Breezy conditions associated with a recent cold front made it challenging for anglers the past few days both offshore and in the back country around the areas of the Upper Keys.
March came in like a lion this year. I can still hear the palm trees bending over outside my window. I imagine leading my cast almost double today as compared to how to play the wind on a normal cast sight fishing.
The pilchards took off from where they have been so easily located recently due to high winds and murky water. It may take a few days to relocate the main body of bait that was here and made life so easy and pleasant in the bait department. The lesson? Don't take live bait for granted and assume that they'll always "be there" because they could disappear just as fast as they show up when the weather changes.
On and around the reef, last reports were about the abundance of king mackerel. Kings from 5 to 50 pounds hit the docks from Key Largo to Marathon in big numbers fishing from the Upper Keys. Keys native Captain David Payakovich brought in a major haul of king mackerel on his commercial boat including a fat 50-pounder on a recent trip.
Now I don't believe in fortune-telling, however, after this shake up in the weather pattern, I anticipate the cobia to make a showing somewhere or at least some type of appearance around the Upper Keys. Look for them in a school to be swimming with a ray or even near a whale shark over the next couple of months. Captain Chris Daly guided his anglers to the murky open Gulf waters before the front and caught a 40-pound cobia out of the shallow water near Sandy Key.
Sailfish fishing? Well it's becoming more of a challenge for most of us, however, the anglers aboard the Catch 22 charter boat caught and released nine in a trip prior to the cold front, which was the best report I'm familiar with. There were a few sailfish caught by the boats fishing off of Ocean Reef Club near northern Key Largo.
Along the edge of the reef, snapper continue to bite. A good reef report came in from Richard DeLeon from Miami. Again prior to the wind switch and cold front, RD came down one afternoon and jumped aboard Key Largo's half day party boat the Sailors Choice. As luck would have it, the captain was catching speedos with the sabiki rig. Rich decided to put one out with a wire leader anticipating a big king when a 15-pound mutton glommed on. They were fishing in about 50 feet of water, which goes to show you that fishing off the Upper Keys sometimes you just never know what you're going to get.
In the backcountry there were some reports of big tarpon starting to show up in addition to a good amount of other activity from snook and a few reds around some of the island motes and channels of the Everglades and a few near the Cape Sable area. Stay tuned for more Tarpon reports in weeks to come as prime tarpon season is just getting underway.
Capt. Donald Deputy writes for The Reporter every other week. Reach him direct with your very own personal fish tales and photos at firstname.lastname@example.org.