Let’s face it. It’s hot. So why waste your time looking for fish that aren’t there?
This time of year, you want to get out on the water early in the morning, have some fun catching and head back to the dock to hit the pool or the AC. So your best bet right now is snapper and grouper fishing on the reef and wreck areas.
On the reef, the yellowtail snapper bite has been decent, but the mangrove snapper action is outstanding. Most of this action is taking place in 35 to 50 feet of water.
Mixed in with the yellowtails and mangroves are the occasional mutton snapper in the five- to 10-pound class plus keeper grouper. You may have to pick through a bunch of sub-legal grouper to find a keeper, but it’s well worth it.
Copious amounts of chum are a necessity this time of year to hold these fish at your boat and keep them interested in eating. We supplement our frozen block chum with dry chum products from Aquatic Nutrition Sportfishing Chums. Check your local bait shop or find them online.
As for baits, small live ballyhoo or pinfish are best for the mangroves, muttons and groupers. And, just about any cut bait will work for the yellowtails.
On the Atlantic wrecks, the mutton bite is still pretty good, with lots of fish in the mid-teens. We’re even seeing some fish weighing 20 pounds and greater. There have also been some nice black grouper taken off the deeper wrecks. And, as always, plenty of big jack crevalles and amberjacks to wear you out. Live pinfish plus live or dead ballyhoo are working best.
The offshore dolphin fishing is still very spotty. Most charter captains will look for dolphin until about 10 or so in the morning and, finding none, will switch gears to go tuna fishing or deep dropping for groupers, tilefish or swordfish. If you choose the tuna option, the ones at the humps are being caught on trolling lures or by jigging.
The few dolphin that have been found have been under birds or floating debris. And there’s still plenty of wahoo around so should you find a floater, take the time to fish for these tasty blue water speed demons.
Finally, the flats guides are having luck with late-season tarpon plus bonefish and permit. If you’d like to try your luck at sight fishing, look up one of our local flats guides for an interesting day on the water.
And don’t forget the countdown is on for lobster mini-season season. This year, the two-day recreational season is July 27 and 28. So spend the waiting time prepping your gear and getting your lungs in condition so you’re good to go on the 27th.
The week’s best
Mangroves, muttons and yellowtails, oh my! Add a dose of amberjacks and jack crevalles and that’s what the clients on the SeaSquared boats have been catching this week.
Sprinkled in have been a few of our family fun days, where our guests do a little fishing and then a little snorkeling or wading on a sandbar. And, we continue with our catch-and-release shark fishing adventures, which are stellar right now.
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.