As calm conditions prevail, the dolphin fishing offshore remains very good.
Mahi of all sizes are being found under weeds, with birds marking their exact whereabouts. And there are still good numbers of blackfin and skipjack tuna on the same spots.
The largest dolphin and tuna are being taken using live baits caught under the weed lines. These bait fish can easily be caught using a block of chum and a Sabiki. They’re mostly small jacks and bluerunners. We’ve had scattered wahoo under the biggest weed mats, as well. What they lack in number, they make up in size.
The yellowtail bite on the reef is quite good, although the predators have been thick of late. Lots of sharks — Caribbean reef, bull and lemon — are applying their tax to the snapper catches.
The best way to avoid the sharks is to fish in the shallower depths on the reef. Of course, the largest yellowtails are on the deep edge. Usually, you can fish the deeper areas shark-free for 30 to 45 minutes. So, try for your big yellowtails during that time, and then move shallower to finish out your limit with smaller fish. They’re just as tasty.
There are still a few mangroves and legal-size muttons mixed in with the yellowtails. And we’ve had plenty of nice cero mackerel on the snapper spots, some approaching 10 pounds.
Live ballyhoo is best for the ceros, and they’ve been thick in the snapper slicks lately. Hair hooks or a cast net will get you a good supply of ’hoos. Put one down on the bottom for your best shot at a mutton or large mangrove. The patch reefs also have plenty of snappers and cero mackerel.
The wrecks hold nice muttons as well as loads of jacks, mostly amberjacks, jack crevalles and some hefty almaco jacks. Live ballyhoo or pinfish is the ticket here.
The week’s best
The SeaSquared boats continue to take advantage of the fast action on the reef, with the catches being a good selection of mangroves and yellowtails.
Muttons plus very large amberjacks, jack crevalles and yellowjacks rounded out the catches. Even a couple of bonus groupers. With summer vacation time winding down, a few groups chose our Fun Day Charter where they combine fishing, swimming and snorkeling.
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.