Summertime and the living is easy. Fishing is fine and it's not been too breezy.
Way offshore, there has been a great bite of dolphin. A lot of anglers are running 25 to 30 miles and the weed has been scarce overall. However, the birds are following the dolphin in search of scraps from a feeding school of dolphin as they normally do, so look for those birds!
School–sized, gaffers and slammers up to 45 pounds have been caught for the last week, consistently. Tunas have been around and catchable near the hump, and in some of the rips.
Deep dropping was good last week for tilefish and snowy grouper for those who were properly equipped. At the edge of the reef, it's definitely snapper time. Spawning yellowtails and mangroves and still quite a few muttons are biting well. The only thing I would have to say is to think about anchoring a little more shallow when the sun goes away. Evenings are definitely cooler, and the snappers have been biting their faces off in general.
Chum, chum and more chum is the key to good snapper fishing around the Upper Keys, and if you find it is calm, or very still, give the chum bag a vigorous shake once in a while to get things moving again. Sometimes you have to encourage things to happen rather than wait for them to happen.
Some of the best fishermen on the planet have come from the Upper Keys areas and Islamorada. I have to say congratulations to Islamorada's Mike Mason, who was crew aboard a boat called the Reel – Lax. The important details I do have is that Mikey and crew traveled to Bermuda from Florida last week and took first place honors during the Bermuda Billfish Blast releasing several billfish using the techniques he learned right here in Islamorada, the sportfishing capital of the world. We are so proud of you Mikey, way to go bud!
Pilchards are around town. They've been relatively catchable for the most part. Many backcountry guides I talked to said they're using pilchards for bait rather than the tiny summer camerones that are so small right now that you can barely see them, let alone put one on a hook. I guess if you're using shrimp you could scale down your tackle and hook size to match that of the size of the shrimp. After all, elephants do eat peanuts, you know.
Snapper, pompano and a few trout were found on the live bottom areas and around wrecks near the Everglades park boundaries of Florida Bay. Guides like Capt. Skip Paxton found big seatrout in mid Florida Bay.
Near Sandy Key area, there were some sharks and tarpon caught in the deep channels that drain the banks and flats of the backcountry. Nine Mile bank was active as well for some of the guides out of Bud N’ Mary’s and Long Key areas.
Warm water is getting to be a factor in the shallow water for snook and redfish. Early mornings, the temperature seems to be a few degrees less, which can make all the difference in a fishes behavior. I know it does mine — the older I get.
I believe we could find a bonefish during the falling tide close to sunset, might have to use an OK crab though because the shrimp are so small.
Well, go catch em up — and keep me posted about how you made out.
Captain Donald Deputy covers the sport of fishing in and around the areas of the Upper Keys. Reach him direct at firstname.lastname@example.org your personal fish tales and photos.