SPRING SHOWERS BRING KING MACKEREL!
Late Sunday night and Monday morning Spring showers moved through the Florida Keys. This is no big deal to the fish as we all know because they are already wet! Capt. Bruce Anderson of Captain Easy Charters had a hardy client who did not mind the showers so they head out to the reef for some fishing. After gathering a good mix of live baits Capt. Bruce worked his way to the 150 foot depths and the action started almost immediately. King Mackerel ranging from 15 to 25 pounds started crashing baits at a hectic pace. Add to the catch a nice Black Grouper that nailed a live bait on the long line and all aboard were pleased with the day.
Spring showers bring King Mackerel!
FLORIDA KEYS FAMILY FISHING TIME
This time of the year the vast majority of the charter business is made up of families down enjoying spring break. The boats leaving the docks look like school buses, loads of smiling kids and parents headed out to play. This is what I call the “short attention span crowd” and I mean it in a kind way. The object of these trips with loads of kids is to hook up fish early and often throughout the whole trip. Nothing fits the bill like a good Sea trout bite or a red-hot Snapper loaded patch reef. The Trout action is hot and heavy right now and these fish are big eaters! Both live and artificial baits will bring on whopper strikes and fish! The Trout today averaged 18 inches in length and just over 2 lbs. Kids of all ages love keeping the fishing pole bent over and these fish are glad to help. Along the way all of the guides are reporting that with the Trout there is an abundance of Jacks and Ladyfish mixed in the keep the action hot. Most charters during this time of the year are half day , four hour trips then its back to the dock so the family can continue with their spring vacation here in the Florida Keys.
Florida Keys Family Fishing Time
BEGINNER’S LUCK AND A GREAT CAPTAIN MAKES THE DIFFERENCE
Earlier this week I had the pleasure of meeting Shirley and Chuck from Ishpeming Michigan, a town so small on the U.P. that no one knows the places’ correct spelling! This couple loves fishing, freshwater, saltwater, even frozen water, it just doesn’t matter. We had a blast catching Spanish Mackerel and Baracuda on Mon and on Weds they went offshore fishing with Capt. Brian Cone of Contagious Charters. This is where the great captain part kicks in, by 9:15 AM they had already had the trip of a lifetime! People will fish for their whole lives and never match the morning that this fun couple was treated to by Capt. Brian Cone. By 9:15 AM they had caught several big King Macks, several nice Mahi-Mahi and a White Marlin! All on kite flown baits and all on the reef! After releasing the Marlin they settled down to a great catch of hard fighting Yellowtail Snappers and a few hard-charging Bonito before calling it a day! Here are two shots from the two trips they fished while here in the Florida Keys.
Beginner’s Luck and a great captain makes the difference
ISLAMORADA FLATS FISHING UPDATE: MARCH 11
This past week was a wild one! Winter conditions still persist with windy and cold mornings and warm windy afternoons. The wind has been the one consistent thing we have had around here. Yet the wind has been all over the compass, changing directions all through the day and wreaking havoc with the backcountry tides! The upside of the week is that snook season has opened at last and stays open until May 1. The opening of snook season is always a welcome event. We get to catch these fish all year long, but to keep the population of this game fish healthy the harvest of snook is only 5 months each year. Snook are a warm water species and will take both natural and artificial baits. The past few years area guides have been talking about the large numbers of small 18 to 26 inch snook that can be found all around the Flamingo area. This is great news and just indicates that we have a very healthy snook population here in the Keys. The snook is a beautiful fish that is a challenge on light tackle that we use here in the backcountry and they put up great jumps and blazing runs once hooked. The super thing about snook is that they can be found from the bridges on out to the Gulf and up into the heart of the Everglades. Find a guide and give these fighters a try. March is the season of spring break and with this comes time for family fishing here in the Keys. Kids of all ages along with their parents will be looking for things to do here in paradise. If getting off of the beaten track appeals to you take a good look at going fishing with an area guide. There is so much more to a fishing trip than just fishing. You will see Eco – tours offered and they are fun, short trips around the nearshore waters of the Keys. A fishing trip into the backcountry is the original Eco – tour, we see so much wildlife as we travel through the Everglades National Park. Your guide very knowledgeable in the where, what and whys of all of the wildlife that can be found there. This is prime time for dolphin watching and birding and the guides of Islamorada are a great source of information sitting right there in his boat. Bring a camera and a sense of adventure and you will be blown away at the sights and sounds of the backcountry. We have a listing of some fine guides in the back of this issue of “The Weekly Fisherman” give one a call.
