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

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