Dolphin fishing continues in earnest, although you’ll need to venture slightly further offshore.
It’s still primarily schoolie-size fish with a few slammers mixed in, but the good news is there are not many sub-legal fish getting in the way of keepers. Frigate birds and terns are indicating the larger schools of mahi.
If you encounter a substantial weed line, you may also find good numbers of dolphin picking at the bait fish in the weeds.
We’ve had numerous reports of encounters with billfish, particularly marlin, and know of one white marlin caught off Marathon. And a fair amount of blue marlin have been hooked or, at least, seen chasing schoolie dolphin. So if you have a blank spot on your wall waiting for a marlin mount, now could be your time to cross that off your bucket list.
And don’t overlook the shallower waters for dolphin, as many fish have been taken in just 250 to 500 feet of water.
There have been plenty of small to midsize blackfin tuna offshore, as well. These are primarily in the deeper, 800- to 1,000-foot areas as well as at the humps.
On the reef, the yellowtail snapper bite is improved over last week. And, as the wind comes down, this fishing should get quite good. The middle depths in 50 to 80 feet are where to look first.
We anticipate seeing a night bite develop for mangrove snapper very soon. Again, when conditions are more settled, we will have reports on this activity.
There are still some tarpon around the bridges. Check with your local tackle shop to see if it’s still worthwhile trying for a silver king in your area.
For other shallow-water action, the flats are heating up with good bonefishing, tarpon and some permit. And lots and lots of sharks. Flats fishing for sharks is exciting, with the opportunity to catch very large fish on light tackle. Right now, we’re releasing mostly lemons, blacktips and spinners.
The week’s best
On the reef and wreck areas, the SeaSquared guests caught yellowtails, muttons, mangroves and black groupers. We also got in on the awesome dolphin action, with many of our groups coming back to the docks with piles of schoolies and a couple of larger fish. And fishing in Florida Bay produced catch-and-release shark and barracuda fun as well as delicious mangrove snapper.
Father-son anglers Keith and Jeremy Kindel from Chantilly, Va., and Denver had a banner day with Capt. Kevin Wilson and Knee Deep Charters out of the Geiger Key Marina. They started the morning with yellowtails, a 16-pound black grouper and a pair of amberjacks and ended with a 10-pound dolphin.
On another trip, the Hoornsta/Ellis group from Asheville, N.C., and Rehoboth Beach, Del., caught yellowtails and dolphin with Wilson. It was the kids’ first time ocean fishing.
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, http://SeaSquaredCharters.com and http://Facebook.com/MarathonFishing.