Fishing

The sails are finally arriving but don’t forget about the tuna bite

It was lucky St. Patrick’s Day fishing for the Gross group from Arizona, which caught multiple good-size blackfin tuna with Capt. Alex Bell and SeaSquared Charters.
It was lucky St. Patrick’s Day fishing for the Gross group from Arizona, which caught multiple good-size blackfin tuna with Capt. Alex Bell and SeaSquared Charters. SeaSquared Charters

True to form as we approach April, the sailfish action is picking up tempo. They’re migrating through on their way to their spawning grounds in Mexico, and multiple hookups have been the norm the last few days.

The sailfish activity is happening anywhere from 20 feet on top of the reef out to 200 feet. Look for the color change to indicate the corridor in which the sailfish are moving.

The offshore humps are producing good-size blackfin tuna in the 10- to 20-pound class. Live baiting and jigging are most successful for the bigger fish. Trolling is working. as well, although for mostly smaller fish.

We’re seeing scattered dolphin between the reef and the humps. Be on the lookout for frigate birds on the water surface and you’ll most likely find gaffer- and slammer-size dolphin under the birds.

The yellowtail snapper bite on the reef is consistent as long as we have stable weather. There is a fair amount of mid-size mutton snappers mixed in with the yellowtails plus some king and cero mackerel. And of course, loads of groupers that must be released until the season opens on May 1.

Hawk Channel still has plenty of Spanish mackerel, although they’ll be leaving our waters soon.

If you’re looking to pull on something big, the shark action is on fire. Right now, we have lots of blacktips and bulls with a few lemons mixed in. There’s even a fair number of large hammerheads averaging eight to ten feet in length.

Florida Bay still offers good mangrove snapper action with plenty of two-to three-pound fish. A few straggler Spanish mackerel are out there as well.

Free seminar

Capt. Chris Johnson hosts a series of free fishing seminars at the Hyatt Place/Faro Blanco this season, mile marker 48 bayside. The fifth in the monthly series takes place April 3 with the topic “The Mighty Tarpon.” It runs from 6:30 to 8:30 pm and there will be nearly $1,000 in prizes and giveaways.

Thank you

This is our final column for the print version of the Keynoter. It has been our honor to bring you what we hope you have deemed to be interesting and relevant news and information about fishing in the Keys. We thank you, our loyal readers, for tuning in each week. And we thank the Keynoter for granting us this opportunity some 10 years ago. We wish all our friends at the Keynoter great success in their future pursuits beyond these pages.

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