Marathon & Florida Keys Weekly Fishing Update – 12/29/2010 – Cool weather heats up the fishing

Cool weather heats up the fishing in the Florida Keys!

Marathon & Florida Keys Weekly Fishing Update – Capt. Chris Johnson, SeaSquared Charters – December 29, 2010

Although the landlubbers may find them not to their liking, the cold fronts we’ve experienced this month can be of great benefit to anglers fishing the Atlantic side for reef species as well as pelagics.

The fronts tend to move the fish around, restocking your favorite fishing areas with fresh supplies of aggressive feeders. 


There have been good showings of sailfish both on top of the reef as well as out as deep as 200 feet.  They have been taking a wide variety of live baits, such as ballyhoo, pilchards, goggle eyes, small blue runners and cigar minnows.


Most likely triggered by last week’s full moon, there have been respectable numbers of wahoo mixed with the sailfish.  They should stick around as long as there is plenty of bait for them to dine on.

Blackfin tuna and dolphin 

There has also been a decent amount of blackfin tuna in the 10- to 15-pound range as well as some dolphin up to about 15 pounds.


The kingfish have arrived in abundance.  There’s been a real spike in catches of fish in the 15- to 18-pound category as well as quite a few smokers of 30 pounds and up.  Most of the kings are being encountered by anglers while fishing for sails and other pelagic species off the edge of the reef, although Hawk Channel is producing quite a few in the 20- to 25-pound class.

Spanish mackerel 

In the Middle Keys, Hawk Channel is also holding huge amounts of Spanish mackerel.  These fish are taking all variety of live bait as well as lures, such as small buck tails and spoons.  Look for diving and wheeling birds, and you should be into the action in short order.

Yellowtail snapper 

When the colder Gulf water flows into the Atlantic, it substantially cools the waters in those areas (such as Long Key Bridge, Seven Mile Bridge and Key West Harbor). 

Because of this, the yellowtail fishing on the reef has been hit or miss depending on your proximity to a Gulf of Mexico outlet.  Find an area away from such a passage and your yellowtailing will improve dramatically.


There are a precious few days left for grouper fishing as the season closes on January 1 for four months for all shallow water species.  There are plenty of reds and blacks and even some gags for the taking this week.

Wide variety on the patch reefs 

On the patch reefs and channel humps, the mangrove snapper bite has been fierce, with respectable numbers of lane snappers in the 12- to 15-inch range mixed in.  The occasional yellowtail and mutton snapper, along with porgy, hogfish and red grouper are in the same areas.

The forecast for the rest of the week and into the weekend is for lower winds and higher temperatures, which will improve conditions for fishing in all venues.

FREE fishing seminar 

Join the Captains of Charter Boat Row of Marathon at the 7 Mile Marina on Tuesday from 6-8 pm for an informative seminar on the basics of fishing the Florida Keys.  We’ll cover everything from bait, rods and reels, knots and leaders to trolling, deep dropping and offshore fishing to safety.

Happy New Year! 

Christy and I would like to thank all of you for following our articles this year and look forward to bringing you comprehensive fishing information and reports from local charter Captains during 2011.

The week with SeaSquared Charters

The SeaSquared has spent the last several trips fishing the reef edge, channel humps and patch reefs.

The Nathan Kenyon group, from Utah, caught a 17-inch mutton snapper, lanes in the 15-inch class and mangroves at about 16 inches.  They also boated the mackerel trifecta – cero, Spanish and a 15-pound king – all headed for the smoker.

Scott Douglas and his young son Andrew returned to fish with me and we hit the channel humps.  The pair caught all the Spanish mackerel they could possibly want plus a 24-inch black and a 20-inch red grouper.  A mass of mangrove, yellowtail and lane snapper, plus a giant porgy, rounded out the catch. 

The Joe Pecherski group, from the UP of Michigan, returned for more Christmas fishing with me and were real troopers in chilly temps and high winds.  The first on the hook was a bonnethead shark, which was released.  The group proceeded to put a bunch of keepers in the box – a 22-inch red grouper plus mangrove, lane and yellowtail snapper and porgy.

Until next time … tight lines!

Capt. Chris Johnson, SeaSquared Charters,7 Mile Marina, Marathon Florida Keys, 305-743-5305

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