My apologies, but I’m running out of ways to describe just how good the reef and wreck action is.
The wrecks are producing good amounts of larger-than-average mutton snappers and plenty of amberjacks, which must be released because the season is closed. But the feds have granted us another red snapper season on Dec. 8, 9 and 10. While there’s no size limit, only one fish per person is allowed.
Mixed in on the wrecks are king mackerel, most in the eight- to 12-pound class. And we’re seeing lots of short cobia averaging 28 to 31 inches fork length. So keep your eyes peeled as you never know when a big one will show up. Keeper size is 33 inches to the fork of the tail.
We have decent sailfish action when conditions are right with the blue water up on the reef. And there were a fair amount of wahoo caught in the last week or so, with nice size fish in the 30- to 40-pound range. Scattered dolphin and blackfin tuna spiced some catches.
On the reef, the yellowtail snapper bite remains very good for 14- to 18-inch fish. The mid-range depths of 40 to 60 feet are the most consistently productive. We’re beginning to see increasing numbers of black grouper in the same areas as they move up shallower with the cooling waters.
To catch the mid-size mutton snappers partaking of the chum in the yellowtail slicks, I recommend fishing a pilchard or small pinfish on a jighead back behind the boat. These groupers are quite respectable at five to eight pounds.
The patch reefs hold their typical mixed bag of mangroves, yellowtails and muttons, cero mackerel, smaller kings and a fair number of red groupers and keeper size blacks. For the best results, fish live pilchards, pinfish or ballyhoo on jigheads for all but the yellowtails. Their fare of choice is cut baits or shrimp.
The nearshore bridges and banks offer up plenty of mangroves, scattered keeper-size yellowtails plus lots of sharks. Blacktips, spinners, bulls and even some lemons are there and are great fun on light tackle.
Spanish mackerel are beginning to show with more consistency in the bay, and this fishery should break wide open any time now. There are also good numbers of mangroves in the same areas as the Spanish.
The week’s best
Great snapper and grouper action on the reef and wrecks this week for the guests on the SeaSquared boats. Double-digit numbers of muttons coming back to the dock were not unusual. Yellowjacks, groupers and sailfish spiced the catches. With the Thanksgiving holiday, we also hosted a few families for fun days that combined fishing, swimming and snorkeling.
I will host a series of free fishing seminars at the Hyatt Place/Faro Blanco, around mile marker 48 bayside, this season. The monthly series kicks off Dec. 6 with the topic “Reef Top to Bottom.” It runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and there will be prizes and giveaways.
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.