You have to take the good with the bad and the positive to all this wind the past several days and the passing cold fronts is the outstanding fishing they will bring us.
Granted, we've not yet felt much change in the air temps but that's due to the water temps still being pretty warm.
It's inevitable that the waters surrounding the islands will cool, making for inviting conditions for all the pelagic species to come south for the winter. In the very near future, we can expect to see king and Spanish mackerel, cobia, sailfish, wahoo and dolphin.
And they'll all have the feed bag on. So it's a good thing the ballyhoo will be here, too. Hands down, ballyhoo are the key baits for fishing success this time of year.
We've already started to see a few grouper among the reef catches, so they're definitely making their way back from the 200- and 300-foot depths, where they hang out during the heat of the summer.
This weather system should move impressive numbers of red and gag grouper into the Hawk Channel and patch reef areas. Black grouper will occupy the same venues but the heaviest concentration of them will be on the main reef line. The snapper bite in these zones was excellent before the blow and is expected to continue once things calm down.
There had been plenty of small, 10-pound, kingfish off the deeper edge of the reef in about 120 feet of water. Now we should see bigger kings mixed in, fish up to 20 pounds and more. We may even see greater numbers of sailfish roaming the reed edge. These early fish like to get up on top of the reef to chase the ballyhoo.
Back in the bay, the mangrove snapper bite has been quite good for a while. As the waters dip into the 70s, Spanish mackerel, cobia and gag grouper will add to the bay action.
While you're waiting for fishable conditions to return, take advantage of the time off the water to check and update your safety equipment. Clean all the rusty stuff out of your tackle boxes and replace it with what you'll need for fall fishing. Get your reels respooled with fresh mono or check your braided line for wear. When things calm down by the weekend, you'll be ready to go.
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.