Sunday, July 03, 2016

No accent fishing 101

Not everyday I get to fish with a crew that knows how to speak proper southern English, but today was such a day, complete with southern belles.

Fishing wasn't up to snuff unfortunately since I didn't get to a few spots I wanted to visit, but the crew saw things they wouldn't normally see, caught fish and learned a thing or two.  It was a catch and release day anyway so the box being light wasn't a problem. 

Since it is the week of the Fourth, plenty of folks are on the water and the majority were likely enjoying the day rather than slaying fish.  Not much to report other than the Mangrove fishing at the Seven Mile Bridge is a bit tough.  For whatever reason the fish are there but spookier than normal.  I could be that releasing fish under such conditions had something to do with that.

As a reminder, it is a bit sunny and warm out there so make sure you have plenty of water to go with your adult refreshments.  I missed out on a night trip this evening because I was a bit more drained than usual, but from the reports, the night Mangrove fishing on the reef is getting into full swing.  That is a great way to beat the heat while filling the cooler if you are so inclined.  Unfortunately, it looks like the tarpon bite at the 7 mile bridge might be about done with.  I didn't get a chance to check out some of the flats I wanted because of other fisherman, but  most of the usual spots didn't have much indication of fish and the water was close to gin clear. 

I saw a couple reports from offshore that weren't very impressive but it appears the wrecks are still loaded with mutton snapper, a few amberjack and the occasional tuna.  Everyday some boat offshore is finding a nice fish or two so it isn't a complete waste, but I wouldn't expect to fill the cooler right now.

Marathon in the Florida Keys should be your next fishing vacation destination. Join us for charter fishing, fishing guide trips or our fishing 101 so you can fish on your own with better success.

Tight lines,

Capt. Dallas

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Bay Side and Shark Week

 This time of year most folks come down to chase Dolphin or hit the reef and wrecks for snapper and grouper.  The bay side can be a lot of fun though and still produce a pretty good mess of Mangrove Snapper with the occasion Cero Mackerel and a few other species. 

Just about any place you set up for fishing on the bay side is likely to be visited by a pretty large number of sharks.  Today I fished on the Little Lady Catherine and we had a tiger shark playing around the chum slick plus a few sharp nose.  Sometimes its Lemons, Black Tips, Bulls, Hammerheads or just Nurse sharks, but if seeing sharks is pretty rare where you fish, you might find yourself enjoying the show.

The Mangroves we caught were a little smaller on average because so many have moved out to the reef for spawn, but we still had a decent catch with a few in the 16 inch range.  The bigger ones tend to prefer fresh Pinfish or ballyhoo chunks and you will probably need to break out the 12 pound fluorocarbon leader, but they will bite.  Bigger chunks also help cut down on the number of undersized fish, but there are so many some will be unavoidable.

Marathon in the Florida Keys should be your next fishing vacation destination. Join us for charter fishing, fishing guide trips or our fishing 101 so you can fish on your own with better success.

Tight lines,

Capt. Dallas

Monday, June 27, 2016

Pretty nice Yellowtail



Imagine that, the camera worked and the lens wasn't completely covered with crude.  Anywho, that is a 25" Yellowtail with is pretty nice.  I haven't seen many over 20 inches for a while so this is a good sign.

It was caught on a reef 101 after we hit a few other spots.  Plenty of Mangroves and Yellowtail every where, but there are so many barely legals you have to work a bit to find the bigger ones.

Marathon in the Florida Keys should be your next fishing vacation destination. Join us for charter fishing, fishing guide trips or our fishing 101 so you can fish on your own with better success.


Tight lines,

Capt. Dallas

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Full Moon and Bananas

I have gotten two messages about fishing on the full moon today.  The full moon is a PITA for a variety of reasons, especially in the summer.  Just about everything down here spawns around the full moon when the water temperatures are right.  So you can have some critter that you don't fish for like sponge worms spawn, screwing up your bucket list tarpon trip.  Then you can have Grouper or Snapper move to a different area to spawns show you don't find them in their usual places.  Plus with the faster than normal currents you can have a bite that doesn't last as long for some species and longer for another.  There can be so many things happening that you have trouble finding the right combination.

To keep things simple, planning a trip for the quarter moons is the way to go unless you are looking for spawn fish and you know where they are.  You can kill plenty of fish if you fish at one spot at a particular time of day and on a particular tide.   That particular time seems to be late, at night and/or early, but fish love making a liar out of folks so you never know for sure.

I am not a fan of hammering spawn fish so I avoid that, but there are some fish that are more than plentiful enough to hammer once or twice a year, so it doesn't bother me much.  Night time Mangroves, they are pretty plentiful, but I have noticed years when perhaps a bit too much hammering occurred.  Mutton snapper are also plentiful, but that is subject to change as more and more people figure out that combination.  They will bounce back as long as just hook and line fishing is used and the coral pretty much eliminate serious net fishing so they are good to go.  Amberjack were hit really hard about 15 years ago by commercial semi-long liners using 20 to 50 hook rigs with live bait, but most of the serious depletion has been with nets which are heavily regulated now.

