Offshore, anglers limiting out of dolphin

Anglers hold redfish they caught recently while fishing with Capt. Mike Makowski and his Blackfoot Charters.
Anglers hold redfish they caught recently while fishing with Capt. Mike Makowski and his Blackfoot Charters.

Now that Memorial Day weekend is behind us, all eyes turn towards the month of June in what looks to be some of the best fishing of the year here in the Upper Keys. 

We had a packed house last week leading to some great catches and fishing conditions for everyone on the water. 

The perfect weather conditions led to many finding themselves heading offshore to experience the great dolphin bite going on these past few weeks. While most chose to troll fresh dead baits like ballahoo and flying fish, others found success with hard head lures, feathers and cedar plugs. Lures and feathers colored blue/white, and pink/white worked well when searching out big schools of fish. 

Captain Jon Reynolds and his crew aboard the Drop Back<i> out of the Post Card Inn and Marina had a stellar holiday weekend catching there limit of dolphin on every trip along with some blackfin tuna. 

Fish averaging between 5-10 pounds were the most common catches, with several larger fish caught in every school they encountered. 

Now that the wind has died, most of the big schools have been found out deep in 600-plus feet of water for the Drop Back. 

Capt. Jon reported that most of their fish were caught on dead baits while trolling in areas with lots of bird activity. During the evening, the Drop Back has been targeting tarpon around the local bridges and channels, jumping fish every trip on fresh dead baits and dolphin carcasses. 

Closer to home, the tarpon bite continues to be strong during both daytime and nighttime hours. June is a prime month to target tarpon, with some of the largest and most prestigious tournaments of the year taking place. 

Live mullet continues to be the bait of choice for you bait slingers out there, but some days finding them can prove to be quite a chore. 

Fresh dead mullet, fish carcasses and ladyfish fished on the bottom of channels, bridges and passes have also led to many hook ups of tarpon, shark and barracuda. 

Those who prefer to sight fish their poons found success throwing large live shrimp and crabs to cruising and laid-up fish. 

Those who chose to fish during the nighttime hours this past week experienced the best bite especially during the falling tide. 

The backcountry saw a decent push of tarpon, especially around the Cape Sable/Flamingo areas. Again live mullet and crabs have been catching a good amount of fish, and for those fly fishermen out there, the darker colored flies like purple and black have been working well in the murky waters. 

It seems that snook have almost been easier to find than redfish around Florida Bay. It figures since they are out of season. White and chartreuse 5-7 inch jerk shads have been the hot artificial lure, with fish breaking their necks to eat these baits. 

What seems to be working the best are lures rigged weedless on Owner weighted Twist-Lock hooks model number #5132W-013 for the shallower areas and #5132W-025 for the deeper areas. 

Seatrout, ladyfish and jacks have been found in good numbers around the outer banks like Sprigger and Blue Banks. Gulp tipped jigs a quarter- to three-eighths-ounce worked erratically across the bottom produces a great strike.

Those of you who know me, know that to me, fishing is more than just a game, it is a way of life. So fish hard and fish often!

Capt. Mike Makowski is a backcountry fishing guide and owner of Blackfoot Charters in Key Largo. His column appears biweekly. To send him fishing reports or photos, e-mail captmikemakowski5@gmail.com or call (305) 481-0111.