Boats averaging high sailfish releases

An angler poses with a large wahoo caught on the Buzz On charter boat docked out of Bud Nâ™ Maryâ™s Marina.
An angler poses with a large wahoo caught on the Buzz On charter boat docked out of Bud Nâ™ Maryâ™s Marina.

Are you ready for Christmas? Whether you're ready or not, sailfish is on the special board again this week if you're fishing offshore around the areas of the Upper Keys.  

Boats averaged two to four releases last week, and a few boats had six and eight for their efforts off Islamorada.  

Live baiting was the best bet using pilchards or ballyhoo. A few sails were caught by creative anglers using kites and suspending goggle eyes and blue runners. There weren't very many dolphin or tuna reported recently, but there were a handful caught off Key Largo near Ocean Reef Club.  

King mackerel have been starting to show up with more regularity in anywhere from 70 feet out to 180 feet of water, and I believe we'll start seeing a few more wahoo on the racks at the charter docks in the coming weeks. 

Charter boat Buzz On out of Bud N’ Mary’s Marina caught a pair of big ones the other day. They caught a 50-pound and an 80-pound wahoo on a recent trip, which is the largest I have heard of around the areas of the Upper Keys in the past 20 years. Congrats are in order for that crew. I say Great job guys!  

The bottom fishing for yellowtail snapper and grouper has been steady at the reef's edge. Mangroves bit well last week as well at the patches in addition to a handful of nice hog snapper up and down the Keys from Key Largo to Islamorada given the recent cold snap we experienced.  

Keep in mind that our grouper season closes January first, so if you have a taste for grouper, I recommend you fish fast and think big! They trolled up a few off Key Largo last week on the big plugs, and I'll leave it at that.  

The charter boat Reel McCoy had a couple days of great reef fishing last week featuring one day where they caught a limit of groupers .  

In the backcountry and around areas of the Everglades, the trout and a mixed bag variety bit last week at Nine Mile Bank, right up on the bank over the grass in 2 to 4 feet of water.  

A jig head tipped with shrimp is my favorite way to approach the grass banks to bend my rod when the water is milky, especially when I can't quite make out the bottom. Sharks are ferocious lately around some of the open areas of Nine-Mile, particularly when you make a chum slick.  

Spinner sharks up to 50 pounds were caught by some of guides that went for Spanish mackerel last week near Sprigger Bank. Those can be fun because they jump and carry on and can cart wheel all over the place, similar to the way a tarpon behaves, very acrobatic.  So whether you're headed offshore or bayside this week, or if you're carrying your canoe up into the Everglades for bass, I wish for you a New Year rich with fish stories and that you make lots of new memories. Let me know how you made out. Merry Christmas!

Capt. Donald Deputy writes for The Reporter every other week. Reach him directly at firstlightyachts@yahoo.com.