A cold front plus a tropical system plus a second cold front equal great fishing.
With plenty of ballyhoo in the area, we expect to see inspired activity off the reef edge for our top three pelagics: Sailfish, dolphin and blackfin tuna. Put a spread out of live ballyhoo in 150 to 200 feet of water and you should get into good action. Pilchards will work if you can’t get the ’hoos.
We’re also starting to see our coastal pelagics — kingfish and cobia — on the wrecks as well as the reef line.
Most of the cobia have been short, but the little ones typically lead the migration. With each passing cold front, we will see larger cobes showing up. The early kings have also been on the small side at five to 15 pounds. Live pilchards fished under your sailfish spread is the way to go for the cobia and king mackerel.
The snapper and grouper fishing continues in force on the reef and patches, with the best action coming on the shallower edge in the 30- to 50-foot depths. You’ll need plenty of chum for the yellowtails and the usual assortment of live shrimp, silversides and cut baits. We’ve been fishing pilchards or pinfish on jigheads under our yellowtail slick for the groupers and muttons.
The Hawk Channel humps should begin to show activity for red and gag groupers, plus the occasional black, as well as plenty of mangrove, land and yellowtail snappers, cero and Spanish mackerel.
Florida Bay is loaded with mangroves, with some keeper yellowtails mixed in. As things settle down post-front, we will see increased numbers of Spanish mackerel.
If you have a secret red snapper spot, you’re in luck. There’s an open season for red snapper November 3 through 5 and November 10 through 12 in South Atlantic waters. There is no size limit, but it’s just one fish per person.
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.