Take tonight's full moon into consideration as you make your fishing plans for the next few days, particularly if dolphin are on your radar.
Your best strategy to target dolphin is to fish early morning or late afternoon/evening. Look for all the usual signs -- frigate birds, terns, weed lines and floating debris.
The dolphin have been pretty far out of late, 20 miles and further. They are predominantly on the small side, with most fish sublegal size. Be sure to have your measuring stick along, and remember dolphin must measure 20 inches to the fork of the tail.
The humps are still holding good numbers of blackfin tuna, anything from two- to three-pound footballs up to fish weighing 15 to 20 pounds. The smaller fish are eating trolled baits while the larger specimens are biting butterfly jigs and live baits fished deep.
Yellowtail snapper are biting very well on the reef in 60 to 70 feet of water. Typically we will get some really nice flag-size fish spicing our catches around the full moon. But in general, we've had a mix of sizes so once again, have your measuring stick handy.
These same depths have also been producing pretty good amounts of keeper-size black grouper, with some fish over 20 pounds. Larger live baits are necessary to attract their attention. As the waters continue to warm, the groupers will go deeper to find conditions more to their comfort. So get on them while they're still accessible.
On the wrecks, amberjack and jack crevalle are thick, and there are still good quantities of mutton snappers for the taking.
We're seeing some-nice size mangroves in the 40- to 50-foot depths. As these fish prepare to spawn, the night bite should heat up. Larger chunk baits or small live baits produce best for these aggressive snappers.
Mutton snappers are mixed throughout the reef. Larger live baits such as ballyhoo or midsize pinfish work best.
The patch reefs are giving up a mixed bag of fish, including all the snappers and plenty of groupers, even some keeper-size reds and the occasional gag.
The week's best
The SeaSquared and the Wayne's World ventured offshore on a couple of trips last week. We went 25-plus miles to pick away at dolphin that we had to measure to make sure were keepers. Capt. Wayne also put a few blackfin tuna in the fish box. We had much better success on the reef and wrecks with large mangroves, some yellowtails, a few muttons and an amberjack or two thrown in. Catch-and-release shark adventures rounded out our charters for the week, with double-digit landing of big lemons the norm.
Capt. Ariel Medero of Big Game Sportfishing in Marathon reports good offshore catches of dolphin and tuna. And the reef has been very active with mangroves and yellowtails, while the wreck action is on for muttons, amberjacks and a few groupers.
Keith Kindel from Chantilly, Va., caught some nice dolphin with Capt. Kevin Wilson of Knee Deep Charters out of the Geiger Key Marina in the Lower Keys.
Capt. Chris Johnson specializes in offshore, gulf/bay, reef/wreck, sailfish, shark and tarpon fishing with SeaSquared Charters in Marathon. You can reach him at (305) 743-5305, http://SeaSquaredCharters.com and http://Facebook.com/MarathonFishing.