One of the windiest winters in recent memory continues unabated. With the briefest exceptions, temperatures remain warmer than average for this time of year as well. As a result, King Mackerel which are a mainstay of our fishery this time of year are all but absent. Sailfish numbers are also down. Both of these species will remain in greater numbers north of our area until and unless cooler temperatures drive them into our area. With the wind being such a big factor, there has been little consistency in what type of fishing we do. Strong North winds have generally found us hunkered down on the reef edge behind the shallowest patch reefs which knock the seas down. Strong South winds often mean a weather cancelation as the seas build from the open ocean. We have had some good Snapper fishing on the moderating South wind, caught a few Sailfish live baiting on the East wind, and had some good Dolphin and Wahoo fishing on the occasional calm day between blows. There have been several very large Dolphin caught recently, in spite of it being off season, including a 59 pounder that was chasing bait along the bar in 90 feet of water.

Large numbers of Ballyhoo remain on the Hawks Channel patch reefs and also in many areas along the fore reef. Areas with high concentrations of Ballyhoo are prime locations to fish particularly if you “match the hatch” by using both live and fresh dead Ballyhoo. Expect Cero, Jacks, Mutton, Mangrove and Yellowtail Snapper as well as out of season Black, Gag and Red Grouper to be associated with these schools of Ballyhoo.

Blackfin Tuna are also available to those with access to quantities of live Pilchards. Drifting or anchoring the deep water wrecks and heavy chumming with the Pilchards particularly late in the day has produced good results. Tight lines and good luck,

Capt. Brad Simonds