FL KEYS Offshore & Reef Report Aug. 14, 2012
Capt. Jason Long
August 14, 2012
Marathon - Saltwater Fishing Report
Fishing is unpredictable. Some days the tuna just won't bite. Other days you can search the ocean for hours on end and still not find a pack of dolphin (mahi mahi). That's why we call it fishing, and that's why it's imperative to always have a backup plan. If you're heading offshore in search of dorados, take a few trolling feathers and butterfly jigs along as well. That way if the dolphin fishing is slow you can still make up for it by putting a few nice blackfins in the box. You can troll or jig at the Marathon or Islamorada Humps, and you'll be ready to put out the feathers if you come across a pack of tuna birds while searching for your dolphin. Always keep a few rods on board rigged with swivel clips that you quickly switch out for rigged ballyhoo or trolling lures, depending on the situation.
(Jean Hamil from Orlando with this nice 15-pound mutton snapper caught aboard the Best Bet. Jean had a great day fishing the reef and wrecks).
The same goes for fishing the reef, or on the flats or backcountry. Have a plan B, and switch things up if you're not getting the bites. Weather patterns, moon phases, wind directions, etc., all influence the fishing, and sometimes your target species may not be your best bet for that day. Take what the ocean gives you, and talk to your local fishing guides and tackle shops to find out what's biting best. The Florida Keys are home to many of the best fishing captains in the world, and they want you to catch loads of fish. Take their advice, and you'll have an awesome day on the water.
The dolphin fishing was both up and down at times last week. We found plenty of fish, but we had to put our time in and cover a lot of ground to do so. Most of the dolphin we found were from 14 to 20 miles out, scattered throughout areas of thick weed lines and on floaters. If you're heading out this week plan to run and gun until you find the fish. Don't spend your entire day working a weed line or certain area if you're not getting the bites within the first fifteen minutes or so. Move on to the next fishy looking area, get the baits out, and see what happens. There are fish out there; you just have to put some time in to find them.
On the humps, the tuna fishing was also really good at times this week, and at other times quite slow. If heading to the hump try trolling, jigging, and live baiting to find the fish. If you're having trouble getting the tuna to bite, another fun thing to do on the Humps is to drop a bait or chicken rig down to the bottom on an electric reel, or with a hand-crank if you want a good workout. All sorts of species hang out in the depths of the Humps, including snowy groupers, queen snappers, and giant amberjacks, just to name a few.
Another offshore "backup" plan if the dolphin and tuna fishing is slow is daytime swordfishing. The swordfish bite has been solid all summer, and there's nothing quite like battling one of these great fish up from the bottom in 1,600 feet of water. The other great thing about swordfishing is you get to search for dolphin on your way out to the sword grounds, and on your way back in. It's not uncommon to come home from a swordfish trip with a fish bag stuffed with a nice sword, and a pack of slammer dolphin.
The reef fishing continues to be good, with mangrove snapper still being the star of the show on the patches during the day, and out a little deeper at night. For targeting mangroves try and take along small pinfish or medium-sized pilchards, or throw the cast net on the ballyhoo swimming up in your chum slick. If live bait is not an option, fresh cut ballyhoo will also do the trick. If you don't throw a cast net try catching them with a hair hook tipped with shrimp while you're anchored on the reef.
The Best Bet boats are located at Key Colony Beach Marina (Marathon, FL KEYS) at Mile Marker 54. To book a trip or to find out more about what's biting call Captain Jason Long at 305-395-1376.
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