As we pick up the pieces from what's left after hurricane Irma, one thing is certainly. Like other Octobers we've experienced, it is officially “slow season” for charterboat captains around the areas of the Upper Keys.
For the next few weeks, the boat yards will see activity around their travel lifts, business that marina owners have anticipated all year. Lots of barnacles will be scraped and bottom paint will be applied. The ebb and flow of marine maintenance contractors will be visible at some of the local marinas and boatyards and dust will surely fly.
October and November can be great windows of opportunity for a facelift for the old girl, A bit of bottom paint and a break from a previously busy and well-booked schedule. I like to be ready with clean running gear and a fresh bottom paint and hull wax job, standing tall for the annual Islamorada Sailfish tournament, usually taking place around the first week of December.
Speaking of sailfish, the first scouting migration to arrive with the fall cold fronts will more than likely be 10-pounders. The smaller the sail, the faster you can get them in close for a picture, right?
Captain Paul Johnson and other local charter boat captains are excited to get back to fishing on a regular basis as the clean up continues at some marinas, and we all seek the normalcy of our relaxed, yet bustling, charter docks we've all come to share and enjoy.
Anglers on fun trips managed a few king mackerel near the edge of the reef while slow trolling there live bait on spinning gear.
Captain Sam Millazzo guided a private group aboard his boat to an excellent catch of snapper. While chumming for yellowtails, they were blessed with several bonus mutton snappers along the edge of the reef, up to 12 pounds.
Tunas in the blackfin and skip jack variety continue to bite near the Islamorada hump area. With the weather remaining mild and water temperatures staying relatively warm, there were a good scattering of school and gaffer size dolphin caught last week as well.
In the backcountry it's been a mixed bag of action and very worthwhile fishing. Veteran captain John Gargan of Couple a Bucks charters is looking forward to returning to the business of fishing for tarpon, snook, redfish and snapper soon.
October fishing should be good for bonefish on both the bay and ocean side flats off the Upper Keys. The best of the action will be reported on the falling or outgoing tide. Look for a fall push of bait (mullet and or sardines) followed by hopefully lots of jacks and tarpon around many of the creek mouths and run offs near the bridges, also around the island notes and creeks of the Everglades National Park.
Out near the park boundaries on the western edge, there will be reports of early-season Spanish mackerel, but there are so few boats out that I cannot truthfully confirm or deny actual accounts.
I'm sure there are a few goliath groupers to be caught and released on some of the shallow Gulf wrecks. Keep your eyes peeled if you do head out to the Gulf region as the cobias could show up at any time now.
A warm sunny day could cause you to find a handful of tripletails in your travels. Keep a shrimp on and ready to cast. The areas that surround the Upper Keys is still the best place in this country to fish as far as I'm concerned. It's just going to take some time to repair and replace some of the damage we suffered from Irma. We will be back to normal soon.
If you really want to help support with rebuilding efforts, as many have mentioned to me lately, book a trip fishing. Help us by simply supporting us in doing what we love to do.
Let me know what you caught if you happened to get out.
Capt. Donald Deputy writes for The Reporter every other week. Reach him direct with your very own personal fish tales and photos at firstname.lastname@example.org.