Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Wicked Tuna - Keys Addition

 While the Tarpon bite is on and the Sailfish have been thick, the big news is big Bluefin Tuna making people look bad.  200 plus pound Yellowfin and 500 plus pound Bluefin tuna do wander through the Keys now and again.  I have had a solid 200 pound Yellowfin Tuna eating Yellowtail on the reef is 32 foot of water.  It was great to see, but chances are slim and none with yellowtail spinning tackle.  You get spooled if you hook up and that warm feeling of burning drag is all you get to show for it.

If you go out loaded for bear with bent butt 80s and big live baits, more often than not you have a shark encounter which gets old after an hour or two on the rod.  I am pretty sure someone around Marathon will hook up a big bluefin with the right gear and eventually bring one to the dock, but I am not going to hold my breath.

I have been spending most of my time in the kiddie pool with fishing 101 trips and a few hiding from 20+ knot wind trips.  Even on a slow day we are getting dinner and more often than not, some bucket list fish for someone in the crew.   The near shore action though is far from hot.

Permit were on the artificial reefs if you have the weather and the Tarpon bite is better than normal for many right now, mainly at night but there have been a few early and late daytime bites.  We have another 20 grouperless days until that opens back up and a few larger dolphin are being picked up here and there.

If you are into sailfish, you are likely to be a hero or a zero.  Last week one boat released 28 of 32 while many other boats were talking about yellowtailing to make a trip.  That is fishing.   Finding a day when the wind lays down a bit is the biggest trick this time of year.  The great thing about this time of the year in the Keys, is you never know what you might get into.



 Whatever happens, spring is here and the Frangie Pangies are showing off, so if you get a chance you might as well try your luck.

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

Friday, March 31, 2017

More Fishing 101 - Yellowtail plus

 Got a call at 8:30 yesterday from a vacationer in town from the UK.  They had rented a house, a boat, had all the gear, read the required magazines and were catching nothing.  So they gave in and asked me if I was busy.

About an hour and half later they were catching Yellowtail snapper, cero mackerel, lil' Tunny, Baracuda and missing a few fish that once lost, could be anything they liked.  All they had to do was dial the number on the blog.

Right now you just about have to hide if you want to bait your hook.  Permit are on the wrecks, sailfish are just off the reef, Tarpon are at the bridges, Snapper and mackerel are just about everywhere so if the wind isn't blowing over 30 you can find some fish.


With all the great fishing, it is just about a sin to be wandering around aimlessly like a ... well, tourist :)  You can hook up with loads of great local captains for your bucket list fishing trip of a life time or an old fart like me so you can learn how to do it on your own.

The crew that called were easy, catch some Yellowtail, maybe a Baracuda and learn a few tricks.  While Yellowtailing you can put out a live bait and who knows what will show up.  We had lots of fish busting baits in the slick within an hour and they could have made a day of it right there.  But I took them Bay Side in case the wind picked up and they caught Mangrove Snapper, Bluefish, Blue Runners, Porgies, while Baracuda and sharks showed up.  Its the Keys.

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

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Tuna at the Hump

After a long blow and with a nearly full moon, it was a bit of a guess yesterday, but we picked the Marathon Hump and Tuna to target.  Plenty of other boats picked the same option.

The Blackfin were smaller than normal but still tasty.  We actually caught bigger Blackfin in 300 foot off the reef, but there were no birds to help us hone in on them.  West of the Hump there were plenty of birds working Skipjack tuna, but since we have a taste for Blackfin we passed.  That might have been a bad choice, but we stuck to the game plan.  One lost Dolphin wanted to get a lift back to the dock, but the Hump was all Blackfin other than that lost soul.  

Sixteen fish is below normal but certainly beats a skunk which unfortunately happens from time to time.  The crew was happy, which is the main thing.  If I had to do it over again, I think the 300 foot range would have provided bigger fish and a larger variety albeit with a slower bite.

