Sailfishing Florida Keys
Capt. Jason Long
February 6, 2013
Marathon - Saltwater Fishing Report
Finally, the winds have died down and the fishing is spectacular. I've written for weeks now about waiting for a cold front to push the sailfish south to the Keys, and I'm happy to report that this latest stretch of unfavorable weather did the trick! The sailfish bite has really turned on, and several boats have reported multiple hookups throughout the islands already this week.
Last week aboard the Best Bet we had our best success sight fishing for sails between 20-50 feet of water, catching all of our fish on live ballyhoo. If you don't have a tower on your boat, slow trolling the deep edge of the reef with a spread of live ballyhoo, or large pilchards, should give you a shot at raising a sail as well. Ballyhoo have been showing up in good numbers in the Upper Keys, and in the upper Middle Keys, so don't forget to bring the cast net and hair hooks along to try and catch your hoos.
In addition to the much improved sailfish bite, the windy conditions also pushed the kingfish out front into the Atlantic. We've been having success targeting big kings on the patches, the edge of the reef, and on the wrecks. One of the great things about fishing for kingfish is that you don't always need live bait, which makes them accessible to recreational anglers who are unable to throw a cast net, or sabiki their own bait.
While live baiting is still my favorite kingfishing technique, dead baits (even pre-rigged), as well as lures will produce good results under the right conditions—mainly when it's windy and the fish are spread out. When conditions are calm dead baits will work, but live baits will usually lead to more fish.
Whether live baiting or trolling, or using butterfly jigs on the wrecks, remember to work your baits and lures at various depths throughout the columns. When drifting live baits we like to put a few rods on the surface on the flat line, and one or two baits down deep on the conventional rods. Spreading out your baits gives you a much better chance of locating the fish.
Another thing to consider when targeting kingfish is to ignore the misconception that they will eat any bait that's presented to them. This is not the case. Using a lighter mainline and wire leader will almost always result in more strikes. Plus, kingfish are one of the most thrilling fish to catch on light tackle. They got the nickname "smokers" for a reason, and when you watch a big king smoke a football field of line from your reel you'll know why. Trust me; don't go too heavy with your kingfish setup. You'll catch more fish, and have more fun the lighter you go.
On the other side of the islands we've been seeing an excellent bite for a variety species. On the Gulf wrecks we're still catching good numbers of cobia, while Florida Bay has been a hot bed for Spanish mackerel, speckled trout, jacks, pompano, and grouper (just remember grouper season in closed).
Further to the Northwest, in the backcountry waters of Everglades National Park, the redfish bite continues to be excellent, with some nice snook action in the mix as well. Hook up with one of the world-renown inshore Keys guides, and let them show you a memorable day of light tackle fishing in Florida Keys backcountry.
Your Best Bet for the Week Ahead: Sailfishing!
We're finally starting to see good numbers of sailfish show up in the Middle Keys. Head out today and hook up with one of these awesome fish!
The Best Bet Sportfishing Fleet is located in Key Colony Beach, Florida at Mile Marker 54 on the Sadowski Causeway. To book a trip call Captain Jason Long at 305-395-1376, or visit www.bestbetsportfishing.com.
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