Sail fishing has improved dramatically over the course of the last several weeks. A spring migration of Sailfish is typical in April so we are happy to see them here. Most of our Sails are being caught on live bait fished from kites. We are also catching Kingfish, Little Tunny and a few Blackfin Tuna off the kite. Amberjacks have moved in on the wrecks along with a few Cobia. On the reef, Yellowtail Snapper and Mutton Snapper are biting pretty well although Sharks have been a problem on a lot of spots. We are seeing a lot of tailing Hammerhead Sharks as is also typical this time of year.
Author Archives: CaptainBrad
We have been working hard over the last several weeks to produce decent catches for our clients. As is always the case with fishing, some days are better than others. Staying flexable and being willing to employ lots of different tactics, all in the same day has been the key to success. I have often counted more than 20 different rods and reels that need to be put away at the end of the day because we’ve been trolling, kite fishing, and bottom fishing all on the same trip. Here are a few photos of quality fish from the last several weeks.
Fishing in the Key West area has been improving over the last several weeks. The primary change has been the arrival of greater numbers of King Mackerel. These are crowd pleasing fish for their savage strikes, and hard fighting qualities on the light tackle gear we employ to catch them. Being a schooling fish,Â where there is one there are more, and flurries of multiple hook ups is common. In addition to Kings, Blackfin Tuna have been a reliable target particularly early and late in the day. Anchored down on reefs and wrecks we are producing good numbers of Yellowtail Snapper along with Mutton Snapper. Grouper are also biting well, particularly Red Grouper although with the season closed until May 1st these fish must be released
Fishing over the course of the last month has been decidedly uneven. On successful days when “the plan” came together we’ve produced both Blue water fish such as Sailfish and Tuna as well as reef fish such as Snapper and Grouper all in the same day. Live baiting, deadbaiting, kite fishing, as well as anchoring and chumming have all been a part of our tactics. Other days have been tough- live bait not cooperating, dirty weedy lifeless water, or too much or too little current in the wrong direction. Perhaps the most significant oddity in the fishing this winter has been the scarcity of King Mackerel which we rely on for dependable rod bending action this time of year. Without the Kings, its been a steady diet of Cero, Little Tunny, and Yellowtail with a few Sailfish and Tuna mixed in.
Unseasonably warm weather prodominated during the month of December. As a result much of the fishing action that we anticipate for the early winter season has been slow to develop. King Mackerel for example have remained scarce. We have been catching a modest number of Sailfish and Tuna. We had an excellent though short lived blitz of Wahoo’s as well. The reef edge is producing Mutton Snapper and Yellowtail along with Cero. Shark fishing for those who want to pull on something big has been outstanding. Inshore on the patch reefs there is plenty of action from Grouper and Muttons.
After an extended yard trip the SOUTHPAW went back in the water on Nov 3rd. The boat has been completely repainted and looks great. Average daily temperatures have dropped much faster this fall than last year. The result is a return to the type of fishing we expect this time of year. Huge schools of Ballyhoo up and down the reef edge are attracting plenty of attention from Sailfish, Cero, Mutton Snapper, Blackfin Tuna, Bonita and Yellowjacks. On most days recently we have been able to load our live wells with Ballyhoo in short order. From there it’s only a matter of putting a lively baitÂ in front of a hungry fish to get a bite.
Water temperatures are falling as cool weather arrives in our area and the first cold fronts of the year pass through the Fl Keys. Ballyhoo are everywhere along the reef edge which attracts both pelagic species from offshore, and reef species to this abundance of bait. This is the time of year when sight casting for Sailfish is productive. After loading our live wells with Ballyhoo we patrol the edge of the reef in search of Frigate birds and the frantically showering schools of bait which signal the presence of Sails as well as other predators such as Cero, Yellowjack, Dolphin and Blackfin Tuna. An accurate cast with a frisky live Ballyhoo almost always results in a hookup. With our Tuna tower and oversized live wells the SOUTHPAW is ideally designed for this exciting fishery.
After a terrible month of May during which the annual Dolphin migration never really materialized, fishing during June has been very uneven. On longer days we have elected to go offshore but results have been inconsistent. Some days we’ve found a few Dolphin and return to the dock with 10-12 fish,Â although there has been little in the way of weed lines and very few birds.Â We have been getting a few billfish bites in addition to the Dolphin, mostly Sailfish but also the occasional Blue Marlin and White Marlin.Â other days it seems like an empty ocean and we have had to run far and wide to avoid being skunked. On shorter days we have fished the reef and produced some decentÂ catches of flag Yellowtail and big Muttons. Other days with poor current conditions we have struggled to catch a fewÂ Yellowtail. Very inconsistent.Â All in all, the disappointing season continues.
In a normal year we think of April in Key WestÂ as being one of the finest fishing months. This is a month when seemingly everything is biting. Sailfish are typically abundant as they begin their spring migration along with Cobia and some of the largest Blackfin Tuna of the year. Dolphin also typically put in an appearance as the early fish arrive in our area. Along the reef edge King Mackerel are still common and Snapper and Grouper fishing continues strongly.
ThisÂ year the month of AprilÂ has frankly been a disappointment. The Sailfish migration has been slow to non existant and Tuna and Cobia have been scarce. We have relied on reef fishing to provide action for our clients. On many days we have done a little bit of everything from trolling to live baiting to bottom fishing in order to maximize our chances.
Fishing in Key West over the last month has remained a challenge. There has been very little which is dependable. Conditions seem to change almost by the hour. Offshore, one day there are a few weed lines and some Dolphin around, the next day gone. The same has been true on the reef. One day dirty water and west current, the next day clean water and east current. This has put a premium on being flexible about what we fish for. Most days we have been prepared to do a little of everything, trolling, bottom fishing, live baiting,Â in order to put a catch together. Here is some photographic evidence of what we’ve caught during the month of July.