Mackerel still King in the Marathon and Keys!
Capt. Bob Brown
February 24, 2010
Marathon - Saltwater Fishing Report
King Mackerel have been tearing up the deep reef edge along the middle Keys for some time now. The fierce striking big Macks have been chewing up chum lines both east and west of Sombrero light. Reef areas off of Duck Key and Bahia Honda Key have been hot lately. Any live bait from shrimp to ballyhoo have been producing Kings. Jigging with live pilchards on a Hank Brown type jig head have been a hot bait for Kings, and their smaller cousins, Cero and Spanish Mackerel. Nice sized Mangrove Snapper have been hanging on the shallow reef patches in 20-45ft of water up and down the line and have been the main table fare brought to the dock by reef fishermen the past few weeks. Smaller Yellowtail snapper have been a good bet also, but the larger "flag" tails have been slow since the water became so cool back in January. Grouper have been biting like gangbusters also, especially since they know we can not keep them right now due to the closed season we are enduring at the moment.
On a grouper note.... let's hope that the closed season on Grouper is not a prelude to the National marine fisheries service letting fish traps back in Florida Keys waters. There has been talk that they are considering it. What a slap in the face of all sport fishermen that will be if they let that happen. That means this whole closed season that they are saying is meant to help the population of Grouper, is only to save the keeper sized ones for the fish traps once they let them back in.. I am hoping that sound minds are making the decisions there, but for them to even consider it, makes me think that there are mostly commercial fishing interests running the National Marine fisheries at the moment. We now have a closed season on Vermillion snapper for sport fishermen and Charter boats. But if you are a commercial fisherman with a license to take Snapper you can keep them!!!!!!!!! In all my years of fishing this is unprecidented. Letting commercial fishing interests catch a species that sport fishermen can not.. this is new waters we are tredding in right now as far as rules and regulations. Let's hope the Grouper closer is a one time thing and that fish traps do not ever come back to Keys waters!!
Back to what is happening... Sailfishing has improved the past week or so as the green water finally has moved on, but remains below par by Keys standards in recent days. There have been a few fish caught and released, but not many trips where boats caught more that a couple Sails.
Cobia have moved into the area and some local charter capts have been finding them along the inside edge of the reef and in Hawk's channel off of the local bridges. Some fish have topped 60lbs!!! The northerly winds have helped move the Cobia through the bridges where they team up with and follow Rays, Turtles and other large critters like Whale Sharks to find food on the Atlantic side of the bridges. If you see a Ray swimming along, you might flip out a live bait with a bit of weight to get it down and you may be rewarded with a nice Cobia. Sometimes others will follow up the one you have hooked, so be ready with multiple rods if you get a bite on a Cobia. They can also be found traveling on the surface especially near the reef edge when we have current and wind going against each other. Keep a few pinfish, grunts or other small bait fish available, or a jig with a crab or big shrimp might work also...
Tarpon fishing should start to heat up at the 7 mile bridge in the coming weeks, all we need is a bit of warm weather and light winds for them to start chomping. By mid March there should be some larger fish showing up to shake up the bridge night life!
If you would like more info on fishing in the middle Keys, check out our web site. Good luck in all your fishing adventures!
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