Florida Keys

Hurricane Season Fishing Report

Tarpon

Tarpon

The fishing over the past few months has been great here in the Lower Florida Keys.  Overall, the weather has been mild and so far this year we have dodged the hurricanes.  The offshore fishing has been decent recently, we had a good mahi bite through July, but it died out as the dog days of summer set in.  The blackfin tunas started showing up around the last full moon, there were a lot of small fish, but some bigger ones were mixed in.  The pilchards have also started to show up along the south side of the Keys.  Both the pilchards and the tunas are promising signs for the upcoming fall and winter live bait season.

Red Grouper

Red Grouper

During the summer months, the full day trips were the most successful.  Having the ability to run way to the west and fish the deeper reefs really paid off.  The mutton Snapper bite on the bottom was excellent and there were plenty of nice black groupers, red groupers, big porgies, amberjacks and other fish.  Blackfin tunas, kingfish, mahi mahi and bonitas were also caught on the surface or in the middle of the water column.  Usually on these trips, we’re using a combinations of live baits, dead baits and different artificial jigs and lures. 

Mutton Snapper

Mutton Snapper

Fishing in the backcountry has been awesome the past few months.  We have had a lot of small tarpon hanging around the mangroves and in the bait schools. Targeting them with a 9wt fly rod or light spinning gear has been really fun.  Those fish should be staying put until the cold fronts start and then they become harder to find.  This is also a great time of year to target bonefish and there have been plenty of them around.  Not only do we have good numbers of bonefish down here, but late summer and early fall offer great conditions for targeting them with typically sunny skies and light winds.  It’s awesome to see big schools of bonefish waking across the flats during the low tides.

Bonefish

Bonefish

Spring Fishing Report

Mutton Snapper

Mutton Snapper

Sailfish

Sailfish

Tarpon

Tarpon

Bonefish

Bonefish

       Well we have had a super wet spring here in the Lower Keys and we just encountered our first named storm of the Hurricane Season.  Weather aside, the offshore fishing has been excellent, with some of the best Sailfishing the Keys have ever seen.  We had a good push of sailfish in March and now again in May.  May is usually late in the sailfish season, but this year all the conditions were right and it turned on.  We have been looking for them around the color change and throwing live baits at them.  There have been plenty of big blackfin tunas around as well.  The dolphin fishing has been decent, we’ve found fish every time we went out, but we haven’t been able to put a big catch together this year.  The mahi fishing should just be getting better over the next couple months.

       Reef and wreck fishing has been consistent. The mutton snapper bite has been excellent this winter and spring.  We have caught them on the shallow reefs when the weather has been snotty and there have also been some big ones on the wrecks offshore.  There have been blackfin tunas, amberjacks and some rainbow runners on the offshore wrecks as well.  The yellowtail snapper fishing on the reef has been decent, usually you can find good action and nice size fish out there.

       The tarpon fishing in the backcountry has been inconsistent.  When we have the right weather the fishing has been good, but when the weather doesn’t cooperate, it makes it harder finding fish.  As it is, we have still had plenty of good days, especially with the fly rod.  We have hooked a few tarpon on fly this year that have been well over 100lbs.  The bite has been the best early and later in the day.  The bonefishing around Key West has been excellent, the days when the tarpon are not eating well, we’ve been going bonefishing.

December Fishing Report

Dolphin in December

Dolphin in December

Tuna

Tuna

Mutton Snapper

Mutton Snapper

     Winter fishing is in full affect around Key West.  For the last month we have been doing a lot of live bait fishing offshore and around the reef.  Pilchards and ballyhoo have been the bait of choice for the most part and they have been pretty easy to come by so far this year.  The tuna bite on the offshore wrecks has been excellent the past couple weeks now.  We have been able to catch them anytime during the day, but the bite around the evening has been the best.  Mixed in with the tunas have been bonitas, rainbow runners, kingfish and amberjacks.  Also, when we had nice, clean blue water, the dolphin and wahoo were around.  The mutton snappers have been on the bottom around the wrecks too.  The sailfishing has not been great, there have been a few fish around, but we haven’t seen any large numbers of fish yet this season.  The conditions are right for the sailfish to show up though.      

     Kingfish and cero mackerels are thick around on the reef.  We have been catching a lot of them as were yellowtailing, especially when the ballyhoo show up in the chum slick.  The yellowtail snapper bite has been consistent and the fish have been nice size.  Chunks of bonita and live pilchards have been working best bait for them.  There have also been some big mutton snappers on the shallow patch reefs.  This is the time of year to catch big muttons in shallow, as they move into the cooler water in the winter.  Pilchards and bonita strips will work on the muttons, but live ballyhoo are the preferred bait.

     For the most part, Barracudas are the main fish we target in the backcountry in the winter.  They prefer the cooler temperatures and they actually get more aggressive when it gets colder.  They are an awesome fish to target on light tackle or with a fly rod.  They will attack the lure or fly violently and they fight incredibly well.  It is no easy task catching a barracuda in shallow water.  Days when its super windy and hard to get out on the flats, we drift the basins for trout, snapper, ladyfish and jacks.  We have also been fishing the backcountry channels with live pilchards and you catch a variety of fish on live bait, from snappers and jacks to barracudas and mackerel.  Shark fishing in the backcountry is another fun activity when the wind is blowing.   

