Thursday, October 29, 2015

Getting Close to Mackerel Time

I doubt there is any place in the world that Spanish Mackerel fishing is better than in the Keys.  For locals it isn't a big deal catching Spanish over 5 pounds and a ten pounder most years isn't really a bragging fish.  I like fishing the Bay Side kiddie pool for ridiculously fast Mackerel action on light spinning rods or fly rods while most of the fleet heads out to the ocean side for sexier species like Sailfish.

While fishing for Spanish you have some usual suspects that might show up ranging from sharks of course to Cobia.  Mangroves Snapper are normally around too but I have had a few trips where there are so many other fish around that you cannot catch one.

Table wise Spanish have mixed reviews.  They are most popular smoked but fresh they are a lot better than most give them credit for.  They don't freeze well in my opinion raw but lightly grilled or poached they do freeze well and make great fish cakes, dips, spreads and salads.  A lot of folks are finding they make fine Ceviche, Sushi and tempora courses with a little attention to detail.  Letting the fish dehydrate in the fridge for a day or two firms the flesh for Sushi and using just the nuggets or whitest meat portion of the fillets they can be used in about any fish recipe.

Since they don't freeze well raw, preparing them as cakes, breaded fish bites or just precooked portions means there is a bit more to be considered before hand that with many other species.  As I have mentioned before, Porkies Bay Side will smoke the fillets for you for a share or you can get their prepare fish dip already made in exchange for fillets.  They have a great recipe the general restaurant crowd.  You can make your own, but the trick for most award winning dips is the brine which is a bit of a secretive art.  Some of the salmon and chub recipes should work just fine with Spanish but I am a bit lazy and just use soy sauce most of the time more as a marinade than a real brine.  I have also gone more to grilling than smoking due to after burp.  If you don't have access to a grill, marinading then quick poaching works better than you might think.

In any case, once the sea water temperature off Tampa hits 75 degrees they generally move into the Bay following baits that don't like the cooler water temperatures.  Since Pilchards are getting easier to find they might show a littler early this year.

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, October 10, 2015

October 2015

September and October are my slowest times of the year and I generally like the break.  I get to see a Football game or two, mess with people online, plan some new project I won't finish and generally relax.  With any luck the first cold front will drop down soon and I can actually enjoy piddling around outside.

As usual the fishing reports are on the slow side but this year there are some interesting ones.  Several blue marlin have been released by the usual suspect Sea Boots and the kids have post a number of tiny sailfish caught during their offshore trips.  Dolphin are still out there with some big boys but with the wind shift for Joaquin, they are having a little more trouble finding fish.  That means more blind trolling so there have been more Wahoo caught.  Skipjacks and Lil Tunny seem to be more regular than the Blackfin right now.

Lots of good sized Jack Crevelle messing with the yellowtail fishermen which are fun to catch but not high on many fish eater lists.  They aren't bad smoked in my opinion but that isn't much of an endorsement.  They are the ticket though if you want to tangle with a shark or two.

When the current isn't right, the patches are producing as usual with a nice Black Grouper hitting the dock from time to time.

I have had a couple or three trips that got delayed/put off so I haven't gotten my one or two I normally get this time of year. Now that the weather appears to be getting more predictable I should start picking up a few, but the book doesn't start getting busy until December, with a maybe or two before Thanksgiving, as usual.  I did notice that the buzzards are starting to show up which means it won't be long before the Spanish Mackerel start showing up.  If you happen to be a smoked fish fan you might be able to get an early start this year.  Spanish Mackerel catching is fun whether or not you like smoked fish, btw.

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