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.
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.
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.