mangroves are making their way back from the reef and taking up residence on the banks and near shore wrecks.
The week’s best catches
Last week, the SeaSquared crew hosted groups and families from near and far – Florida, South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Georgia, Indiana, New Jersey and Kentucky.
We made several trips to the reef for excellent snapper fishing with loads of mangroves and yellowtails to show for it. We also did three catch-and-release shark fishing trips in Florida Bay.
We managed to get all those trips in (losing only one) despite having a major emergency engine repair mid-week. We thank our friends at Marathon Boat Yard Marine Center and Yamaha Outboards for working so quickly to get us back in the water. We also thank Capt. Howard Kelley and Capt. James Platt for the use of their boats.
Capt. Chris Johnson is a member of the Yamaha National Fishing Team and specializes in offshore, gulf/bay, reef/wreck, shark and tarpon fishing with SeaSquared Charters out of the 7 Mile Marina in Marathon. You can reach him at 305.743.5305, SeaSquared@bellsouth.net and www.SeaSquared-Charters.com.