Hopefully you have the opportunity to get out and partake in the fall dolphin run.
The dolphin bite is very good anywhere from 10 to 25 miles offshore. Weed lines are producing the most consistent action, with loads of fish of all sizes from sub-legal to slammers.
There are good numbers of tripletail on the weed patches, too. They take a wide variety of baits, including chunks of ballyhoo and live pinfish. The key to catching tripletail is to get the bait as close as possible to the fish's nose so it gets a shot before the jacks snatch the bait away.
The humps are loaded up with blackfin and skipjack tuna, along with copious numbers of sharks, unfortunately. If you're after a sushi dinner, take lots of hooks or lures because the sharks are sure to tax you heavily.
On the wrecks and rough bottom areas, the mutton snapper are a tad spotty, but there are abundant jack crevalle and amberjack to fill the void. And the kingfish are beginning to stack up, so get your smokers ready.
Yellowtail snappers in the 14- to 16-inch range are chomping away in 50 to 60 feet of water on the reef. Take advantage of the masses of ballyhoo in the same areas by catching a few and dropping them to the bottom to catch muttons and very large mangroves.
Those same ballyhoo fished live on the surface will attract the attention of nice size cero mackerel as well as kingfish in the eight- to 10-pound class.
Fishing on the grass banks and nearshore wrecks in the bay yields excellent catches of one- to two-pound mangrove snapper. There are short cobia and grouper out there, too, and they'll grow to be big enough to keep as we move deeper into fall fishing.
The week's best catches
Capt. Ariel Medero, of Big Game Sportfishing in Marathon, reports a red-hot dolphin bite 10 to 25 miles offshore, along with tunas at the humps, but the sharks are really bad. On the reef, the yellowtail bite is active with some nice fish and the mangroves are in the shallower areas. The gulf is active with mangroves, sharks and a few grouper.
The SeaSquared crews had very good offshore trips back to back, with dolphin, tuna and tripletail coming back to the docks. On the reef, the guys caught mangrove, yellowtail and mutton snappers, jack crevalle for fun, yellowjack and a bonus wahoo for the Dugans from Indiana.
And the Naspinski family, from North Carolina, had a blast doing dinner and a show Keys style, catching and releasing sharks and bringing in a pile of mangrove and yellowtail snappers.
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.