We are now well into Dolphin season and the results have frankly been disappointing. Very few large fish have been caught, even during the mid May period when historically the bigger fish migrate through our area. The volume of schoolie fish, those between 4 and 8 pounds is also down. Not withstanding the tough fishing we have been able to produce decent catches by working really hard to track down birds, floating debris and scattered weed. One bright spot over the last month has been the quality SAilfishing which is late in the season for these fish. A dramatic color change has been in place outside the reef edge featuring green water on one side and blue water with strong east current on the other. Live baiting has produced most of the action. There have also been full sized Blackfin Tuna in the 20 to 30 pound range mixed in.
Author Archives: CaptainBrad
The month of April can often offer Key West’s best fishing of the year. The variety of fishing opportunities from Sailfish to Snapper is unmatched
by any other time of year. One reason for this is the seasonal overlap of species. Winter residents such as King Mackerel and Blackfin Tuna linger on
while spring and summer residents such as Dolphin are arriving in the area. Meanwhile warming water temperatures on the reef edge stimulate the Snapper bite.
Ultimately however, successful fishing on any given charter date requires that we take advantage of the specific conditions that exist on the day in question.
First, we are paying attention to wind direction and velocity, a north wind at 15 knots means something quite different than light and variable southeast. Secondly,
we are checking for the amount of current and it’s direction along the reef edge, combined with overall water clarity. Theses variables are in constant flux, dirty water and heavy current in one direction will often give way to very clean water with current in the opposite direction overnight. All of this effects the behavior of the fish we target and gives us a good idea of what to fish for and what tactics will be successful. We know from long experience that its not a good idea to “fight the conditions”, so for example if we have our hearts set on kite fishing for Sails but we find there is no wind and that the water in the targeted depth is dirty and full of scattered weed, kite fishing isn’t going to work out and we better go to plan B. We recommend you Fish for what’s biting and enjoy the day.
Many people believe that the month of April is the best fishing month of the year in Key West.
This is because no other month offers as much variety. All the winter species are still biting, while the spring migration
is adding to the abundance of Sailfish, Dolphin, Amberjack, Permit and many others. We have been Kite fishing with live bait
to produce Sailfish action, anchoring and chumming the reef for Snapper and making forays into the deep water for early season Dolphin.
This is the time of year when winter weary residents from the north take getaway vacations to warmer climates. For those with an interest in fishing, Key West is a great location to indulge this urge. Our fishing is close by with the result that little fishing time is wasted on long runs to distant fishing grounds. Even on 1/2 day trips we can have you catching a variety of hard fighting and often good eating species only a half hour from the dock. With so many Charter Fishing operators to choose from, unless you have a referral from a trusted fishing friend it can be hard to settle on the right boat. Here are some things to keep in mind. Don’t automatically choose the cheapest rate you can find. In general you get what you pay for, be suspecious of boats offering rates below the fleet average, one way or another these boats are cutting corners that won’t benefit your fishing experience. Secondly find out what size, make and model of boat you will be fishing on, bigger is not always better but the larger boats do ride better if the sea is choppy. Thirdly find out what sort of fishing the Captain specializes in, does this dovetail with your fishing interests? Ask pointed questions, does the boat use live bait, specifically, Ballyhoo, Pilchards, or Threadfin Herring. In the winter, Charter Boats that don’t routinely use the afore mentioned bait simply don’t catch as many fish as those that do. Avoid a Charter Boat during the winter season that only practices dead bait trolling. If the operator is unwilling to anchor and chum, use live bait, slow troll, put a kite up or do anything but dead bait troll you are probably not well served.
Aboard the SOUTHPAW you are riding on Key West’s finest designed Charter Boat. look at how clean and well organized our vessel is. That Tuna tower isn’t just for show, it helps us catch more fish. Look at our cockpit space- biggest in the fleet. live bait? you bet, every day a live well full. We are expert at all the tactics and techniques neccesary for successful winter fishing in Key West, just look at our catch reports. Don’t settle for less, try Southpaw Fishing.
More cold and blustery weather this past week. Good thing the fish don’t seem to mind. Patch and Reef fishing remains good. Plenty of King fish scattered around, also beginning to catch a few Blackfin Tuna. Sailfishing remains slow.
We’ve had relatively good fishing action during the Christmas week and beyond. Plenty of action on the patch reefs for Cero, Grey Snapper, Yellowtail and throwback Grouper. The deeper reef edge has yielded Jumbo sized Yellowtail and a good number of King Mackerel including a few over 30 lbs. Sailfish are relatively scarce, but we are getting in front of a few.
After Surviving Hurricane Irma in September and a Boat yard trip in October, The SOUTHPAW resumed Charter fishing In early November. The last month has seen very good fishing for a whole variety of species, from late season Dolphin to early season Tuna and Wahoo. The patch reefs are also alive with fish.
Mid summer in Key West can be a challenging time of year. Offshore the Dolphin fishing is less consistent than in previous months. Dolphin remain but they tend to be on average smaller fish, located further offshore. A minimum of a 3/4 day is required to have a fair chance for success. Fortunately there are other options for shorter trips or for those seeking fish other than Dolphin. The reef action for Snapper has been consistent and at times excellent for Grey Snapper, Yellowtail Snapper and Mutton Snapper. Dropping live baits on deep water wrecks is producing decent Amberjack action. Inshore trolling is producing action from Little Tunny, Cero and a few Wahoo.
A year ago we were experiencing one of the worst Dolphin fishing seasons in anyone’s memory. This year the Dolphin fishing is much improved with steady action over the last three weeks or more. We have not seen many of the classic east west weedlines which were a feature of Dolphin fishing in the past but there have been plenty of areas of scattered weed holding fish and plenty of birds to show us the way. The most important birds indicating the presence of Dolphin include Frigate birds, Noddy’s and Bridled Terns. The shearwaters which are also common typically indicate Skipjack Tuna. To maximize my clients chances for success, I spend all day in the Tuna Tower which gives me a superior observation post. Plenty of lithium batteries to power the stabilizing feature in my binnoculars allows me to find birds far on the horizon which would be invisible to the naked eye.
The last month has featured very steady and on some days excellent Dolphin fishing. While the Dolphin run was late to get started, it remains to be seen how long it will last. So far so good. Finding birds, weed and debris have been the key to a successful day. In addition to Dolphin we have been catching Skipjack Tuna, Blackfin Tuna and a few Sailfish.