Luckily, the Keys has a huge variety of targets and lots of fishing styles so even on a full moon you will likely have better fishing than you are used to back home, but magic trips are more likely around the quarter moons.    For example if you want to catch yellowtail snapper finding a good current that last long enough to really work them is tougher on a full or new moon than it is on a quarter moon.  You can still peak away at them, but that huge ball of fat yellowtails is more common and bite lasts longer when the current is just right.

If you are stuck with a full or new moon in your schedule, then plans C and D might be in order, but you can find something willing to bite.  This is a great time to forget bananas completely and don't forget your lucky fish hat or whatever just in case.

Marathon in the Florida Keys should be your next fishing vacation destination. Join us for charter fishing, fishing guide trips or our fishing 101 so you can fish on your own with better success.


 Tight lines,

 Capt. Dallas

Let the Dolphin Whining Begin

This year's offshore season is a bit different than most years.  We had a mild winter thanks to El Nino and sea surface temperatures have been warmer in shore so it is hard to find a normal temperature break.  The Gulf Stream has been close to missing in action off Marathon so the usual spots are not having the usual up welling currents.  And since inshore waters have been warm, the winds have been a bit different.  Blah, blah blah, there are plenty of excuses.  The result is just it is harder to find fish.   There are still fish out there and still plenty of gaffers, just you cannot run out an fill the fish box as often.  So you need to have your plan Bs and Cs in order.

Deep dropping and Mutton on the 150 to 250 foot wrecks are the main plan B for guys that have good numbers and the right gear.  I have mentioned trolling off the reef in these depths with your sonar tweaked in to find a few spots if you don't have magic numbers.  You also have artificial reefs that might be a bit more crowded than normal when the other bites are slow.  The 70 foot to 90 foot ledge on the reef only runs a few hundred miles and has been known from time to time to produce a few fish.  then there is the reef proper, patches, rock piles, bridges and flats so you have a few more options than just running offshore and slaying dolphin.

Yesterday we found two beautiful floaters loaded with bait that should have been loaded with fish, but were not.  So we gave up on Dolphin a little before noon and hit the back up plans.  Since we are close to a full moon, the bite was weird meaning you have to work harder, chum heavier and move more often to get a respectable box of fish.  For locals, this is pretty weird stuff so you might hear a few words a bit more often than normal.

The real challenge with a slow bite is that lighter tackle is often needed get things going and of course Murphy's law requires big fish hammering your light tackle.  You also need better quality bait than normal and live shrimp in summer might require magnifying glasses, so don't forget fresh or frozen shrimp which have saved more than one trip and fresh or live pin fish, ballyhoo or whatever other bait you can find..

One interesting thing about the warmer than normal waters is that bigger than normal fish are common.  As usual in summer, early, late and night fishing gets increases in popularity.  So in that hot middle of the day time, trolling a little faster than normal kicks the A/C up a notch and is a great time to look for some new to you fishing spots.  Just plan on going with the flow and Marathon in the Florida Keys still a great fishing vacation destination. Join us for charter fishing, fishing guide trips or our fishing 101 so you can fish on your own with better success.

 Tight lines,

 Capt. Dallas

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Update on the Cheap Spinning Combos

I bought the first cheap combos for kid friendly charters.  These were Aires AS60 reels with a seven foot contour graphite rod.  Nice and light with a cork handle that is easy for kids to use.   I really didn't expect the reels to last a full year, but thought the rods would be pretty rugged.  Surprisingly, the reels lasted nearly two years before the first one bit the dust.  One rod broke, which was also a surprise.  The one reel that is still working has a spritz of WD 40 after a little soap and water so it is still going strong.

The big problem with cheap tackle isn't so much that they break but when they break.  You really don't want gear breaking on your fish of a lifetime.  However, if you are targeting dinner or wanting a five year old to fish without constant supervision, you are a bit more tolerant of things breaking and going overboard if they aren't expensive.  So you have some trade offs to consider.

I did put the cheap stuff to quite a few tests on big fish, and that is really more of a drag test than anything else.  The drag design for most of the cheap reels is similar to Daiwa BG series drags.  Not a great drag system, but pretty reliable as long as the washers are reasonably clean and you don't make a habit of hammering your drag down.  I go a bit heavy on my drags but not over 50% of line rating.  Since I use mono and not braid, that is considered light drag to many.

Part of my test was to not do anything other than rinsing the reels off with fresh water.  Just off the shelf and in the water which is pretty common for vacationing do it yourselfers.  Had I broken the reels down and added some quality lube, I am pretty sure both would still be in action.

Since I expected the reels to die early, I bought a few super cheap Chinese reels for back ups.  These no name reels are a complete crap shoot.  One brand I bought sucked big time but another actually has potential provided I do the break down, lube and grease drill.  both cost less than $15 which is pretty much ultra cheap.  Handles and the anti-reverses are the major issues.  These are both things that need oil more than grease or the buildup is just about as bad as the corrosion.  This could mean a revival of old school Vaseline which protects and lubricates without buildup only with the need for regular application plus knowledge of how to spray WD 40 on things that are supposed to move.  Even the ultra cheap can do a good job with a little TLC.  The sad part of this test was that the cheap stuff, less than $30 isn't that much worse than the mid range stuff, $50 to $100.  

Marathon in the Florida Keys should be your next fishing vacation destination. Join us for charter fishing, fishing guide trips or our fishing 101 so you can fish on your own with better success.


 Tight lines,

 Capt. Dallas