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
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.
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.
Dolphin fishing remains challenging. We are catching some on virtually every trip but it hasn’t been easy as there has been very little weed to work. Recently we’ve caught several over 30lbs. There have also been a fair number of Billfish offshore, most in the vicinity of the “wall” some 20 miles offshore. We’ve caught Sailfish, White Marlin and a Blue Marlin in the last several weeks. Inshore on the reef edge Snapper fishing has been productive.
In a normal year May is our very best month for Dolphin. This year we’ve not seen the number of migrating Mahi,Mahi we would expect. None the less, by by looking far and wide we have managed to put together some reasonable catches. We have also been fishing the reef edge and have been catching Flag Yellowtail and Mutton Snapper.