Barracuda

Barracuda

October Fishing Report

Bonefish

Bonefish

     

       Sorry for the lack of reports recently, were just starting to get back to normal since Hurricane Irma.  Thank you to all my clients who made it down to fish in October, I know some people had to change hotels and some restaurants were not fully operational, but your business means everything to this little island.  If anyone is hesitant to visit Key West after the storm, don't be. We are ready for the holiday season and the fishing has been excellent.  The wind has started blowing from the north now and the tunas have been biting offshore.  We were able to get out one evening earlier this week and we caught a few blackfin tunas, plus a couple dolphin.  The sailfish started showing up too and hopefully we get a consistent bite throughout the winter.  Also the wahoo fishing should be getting good around the December and January full moons, if anyone has interest in live bait fishing for wahoo, that would be a great time.  

 

Tarpon

Tarpon

       We did a lot of backcountry fishing October, once the water started clearing up after the storm, the fishing turned on in the shallows.  There were plenty of schools of small tarpon around.  They were chasing bait around the mangroves.  We did a lot fishing for them with live pilchards, but you can cast artificial lures and flies at them as well.  The bonefishing was also great after the storm, we saw a lot of big schools of bonefish pushing around the flats.  Now that the weather is starting to cool down, we have seen less bonefish and we are starting to do more barracuda fishing on the flats.  Winter is a great time target barracudas in the backcountry; they like the cooler water temperature.  The barracudas have a super aggressive bite, the fight well and they will jump too.  They are an awesome predator to target in shallow water with either light spinning gear or with a fly rod.

                

Snook

Snook

June Fishing Report

     

mahi mahi

mahi mahi

     June was a super busy month here in the Florida Keys, but the weather was not cooperative.  For the most part in June I was either fishing for mahi mahi offshore or fishing for tarpon inshore.  The offshore bite has been fantastic when we were able to make it out there.  The water quality out deep has been much better than last year and the fishing is much better too. There have been a lot of small mahi around with some big ones mixed in.  As usual we've found a lot of mahi under weeds and other floating debris, but some of the bigger fish we found were under frigate birds.  There have also been some billfish offshore and some scattered tunas mixed in.

     In the backcountry, the tarpon bite has been the most consistent it has been all year, despite the weather.  There have been a lot of fish on the oceanside and the bite has been good, but again the weather has often prevented us from fishing there.  We have also had some great early morning and evening bites.  The worm hatch was awesome this year, we fished further east from Key West, but there were a lot worms out and the the tarpon were taking flies.  The permit fishing picked up in June, a lot of the fish seemed to be done spawning and heading back into the shallows.  We saw a lot of permit causing the oceanside flats, mixed in with the tarpon, but there are a bunch of permit in the backcountry as well. 

           

tarpon

tarpon

March Fishing Report

Blackfin Tuna

Blackfin Tuna

     Overall, the fishing in Key West was good in March, the tuna fishing was awesome offshore, but we did not have the sailfish bite we were hoping for.  We did catch a few sails, but not in any great numbers.  The afternoon tuna trips have been really popular with my clients and the bite was consistent.  Besides tunas, the wrecks offshore have been productive with amberjacks, mutton snappers, rainbow runners and a few african pompano.  There has also been a lot of action with kingfish and bonitas as well.  The water offshore has looked beautiful and hopefully in April, we will start to see some mahi show up out there.

     In the backcountry we kept busy catching barracudas on the flats, they have been biting really well.  We had a good speckled trout bite in the basins.  That was really nice on windy days when working the flats was tough, you can drift the basins and catch trout and other species.  When the water has been warm enough, we have seen some permit and bonefish, but March was probably the coldest month this winter.  The tarpon have finally started to show up around Key West, we haven't seen any big schools yet, but the fish we have found have been eating.    

Rainbow Runner

Rainbow Runner

February Fishing Report

Sailfish Release

Sailfish Release

We have had a great month of fishing here in Key West and the winter weather has been cooperative too.  The tuna bite offshore has been awesome, typically we have been doing afternoon/evening trips to target the tunas with live pilchards around the offshore wrecks.  We have caught plenty of other fish on the pilchards as well, such as bonitos, amberjacks, jack crevalles and mutton snappers.  The sailfish bite has been consistent over the last month; we have had a few days with multiple hook ups, including one day when we caught 5 fish out of 5 bites.  All the sailfish have been caught on live baits like, goggle eyes, pilchards, and ballyhoo.  There has been a lot of action on the reef with some nice mutton snappers and kingfish.

We have being seeing a lot fish in the backcountry this past month too.  The typical winter species like barracudas, sharks, and jacks have been around, but there has been a good amount of bonefish and permit.  The Tarpon haven't really showed up yet around Key West, but any day now we should start to see some big schools of fish popping up.         

Blackfin Tuna

Blackfin Tuna