We have turned the page on the calendar, and we’re beginning to welcome back many of our friends – fish friends – who visit every winter.
Marathon and the Florida Keys Weekly Fishing Report – Captain Chris Johnson, SeaSquared Charters – November 3, 2010
On the reef edge, the frigate birds and terns are anxiously awaiting the arrival of hundreds of sailfish to begin feeding on the abundance of ballyhoo that are clogging the waters throughout the Keys.
There have been sporadic reports of decent numbers of sailfish, but no real consistency yet to the catches. Nothing spurs the sailfish action like a dip in temperature, and the prediction for this weekend includes a major cooling to the low to mid 70’s.
Cobia are beginning to show with some regularity. They are prone to tailing down the face of waves in the same fashion as the sailfish. Dolphin are also being seen and caught, so it pays to keep your eyes peeled for these delicious gamesters.
Also chasing the ballyhoo are cero mackerel. I have had multiple reports of fish exceeding 36 inches, which is extraordinarily large for ceros. Live ballyhoo or pilchards are the baits of choice.
Respectable quantities of mutton snapper are being caught on the wrecks and reef, with the fish averaging 8 to 10 pounds. Again, live ballyhoo or pilchards are the prime baits, but live pinfish will also work.
The yellowtail bite on the reef remains excellent, with the largest flags hanging on the deeper edge of the reef from 70 to 90 feet. There are also plenty of keeper size fish in the more shallow sections as well as on the patch reefs.
Mixed with the yellowtails are some nice grouper – primarily blacks with the occasional red showing up.
Patch reefs alive with action
With the Gulf waters cooling, the Atlantic patch reefs become host to all sorts of fish, such as mangrove snapper, nice mutton snapper, gag, black and red grouper as well as hogfish. There’s also some pretty good porgy action to be had on the patches. The snappers and hogfish are attracted to live shrimp, whereas the grouper prefer live pinfish or pilchards.
Be alert to cobia showing up on the patch reefs. Always have a bigger rod ready to pitch a live bait to one of these tasty critters, which can quite often exceed 40 pounds.
Varied action in the Gulf
In the Gulf and Bay venues, the mangrove snapper bite continues to be first-rate. Quality 16- to 18- inch mangroves are taking a wide variety of live baits as well as cut baits.
Good numbers of trout are being caught in and around the grass banks, with most fish taken on live shrimp fished under a cork.
It seems more and more Spanish mackerel are showing with each passing day, and this weekend’s cooler temperatures should really bring them to town.
In the same areas, fishing for cobia and gag grouper has been productive, with live pinfish the bait of choice.
Tuesday night is fishing night in Marathon
Tuesday night is fishing night at Salty’s Waterfront Grill and the 7 Mile Marina in Marathon. Next week’s free fishing seminar focuses on sailfishing. Stop by if you’re in the area.
The SeaSquared split the week fishing the patch reefs and the bay.
Angling buddies Mike Cashman and Gary Charette, from Dracut MA, opted for dinner and a show on the SeaSquared. I fist took them to one of my favorite Gulf wrecks and they caught their limit of fat mangrove snapper up to 18 inches. We then headed to my shark grounds and the guys went 5 for 5 on lemons with one 7.5-foot monster giving Mike a half-hour fight.
I hit the reef with returning Jersey Shore anglers Mark Mohwinkle and George Kicak. Despite sporty conditions, the pair put together a great catch of flag yellowtail snapper up to 24 inches and a bonus 10-pound mutton snapper before heading to Key West for Fantasy Fest.
Until next time … tight lines!
Capt. Chris Johnson, SeaSquared Charters, Marathon Florida Keys, 305.743.5305, FishingReportsFloridaKeys.com