The sure-fire action this week is on the reef and wreck areas.
Our fall friends, the sailfish, have begun to arrive in a big way, mostly from the reef edge out to about 120 feet of water. They’re looking to make a meal out of the ballyhoo that are prevalent in those areas. Live ballyhoo is your bait of choice right now. But if you can’t acquire ballyhoo for some reason, the sailfish will readily eat pilchards as well.
Mixed in with the sailfish have been cobias, the occasional dolphin (mahi) and some spotty kingfish activity. Most of the kings are on the small side at five to 10 pounds. We need another cold front to chill the northern waters before we will see the really good kingfish action.
Offshore, dolphin fishing has been sporadic, while there are loads of blackfin tuna at the humps. But be prepared, as the sharks are there in force ready and willing to take more than their fair share of the tuna.
On the wrecks and rough bottom areas, the mutton snapper bite is quite good, with the fish averaging 12 to 15 pounds. There are a few amberjacks mixed in for rod-bending fun. Pinfish and pilchards are the way to go.
There’s an excellent mixed bag of snappers and groupers on the main reef line and the patches. It’s mostly yellowtails, with the occasional mutton, with no depth outperforming another. But typically, the bigger yellowtails are coming from the deeper edge of the reef. There are scattered kings, but nothing to speak of yet.
Up on the patch reefs, there are snappers galore, including yellowtails, lanes, mangroves and nice muttons. Grouper are there, as well. Although most are shorts, there are some nice reds and keeper-size blacks beginning to show.
Around the bridges and out in the bay, there are plenty of mangroves, a smattering of Spanish mackerel and lots of blacktip, spinner and bull sharks for fun.
If you have a secret red snapper spot, you’re in luck. There’s an open season for red snapper this weekend, Nov. 10 through 12, in South Atlantic waters. There is no size limit, but it’s just one fish per person.
The week’s best
It’s been snapperpalooza on the SeaSquared boats this week.
Our guests caught lots of muttons, yellowtails, mangroves and took advantage of the open season for red snapper too. The Emery group from Gainesville added a trophy sailfish to their snapper catch. Cobia, amberjack, groupers and sharks were also in the mix.
For Capt. Kevin Wilson and mate Glenn Mulder of Knee Deep Charters out of the Geiger Key Marina, there’s nothing like a great morning of yellowtail catching with guests Sammy Casella and Mike Evans from Lake of the Ozarks Mo., to get them back on track after Hurricane Irma.
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.