We've talked about exercising extra caution, both on the water and off, due to the influx of tourists partaking in lobster mini-season last week. This week, add to your boating attentiveness the presence of commercial lobster gear.
Saturday, the commercial lobstermen splashed their fresh gear for the eight-month recreational and commercial lobster season that starts Thursday, and the nearshore waters are blanketed with buoys lined up like roly-poly soldiers. While the traps settle on the bottom, the lines that connect them remain somewhat buoyant until they soak up enough water to weigh them down.
So not only must boaters navigate the buoy obstacle course, but they need to avoid getting the lines tangled in their props.
We also need to watch for divers and snorkelers; look for their diver-down flags. For recreational lobster hunters, the limit is six lobster per person per day. Unlike mini-season, there is no bonus seventh lobster if you catch 10 lionfish and show them whole to a marine officer.
For specifics on the Monroe County regulations, go to www.myfwc.com.
As for fishing, the yellowtail and mangrove snapper bite on the reef is outstanding. You need go no further than the 40- to 60-foot depths for nonstop action on fish ranging from two to four pounds. Right now, this is catching, not fishing.
You'll need lots of chum to keep their attention at your boat, but just about any bait will work, from pinfish to pieces of ballyhoo and everything in between.
As is typical this time of year, dolphin fishing offshore is hit or miss, but I've seen some catches over the last few days of schoolie- and gaffer-size fish in decent quantities. On the humps, there's a fairly consistent blackfin tuna bite for fish in the five- to ten-pound class.
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.