Offshore, we’re seeing a push of large mahi coming through the area, with plenty of schoolies and gaffers mixed in.
Most are hanging under floating debris. There’s been a fair amount of this stuff, and it doesn’t take a very big piece to hold a school of dolphin. So keep your eyes peeled as you can go from zero to hero pretty quick simply by stumbling upon a floater.
There hasn’t been much in the way of weed lines of late. If you do find some weeds, take advantage of the situation and fish around them. They’re like an oasis in the desert and everything will be attracted to them.
There have been a few wahoo caught around debris, and they’re decent size in the 20- to 50-pound class. You’ll gain their attention by running a deep-diving plug in black and purple or blue and silver. Make sure you add a piece of wire in front of the plugs to prevent bite-offs.
Good numbers of blackfins and skipjacks are in the offshore mix, with most of these tuna in the five- to 10-pound range. On the reef, the yellowtail snapper bite has become its typical late-summer hit and miss.
Most of the action is taking place in 25 to 40 feet of water, with the yellowtails averaging 12 to 14 inches. When conditions are right, you’ll get larger fish on the deeper reef.
The wrecks are producing mutton snappers, amberjacks and jack crevalles, as usual. But the sharks are taking their toll lately. If you find your fish being collected by the tax man, it’s best to move on as he’s not along down there and the chances of reeling your fish up intact are slim.
The week’s best
Nelson Lazo, Tim Powers and Billy Turnbull were fishing on Lazo’s boat, Battle Axe Too, out of Key Colony Beach. After limiting out on yellowtails, the group decided to run offshore. Fourteen miles out, they found a pack of birds and some schoolie dolphin.
They continued to follow the birds, which led them to a pallet that was loaded with schoolies and tripletails, and they caught some of each. About 45 minutes into fishing the pallet, a big bull and cow dolphin showed up under the schoolies. Twenty minutes later they hooked the 21-pound cow on a light rod with chunk bait. The bull was still there, so Turnbull tried to bait it for at least an hour.
Just before they were about to land the cow, Turnbull floated out a fresh chunk of bait on a 20-pound outfit and the bull ate it. The fight lasted about 30 minutes, with multiple jumps. The bull weighed 56.2 pounds. Quite the adventure, and it just goes to show that magical piece of floating debris will make your day.
The SeaSquared boats have been fishing the reef and wrecks mostly, with our guests catching yellowtails, mangroves, muttons, amberjacks, yellowjacks and more. We’re seeing about the last of our summertime family vacation outings, but they’re having fun doing combo trips of fishing, snorkeling and swimming.
Catch-and-release was the name of the game for Cory Sarafan, from Key West, and his friends, Spencer and Ed Scott, from Ft. Lauderdale. They fished with Capt. Kevin Wilson of Knee Deep Charters out of the Geiger Key Marina, and limited out on yellowtails.
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.