Bayboat Billfish Tournament Series
Capt. Steve Friedman
February 22, 2010
Islamorada - Saltwater Fishing Report
If you have been following this report for the last few weeks, you're probably aware that my reports have been heavy on the reef and light on the backcountry. While the backcountry is my second home, this time of year the bite has been more consistent and better oceanside than in the backcountry. I've also been fishing a series of sailfish tournaments out of my 22' Pathfinder bayboat. Until the water warms up some more in the shallow flats in and around the Everglades, the fishing out back will continue to be a struggle.
With some effort and patience, however, there are great fish to be found. When I've fished in the Everglades, I've stayed where the water is deep and has strong current flow. Big tarpon are starting to show up and "roll" or gulp air occassionally which tells me they are moving back into the bay, gearing up to feed and be a regular feature in the murky backcountry waters. Black drum remain one of the best bites, mixed in with redfish and speckled sea trout. The snook bite is also improving and we managed to catch eleven linesiders in about a 45-minute span. Remember these fish have been very stressed with the cold weather and they are not to be harvested or even removed from the water for a photo. We were able to catch these fish using circle hooks and live shrimp, and released in great shape boatside.
The Gulf of Mexico is getting more productive close to the Sprigger Bank area. On the days when the wind wasn't howling a gale, I snuck out there with plenty of chum to bring in fish like Spanish mackerel, manrove snapper, various sharks, large speckled sea trout and a few cobia. Again, I'm keeping it simple using a Hank Brown Hook-Up lure of about a ¼-ounce with a live shrimp jigged off the bottom. When the action gets steady, I switch to a 1/0 clouser minnow with an eight-weight fly rod to catch a variety of fish on the long pole.
The Bayboat Billfish Tournament Series concluded last week with some dramatic action offshore. With winds blowing out of the southeast at more than 20 mph, it was sporting enough just to get bait out of the small vessels, let alone actually catch a fish. While I managed to boat one sailfish in these conditions other boats were in the zone and caught up to five sailfish in a single day in some pretty inclement conditions. George Clark Jr. and his ace crew were not only able to take first place in the last event of three total, he took the grand prize by scoring the most points overall.
Look for this great new event to continue next year along with other bayboat tournaments this summer where dolphin (mahi mahi) will be the target species. For more information on upcoming bayboat tournaments contact Capt. Jim Dalrymple at 305-304-9386.
Islamorada Fishing Forecast:
Cold fronts continue and hoping it warms up soon.
More Fishing Reports: