Fourth of July weekend is here in the Upper Keys. Offshore, they celebrated their independence with a bang last week and with lots of dolphin caught.
Fish were spread out though. Caught from 350 feet of water all the way out to 29 miles offshore, dolphin from 3 to 10 pounds were a common size range. Find those little birds and you may just make your day in one-stop shopping.
There were a few fish caught that were over 40 pounds. Again, under the little birds.
The hump and hump areas gave up good sized blackfin tuna out of a strong Gulfstream current. Those with live pilchards did very well with the tuna in the 15- to 25-pound range. Look for the birds to help locate the school.
Some boats had chances at blue marlin last week. Although not all anglers connected, there were a couple that did. For example, Capt. Brandon Jimenez, out of Key Largo, guided his his anglers to a 300-pound blue marlin that they were able to catch and release after an epic two hour battle. His new charter boat the Sea Spirit is docked next to Skippers Restaurant (formerly Coconuts.) Brandon has been sailing daily and is able to fish more days now as his new boat is over 40 feet and his old boat was under 30. Congratulations to Capt. Brandon on his latest endeavor. I wish him many more years of continued success!
In the backcountry, fishing has been consistent even though the bait has been a bit of a challenge. The key to a good day in the backcountry right now is whether or not you have frisky live bait. Whether it's the time of day or the tide, there is a pattern to catching pilchards. The challenge is to figure out where and when they are most catchable. Good bait is without a doubt your key to success.
Capt. John Johansen reported steady tarpon fishing in the backcountry. There were good reports of snook around the area. Capt. Mike Venezia reported some nice snook in the backcountry as well as some tripletail action further out in the open water west of the park boundaries.
Captain Carlos Jimenez of Gringo charters also reported excellent snook fishing. His anglers released over 70 one day last week. The weather is hot, and the fishing is red hot right now. So get out there!
Capt. Donald Deputy covers the sport of fishing in and around the areas of the Upper Keys. Reach him direct at email@example.com with your personal fish tales and photos.