Fishing Blog

JULY 2013 Fishing Report

We have had a long stretch of unsettled weather featuring South and Southeast winds of 15-20 knots combined with lots of rain, squalls and thunder storms which has no doubt disrupted plenty of fishing trips over the last several weeks. As we move deeper into hurricane season there seems little relief in sight. Early forecasting suggests that steering currents are favorable for the so called Cape Verde storms to track more consistently to the west in our direction rather than veering to the north as they did last season. Vigilance is the watch word. The offshore fishing report is pretty mediocre of late. Most of the Dolphin around are small, either side of the 20 inch minimum, with larger fish far and few between. The best action of late has been inshore from the reef edge to about 300’. Mixed in with the dolphin have been plenty of Little Tunny- particularly on the shallow side with a few small and medium Blackfin Tuna primarily outside of 250’. There are also scattered Wahoo bites in this depth as well as the occasional Sail. A week or so ago we did catch and release a Blue Marlin of about 175 pounds, the first Blue we’d seen all spring.

Fishing on the reef edge has been inconsistent, owing in large measure to rapid changes in the current condition along the reef. In the space of a week we’ve had everything from roaring East tide to no tide to West tide. With the prevailing Southeast wind a medium West tide has been best for Yellowtailing. Grey or Mangrove Snapper are spawning this month and have already been biting decently in spots from 45’ to 60’. The Mutton Snapper have also been active here and there, although their spawning activity is petering out. This is a good time of year to fish the sunset and early evening parts of the day when it’s a little cooler. All in all, the next couple of months is probably not a bad time to accept your buddy’s offer to come fish with him “up north”. The Florida Keys may be the fishing capitol of the world, but the summer months are not our best. Good luck and tight lines.

Capt. Brad Simonds

By |2013-12-16T06:07:54+00:00December 16th, 2013|Fishing Blog|

June 2013 Fishing Report

To those who were expecting a May fishing report last month, I apologize, I couldn’t find the time to get the report written with a busy fishing schedule and ended up missing the deadline. This month’s report is part catch-up as a result.

Going back to May, we had no “color change tailing condition” as we often have early in the month. Wind and current were never right to create this phenomenon. Instead we had excellent Dolphin fishing beginning the first week of May which is a bit earlier than normal. This first of the season push of fish is characterized by the presence of Frigate birds following these migrating fish and by the tendency of these fish to be relatively close to shore. (from 400’ in to the reef edge) These first run fish also tend to be relatively large sized. In addition to the Dolphin, May fishing produced quite a few Wahoo, typically found under debris or along current breaks or weedlines. Most of these spring Wahoo are small fish from 10 to 25 lbs with only the occasional larger specimen. Billfish bites were relatively common particularly in the first half of the month, with the vast majority being Sailfish. The May moon was on the 25th and a large fleet was on location to target the Mutton Snapper spawn. Poor weather and spotty results rapidly thinned the fleet.

Looking at June, first and foremost it represents the official start of Hurricane season and right on cue, our weather has changed. Low pressure, large areas of moisture and abundant cloud cover will typify our weather. Boaters venturing offshore will want to carefully check radar imaging before and during their trip. This time of year squall lines can pack dangerous winds and lightning strikes. As for the fishing, the best of the Dolphin run is already over but schoolies will be plentiful. Finding larger fish will be hard work on many days. Paying close attention for bird life and floatsom is a must. Big fish “are where you find them” and that of course could be anywhere from the reef edge to well outside the wall. The June full moon will offer another chance to target Mutton Snapper as well as Mangrove, and Yellowtail. A pleasant reef trip can be had by departing the dock around 5:00pm and fishing through the sunset till full dark period. Good luck and tight lines.

Capt. Brad Simonds

By |2013-12-16T06:06:45+00:00December 16th, 2013|Fishing Blog|


Now comes April. Is it our favorite fishing month of the year? If not, it certainly makes the short list of the very best months. In April all things angling are possible because fish populations are migrating in and out of our area, and staging locally to spawn.

In the last week the number of Sailfish has increased dramatically and for the first time since early Jan we are actually targeting them specifically and catching them on a daily basis. Cobia too has been part of our recent catches and this too is a sign of the spring season. Look for color changes outside the reef edge in depths from 100’ to 250’. Small boats can fish effectively by drifting these areas with live baits. Fish a couple of baits as flat lines on the up wind side of the boat and deploy a kite on the downwind side. Kite fishing is NOT particularly complicated, and the month of April is an ideal time to gear up and master this technique. In addition to the top water baits you can always put a leaded bait down and expect action from late season Kings and Mutton Snapper.

April is also the month that features dramatic color changes with the associated “tailing” condition. East to North East wind blowing against a strong east current with a falling tide and or dirty inshore water butted up against blue Gulf Stream water creates this condition and the results can be dramatic. In a cloudless sky with high sun, on the right day you will see hundreds of fish from Bonita to Blackfin Tuna to Cobia, to Dolphin to Sailfish, even the occasional Swordfish, Blue Marlin and Mako Shark. Last year we saw a Bluefin Tuna of 500-600 pounds, 20 pound spinning tackle never seemed so puny!

April is still a little early for dependable deep water forays in search of Dolphin but if the weather is calm and there is nothing going on inshore it can be worth a look.

On the reef edge Yellowtail snapper are getting ready to spawn and are congregating in various spots. Choose your favorite Yellowtail spot on a day when the condition is right- a decent flow of current behind the boat and off color water. If you don’t have current don’t try to Yellowtail, save it for a day when it’s right. Enjoy the month’s fishing opportunities! Tight lines and good luck.

