Monday, April 30, 2007

Crazy Fishing Season

This has been the craziest fishing season I have ever seen in the Keys. On the whole, the bite has been good. Still there seems to be two great days and the next is sucky.

That may be due to the winds which have erratic. Customer wise it has been a lot slower than normal. Trips were averaging about half of last year, but started picking up the week before last only to slow down again.

Offshore, the dolphin, tuna and wahoo are getting into high gear. The big hammerheads are moving in so the tarpon bite is getting right. The permit are doing their thing on the wrecks. With the wind laying down, bones on the flats should kick up.

Reef wise, the snapper are starting to be more cooperative, though the grouper bite seems slower than normal. Hawk channel rock piles have been very productive on the windy days when range is limited.

May June and July, are primetime guys. Now that the fish are settling into more consistant patterns, it is time to come on down. If you are planning a trip make sure you book ahead for the offshore boats. If you are looking to save a little cash, check out places like Captain Pips or one of the others with rental boats.

Tight lines,
captain dallas

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Can You Handle a Permit!

My job as a guide is to put you on the fish,your's is to catch them. Fred, found that the job of the angler is not all that easy today.

Fred wanted to tangle with a permit or ten. He had plenty of shots, but not a single fish to the boat. He has a reel to repair after a big fished smoked it and a few stories to tell.

The fish won! Fred didn't lose, he gained a brand new respect for permit. O for ten is part of permit fishing. I have gone 26 for 26 or 0 for ten. That's fishing!

While I would have loved to get a few pics for the blog, you don't boat every world class permit you hook. Even with the thirty pound test tackle that Fred had, it just ain't that easy to bring a 35 plus pound permit to the boat.

I do get a sadistic pleasure out of puting people on fish that can kick their butts! It was a beautiful day and the permit won. Fred, may not have boated a fish, but he was not a loser.

Tight lines,


Friday, April 13, 2007

Time to Test Your Tackle!

May is about the best fishing month of the year. In the Florida Keys, the angling action is hot! For the savvy fisherman targeting, Tarpon, Permit, Dolphin (Mahi Mahi) or Blackfin Tuna, the Florida Keys is the place to be.

Every avid angler knows about tarpon fishing from the Sunday morning outdoors television shows. The big silver kings have their annual bridge convention in the Keys from mid April through June. These aren’t baby tarpon, they are big girls, many over one hundred and fifty pounds. Unlike Boca Grande pass, the tarpon guides in the Keys prefer light tackle on the whole. A hundred plus pound tarpon getting airborne on fifteen to twenty pound test will be a sight few anglers will ever forget. These are all release unless you want to get a keep permit for a big fish. To get a mount for your fish you do not need to kill the fish. Photos and measurements is all that is required.

Permit are pompano on serious steroids! While not as well known to out of state anglers, pound for pound a permit will kick a tarpon’s butt in a light tackle battle. The big permit move to the deep wrecks for their convention around May. On a good day, an angler can sight cast to hundreds of the powerful members of the Jack family. If you hook up a big girl in the forty to fifty pound range, you are looking at 45 minutes to an hour of line stretching on twenty pound test. If you want to tackle a permit or two think about a little gym time before heading down. These fish will wear you out! Catch and release only on my boat if you don’t mind. If you really want to try one for dinner keep a (as in one) smaller fish under thirty pounds. They don’t eat that great and they are worth more swimming.

Big dolphin are called slammers. To qualify for slammer status, the fish has to be over 25 pounds on my boat. I am a little bit sadistic so I fish 15 to 20 pound spinning tackle and 30 pound test trolling tackle for these gorgeous fish. Like tarpon, dolphin get airborne and put on a heck of a show. While plenty of big fish are hooked on the troll, most of the really big dolphin are hooked sight casting on the spinners. For you fly fishermen, they will eat about any big fly. I said big fly, four to six inch streamers, Clousers and even poppers. If you want to try a slammer dolphin on the fly rod, pack a big lunch, not for you, for your captain. You’re going to be busy for a while. Yep, these fish are so pretty you just have to invite a few home for dinner.

Blackfin tuna are a smaller but tasty member of the tuna family. A blackfin over 35 pounds is a hoss that is a perfect match for thirty-pound test tackle. If you want to go lower than thirty pound tackle you better have six hundred yards of line on your reel and pack a huge lunch in case you hook into a thirty plus pounder. While most of the blackfin are found in the deep water, around the Islamarada and Marathon humps, they can be found near the reef in May along with a few wahoo, sailfish and marlin. Anywhere you find a big school feeding, be ready for some big fish feeding on the tasty tuna. You will be bringing some blackfin home for dinner. Your captain is likely to lose a couple in the fish box for his dinner too, by the way, so don‘t get too accurate on your count.

For your Florida Keys fishing expedition there a few hundred captains down here ready to put you on some good fish. There are also quite a few guides like myself that will take a smaller boat and try to put you on most of these fish in a single trip. What I like to call a Marathon slam, tarpon, permit and dolphin, is doable in a single day of fishing. If you think you are ready for a real fishing challenge, then think mid April through June in the Florida Keys.

Tight lines,

Capt. Dallas

Friday, April 06, 2007

Key West Tarpon Bite

The tarpon bite in Key West is heating up! I had a snapper/grouper trip today and we sat there catch and releasing mangs and groups all the while watching the 'poons roll around the boat.

After taking a break to get out of a rain storm, (yeah, we ran back to the bight and hung out shopping until the rain quit), I talked my crew in to trying just a few drifts for tarpon. Third drift we hooked up with one that might go 150. Got a couple of good jumps then she headed to channel marker and got wrapped.
Game over, but the crew had fun. The other boats out of Almost There hung a few. Captain Jeff had an angler on a 125 for two hours before the release. Lucky Bo managed to hook 30 to 50 pounders. He boated two that I know of and had another on.

Any who, the tarpon are biting.

Tight lines

Capt. Dallas

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Winds are Laying Down

Finally, the winds have laid down and we can get offshore without getting our butts kicked. The full moon killed the dolphin bite yesterday, but the crew had a great time.

We saw plenty of fish, just could not get them to start chewing. Of the four boats I talked to, only one caught a keeper. We saw a couple of billfish, as did the other boats, but not even a sniff.

Now that the moon is getting smaller, things should heat up. The water on the reef has been clear with very little current so the 'tail action is slow. Grouper are biting, but finding a keeper size is tough. You have to hit several spots most days to find one.

Tarpon are showing at the bridge better, so get ready for some action. Permit have been spotty at Marathon, because of the wind, so that should heat up too. Won't be long until they move to the wrecks for spawn.

The boats are getting booked up fast! So plan ahead for your trip. I am sticking to the guide trips until I get the new boat. For you hardy salts, I am working with three or four big boats for offshore in weather. (booking not fishing with them) Check the Native Sun and Best Bet links plus Captain Pips has a 36 footer that is catching fish.

Tight lines,