It's all about the snappers right now, folks: Enormous populations of mangrove and yellowtail snapper are enjoying their spawning season on the reef. The 30- to 50-foot depths are the most productive for fishing.
Large amounts of chum are mandatory to get and keep the snappers' attention. However, they're not finicky once they get to eating and will take all manner of chunk and live baits.
Although the wreck bite has slowed a bit, especially for mutton snapper, there are still some amberjack and jack crevalle to pull on. Large live baits such as grunts and bluerunners entice the amberjack, although they will take pinfish, too.
Offshore, look for birds and you should find dolphin under them. Some days, huge weed clumps hold schoolies and the occasional wahoo.
As the two-day lobster mini-season approaches next Wednesday and Thursday, we're seeing ever-increasing numbers of boats on the water fishing as well as scoping out lobster holes. Keep in mind, many of these boaters are visitors, so add an extra dose of caution while you're out there.
Speaking of lobster mini-season, while we encourage you to participate in the annual tradition of diving or snorkeling for spiny lobster, please adhere to the regulations. The carapace must measure a minimum of three inches for the lobster to be legal size. Measurement must take place in the water. There is a limit of six lobster per person per day (seven if you catch 10 lionfish and can show them in whole condition to marine law enforcement officers).
Possession limits are strictly enforced on and off the water by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The spiny lobster regulations for Monroe County differ from those for the rest of Florida. For a complete explanation, go to www.myfwc.com.
The week's best
The reef and the bay areas are where the SeaSquared boats spent last week. Out front, our anglers caught big mangroves, some yellowtails and a few amberjacks and yellowjacks for those looking to pull on something bigger. In Florida Bay, we fished for mangrove snappers and lots of lemon sharks, with double-digit landings the norm.
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.