As we transition into fall fishing patterns, we have multiple venues offering great catching, including offshore, where dolphin fishing is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
But it's well worth the search. There are lots of fish in the eight- to 10-pound range and even 25-pounders are common.
There's not much pressure on this fishery right now. Find a weed line and you'll be able to work it for miles without seeing another boat.
The blackfin tuna bite at the humps is intermittent but, again, worth the effort as the fish being caught are on the large side at 10 to 20 pounds. Live baits work best.
The most consistently productive area is the reef, with yellowtail snapper as the main player. The best depths are 50 to 80 feet. The 'tails average 15 to 18 inches and will take the usual assortment of cut baits. Be sure to use copious amounts of chum.
The reef, wrecks and patches are coming alive with increased populations of grouper, cobia and cero mackerel, all signs of good fall fishing to come. Unfortunately, there's also a large number of sharks inhabiting the same areas. If you find them overstaying their welcome, try moving to a more shallow area.
In the bay, the mangrove snapper bite is very good on the nearshore wrecks, grass banks and channel cuts. The fish are in the one- to three-pound class.
And further out in the gulf, the occasional keeper-size gag grouper and small cobia are beginning to show. This fishing will improve as we move into October.
Capt. Chris Johnson is a member of the Yamaha National Fishing Team and specializes in offshore, gulf/bay, reef/wreck, sailfish, shark and tarpon fishing with SeaSquared Charters out of Porky’s Bayside Marina in Marathon. You can reach him at 743-5305, http://SeaSquaredCharters.com and http://Facebook.com/MarathonFishing.