Reefs and wrecks almost guarantee good snapper catches

Capt. Chuck Brodzki and 15-year-old Josef Borski show Josef's 8-pound slot snook caught on Halloween.
Capt. Chuck Brodzki and 15-year-old Josef Borski show Josef's 8-pound slot snook caught on Halloween.

It's a great week to fish on the Atlantic reefs and wrecks -- the action for yellowtail and mangrove snapper is excellent. The yellowtails are in all depths from the top side of the reef all the way down deep at 90 to 100 feet, while the mangroves are primarily in the 30- to 40-foot areas.

These snappers are feeding assertively, so you will needs lots of chum to hold them at the boat. Cut baits and shrimp are the ticket for the yellowtails, and the mangroves are eating pilchards and small pinfish.

On the wrecks, the mutton snapper bite has been reenergized, with plenty of amberjack and jack crevalle mixed in for variety. The baits of choice on the wrecks are live ballyhoo or pilchards.

Black grouper are prevalent once again on the reef and wrecks; any large live bait will work.

There has been a smattering of sailfish along the reef edge, but we need a good cold front to get this fishery going full speed. Smaller king mackerel in the eight- to 10-pound class are in the same areas.

Cero mackerel are thickening in population on the reef and patch reefs, with some hefty ones at eight to 10 pounds. Ballyhoo, pilchards and small bluerunners will do the trick.

Offshore, dolphin fishing has been very poor. There are some tuna at the humps but the sharks are taking more than their fair share.

Finally, in the bay, there are loads of mangroves, jack crevalle, bluefish and sharks, with the occasional cobia and gag grouper for the taking.

The week's best

The SeaSquared boats fished on the Atlantic reef and wrecks as well as in the bay. Our anglers caught large mangroves up to four pounds, yellowtails and grouper. We also did some catch-and-release shark fishing with rods bent by seven-foot lemon sharks.

Halloween fishing on the Islamorada backcountry flats with his father Tim Borski and Capt. Chuck Brodsky, 15-year-old Josef Borski caught and released a beautiful eight-pound slot snook on a home-tied secret fly.

Fishing buddies Scott Papp and Sim Gervais of Tavernier caught a truckload of snapper, trout, ladyfish, bluefish and mackerel in the bay waters of Everglades National Park. They used ultralight spin and fly tackle with a wide assortment of artificials. And Dave Winess limited out on cero mackerel and yellowtails, all caught on fly on the 20-foot patch reefs near Tennessee Light.

Light ocean breezes and calm seas made for an awesome day of fishing the reef for Tara Hoskins, Luke Futscher and Dave Mitchum, all from Florida, with Capt. Kevin Wilson of Knee Deep Charters out of Geiger Key Marina. Luke landed a 20-pound black grouper, while released a nurse shark.

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.