Plenty of snapper for the snatching – Florida Keys Weekly Fishing Report – September 15, 2010

The weather gurus are saying it’s going to be a bit breezy with seas beyond the reef at 4 to 6 feet for the next couple of days.

Florida Keys Weekly Fishing Update – Captain Chris Johnson, SeaSquared Charters – September 15, 2010

Offshore and the wrecks

While we normally don’t like to hear anything about the wind blowing, these conditions should help mix up the waters, warming the bottom layers and cooling the upper layers of the water column.  This will reinvigorate what has been a somewhat sluggish fishery offshore and on the wrecks.

Reef and patches 

One consistent fishery of late has been the yellowtail snapper action on the reef and patches.  Most of the ‘tails are being caught in the 65- to 80-foot depth range, although some 25- to 35-foot patch reefs are holding keeper size fish.

Mixed with the yellowtails are a few mutton snapper and still the occasional mangrove snapper.  Most of the mangroves have returned to the bayside, but more on that later.

With loads of ballyhoo on the reef, there’s good action with cero mackerel and some medium size king mackerel.

The best bait for the macks by far is a live ballyhoo pitched out away from the ‘hoo school that has gathered in your yellowtail slick.  A lone ballyhoo is sure to be eaten quickly.  Be sure to use a small trace of wire to prevent bite-offs by the toothy critters.

Decent numbers of grouper are on the reef, with some good quality fish mixed with quite a few just short ones.  Heavy tackle and large live baits are the key here.  Take advantage of the abundance of live ballyhoo.  Dropping one to the bottom usually provides an instant strike.

You may also happen upon a yellowjack while targeting grouper.  These jacks will quite often eat a live ballyhoo or pinfish.  The firm, white meat of the yellowjack makes them excellent table fare.

Bay and gulf 

Another venue that has been producing with reliability is the bay.  There are plenty of mangrove snapper, with most fish in the 14- to 16-inch range.  Jack crevalle, Goliath grouper, the occasional gag grouper and tons of sharks are also there for entertainment.  A live well full of pinfish plus some chunk baits will keep your rods bent.

The gulf wrecks are holding abundant quantities of permit, which should stick around until the waters begin to cool later in the fall.  These fish just love shrimp and crabs. 


I can’t quite believe I’m reporting this, but another productive fishery is lionfish. 

The first annual Florida Keys Lionfish Derby kicked off in Key Largo on Saturday.  More than 100 divers submerged to collect 534 Indo-Pacific red lionfish during the first concerted effort to reduce the population of the invasive species in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

The second derby is planned for October 16 at Keys Fisheries in Marathon and the third November 13 at the Hurricane Hole Marina in Key West.  For more information and to register, please visit REEF.


The week with SeaSquared Charters

The SeaSquared hit the reef for snapper and grouper charters last week.

Brothers George and Chris Holtzman, from Hinesville GA and Moncks Corner SC, caught yellowtail snapper in 65 feet of water.  They experienced challenging conditions with bumpy seas and the current running up the anchor line.  We also had a 4-foot barracuda take three of our fish just as they were about to make it into the boat.   

Despite all this, the Holtzman brothers brought in 10 yellowtail snapper ranging in size from 20 inches to just legal.  They released another 15 or so with the smallest at about 6 inches, along with a couple small grouper.  They planned to cook their snapper back at Bluewater Key RV Resort.

Until next week … Tight Lines!

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


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