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

Friday, February 24, 2017

2-24 Slow Day

After having a string of better than average days catching you have to get a slow one.  What was supposed to be a quick half-day fun eating fish trip turned into an over time half-day trying to get enough for the crew's dinner.

Instead of Mackerel we had Bonnet Head Sharks get in the slick at a spot I doubt we have ever caught one before.  We caught a few decent Lane Snapper and then the tiny fish took over.  Second spot marked up great but was dead so we headed out to the reef.

The reef bite was slow because of a very weak current, but at least the Yellow Tail Snapper were big enough to filet. 


 So no big fish stories, just more than enough fillets for a large family on vacation.

 At least a Manatee added something to the floor show, drinking water out of the motors while we were flushing them.

We had a West wind early in the morning that may be to blame for the slow bite or perhaps the weather was too good, in any case, slow shouldn't last long and even when it is slow you still eat pretty good.

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, February 20, 2017

Chum and Live Bait Tips


 If you are serious about reef fishing you know this style of chum net.  Chum bags, small to large mesh are like laundry bags and work fine for shallow water, but for deeper fishing go with a net.  Count on 3-4 blocks of chum per half day with a chum net and 2-3 blocks per half day with a large mesh chum bag.  We got tired of  the nastiness which is used chum nets and decide to put the Pin Fish to work.  David just puts the used chum bag in the bait keep and they clean up the mess.

So if you are planning a larger stay in the Keys, say a week or more in hopes of taken some fish back to wow the back home crowd, let's review some tips.

1.  Having a bait freezer is huge.  Buying chum by the case saves money but you need a dedicated freezer so check you rental for such a goody.  If you don't have a bait freezer, a smaller cooler even one of the cheap Styrofoam ones that will barely hold two blocks of chum can come in handy.  In any case, the smaller cooler is easier to decontaminate if things go wrong.  Put the left over chum in the small cooler and that in a larger cooler with whatever ice you can spare.  Note: the Syrofoam cooler has a very low life expectancy out in the open.  Sheltered in a bigger cooler or below deck fish box at least gives it a chance to be useful.

2.  If your rental has a bait keep, which is a pen of some sort to keep live bait in water at your dock, great, if not remember a cheap 30 gallon trash can with holes drilled in it will do a good job in a pinch.  Don't drill holes in the bottom or the bottom few inches so you can lift the can without stranding the fish.  Use large holes 3/4" to 1" for big baits and plenty of flow.  If you want to keep shrimp in a big bait keep put the shrimp in a mesh chum bag and that in the keep.  Or you can make a smaller 5 gallon keep bucket with shrimps size holes.  I have a drill and bits if one isn't hiding around your place.

3.  Don't overload your bait keep.  Pin Fish are hardy so you can keep several dozen in a 30 gallon keep if the water is fairly clean.  Mullet are dainty little beggars so a half dozen may be all you can get is a 30 gallon keep.  Pilchards are somewhere in between so 3 or 4 dozen in a 30 gallon keep might be pushing your luck in many canals.  Ballyhoo have zero chance in anything other than an Olympic size bait keep.  All live baits can be a PITA so just chill and adjust as needed.

4.  Feeding live baits just enough so they don't start eating each other is a good thing, but don't over do it.  One ballyhoo is enough to keep Pin Fish busy and since they will clean your chum net, let them have fun.

5. Candy size, 1.5 to 3 inch Pin Fish or Pilchards, are your go to Mangrove snapper baits and just about anything will hit them.  Bigger baits might mean bigger fish somethings, but even elephants eat peanuts, so don't knock candy size baits.

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

Still Steady Fishing

Almost had an offshore trip but the seas were just big enough for the crew to change their minds.  So instead of Black Fin tuna they settled for some little Tuny and lots of snapper including one 26" mutton. A Half day today near the bridge produced mainly Mangrove Snapper with a few nice Yellowtail Snapper, some Porgies and some very large grunts along with the usual shark encounter plus a barracuda cut off at the boat which seems to have made their day.


So every trip has had plenty of dinner fish with at least one shot at a bragging size dinner fish and all in the more sheltered waters. 


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