Florida Keys Dolphin Fishing Report
Capt. Jason Long
June 22, 2012
Marathon - Saltwater Fishing Report
I don't know many anglers who look at a summertime forecast and get excited about 20-knot winds and six to eight-foot seas. I think we all prefer a light breeze and two to three's any day. But those of us that do venture offshore during these windy stretches of summer are often rewarded with truly memorable catches. Why? For one thing, windy days give fish a break from all the fishing pressure, making them more likely to actively feed. If you've fished during a flat calm day you know just how hard the Florida Keys fishing grounds get hit. The reef turns into a parking lot of boats, and the offshore traffic is thicker than I-95 at rush hour. But windy conditions keep many boats at the dock, greatly increasing your chances of catching a trophy.
This week we braved the elements and it paid off.
Offshore the dolphin bite really turned on and we landed several big fish, including a 48-pounder by Katie Cleary of Clearwater, Florida on Monday. Fortunately, the dolphin were in close enough that we didn't have to run too far offshore in the rough seas, catching many fish within 10 to 12 miles from the dock. If you're going after dolphin this week start your search in that same area. There have been lots of scattered weeds in that range holding fish.
While there are plenty of big dolphin offshore, there are many more smaller fish that you need to weed through to find those slammers. If you find a pack of schoolies don't spend your entire day getting your limit. Take enough fish for dinner and to throw in the freezer, and then move on to the next pack of fish in search of your trophy. You just never know if the next school is going to hold a 50-pounder. In addition, when you do get on a school of smaller fish hook one or two up and leave them in the water for a few minutes. Often the larger fish will be hanging out down deep and will pop up to eat them, or just to see what all the commotion is.
Obviously a tuna tower helps you to spot the bigger fish, but it's not totally necessary. If fishing from a boat without a tower and you can't get a good view of the fish I suggest pitching out a large live bait, bigger than what a schoolie can eat, and letting it swim behind the school. If there is a big fish out there that you can't see, there's a shot he'll find you! As always, don't forget that there is a size limit on dolphin and to keep a fish it must be 20 inches measured to the fork.
On the reef conditions were quite comfortable this week. The westward current kept the seas down and we were able to have several exceptional trips. In 40 to 60 feet we've been catching good numbers of yellowtails in the 15 to 18-inch range, with bigger fish biting well on the deep reef. If you start shallow and are having trouble catching your tails, don't hesitate to move out a little deeper. The deep bite has been solid and well worth your time. On the patches we continue to catch excellent numbers of big mangrove snapper, with many keeper groupers mixed in.
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