Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thankful for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the unofficial start of the Keys fishing season.  Cooler weather and scheduled vacation time gets folks in the mood for a little fishing in the Florida Keys, so I have four trips completed for the week. 

One of the big issues with fishing in the Keys after you are used to fishing anywhere else is the line issue.  Many folks are all braid all the time and clear water makes catching many keys species a lot tougher.  If you are not used to monofiliment, you are likely to get frustrated with its memory, but if you get rocked up a few dozen times, you should get over it.  Mono is much more versitile so at least one spinning outfit should be 15 to 20 pound clear mono to make your fishing in the Keys less stressful. 

Another is the circle hook versus J hook issue.  Thanks to regulations, circle hooks are required on the north side of US1 and no on the south side of US1.  Since the Keys are on US1, you need to have both in your box.

Circle hooks are one of those challenges in life.  You don't set circle hooks so if you are a bassmaster kind of angler, you are going to have to break yourself of your bass habits.  Depending on the species, circle hooks are the best things since sliced bread or just a PITA.  For dead stick fishing, when you set a rod on the rod holder and let it do the work, they are great.  Circle hooks were designed for long lines when there is no way to set a hook so they are great at doing what they were designed for.  Other stuff, not so much. 

I took a guy fishing that was on one of the fisheries boards and an advocate for circle hooks.  After we had gut hooked a third snapper with circle hooks, I mentioned that the guys making the rules were brain dead.  That is when he mentioned he was one of those guys.  If you look at the raw data on circles versus J hooks, for some species, mortality close to 9% for circles versus 28% for J hooks.  Other species it is closer to 1% for circles and 3% for J hooks.  So for some species it makes a big difference and for others not so much.  Now what that data does not include is how competent your angler might be.  If I am in a spot where the fish are small and I am a meat fishermen, I will frigging move to another spot.  There is zero mortality if I quit catching small stuff that has to be released.  If I am offshore looking to catch Dolphin for the box, I can have zero mortality for J hooks because 100% of the fish are going in the box.  If you are having a catch and release only adventure, go for circles, however, if you release enough fish, you are going to kill a whole hell of a lot more because there is more to consider than just the hook in figuring mortality.  Probably the largest cause of fish mortality is over regulation.  People end up catching a lot more fish than usual and handling 100s that have to be released from depths that would have a 50% mortality to begin with.  Do you really think that sticking holes in fish that are blown out heals them?   It is kind of like Obamacare for fish, poke a hole in their system and call it healthcare.

So with that out of the way how was fishing?  Okay.  The yellowtail bite if you can get the wind and current together is great.  With the cooling water, Grouper are moving a little deeper so some of the rock piles and wrecks are loaded with keepers.  Mackerel are still a bit spotty.  Ceros and Kings are pretty plentiful on the ocean side but Spanish are inconsistent on the bay side as of this week.  Water temperatures have dropped enough though that they should be getting thicker in the bay.

Mixed bag fishing for reef species is great and thanks to living on an island can be done in just about any weather.  In case you don't know, mixed bag fishing with knocker rigs and fresh bait is just plain fun.  Lots of action, plenty of fish for dinner and you still have a shot at something to brag about.

Sailfish, dolphin and even big tuna are being caught but nothing is super hot consistently.  So if you have the boat or the weather, it is definitely worth a shot but be ready for plan B just in case.  

I have plenty of openings except for Christmas - New Years which will be pretty packed trying to fit folks in with the weather. 

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, November 15, 2016

Nice day

Windfinder was off and there is a super full moon, but it was a nice day anyway.  I was fishing with a client from Louisiana who definitely knows fishing.  The goal was just to tune up some techniques on Yellowtail Snapper fishing and get familiar with some new areas.

With the full moon tide, you have to hunt a bit to find a fishable current and with the wind blowing closer to 20 knots than the predicted 10 knots, that means the west side of the bridge.  We hit one spot on the east side just to check, but it was dead.  The water was much cleaner to the west which made the fish a lot happier.

In the channel, plenty of keeper but not big Mangrove Snapper and a few mystery fish, like Goliath Grouper eating the Mangroves we hooked.  On the reef proper, it took no time to get the Yellowtail up in the 32 foot depth.  They were a mixed size ranging from barely legal to 16 inches, not great but great action.  They were balled up right behind the boat and hangry.

Tomorrow is planned to be a mainly a bay trip in search of Spanish Mackerel, Mangroves and the usual suspects.  I have heard there might be a little algae problem back there so that might be more interesting that normal.

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, November 06, 2016

Finally a little News

It has been a slower than normal off season.  Only one bay side trip for Mangroves in October and had to resort to raising a sunk boat for something to do.  But that was October.  November is shaping up better with a few trips booked and the Spanish Mackerel showing up in the bay.

On the ocean side, there has been a fair run of sailfish with a few dolphin and tuna mixed in here and there.  Not great catching but still worth a trip.  For the guys that have been getting to the patches there have been some nice red grouper catches.  Snapper are steady on both sides if you get the wind and current right.

With the winds being iffy and the customers slow, several locals have taken to bridge fishing just to get out and have been having a ball with jacks and the sharks.  Yellowjacks, which most find good to eat have been mentioned pretty regularly lately.  The locals most often don't really want to fight the sharks, but when you let a jack struggle around the boat for a while, watching the bigger bull sharks try to catch a jack is pretty fun. 

Only two more days and we can get this crazy election behind us.  A buddy said that Hillary pulled the wool over his eyes and then he found out it was 60% cotton.  Still waiting to see the trilla in vanilla when Biden and Trump fight it out though.

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