Fishing reports were very good again last week both offshore and in the back country. However, I still say be carefully discerning in where you seek your fishing counseling.
There's no substitute for being savvy by walking down to the local charter dock and consulting with a professional guide before you choose who you want to spend your day with. Fact is, fishing and fishing conditions change like the tide. Choose your guide wisely. The best way to fish the areas of the Upper Keys is to be mindful of the conditions as they can change very quickly.
Offshore, the dolphin fishing has been the best we've had in years. There were a lot of dolphin displayed behind most charter boats around the 4 o'clock hour in the afternoons last week. Plenty of big schoolies and gaffers were available anywhere from 12 to 29 miles offshore. A week ago, after the wind blew hard out of the east for a few days, many boats caught several slammers, meaning dolphin over the 20-pound mark.
A few days later, that wave of fish moved on. I'm convinced this phenomenon has been happening since time began. I'm looking forward to reporting more marlin bites that I would bet has everything to do with the timing of the full moon phase, which just took place Monday, Aug. 7. My hope is that this moon phase will initiate a few more marlin bites for us while we anticipate the next bunch of dolphin coming through the area.
The conditions were calm with good current way offshore in the deep water. In addition there were several broad bills caught over the last week or so. Some were released under 50-pounds and some were kept in the one-hundred pound range. Once again, Captain Nick Stanczyk guided his crew aboard the Broad Minded to a beautiful catch, a 254-pound swordfish for his group.
Lately bottom fishing has caught on throughout the fleet. We're realizing now that all fish in or near the Gulfstream off the Upper Keys just may not be found on the surface only. Last week there was a wide variety of deep drop (white meat fish) at the cleaning tables around Bud N ‘Marys Marina. From longtail bass, golden tilefish, barrel fish, queen snapper and a variety of other fine eating fish taken from near or right on the ocean floor.
There was a behemoth 17-pound triple tail caught near a piece of floating debris by anglers aboard the charter boat Gimme Jimmy. Anglers aboard Gonfishin V with Capt. Glen Miller at the helm caught a 45-pound wahoo while they were trolling on a recent offshore trip. While many folks are scrambling to get one last vacation in before the kids go back to school, our fishery remains strong.
Mangrove snapper fishing is just about at its peak at the edge of the reef with many beautiful 5- to 7-pound snapper being weighed at the local tackle shops and marinas. Both mangrove and yellowtail snapper have been biting well both day and night, still anywhere from 40 to 85 feet of water at the reef's edge. It’s shallower at night.
In the backcountry snook are still being caught near Cape Sable. Not like it was, but they're still there. Also, there's been a few tarpon caught in the same areas as well, not what I call the peak of season, but there's still some there in the Gulf-side waters. So, primarily, I believe the tarpon are being caught on the live blue crab, pilchards and pinfish.
Don't forget to drink plenty of water during these sunny dog-days. It's been a little on the hot side lately. As they say before many of our tournaments both offshore and back country, "Go get 'em." Let me know how you make out.
Capt. Donald Deputy covers the sport of fishing in and around the areas of the Upper Keys. Reach him direct at email@example.com with your personal fish tales and photos.