Marathon & Florida Keys Weekly Fishing Report – Captain Chris Johnson, SeaSquared Charters – August 4, 2010
What was a good dolphin bite last week in the Middle Florida Keys has only gotten better.
Many of the schoolie size dolphin have grown up, and anglers are regularly catching heavy lifters and gaffers, with the occasional slammer thrown in.
It seems Tropical Storm Bonnie stirred things up when she brushed past the Florida Keys, and there are lots of floaters in the 700- to 900-foot depths. Trolling ballyhoo, or just about any bait, in these areas is working well to entice vicious strikes from the dolphin.
You may also find wahoo hanging under floating debris. Most are on the light end of the scale – 5 to 15 pounds – but tasty nonetheless. As wahoo have no size limit, you have your choice of harvesting the fish or releasing it to fight another day.
FWC Saltwater Fishing Regulations
Speaking of limits, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) came out with a new saltwater fishing regulations document on July 1, which includes the new rules for bonefish, among other handy information. It’s a good idea to review the regulations and keep a copy on board in case of questions.
Wrecks and Artificial Reefs
The wrecks and artificial reefs off Marathon continue to offer up mutton snapper, amberjack and large jack crevalle. Live pinfish, ballyhoo and cigar minnows are the favored offerings for these species.
The combination of bright blue skies, flat calm seas and lack of current has impacted the reef bite for yellowtail and mangrove snapper. If the wind kicks up slightly, as predicted, conditions should return to favorable for productive snapper fishing on the reef.
Beat the Heat with Night Snapper Fishing
Snapper fishing at night is fruitful, and should remain so through the month. The yellowtails can’t resist chunk ballyhoo or chunk sardines. To attract big mangroves, use live pinfish or pilchards.
We’re smack dab in the middle of Shark Week. Don’t allow the programs on the Discovery Channel to scare you away from what could be one of the best fishing adventures you’ll ever have. Florida Keys catch-and-release shark fishing using light spin tackle in calm, shallow waters is a ton of fun for anglers of all ages and abilities.
Based on my lobster mini-season experience and that of many friends, there is an abundance of Florida Keys spiny lobster prime for a butter bath. We had a group of 8 friends for two days of recreational lobstering, and we got 91 bugs. The first evening, we enjoyed New England-style lobster rolls with Christy’s awesome spiny lobster salad. On the second evening, I made lobster cakes, which we served with Christy’s tomato and corn salad. Yum!
As you head out this weekend to get your share, be aware of the commercial traps that have just been set. Go slow as you weave through the maze of buoys. The Florida Keys commercial lobstermen have a hard enough time of it. They don’t need you wrapping up their gear, and your motors will thank you too.
The Week’s Catches with SeaSquared Charters
After a busman’s holiday to enjoy some recreational lobstering, the crew of the SeaSquared was back at it on Friday.
We hit the reef off Marathon on a couple of trips with the Valentine and Steffen groups. As stated above, the clear, calm conditions made for a slow bite. I always enjoy a trip to the aquarium, but I take no pleasure in watching the snapper frolic behind the boat but refuse to take a bait. We managed to eek out catches of mangroves to 3 pounds and yellowtails to 17 inches.
Offshore trips proved much more rewarding for Rod Blake, from Punta Gorda, David Wilson, from Miami Gardens, and the Davis group, from Plant City.
Trolling and encountering floating debris 20 or so miles south of Sombrero Light produced nice dolphin strikes, including a 20-pound bull in the fish box for Blake and Wilson. A couple of small wahoo spiced the catches.