Mahi, snappper and jacks keep anglers busy, tarpon too

Scott Mura of New Jersey crossed catching a tarpon off his bucket list. He landed two in the 100-pound class with Capt. Jason Bell and deckhand Mason Bridges (right) of SeaSquared Charters.
Scott Mura of New Jersey crossed catching a tarpon off his bucket list. He landed two in the 100-pound class with Capt. Jason Bell and deckhand Mason Bridges (right) of SeaSquared Charters.

Dolphin fishing offshore continues in earnest, although this week’s wind makes it a challenge to get out there safely and comfortably. Let’s hope the mahi are still around when conditions settle down.

Most of the dolphin are schoolie-size fish, with the occasional larger specimens in the 20- to 30-pound range. There are good amounts of Sargasso weed present, which is where the most action is found. So be on the lookout for birds, as they are quite often hovering over the largest schools of dolphin.

With the full moon this weekend, we should see an uptick in wahoo bites. There’s just something about a full moon that spurs the wahoo on. Should you find a piece of floating debris or exceptionally large grass patch, spend a little extra time on it and drag deep-running plugs or drop speed jigs or bucktails down deep and retrieve them quickly to the surface. This will usually elicit a vicious strike if there are any wahoo in the vicinity.

The humps contain good numbers of blackfin and skipjack tuna, so it’s worth it to make the trek while you’re offshore for dolphin.

There’s a nice mix of mutton snapper and amberjack on the wrecks. Plus, the shallower wrecks and artificial reefs are still giving up quality-size black grouper. Pinfish and live ballyhoo work best.

Fishing for yellowtail snapper on the reef remains good, with the most consistent bite of bigger fish coming from the deeper edge in 60 to 90 feet of water.

The usual cut baits work for the yellowtails. And this time of year, I can’t stress enough the importance of using copious amounts of chum and oats mixed with SnapperUp to produce the best catches. Our captains don’t leave the dock without a bag of SnapperUp or ChumDrop or both.

There are still some keeper-size black and red grouper mixed in, and we’re beginning to see an increase in the mangrove snapper activity up shallower. Live pinfish are your go-to baits.

At the bridges, the tarpon bite remains quite active. Live mullet, pinfish or crabs are your baits of choice, depending on where you’re fishing. Check with your local tackle shop for what works in your area. This is probably the last couple of weeks before they start to disperse, so get in on this action now.

There’s still good mangrove snapper fishing on the grass banks in Florida Bay. Again, this action will last only a couple more weeks, as these fish are on the move heading toward the reef to spawn.

Sharks, sharks and more sharks are at the bridges and flats for great catch-and-release fun. Right now, we’re seeing blacktips, spinners and lemons.

The week’s best

The SeaSquared boats hit just about every fishing venue Marathon has to offer.

Flag yellowtails came off the reef, muttons, black groupers and amberjacks off the wrecks, dolphin and tuna from the offshore venues. Large lemon and bull sharks entertained in Florida Bay, and the tarpon action continues at both Bahia Honda and Seven Mile.

Capt. Kevin Wilson of Knee Deep Charters out of teh Geiger Key Marina kept his anglers busy last week with limits of yellowtails. Lemon sharks and barracuda added to the action for the Max/Bravette group from Tierra Verde, Fla., and Vorhees, N.J., and the Barefoot family from Gilbert S.C.

Capt. Chris Johnson specializes in offshore, gulf/bay, reef/wreck, sailfish, shark and tarpon fishing with SeaSquared Charters, docked at Faro Blanco Resort and Yacht Club in Marathon. You can reach him at (305) 743-5305, and