Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Marathon Hump April

We hit the hump yesterday. We only spent an hour and a half on the hump. We got a dozen tuna. They were footballs. Tasty little footballs, but nothing over 12 pounds. We caught them all trolling darts. There were several jiggers out there, but they where catching one every now and again while we had two or three on at a time. Jigging looks like work to me. If you want to deep jig, go for it. Old school still works so I will keep old schooling.

Speaking of old school. I used to always pull combos or naked rigged dead baits. I get to the Keys and the plastic guys convert me to plastics. Plastics are a great way to cover ground. Now there is a trend back to chin weighted ballyhoo and all the old school stuff. What goes around comes around again. While I have no problem with natural baits, trolling plastics in scattered weed makes life simple and catches fish. Just keep a spread of ballyhoo ready if you hit the honey hole. Finding fish is the key to offshore fishing in the Keys. Depending on how the fish react, be ready to change tactics.

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

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Marathon Fishing April Full Moon

Every full moon is a little different. This moon has been a weird one. With some of the highest tides I can remember and super clear water. The fishing has been okay despite the conditions.

One big plus is the clear water is revealing hidden treasures in Hawks Channel. We have found some awesome coral mounds that are not charted. That will be some great news for bottom fishermen for years to come. Some of the mounds we found have fifteen foot profiles and are less than thirty feet across.

Offshore there are dolphin but the big slammers are not think yet. They should show soon and things will get hot. Sunday I tried to fish the wall but got side tracked by a crew member that got green on a two foot seas day. We found one decent gaffer dolphin, a bull around fifteen pounds and pulled the hook on a good size tuna. With the late start and short trip that wasn't that bad.

The wrecks are loaded with big permit. They are also loaded with bigger sharks. So count on a finicky bite and not getting many fish to the boat. 'Tails are biting in the clear water. There are some huge mangroves on the reef as well. This is definitely a time for Fluorocarbon.

The clear water and high tides are making flats fishing a little more fun. The few flats guides I get are normally frustrating because the customers have trouble seeing fish. Yesterday, we saw plenty of fish. No bones, but blacktips, jacks, small permit and one school of cero mackerel ambushing glass minnows. My customer was acting like a kid in a candy store with the ceros. Not your typical flats fare, but ceros strike hard and give a good tug.

Bayside there are plenty of mangroves and seatrout for the small boat guys just looking for dinner and a relaxing day. The bay wreck are load with permit that are hungry and fewer sharks to molest them.

Tarpon are at the bridge pretty thick. The bay grass is thicker, so fishing is a challenge. When the tides calm down the bite should be great. Right now, drifting with the grass, er current, is the easiest way to get hooked up.

Heading offshore this morning. If the crew can hang we will fish the wall and the humps. I need a few big gaffers to make my crew happy.

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, April 12, 2008

Where are the Dolphin?

Just a quick note. The Dolphin are running behind schedule. Oh, there are small dolphin to the teens here and there but the big slammers must have taken a wrong turn somewhere.

There is some good news though. Off Key West there are a few boats seeing huge schools out near the Wall. Those fish should be here soon. When the dolphin get thick I'll let you know.

Until then, the reef has fired up for yellowtails and the mangroves are back to biting. There are still good numbers of sailfish hanging around and some nice Cobia moving through on the ocean side.

The bridge is starting to load up with tarpon. The night time bite has been pretty good. Pretty good meaning you have two or three shots a night. I had some guys out the other day that thought tarpon fishing was fast and furious. That ain't the case guys. We had two hits yesterday. Lost one to a big wad of weeds on the line (that's part of bridge fishing) and one got us wrapped around a bridge pier while we were cutting the boat loose to chase (that happens, but it really hurts when it is a big fish).

Anyway, I have got to go fishing. Will try to update later.

Okay it's later. I blew off the oceanside today and went bayside to do some scouting. The best snapper bite was in the deep grass away from the wrecks everyone and their brother is hammering. One of my spots is so loaded with Goliath Grouper nothing good made it to the boat. My crew enjoyed catching and releasing the Goliaths so that wasn't a wasted stop.

They were supposed to be serious tarpon guys, but waiting a couple of hours for a bite wasn't their cup of tea so I had to find spots with constant action. They also wanted eating fish. So let me explain tarpon fishing. It is like watching paint dry for a few hours until the fish get in the mood to bite. The bite can happen at any time or not happen at all. If you just want to catch fish and have fun, don't book a tarpon trip. If you are serious about tarpon, permit and bonefish it may take some patients and extra effort on your part.

So what I really need to write about is realistic expectations. There are average times required for prize catches. Take sailfish, with four anglers on the boat, what are the odds that all four anglers boat their first sail? This isn't leadering a sail, it is boating a sail for a photo. It is over 50 to 1 in season. Tarpon are a little easier than sailfish in season. So the odds are around 35 to 1 of all four anglers boating their first tarpon. This based on estimate performance per trip.

I will try to get more numbers, but if you can't devote over three hours of your life without getting antsy for something to happen, some of the fish in the glossy magazines may not be for you.

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, April 02, 2008

What is a Good tip?

The past couple of days I have tried hard to catch big fish and sucked. We caught fish. I am having a great fish dinner tonight because we caught fish. But I didn't catch the big guys.

Yes, that happens. Sometimes the big guys get away or don't bite. So I am at the dock this morning fuming because of missed shots the day before. The crew on the dock are talking about how much a guide should get tipped. This really got me going!

A guide should get tipped whatever the customer wants to tip them! Then they start talking about mandatory gratuities. That's an oxymoron, there is nothing mandatory about a gratuity. A gratuity is a show of appreciation for what was attempted or accomplished. If you had a less than expected experience, don't tip! I would recommend buying the guide a beer if he is walking around talking to himself about how stupid it was to chase hero fish when he could have kicked butt inshore.

Fishing is fishing. I am one of the few I know that if you have a bad time I won't charge. Do I guarantee Fish? No, I guarantee you learn something and catch fish.

Like today. I have a crew that rented a boat from another boat rental company that I won't name. They had been fishing for three days and had not caught squat. The rock anchor on their boat has no chain and the line is tied direct to the top of the rock anchor. Rock anchors are trip anchors that can't trip if tied to the top. After borrowing some chain and a shackle I rig their anchor up so they can fish though with only 60 foot of line it is still a challenge.

After catching a few good fish in the morning until the current change into the wind, I started the tour of where to go if you have the right conditions. Yes, the bite sucked after the current change, so I spent most of the afternoon helping them plan their next day and showing them how to operate the boat. It wasn't that big a deal. The boat renter had a 27 foot twin engine and had never driven any boat over 23 or any twin engine boat. We spent an hour while the bite sucked learning how to turn and dock a twin engine boat.

We also spent time learning how to operate the GPS, how not to run aground, how to read the water, how to anchor and how to catch fish. So how much was the gratutiy? Exactly what it should be because it is what they felt was right.

There are no mandatory gratuities fishing. You tip how you feel you should. Are there guide lines for tips? Yes, most say 15 to 20% of the service charged is normal. I tend to get more than that but maybe I offer more and ask less.

On the Fishing 101 trips, come with the attitude to learn and have fun. Whatever you tip is fine. I have never told anyone other wise.

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