The annual mutton snapper spawn has not disappointed this year. It’s the full moon that spurs the muttons into spawn mode.
When they do spawn, they become uber aggressive, which in turn makes them easier to catch. The bite over the past several days has been nothing short of phenomenal.
There will still be plenty of muttons to be caught even during the waning of the moon. You’ll find them on the wrecks, artificial reefs and deep rough-bottom patches. Mixed in with the mutton snappers are amberjacks and yellowjacks. Live pinfish and ballyhoo are working best for all of these.
In the same areas, there have been lots of red snappers. Please note, these must be released, as the season for them is closed indefinitely in federal waters (three-plus nautical miles from shore).
Also present is an abundance of vermilion snappers. The limit on these is five per person, and they do not count as part of your 10 snapper aggregate bag limit. They must measure 12 inches total length. The tactic to use for the vermilions is a chicken rig, which comprises multiple hooks tied on the same leader. The best baits are squid strips, small chunks of ballyhoo or pinfish, all fished on the bottom.
Fishing for yellowtail and mangrove snappers on the reef remains worthwhile, with the deeper, 50- to 80-foot, depths producing the best action.
Offshore, the dolphin bite has been picky. I’ve had reports of captains going as far as 35 miles to find them. They’re traveling around looking for them and, if the dolphin are elusive, they either switch to tuna fishing at the humps or come back to the reef and wreck areas for snappers and groupers. However, as is typical with dolphin, this can change in the blink of an eye
In Florida Bay, there’s still some decent mangrove snapper fishing, but these fish will be moving to the Atlantic to spawn very soon.
The week’s best
The SeaSquared boats stuck to the reef and wreck areas last week to take advantage of the outstanding mutton snapper bite. Our anglers also caught yellowtail, mangrove and vermilion snappers plus amberjacks and yellowjacks. And in the bay, the catch-and-release shark fishing was nothing short of stellar.
A Father’s Day full-moon outing with Capt. Chuck Brodzki for Tim Stephens and his sons Sam and Jack, from St. Louis, Mo., garnered four tarpon ranging in size from 75 to 110 pounds.
The following night, Brodzki, introduced tarpon newbie Mark Dragone from Raleigh, N.C., to the pursuit of the silver king. The angler landed three, with the largest at 110 pounds.
Returning Knee Deep clients Kelly Fortune and Patrick Cook from Fort Worth, Texas, brought along Pat’s aunt and uncle, Alan and Kristen McKinney from Hurst, Texas, for an action-packed morning of fishing with Capt. Kevin Wilson. The group limited out on yellowtails. Kelly released a 100-pound reef shark that put up a good fight, and the guys both reeled in and released jack crevalles.
Capt. Chris Johnson specializes in offshore, gulf/bay, reef/wreck, sailfish, shark and tarpon fishing with SeaSquared Charters in Marathon. You can reach him at (305) 743-5305, http://SeaSquaredCharters.com and http://Facebook.com/MarathonFishing.