Hope you had a safe Fourth of July and are ready to get back out on the water for some great fishing.
Dolphin fishing remains phenomenal, with a good mix of sizes. Some schools are mostly gaffers and a few slammers, while others are mostly schoolies and sub-legal fish. Remember, the minimum size is 20 inches to the fork of the tail.
The bigger fish often pop up while you’re in the middle of a schoolie frenzy, so be on constant lookout. Have a live bait ready, one that only a big fish can swallow, such as small to medium bluerunners or large pinfish.
We still have plenty of tuna mixed in with the mahi, skipjacks and blackfins, mostly in the five- to 10-pound class.
If you own the proper deep-drop equipment, it pays to spend some time bottom fishing while offshore. You’re likely to catch groupers, tilefish, rosefish, barrelfish and the like. What a great way to fill your freezer with quality-eating fish.
Fishing for snappers on the reef is also excellent, with lots of yellowtails and mangroves for the taking. And there are still plenty of black grouper there as well. The yellowtails and groupers are on the deeper edge of the reef in 60 to 90 feet of water, while most of the mangrove action is in 25 to 40 feet.
Large live baits, such as pinfish and grunts, work well for the groupers. The yellowtails take the usual assortment of cut baits, silversides and shrimp. And, the mangroves prefer small pinfish or ballyhoo.
For big-fish action in shallow water, you can’t beat catch-and-release shark fishing. We have plentiful quantities of large blacktips, spinners and lemons in the area now.
The week’s best
On the reef and wreck areas, the SeaSquared guests caught yellowtails, muttons, mangroves and black groupers. We also got in on the awesome dolphin action, with many of our groups coming back to the docks with piles of schoolies and a couple of larger fish. And, fishing in Florida Bay produced catch-and-release shark and barracuda fun as well as delicious mangroves.
The Fratesi family from Leland, Miss., had a great morning of fishing with Capt. Kevin Wilson and Knee Deep Charters out of the Geiger Key Marina. Seas were a bit sloshy and the yellowtail cloud was thick but they just didn't want to bite as well as the past couple of days. Ava caught the biggest yellowtail, which was actually a flag! Eli reeled up a 10-pound black grouper and ten minutes later Grandpa Jim reeled up another around 15 pounds.
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.