Sailfishing has been hit-or-miss, but fishery otherwise active

Capt Adam DeBruin shows off a nice snook he caught during the Swamp Guides Ball. Fishing with his teammate Capt. Mike Makowski, the two took third place out of 52 other teams.
Capt Adam DeBruin shows off a nice snook he caught during the Swamp Guides Ball. Fishing with his teammate Capt. Mike Makowski, the two took third place out of 52 other teams.

Did you get a new boat this year at the Miami Boat show? If you did, well then congratulations!  

Each year Valentine's Day makes me think of both the people in my life that I love and all the things that I enjoy doing in February.  

One in particular is my love of boats and all things water. So it’s easy for me to remember the Miami boat show happens around Valentine's Day each year.  

Did you even make it to the boat show?  Some would say no, and that they have all that they desire right here in the Keys with the quality and variety of fishing lately, both offshore and in the backcountry.  

There's been a chill in the air recently that actually sparked things up in our world of fishing. Offshore, the recent cold fronts got the stingrays moving over the shallow patch reef areas and around the top part of the reef where they were visible last week — those areas where the sandy bottom is visible under 50 feet.  

Some rays held schools of small cobia that had to be released (fish under 33 inches fork length). Others had fish to 50 pounds like the ones caught aboard the Kalex recently.  Captain Alex found a ray that was loaded with "keepers." His anglers capitalized and caught their limit of cobia (two per person per day) up to 50 pounds in addition to some nice king mackerels.  

Sailfish were hit and miss last week. It was a hit for the anglers aboard Capt. Benny Spaulding's Play Baby. They managed five releases for the tournament, and won "Team Grand Champion" at the Poor Girls Billfish Tournament, which benefitted Casting for Cats in Islamorada. 

I think the question on everyone's mind regarding the sailfish is this: Will we get the conditions over the next couple of months? Will they be tailing? It's anyone’s guess really.  

In the meantime, offshore there's been good action at the reef with mutton snappers and yellowtails.  

King mackerel are biting well on the live bait, especially around the deep water wrecks around 140 to 180 feet of water.  

Way offshore, there were a handful of swords caught in addition to some beautiful queen snappers as long as your leg. Capt. Nick Stanczyk aboard his B & M charter boat guided his anglers well once again catching two swords on a recent trip. One kept and one released.  

They also had a half dozen beautiful queen snapper, which are one of the absolute best eating fish in the ocean in my opinion.  

As for the backcountry, fishing has been great for black drum and some of the other backcountry winter targets. Snook and redfish have been easy to hit lately in parts of the Everglades.  

Patch fishing continues to be worthwhile, with lots of action happening on the 10-pound spinning gear, including cero mackerel, mangrove and yellowtail snapper, hogfish and a variety of porgies and other rod benders using the knocker rigs, and fished near or even right on the bottom.  

Whether you're fishing offshore or backcountry this week, may you find what you're looking for around the areas of the Upper Keys.   

Capt. Donald Deputy writes for The Reporter every other week. Reach out to him direct at firstlightyachts@yahoo.com with your personal fish tales and photos.