Islamorada Flats Fishing Update: March 11
WHITE MARLIN, BIG KINGS AND A SIDE OF MAHI!
Capt.Brian Cone runs his charter business out of Robbie’s Marina here in Islamorada. His boat is called the Contagious and Capt. Brian knows how to run things right. This morning at 9:15 AM he calls me to tell me that the anglers that we were sharing had just finished landing a 50 pound White Marlin as well as a full limit of nice King Mackerel and a hand full of Mahi-Mahi! All these wonderfull game fish were caught under a kite set up and on the edge of the reef. This was a hard act to follow but Capt. Brian ended the charter with a big catch of flag Yellowtail Snapper, flag means a fish over 5 pounds, BIG SNAPPER! You can find Capt. Brian Cone at http://www.Islamoradafishing.com he is the man! March and April is family time in the Florida Keys. Spring break means family fun fishing. This means find fish fast and keep the kids hooked up. Sea Trout are a great fish to target on these trips, they are aggressive eaters and will take a wide range of both natural and artificial baits. Perfect for the new angler or those who want to catch large numbers of fish. The morning bite was wide open on the falling tide in the backcountry and we cashed in on good sized fish.
White Marlin, big Kings and a side of Mahi!
SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST FISHING.
Capt.Brian Cone runs his charter business out of Robbie’s Marina here in Islamorada. His boat is called the Contagious and Capt. Brian knows how to run thngs right. This morning at 9:15 AM he calls me to tell me that the anglers that we were sharing had just finished landing a 50 pound White Marlin as well as a full limit of nice King Mackerel and a hand full of Mahi-Mahi! All these wonderfull game fish were caught under a kite set up and on the edge of the reef. This was a hard act to follow but Capt. Brian ended the charter with a big catch of flag Yellowtail Snapper, flag means a fish over 5 pounds, BIG SNAPPER! You can find Capt. Brian Cone at http://www.Islamoradafishing.com he is the man! March and April is family time in the Florida Keys. Spring break means family fun fishing. This means find fish fast and keep the kids hooked up. Sea Trout are a great fish to target on these trips, they are aggressive eaters and wll take a wide range of both natural and artifical baits. Perfect for the new angler or those who want to catch large numbers of fish. The morning bite was wide open on the falling tide in the backcountry and we cashed in on good sized fish.
So much more than just fishing.
BIG JACK ATTACK!
Today was a day of change. The morning started out blowing cold out of the North at about 20 mph, as the day wore on the winds dropped out to the low teens. By 2:30 PM the seas were just about flat calm. The offshore boys had a hard time finding Ballyhoo, the preferred bait here in the Keys, once they had bait the Kingfish bite took off in 150 to 200 ft of water. The crew of the charter boat “Reef Runner”, with Capt. Paul Johnson at the helm, found these speedy fish in the 15 to 25 lb range. The crew of the “Gold Reserve” limited out as well and put together a great bite of hard fighting Bonito throughout the day. I found a huge school of Jack Crevalle on the shallow shoals of Alligator Reef and my anglers were able to land several of these brutes using topwater lures and 10 lb spin gear. Jacks are underrated as a game fish due to the fact that they will eat anything you throw them, yet they are one of the toughest fish that you will ever fight! These fish averaged 25 lbs and took nearly 20 minutes each to land. The Everglades waters warmed a bit this afternoon and Redfish, Blackdrum and Trout showed up for guides working with live shrimp and jigs. The cold water won’t affect the Reds and Drum that much but Snook and Tarpon have been hard to find as of late. If this warm weather that the weather boys are talking about comes soon this fish will show up hungry.
Big Jack attack!
NEARSHORE PATCH REEF ACTION.
This morning was another record setter! The temperature was 47f at 6:45 am, when do we start selling snowmobile tours? That aside, the shallow patch reef in as shallow as 10 ft of water on out to 25 ft held good numbers of fish. Baracuda will bask in the sun just under the surface of the water soaking up the warmth of the sun and looking for slow moving baits. We used Hank Brown Hook Up Lures tube lures to catch ‘Cudas up to 15 lbs. Live shrimp on 1/4 oz jigs worked slowly across the bottom produced good numbers of Snapper and Sheepshead. As the day warmed up Cero Mackerel came into the slick and livened things up. Capt. Jack Carlson did very well on reef fish as well as several nice Cobia as an added bonus.
