As we crawl into fall with lingering above-normal temperatures, we are starting to see some sailfish show up. Most are being taken off the edge of the reef in 100 to 200 feet of water.
Mixed in with the sails are plenty of dolphin, wahoo and the occasional blackfin tuna. Live ballyhoo and pilchards are the best baits. There have been lots of small bluerunners around, which also work well for sailfish and wahoo.
The snapper bite continues to be excellent on the reef and the grouper bite has gotten pretty good, too. The main reef line is producing mostly yellowtail and mutton snappers, plus black grouper. On the patch reefs, add mangrove snapper and red and gag grouper to the offerings.
Good numbers of cero mackerel are on the reef and patches, as well, and they're taking live ballyhoo and pilchards. Most are in the two- to four-pound range, but there have been some big ones at eight to 10 pounds. Smallish king mackerel in the five- to 10-pound class are intermingled.
Out in the bay and around the bridges, there are loads of sharks to keep the rods bent. Blacktips, spinners, bulls, lemons and hammerheads are all present and ready to take bait.
Further out on the banks and wrecks, there are good numbers of mangroves and we're beginning to see more Spanish mackerel. When we get a cold front to help cool down the bay waters, this mackerel bite will improve.
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.