Fishing over the last month has been challenging. We have had an on going issue with scattered Sargasso weed which has been so thick it is often impossible to fish a given area. Water quality has also been an issue with a lack of the vibrant color changes we expect to have this time of year. None the less, we have been producing steady catches of Sailfish, Blackfin Tuna, (some over 30 pounds) Mutton Snapper, Yellowtail and a few Dolphin.
We have had steady fishing over the course of the last several weeks for a variety of species. Weather conditions and the availability of various types of bait has determined what we target on any given day. Signs of the transition to spring fishing are apparent. There has been a decrease in the number of King Mackerel but an increase in the number of Sailfish. Reef fishing has been strong with many good catches of Yellowtail Snapper and Mutton Snapper. We caught a couple of good sized Cobia one day which is another sign of spring. Amberjack are also becoming more abundant on the deep water wrecks.
After a disappointing start to the Dolphin season as noted in our last fishing report, the last several weeks has offered by far the most consistent Dolphin fishing of the entire season. As is always the case in fishing, no two days are ever the same and some days are better than others but we have been averaging 12 to 20 fish per trip. Most of these fish range in size from 7 to 12 pounds and most days include fish 15 to 20 pounds.
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.
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.