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Key West Fishing Report - Offshore

Capt. Ralph Delph
February 8, 2000
Key West - Saltwater Fishing Report

The first week of February has not been as bright and cheery in the fishing community as it would normally have been for this time of year under normal conditions. A red tide has infiltrated the area and an extensive fish kill has been a partial result. Wind rows of dead fish have been reported from Rebecca Channel to Key West. Grouper to 10#, pompano, hogfish, grunts, eels and catfish have been the primary casualties. The main kill seems to have been concentrated in the gulf, however, divers have reported fish on the bottom, both in distress and dying near Key West. The water has been clearing over the last few days and some mackerel and jacks have been working bait in some of the channels near shore, indicating that the red tide may have ran its course.

The red tied has also formed a barrier of sorts, and has kept the kingfish and cobia from making their normal migration into the Key West area. Only a token school of very small (3# to 5#) kings have made an appearance in the Eastern Dry Rocks area and only those with a degree in patience and tolerance should make an attempt to fish there, as the bight is slow and the boats are many.

On a brighter note, black grouper up to 35#, red grouper up to 20# and mutton snapper up to 18# have been taken on a regular basis by those in search of the bottom dwellers. Live bait has been the bait of choice and has produced the better catches. The amberjacks continue to increase around the reef and offshore wrecks as we get closer to the time of year that they spawn here in our local waters. Although we are now at the peak time for african pompano, the action has slowed after a short burst of action during late January and early February.

Offshore, deep blue water, moving east at around 1.7 knots and around 73.6 degrees has been yielding some small dolphin (very unusual for this time of year) and a sailfish here and there along with an occasional wahoo. Over all, the blue water has been fairly slow.

Vaughn Cochran reports that the water on the back country flats has been around 66 degrees and the fish have been few and far between. The cudas have had their afterburners lit when the lure hits the water.

That's it for now. Tight lines and good fishing.

Capt. Ralph Delph

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Key West, FL 33040
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