Sailfish season is in full swing, and we’re experiencing some pretty good action.
Basically, find the blue water and find the bait in that same blue water and you will find the sailfish. Charter captains are having success anywhere in the 100- to 120-foot depths, where the sails are keyed in on the ballyhoo that are on the reef edge.
The cold front predicted for this weekend should boost the sailfish fishery even further. A hard north wind should push the ballyhoo out of the bay and onto the reef, creating a bait bonanza. Obviously, live ballyhoo is your bait of choice, but pilchards will do in a pinch.
Mixed in with the sailfish have been blackfin tuna, primarily fish in the 10- to 15-pound class. And a large body of kingfish has moved in along the reef line. These fish average eight to 15 pounds.
The best action remains on top of the reef and on the patches in 20 to 35 feet of water. There are snappers galore, including yellowtails, mangroves and muttons plus plenty of cero and king mackerel. Red and black groupers round out the variety.
Don’t pass up the deep edge of the reef for good numbers of flag yellowtails as well as black groupers. As always, use shrimp and cut baits for the yellowtails, while everything else is hitting ballyhoo, pilchards and pinfish fished near the bottom.
Hawk Channel is beginning to provide its wintertime variety of snappers, groupers and porgies plus lots of king, cero and Spanish mackerel. Hogfish are there too, but keep in mind the season is closed so they must be thrown back. Shrimp and live baits, such as pinfish, pilchards and ballyhoo, are all working well.
As a bonus, the feds have granted us another red snapper season on Dec. 8, 9 and 10. While there’s no size limit, only one fish per person is allowed.
Florida Bay is still offering up plenty of mangroves plus fair numbers of Spanish mackerel. With this weekend’s cold front, the Spanish mackerel fishery should really take off. Get your smoker ready.
The first seminar in the SeaSquared 2017-18 series is Dec. 6, in the Lighthouse Grill Captain’s Lounge at the Hyatt Place/Faro Blanco Marina, around mile marker 48 bayside in Marathon.
The topic is “Reef Top to Bottom” and I will discuss how maximize your efforts to catch a variety of species. The program begins at 6:30, but you’ll want to get there early to grab a drink at the bar and get a good seat. Admission is free. The SeaSquared captains and crew will be there to answer your questions. And, we have some exciting giveaways from top-shelf tackle and gear manufacturers.
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.