Marathon Fishing Report 10.23.12
Capt. Jason Long
October 23, 2012
Marathon - Saltwater Fishing Report
A Windy Week
As I write this the wind is howling, the palm trees are swaying, and there's another tropical storm spinning out in the Caribbean. Fortunately, Sandy is not expected to impact the Florida Keys directly, and these strong winds are supposed to subside by Sunday, offering much better fishing conditions for the week ahead. Still, it's not too early to talk about fishing in windy conditions. After all, winter is right around the corner and it's not uncommon for it to blow 20-plus knots for weeks at a time.
For those of us with larger boats, this is not an issue. We're used to fishing in "sporty" conditions. But for those of you with smaller center consoles, four to six-foot seas beyond the reef are a little much for your vessels to handle. The good news is that you don't have to be stuck at the dock wishing you were out fishing. There are plenty of opportunities to catch fish in the Florida Keys, throughout the fall and winter, even on those sporty days.
When the winds are from the south or southeast focus your attention Gulf-side where you will be somewhat sheltered from the wind. Plan to fish the flats, around the bridges, and in Florida Bay. October and November are great months for targeting big Florida Keys bonefish in the shallows (eight to 10 pound fish are common this time of year), and you'll have a shot at a tarpon pushing through with the fall mullet run as well.
(Steve Clausen with a 53-pound amberjack caught aboard the Best Bet in 230 feet of water).
As the water cools, the fishing in Florida Bay will heat up. Just a short boat ride from the dock you can catch snapper, grouper, mackerel, and more. In addition, this is the time of year when the bridge fishing starts to improve. Fish live pilchards, small pinfish, or ballyhoo at the pilings, and you can have an exceptional day catching big mangroves, keeper grouper, snook, tarpon, and jacks. Just be sure to pick the right tide. Fishing the incoming tides will offer calmer conditions and make for a more comfortable fishing experience.
When the wind is from the north, flip around to the Atlantic side and fish the flats, the channel humps, and the patch reefs. The flats will be active with bonefish and tarpon, as well as sharks and barracudas once the water cools. It's still a little early in the year for the channel humps to be at their prime, but once a few cold fronts push through they will also offer excellent windy-day fishing for snapper, grouper, mackerel, and cobia. In addition, the patches should remain active throughout the fall and winter for snapper, grouper, and cero mackerel. Last week on the patches we had a nice bite of big mangroves in 20 to 30 feet of water with live pilchards fished on a jig head.
Also last week, even with the windy conditions we were able to get out a few times. On the wrecks, the mutton snapper bite was fair, with a few nice fish over 15 pounds caught on ballyhoo and pinfish. We also landed several big ambjerjacks, including a 53-pounder.
(A nice 16-pound mutton snapper caught aboard the Best Bet last week).
On the edge of the reef the sailfish bite is beginning to pick up. Multiple hookups were common last throughout the islands, and more and more fish should continue to push into the Florida Keys as the weather cools. In addition, the kingfish bite is heating up and there are still gaffer-sized dolphin (mahi mahi) around as well. While fishing the reef keep an eye out for frigate birds and bait sprays, and have a ballyhoo rigged and ready to pitch at all times. This is the time of year that we catch big dolphin on the reef, and you have to be prepared when you get your shot.
Your Best Bet for the Week Ahead: Don't let the winds keep you from fishing!
There are plenty of great fishing opportunities in the Florida Keys even on those windy days. Stop by the Best Bet boats, located on the Sadowski Causeway in Key Colony Beach, and find out what's biting today.
To book a trip with Best Bet Sportfishing please call 305.395.1376 or visit www.bestbetsportfishing.com.
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