Key Colony Beach Fishing Report: 11.6.12
Capt. Jason Long
November 6, 2012
Marathon - Saltwater Fishing Report
It was an exciting week in the Florida Keys. We had the Presidential election, Brock Cheetah turned 50, and the fishing was excellent throughout the islands. Offshore, the dolphin (mahi mahi) were scattered, but there were quite a few quality fish in the 20 to 30-pound class caught from the edge of the reef out to the deep depths of the Atlantic. Most fish we found were under frigate birds, so if you're heading offshore this week have a ballyhoo rigged and ready to pitch if you see a frigate working the deck. I wouldn't necessarily spend an entire day searching for dolphin this time of year, as the fish aren't as thick as during the summer months. However, you still have a good shot at finding a pack of fish while on the way to and from the Humps, or while targeting other pelagic species. Always be prepared, and you may just hook into a slammer!
Captain Ariel Medero of Big Game Sportfishing in Marathon (www.biggamesportfish.com) guided Keith to this nice dolphin last week.
Speaking of the Humps, the tuna bite has been very good—unfortunately, so has the shark bite. It's getting to be that time of year when sharks love to steal sushi dinners from distraught anglers. If you lose a couple of fish to sharks, either pack it up and go after a different offshore species, or try and target the smaller black fins that you may just be able to get past the sharks and to the boat. I suggest leaving the live baits in the well (live baiting tends to catch the larger tunas), and trolling around some inexpensive feathers or tuna lures. Often you will hook into more small and medium-size fish on the troll, which are easier to crank past the sharks. I recommend leaving the butterfly jigs in the tackle box as well. Jigs are not cheap, and it can get quite expensive when shark keep eating the tunas that have eaten your jigs!
On the edge of the reef we're seeing more and more of our wintertime pelagic fish every day, and the fishing should steadily improve as a few more cold fronts move through. Live baiting on the edge is a great way to spend the day because you can catch any number of these fish, including sailfish, kingfish, wahoo, dolphin, and more. For live baiting, load the well with pilchards or live ballyhoo, and put out a spread fishing your baits at different depths throughout the water columns. I also like to have a few baits rigged with fluorocarbon leaders, and a couple with wire in case we get into a school of kingfish or wahoo.
On the reef the water has been very clear, making the fish a little unwilling to take a bait at times. When the water is this clear it is imperative that you fish with light fluorocarbon leader to entice the bite. Unfortunately, you're bound to lose a few nice fish when using such light line. But I'd rather get the bites and lose one of two fish, than not get the bites at all. Last week we had good success in 20 to 30 feet of water for mangroves, muttons, yellowtails, grouper, and mackerel, fishing with live pilchards and ballyhoo on jig heads. For pilchards, use a ¼ ounce jig to keep the bait from getting stuck in the bottom in these shallow depths. And for ballyhoo, use a 3/8 oz. to ½ oz. jig.
Captain Mike Nelis helps Elizabeth show off this big 6-pound mangrove caught in 20 feet of water.
Inshore, the bridges have been providing a lot of action for both mangrove snapper and jack crevalles. If it's too windy to get out to the reef don't overlook fishing one of the Florida Keys bridges. You can put quite a nice catch together fishing the pilings with live pilchards, ballyhoo, and small pinfish.
Your Best Bet for the Week Ahead: Put out a spread on the edge…
Live baiting on the edge of the reef is a lot of fun this time of year because you never know what you might catch. You may just hook into a dolphin, wahoo, kingfish, sailfish, or more!
The Best Bet Boats are located at mile marker 54 in Key Colony Beach, just off the Sadowski Causeway. To book a trip call Captain Jason Long at 305-395-1376, or visit www.bestbetsportfishing.com.
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