We’re back doing what we do after Hurricane Irma, and so are the fish.
Reports from the few charter boats that have gotten out as well as friends who have taken a respite from hurricane cleanup are that the fishing is very good. This is true on the reef, offshore and in the gulf.
A good shuffling of the deck is beneficial to our fisheries. Of course, no one wishes for a storm the magnitude of Irma to produce a stir-up. But in usual fashion, the fish have bounced back quickly and there are many new opportunities created.
Let’s start in the gulf.
A lot of grass areas that were holding thousands of fish have been beat up. Therefore, the fish are now concentrating on more solid structures such as rock ledges, around bridges and on cuts in banks. This makes them easier to pinpoint. And they’re hungry.
There are plenty of mangroves, yellowtails and a few cobia being taken in these areas. Limit catches of snappers are being produced using small live baits, such as pinfish and pilchards, as well as chunks of pinfish and ballyhoo. With each passing week and as conditions return to normal, this fishing will become more consistent.
We’re starting to see larger predators — sharks and Goliath groupers — in the gulf as well. Even some keeper-size red and gag groupers are popping up in surprising places.
Those fishing in the Everglades and backcountry areas are finding success with redfish, trout and small tarpon.
The snapper bite is quite good on the reef, as well. Respectable numbers of yellowtails and muttons are available, and some spots are holding nice-size mangroves. Lots of grouper, mostly blacks, are being taken off the deeper edge of the reef.
There’s been loads of bait on the reef edge, primarily ballyhoo, which is beginning to attract the mackerel. Look for ceros and a few kings. Hopefully we will start to see sailfish attacking the ’hoos soon.
Wreck fishing for muttons has been worthwhile and the amberjacks are making an appearance as well.
Offshore, the tuna bite has been pretty good for blackfins in the 10- to 12-pound class. There are plenty of dolphin, with a real mix in sizes from schoolies to slammers. Look for birds and, especially, debris.
Speaking of debris, there’s a ton of it everywhere. What was a clean channel just a few weeks ago may be clogged to the point of being impassable. Be very aware and on the lookout constantly. The last think you need right now is to damage your boat, or yourself.
Take a stress-relieving break from your hurricane cleanup and enjoy a few hours of fishing. It will do you good.
The week’s best
The SeaSquared boats have had a couple of charters plus a fun trip or two this month, with good snapper catches coming back to the dock for our guests.
In the Upper Keys, Capt. Lain Goodwin reports the snook and jacks are red hot in the backcountry with the occasional tarpon mixed in. The fall mullet run is in full swing making for fat and happy fish.
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.