Nearshore patch reef action.
ISLAMORADA FLATS FISHING UPDATE: MARCH 4
Whoever said something about a “Winter of discontent” was right on the money! Right when it looks like that we are going into a spring pattern another cold front smacks the whole of North America! Oh well we did have a great week of weather last week and this latest cold blast will move on and there is light at the end of the tunnel. The good news is that mullet were starting to show around Flamingo in the channels and on the flooding flats. Along with the mullet come tarpon, big tarpon at that. Snake Bight channel will hold bait and thus tarpon and as of last week the big girls were showing up. We hooked a few on live ladyfish that were drifted behind the boat in hopes of hooking into a big blacktip or spinner shark. There were tarpon caught out to the west as well around the East Cape and Sandy Key Basin area. These are some of the first tarpon to come to town following the first push of mullet and they are the bigger fish, not the little guys that winter here. As I mentioned above, the spinner and blacktip sharks are pretty thick around the backcountry right now and they are a blast on light tackle. To target these hard running and high jumping beasts use whole live baits, not chunks of bait. Blacktips and spinners are hard chargers and love a whole live jack or ladyfish under a float or hanging from a kite. That’s right a kite! More and more guides are fishing live baits under kites in the Gulf and the backcountry waters. The bite on a kite bait is tremendous to say the least. when a big shark homes in on a struggling fish on the surface the strike is more like an explosion on the surface. You won’t believe the speed at which a shark will tackle your bait as it splashes on the top of the water. Captains Jim Dalrymple and Mark Johnson have had some tremendous catches of outsized sharks using this method and I saw some fantastic film footage of Captains Tom Roland and Rich Tudor doing the kite thing with sharks on their show “Saltwater Experience” it is a blast! Don’t pooh-pooh the idea of shark fishing, the bulls, blacktips, spinners and lemon sharks that are common to our waters put on a great fight on 15 to 30 pound gear and these guys will go up to and beyond 300 pounds. Soon enough the tiger sharks will show up in the shallows and that will pucker up your backside when the beast comes to the boat! The Gulf once again takes the cake for just plain fish after fish action. I had my long time clients/buddies in town this past weekend and the weather was perfect for going to the Gulf. We had bait fish at the transom in no time and soon it was game on! All kinds of snappers and spanish mackerel were eating our baits and then it got hairy. Cobia in small groups of 4 to 6 fish began to circle the boat looking for a fight. Chris and Jim hooked into many cobia up to 32 inches on 6 – 10 pound spin tackle and man do those cobia go crazy. Running and jumping all around the boat before finally coming alongside for the release. These fish ate live shrimp and pinfish on 1/4 oz Hook Up jigs. The largest that we landed was 20 pounds and I think Jim is still hurting after the thrashing he took catching that fish on light tackle. Capt. Kip Daugherty told me of a 40 pounder that his client caught on 10 pound spin tackle as well. Good times! Keep up with the action from the water with my daily fishing reports on Clear Channel Radio and watch for my show “Reelin’ in the Keys” on Mondays and Thursdays at 7pm and Fridays at 8:30 pm on Comcast channel 5. Take a look at the Captains and Guides listing in this issue and get on the water while you are here.
Islamorada Flats Fishing Update: March 4
TARPON ARE PUTTIN’ ON THE FEED BAG!
This past Winter was a beast! The whole of the United States at one time or another had to live through some nasty, cold, weather! We saw temps here in the Keys hit an all time low. As a result we are dealing with a late start to our Tarpon season. The warmest water can be found down in the Key West right now, so the Tarpon action has kicked off there in a big way. Capt. Stephen Lamp of www.Dreamcatchercharters.com and his staff of pro guides has been scoring good cathes of Tarpon in the 50 to 80 lb range. This fish are the first of the season to show and the bite is only going to get stronger as more and larger fish come to town. In the Upper Keys captains are reporting that the area Humps are holding good numbers of nice sized blackfin Tuna, these tasty fish are hitting verticle jigs and live bait offerings. the action the the backcountry is mostly dominated by Speckled Sea Trout and a good showing of Redfish and Black Drum at the bottom of the falling tide around the Flamingo area.
Tarpon are puttin’ on the feed bag!