Not much has changed since last week’s report. All areas of the reef continue to produce excellent fishing.
Live-baiting off the edge of the reef is good for sailfish, wahoo and blackfin tuna. Key to getting in on this action is to find the sweet spot where the dirtier nearshore water meets the blue water edge. Exactly where this magical area lies varies from day-to-day. Live baits are essential for this fishing, with pilchards being your number one choice and goggle eyes a close second.
The Atlantic wrecks are holding mutton snappers, amberjacks and kingfish. Pinfish and pilchards are the best baits.
On the reef, there is abundant yellowtail snappers, nice king and cero mackerel plus some good-size mutton snappers popping up in the slicks lately. The prime zone for this fishing is on the shallower side of the reef in 30 to 50 feet of water. Barring any strong cold front passing through, we expect this to continue without interruption.
The patch reefs in 20 to 25 feet of water are producing mangroves and yellowtails. The mangroves take small pinfish or pilchards the best, while the yellowtails respond to any cut baits and shrimp.
Hawk Channel still contains its usual variety of fun-catching, good-eating fish. Plus, we’ve had some really nice kings on the channel humps in recent days. Small bluerunners or large pilchards are best for the kings. The rest of the fish varieties in Hawk Channel bite best on shrimp or small pilchards.
Florida Bay still has plenty of Spanish mackerel and mangroves on shallower nearshore wrecks.
The week’s best
Guests on the SeaSquared boats enjoyed quite the variety of fishing last week.
From the reef and wrecks to Hawk Channel to the bridges and into Florida Bay, they caught all the snapper varieties, hogfish, porgy, yellowjack, blackfin tuna and released a red snapper, amberjack and grouper.
Jim and Ellen Mandel from Rochester, N.Y., spent the day fishing in Florida Bay with Capt. Chuck Brodzki. They caught 17 species and 84 fish, including mackerel, ladyfish, bluefish, snapper, trout and tripletail. All of them were caught on light tackle, including 8-pound spin and 16-pound fly.
Jason Carter from Denver and his dad Rick from Stock Island fished the reef with Capt. Kevin Wilson of Knee Deep Charters out of the Geiger Key Marina. They landed a 50-pound kingfish on a kite using live bait. They also limited out on yellowtail snapper.
Capt. Chris Johnson specializes in offshore, gulf/bay, reef/wreck, sailfish, shark and tarpon fishing with SeaSquared Charters, docked at Faro Blanco Resort and Yacht Club in Marathon. You can reach him at (305) 743-5305, http://SeaSquaredCharters.com and http://Facebook.com/MarathonFishing.