Capt. Brad Simonds

By |2013-12-16T06:03:35+00:00December 16th, 2013|Fishing Blog|

March 2013 Fishing Report

As I write this column the temperature hovers around 60 degrees outside my window. It is likely that this will be one of the last cold fronts of the winter which influences the southerly and westerly migration of fish into the lower Keys area. Sailfish remain scarce in our area, with much greater numbers just east of us in Islamorada and Key Largo. March however often brings our first “tailing conditions” to the local area with a big improvement in the number of Sails around. Tuna have also been somewhat scarce, we’ve been catching one here and there- best chance for Tuna currently would be the 200’ water 20 miles and more west of Key West. King fishing remains our bread and butter “go to” fishery for dependable action. Plenty of Kings remain on both the Southside and up in the Gulf, with most of the larger fish (30-40 pounds) located in the Gulf. These big Gulf fish will readily eat trolled ballyhoo rigged just as you would for Wahoo. Frustrated Wahoo fishermen might have an enjoyable day by heading into the Gulf on a day which features South or Southeast winds and very lumpy conditions in the Gulf Stream. Not only will they find much calmer water, they may find the big Kings offer faster action and a similar exciting fight to Wahoo. Smith shoal and the Edmund Lowe are both close by and well known areas to try.

Out on the south side reefs, Yellowtail action is up and down. Several times of late we’ve anchored down and watched huge schools respond quickly to the chum and rise right to the surface 15 yards behind the boat. On other days in the same location the fish seem absent. A little patience often pays off, if you’re not getting bit, stop fishing for a while, get your lines out of the water and just feed the fish. When you resume fishing, try just one line at a time. Sometimes less results in more.

For those who might be entertaining friends and family from up north and looking to satisfy the request to catch something BIG, I’ve got two suggestions- Sharks and Amberjack. Almost anywhere you anchor from the patches to the reef edge will produce Shark bites if you put a slab of cut bait or butterflyed Yellowtail on the bottom. Use a stout outfit with a piece of #8 – #10 wire and strong hook on the terminal end. You may also want to admonish your eager shark angler to “be careful what you wish for” as you lower the bait to the bottom. Amberjack will begin spawning in March and their numbers will increase dramatically around all the local wrecks, drift live bait or work a butterfly jig to get results. Good luck and tight lines.

Capt. Brad Simonds

By |2013-12-16T06:02:19+00:00December 16th, 2013|Fishing Blog|

February 2013 Fishing Report

A plague of windy weather has no doubt affected the fishing plans of many readers of this column. I can sympathize as even in my 43’ Charter Boat we have lost a few trips of late. All wind is not the same of course and even relatively small boats can fish on the south side if the wind is out of the north; as the east-west laying Keys form a natural lee. Hawk’s Channel patch reefs are a great destination on days featuring 20 knots of North wind. On the other hand if the wind shifts into the SE or South, even more modest breezes will result in a lumpy sea state because the sea is building from the open ocean. It’s not a bad idea on a day when you are weathered out to catch up on boat and tackle maintenance.

Fishing of late has been in a bit of a rut. It’s pretty quiet offshore with just the occasional Wahoo, Blackfin Tuna, and Dolphin encountered. The past full moon yielded a small uptick in the Wahoo action but overall it was another disappointing winter moon for Wahoo. In closer to the reef edge, Sailfish remain scarce and the Tuna bite on the wrecks is intermittent. Fishing the deep water (150’ – 200’) has yielded some nice catches of Mutton Snapper for those that know the spots. On the reef itself, Yellowtail Action has been so so – these fish are never as aggressive mid winter as they are with warmer water temps. Black Grouper are beginning to congregate on their historical spawning sites but must be released as the season is closed. King Mackerel and Cero along with various Jack species- Amberjack, Yellow Jack, Blue Runners and Cravalles have all been part of the reef mix. Is it too early to start to look forward to the spring migration?

Tight lines and good luck,

Capt. Brad Simonds

By |2013-12-16T06:01:20+00:00December 16th, 2013|Fishing Blog|

January 2013 Fishing Report

Fishing in the lower Keys and Key West area has been quite outstanding over the last several weeks, provided one has stocked the right bait and is pursuing the right quarry on the right day. We can expect this trend to continue in the month of January provided that temperatures remain near historical averages for this time of year.

King Mackerel are now abundant along various areas of the reef edge. These fish are fine light tackle fighters and are easily attracted to a chum slick particularly if the slick is sweetened with handfuls of live pilchards which have been more abundant this winter than in recent years. Blackfin Tuna are also holding on some of the wrecks and 20 to 30 fathom structure. As with the Kings, the Tuna will respond to live pilchards as well as “chunk” chum. Grouper season on the Atlantic side is now closed through the end of April. The only Grouper fishery remaining open is for Red’s and Black’s in Federal waters of the Gulf, which entails a long run out NW channel. Tight to the reef edge Yellowtail Snapper are biting well when there is decent current and slightly off color water. Cero mackerel are also prowling this area, try free lining a large live shrimp on #3 wire to entice a bite. As I have mentioned in this column previously, Cero are exceptionally good table fare, either skin side down under the broiler or skin off, chopped in a ceviche or Sushi.

Offshore the fishing has been inconsistent as is typical this time of year, you may ride offshore and find a weed line or debris holding Dolphin and Wahoo or you may draw a blank. One interesting note is the number of Blue Marlin which have been reported hooked or caught in the last month- many more than I can remember from past years at this time. On Calm days, daylight Swordfishing has produced fish, including one in Key West last week which weighed 365 lbs. Tight lines and good luck.

Capt. Brad Simonds

By |2013-12-16T06:00:21+00:00December 16th, 2013|Fishing Blog|
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