Mutton Madness! Marathon, FL Keys Fishing Report 9.25.12
Capt. Jason Long
September 25, 2012
Marathon - Saltwater Fishing Report
Changes in the seasons are far less obvious in the Florida Keys than in other areas of the country. There's no first snowfall to warn us of winter, and no change of colors in the trees to tell us that fall has arrived. But while the changes may be more subtle on land, out in the Atlantic Ocean it's easy to distinguish one season from the next based on the types of migratory fish that inhabit our local waters. So as we officially say goodbye to summer and to the prime dolphin (mahi mahi) fishing season, we welcome in some of our favorite fall species, including cobia and kingfish.
(Jake Swetnam (left) from Kansas City, and Cullen Brown from Nashville with a nice cobia and mutton double-header caught on a wreck last week)
This past week the cobia bite was good on the deep reef and wrecks from 60 to 200 feet of water, fishing ballyhoo and pinfish on the bottom. While the cobia are not here in great numbers quite yet, early indications are that we could be in store for excellent cobia fishing throughout the fall and winter. Several of the fish we caught were too small to keep, but we were able to throw a few keepers in the box last week weighing up to 20 pounds.
In addition to the good cobia bite, the kingfish are also starting to make their presence known on the wrecks. While targeting your bottom species try dropping down a live bait or butterfly jig with a stretch of wire. If using live bait, retrieve the bait slowly after the drift as the kingfish will often be spread throughout the water column and will slam your bait as you're bringing it in.
Also on the wrecks, this was an absolutely incredible week for mutton snapper fishing! On each trip last week we caught multiple keeper muttons, with fish close to 20 pounds on every trip! For targeting muttons fish a good hard bottom and structure (wrecks) from 120 out to 250 feet, using a long stretch of fluorocarbon leader. Last week the muttons were eating both live and fresh ballyhoo, as well as pinfish. If heading out this week try and take a combination of both baits.
(Chris Rowell from Marathon, Florida with a nice 18-pound mutton snapper caught aboard the Best Bet)
On the patch reefs (from 20 to 30 feet of water) the mangrove snapper bite continues to be excellent throughout the Florida Keys. Live and fresh cut ballyhoo fished on a jig head with 14 to 20-pound fluorocarbon leader has produced the best results. There have been loads of ballyhoo on the patches, so you shouldn't have any trouble catching your bait using hair hooks or throwing the cast net. Also on the patches the grouper bite has provided lots of fun, although most of the fish have been too small to keep.
On the deep reef the yellowtail bite was also good last week. If heading out in search of flag tails this week fish the deeper depths (80 to 90 feet), and pay attention to the wind and current directions before dropping anchor and setting up shop. The yellowtail bite was excellent when the wind and current were going in the same direction; however when they are against each other it's best to just move on and fish the patches or the wrecks instead.
Your Best Bet for the Week Ahead: Take advantage of the red hot bottom fishing!
Fall is in the air, and the fish are biting. Book your trip now with Best Bet Sportfishing and experience some excellent reef and bottom fishing action for snapper, grouper, cobia, kingfish, and more!
More Fishing Reports: