Well, folks, the good news is we have a pair of cold fronts predicted to reach us starting today.
We’ve been anxiously awaiting this shift in weather to bring our nearshore pelagics — sailfish, king mackerel and cobia, specifically. We’ve already started to see king mackerel and cobia in our slicks while yellowtailing on the reef.
This time of year, it pays to have a rod rigged for kings at the ready. We use a two-hook rig comprised of a treble hook stinger with a larger single hook in the front on No. 5 or No. 6 wire. Larger live baits, such as bluerunners and legal yellowtails, are the best baits.
For the cobia, have a 20-pound rod ready with 40- or 50-pound fluoro with a large 4/0 or 5/0, hook. Pitch any kind live bait, such as pinfish or pilchards, at the cobia that show up next to your chum bag.
Fishing for snappers and groupers is excellent right now on the shallow patches as well as the main reef line.
There are loads of yellowtails with big mangroves and decent-size muttons (five to 10 pounds) mixed in. We are using a half-ounce jighead with a live pilchard, pinfish or ballyhoo to attract the mangs and muttons. Red and black groupers are taking the same baits.
On the patches, there are plenty of keeper-size yellowtails, mangroves, cero mackerel plus red and gag groupers. The same baits used on the main reef line work here as well.
While you’re fishing on the reef, keep an eye offshore for frigate birds or terns working the surface. If you spot heavy activity, venture out and you may find dolphin and blackfin tuna.
In Florida Bay, there are a good number of mangroves and a few gags for the catching. What’s exciting is that the Spanish mackerel are beginning to show. And following these cold fronts, we should see a heavy push of the Spanish.
The best baits for the mangroves are small pilchards, live shrimp or chunks of ballyhoo and pinfish. For the Spanish mackerel, shrimp is king, fished on a jighead with a small trace of No. 4 wire and worked through your chum slick at a rapid pace to elicit bites.
With the Spanish mackerel come the sharks. So to top off your day in the bay with some fun, put a Spanish filet out on a float way back in your slick and you’ll be rewarded with a lemon, blacktip, spinner or small bull shark to wrangle with.
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.