All the reports I got last week pointed to yet another great week of fishing for dolphin around the areas offshore of the Upper Florida Keys. How far offshore? That depends on who you ask.
Dolphin in the 5- to 8-pound variety were caught at 12 miles, 16 miles and out to 29 miles at all different times of the day last week. The facts remain the Gulfstream current runs to the north east very swiftly, and we have had southeast breezes consistently. Truth is we are in the heart of our summer season enjoying an amazing natural resource.
The average size of dolphin coming through has increased in general. Lots of nice gaffers and a few slammers are being caught during a day’s outing.
On the Floridian charter boat out of Whale Harbor, there was a bonus fish caught during a recent charter. A trophy if you will. Capt Scott Feltman guided his group to the release of an estimated 200-pound blue marlin that ate a school-sized dolphin nearby to where they were catching schoolies. He later ate another dolphin that was presented properly with a hook. After an hour's battle and some great acrobatics, they released the blue unharmed to fight another day.
If you want some sashimi, blackfin tuna has been available around the Islamorada hump area. In addition to tuna activity there have been a few wahoo in the mix as well around the hump depths. Around the floating debris there have been a couple triple tail, jacks and wahoo.
Speaking of billfish, and not to be out done, the Reel McCoy charter boat reported releasing a 300-pound blue marlin one trip and the very next day had a white marlin release. Blue marlin releases were not uncommon during the dark of the moon last week. Gimme Jimmy charter boat released a blue marlin last week and the anglers aboard Cloud Nine had a sailfish on the troll during a recent trip.
Snapper fishing is good at the reef anywhere from 50 to 90 feet of water. Evening trip to board the party boats have been very worthwhile. Yellowtail, mangrove and mutton snapper have all been willing participants lately. We've seen some good bottom fish produced from deep dropping including blueline tilefish, snowy gouper, yellowedge grouper, barrelfish, rosefish, and they landed a beautiful 42-pound golden tilefish last week aboard the Broad Minded out of Bud N’ Marys marina.
In Florida Bay, the tarpon and shark action is good, primarily at the bottom of the falling tide while bait fishing. During times of the higher, water look for tarpon in just a few feet of water up on the banks. On the flats and banks casting a live crab is one way to score with a good cast. Presenting the chicken feathers is another way to fool a big tarpon in late July in the Upper Keys. It's kind of like casting the fly to a rainbow trout when you're in Montana, but slightly different. At least the thrill is very similar.
The best advice I can offer right now is to go, catch em up, enjoy, and to keep me posted about how you made out.
Capt. Donald Deputy covers the sport of fishing in and around the areas of the Upper Keys. Reach him direct at firstname.lastname@example.org with your personal fish tales and photos.